In November, 1936, the voters of New York City approved the use of proportional representation for the election of members of the city council by a vote of 923,186 to 555,217, after its opponents had failed by court action to prevent the question from being submitted. By a combination of Democratic delegates from New York City and machine Republicans from upstate, the constitutional convention of 1938 provided the people of the entire state an opportunity to reject decisively an amendment that would have prohibited the use of P.R. in any election in the state. Still another unsuccessful attempt to abolish the system was made in 1940—this time through initiative petition under provision of the New York City charter. With the entry of the United States into the war, no further serious effort at repeal was made until 1947, although dissatisfaction with the results of the councilmanic elections continued to be heard even above the din of war.
How did the forces line up in the intense battle over P.R. in the campaign of 1947? The political parties, of course, had a direct stake in the results of the campaign. On the one side were the Democratic and Republican county organizations urging repeal of P.R., while the American Labor party, the Liberal party, the Communist party, and the Fusion forces worked for retention of the system.