The Election of 1916
Taylor Good
POLI 423
Aftermath of 1912 Election
 Wilson defeats a divided
Republican party
 Teddy Roosevelt becomes
jaded and does not wish to
return to campaigning
 The Progressive Party loses
hope for national candidacy
Washington D.C. after the
Congressional Election of 1914
 Incumbent Woodrow Wilson (D) in White House, eligible for
 First Democratic President since 1896
 Democratic party controlled House of Representatives 230-
196-9 (D-R-3rd) and Senate 56-40 (D-R)
 Social Policy
 Prohibition
 Suffrage
 Women’s Suffrage
 Tariffs
 8 Hour Work Day
 Foreign Policy
 Intervention in Europe
 Military preparedness
 Conflict with Mexico
 “Hyphenism”
Democratic Nominating Convention
 Wilson was widely regarded as the unanimous candidate
 Was virtually unopposed in primaries
 Thomas R. Marshall, Wilson’s current Vice President, was
also re-nominated unopposed
Republican Pre-Convention
 Conservative base supports Elihu Root
 Teddy Roosevelt, at first spurning nomination by any party,
decides to run without appearing to do so
 Hughes support based on sentiments that Hughes was the
only candidate who could beat Wilson
 Several favorite sons and other favored candidates: Charles
Fairbanks, Theodore E. Burton, Albert B. Cummins, Robert
La Follette, Leonard Wood
Republican Primaries
 Charles Hughes and Teddy Roosevelt refused to allow their
names be printed on primary ballots
 A large amount of support for unrealistic favorite sons resulted
 Despite the primaries, from polls it was apparent that the
two real contenders were Hughes and Roosevelt
 6,234 votes Roosevelt, 3,220 Hughes (n = 13,258) from a poll
by the Minneapolis Journal
 758 Hughes, 275 Roosevelt, 138 Root (n = 1,500) from a
Literary Digest poll
Republican Nominating Convention
Threat of Progressive split forced support
away from Root
 Progressives held nominating convention
at the same time in Chicago
 Progressives threatened to nominate a
candidate if Republicans did not
nominate a candidate who appealed to
Hughes was nominated despite no early
indication that he would accept nomination
or what his stance was on the issues
Hughes won the nomination within 3 ballots
Fairbanks secured Vice-Presidential
 was well-liked but not qualified enough
in foreign affairs to stand out as
Presidential nominee
Woodrow Wilson: The Incumbent
Democratic Nominee
 Devoutly religious
 Father was co-founder of
Southern Presbyterian
Church in the United States
 Intellectual and academic
 Taught law alongside Hughes
at New York Law School
 Former President of
Princeton University
 Former Governor of New
 Incumbent President
Wilson’s Party Influence and Issue Stance
 Was instrumental in passing
Progressive reforms during
first term
 Reduction of tariffs, anti-
child labor, income tax,
established Federal Reserve
 Known to be liberal and anti-
war but not a pacifist
 Wanted war preparedness,
but did not want to enter war
 Had wide respect from the
Democratic party
Charles E. Hughes: The Republican Nominee
 Son of a Northern Baptist
Lawyer and Professor
Reputation of having a
cool, distant demeanor
Former Governor of New
Secretary of State under
Associate Justice of the
Supreme Court
Hughes Party Influence and Issue Stance
 Hughes was respected for being neither liberal nor
 Hughes had operated “independent” of the political scene as a
member of the Supreme Court
 Hughes supported intervention in Europe, women’s suffrage,
and protective tariffs
Campaign Strategy and Issue
Emphasis: Democrat
 Democrats focused on
emphasizing liberal social
Campaign targeted
Progressives who did not
return to the Republican
party and targeted the West
“He Kept Us Out of War”
Wilson was disinterested in
campaigning across the
Attacked hyphenism
 Caused issues with Irish-
American, Catholic vote
Campaign Strategy and Issue
Emphasis: Republican
 Silence on Wilson’s domestic policy
 Was a massive hurdle for Hughes
 Was forced to appeal to peace-loving Progressives and
nationalists interested in war
 Failed to court key political supporters in California, Ohio
 Teddy Roosevelt campaigned for Hughes, delivered speeches
supporting intervention
Election Results: Democratic Victory
Despite winning a higher
popular vote percentage
when compared with the
election of 1912, Wilson won
fewer electoral votes in 1916
due to the unification of the
Republican Party.
9,126,868-8,548,728 D-R
EV: 266 votes to win
52.2% -47.8%
Election Analysis
Wilson had strong sectional support
in the South and along the
Mountain states, while Hughes had
sectional support in the Northeast
and Mid-North.
Wilson picked up three states he
had not won in the previous
election: Ohio, New Hampshire,
Victory hinged on California,
whose PV margin was less than
4,000. Hughes was assumed to be
the winner before the total vote
count from California was
transmitted east.
Wilson appealed to the liberal vote
and was able to capture Progressive
and Western voters who were
unwilling to support Hughes
Comparison between 1912 and 1916
Election of 1912
Election of 1916
Historical Significance and Future Impact
 Wilson became first Democratic President since Andrew
Jackson (1829-1837) to succeed himself
 Only time a Supreme Court Justice has been nominated for
the office of the President
 Wilson later intervenes in Europe in 1917
 Intervention is paramount to Allied victory
 Wilson advocates for League of Nations