- United States presidential election, 1912
election_name = United States presidential election, 1912
country = United States
type = presidential
ongoing = no
previous_election = United States presidential election, 1908
previous_year = 1908
next_election = United States presidential election, 1916
next_year = 1916
election_date = November 5, 1912
party1 = Democratic Party (United States)
Thomas R. Marshall
electoral_vote1 = 435
states_carried1 = 40
popular_vote1 = 6,296,284
percentage1 = 41.8%
party2 = Progressive Party (United States, 1912)
electoral_vote2 = 88
states_carried2 = 6
popular_vote2 = 4,122,721
percentage2 = 27.4%
William Howard Taft
party3 = Republican Party (United States)
Nicholas Murray Butler
electoral_vote3 = 8
states_carried3 = 2
popular_vote3 = 3,486,242
percentage3 = 23.2%
map_size = 350px
map_caption = Presidential election results map. Red denotes states won by Taft/Butler, Blue denotes those won by Wilson/Marshall, Green denotes those won by Roosevelt/Johnson. Numbers indicate the number of electoral votes allotted to each state.
title = President
William Howard Taft
before_party = Republican Party (United States)
before_color = 3333FF
after_party = Democratic Party (United States)
after_color = FF3333
The United States presidential election of 1912 was fought among three major candidates, two of whom had previously won election to the office. Incumbent President
William Howard Taftwas renominated by the Republican party with the support of the conservative wing of the party. After former President Theodore Rooseveltfailed to get the Republican nomination, he called his own convention and created a new Progressive Party (nicknamed the “Bull Moose Party”). It nominated Roosevelt and ran candidates for other offices in major states. Democrat Woodrow Wilsonwas nominated on the 46th ballot of a contentious convention, thanks to the support of William Jennings Bryan. He defeated both Taft and Roosevelt in the general election, winning a huge majority in the Electoral Collegedespite only winning 42% of the popular vote, and initiating the only period between 1892 and 1932 when a Democrat was elected President. Wilson was the second of only two Democrats to be elected President between 1860 and 1932. This was also the last election in which a third party candidate came in second in the Electoral College.
President Theodore Roosevelt had declined to run for reelection in 1908, following the long-established tradition that Presidents were to leave office after two terms. He had tapped William Howard Taft as his successor, and Taft had gone on to win the election of 1908. During Taft's administration, a rift grew between Roosevelt and Taft; they became the leaders of the Republican Party's two wings: the progressives opposed the courts, favored restrictions the employment of women and children, favored conservation, were more favorable toward labor unions, and opposed tariffs on manufactured products. The conservatives were for business and insisted on judicial supremacy. Taft became identified with the conservative wing while Roosevelt was the leader of the progressive wing. By 1910 the split was deep.
Republican Party nomination
Robert M. LaFollette, U.S. senator from Wisconsin
Theodore Roosevelt, former President from New York
William H. Taft, President of the United Statesfrom Ohio
For the first time some delegates to the national convention were elected in presidential preference primaries.
Primary electionswere advocated by the progressive faction in the GOP, which wanted to break the control of political parties by bosses. Altogether, fourteen states held Republican primaries. Robert LaFollettewon two of the first four primaries ( North Dakotaand Wisconsin), and Taft won the other two early primaries ( New Yorkand Nevada). Beginning with his runaway victory in Illinois on April 9, however, Roosevelt won nine of the last ten presidential primaries (in order, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, Oregon, Maryland, California, Ohio, New Jersey, and South Dakota), losing only Massachusettsto Taft.
The Republican Convention was held in
Chicagofrom June 18 to June 22. Unfortunately for Roosevelt, Taft had started much earlier in rounding up delegates, and the delegates chosen by primary election were a minority. Taft had the support of the bulk of the party organizations in Southern states. These states had voted solidly Democratic in every presidential election since 1880, and Roosevelt objected that they were given one-quarter of the delegates when they would contribute nothing to a Republican victory (as it turned out, former Confederate states supported Taft by a 209-40 margin). When the Republican National Convention gathered, Roosevelt was challenging the credentials of nearly half of the delegates. By that time, however, it was too late. The delegates chose Elihu Root— once Roosevelt's top ally — to serve as chairman of the convention. Afterwards, the delegates seated Taft delegations in Alabama, Arizona, and California on tight contests of 597-472, 564-497, and 542-529, respectively. After losing California, where Roosevelt had won the primary, the progressive delegates gave up hope. They voted "present" on most succeeding roll calls. Not since the 1872 election had there been a major schism in the Republican party. Now, with the Democrats holding about 45% of the national vote, any schism would be fatal. Roosevelt's only hope at the convention was to form a "stop-Taft" alliance with LaFollette, but Roosevelt had alienated LaFollette, and the alliance could not form.
Unable to tolerate the personal humiliation he suffered at the hands of Taft and the Old Guard, and refusing to entertain the possibility of a compromise candidate, Roosevelt struck back hard. On the evening of June 22, 1912, Roosevelt asked his supporters to leave the Convention. Roosevelt maintained that President Taft had allowed fraudulent seating of delegates in order to capture the presidential nomination from progressive forces within the Party. Thus, with the support of convention chairman
Elihu Root, Taft's supporters outvoted Roosevelt's men, and the convention renominated incumbents William Howard Taftand James S. Sherman, making Sherman the first Vice President since Richard M. Johnsonto be nominated for reelection.
Source: Leip, David. [http://uselectionatlas.org/USPRESIDENT/data.php?year=1912&datatype=national&def=1&f=1 1912 Presidential Election Data by State] . " [http://uselectionatlas.org Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections] " (July 31, 2005).
Failing to make itself a believable third party, the Bull Moose Party ended up losing strength. Its candidates did poorly in 1914. It vanished in 1916 with most members following Roosevelt back into the Republican party. However, the Taft conservatives controlled the party and its platform after 1912, and thus some Progressives like
Harold L. Ickesjoined the more liberal Democratic party.
The election of 1912 was the topic of
counterfactualspeculation by John Lukacs, "The Election of Theodore Roosevelt, 1912", in " What If? 2", edited by Robert Cowley.
History of the United States (1865-1918)
* Ira Kipnis, "The American Socialist Movement, 1897-1912" 1952.
* [http://www.ssa.gov/history/trspeech.html sound recording of TR speech]
* [http://www.ourcampaigns.com/RaceDetail.html?RaceID=55164 OurCampaigns.com overview of Republican Presidential Primaries of 1912]
* [http://geoelections.free.fr/USA/elec_comtes/1912.htm 1912 popular vote by counties]
* [http://www.multied.com/elections/1912State.html 1912 State-by-state Popular vote]
* [http://www.american-presidents.org/2006/08/election-of-1912.html The Election of 1912]
* [http://www.msu.edu/~sheppa28/elections.html#1912 How close was the 1912 election?] - Michael Sheppard, Michigan State University
* Wrong way elections [http://www.RangeVoting.org/FunnyElections.html table] at the [http://www.RangeVoting.org Center for Range Voting]
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