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U.S. presidential election, 1912
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U.S. presidential election, 1912

Presidential CandidateElectoral Vote Popular Vote Pct Party Running Mate
(Electoral Votes)
(Thomas) Woodrow Wilson of New Jersey (W) 435 6,293,454 41.9 Democrat Thomas Riley Marshall of Indiana (435)
Theodore Roosevelt of New York 88 4,119,207 27.5 Progressive Hiram Warren Johnson of California (88)
William Howard Taft of Ohio 8 3,483,922 23.2 Republican Nicholas Murray Butler of New York (8)
Other 7.4
Total 100.0%
Other elections: 1900, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1916, 1920, 1924
Source: U.S. Office of the Federal Register

Table of contents
1 Introduction
2 Republican Nomination
3 Democratic Nomination
4 Formation of the Bull Moose Party
5 General Election

Introduction

The 1912 election was marked by hostility and division between the establishment and Progressive factions of the Republican Party.

Republican Nomination

The Republican Convention was held in Chicago, Illinois 8 June to 22 June, and was dramatically marked by Roosevelt bolting from the party to form the "Bull Moose Party" (see next section). Republicans renominated William Howard Taft and James S. Sherman, although Roosevelt had won all but one of the primaries. But Sherman died before the election, so the Republicans had to choose someone else. They chose Nicholas M. Butler, the President of Columbia University.

Democratic Nomination

The Democratic Convention was held in Baltimore, Maryland from 25 June to 2 July. After a long deadlock, former presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan threw his support to Woodrow Wilson in order to defeat Missouri Representative Champ Clark.

Formation of the Bull Moose Party

On the evening of June 22, 1912, former President Theodore Roosevelt asked his supporters to leave the floor of the Republican National Convention in Chicago. Roosevelt maintained that President Taft had allowed fraudulent seating of delegates in order to capture the presidential nomination from progressive forces within the Party. Taft's poor showing against Roosevelt in the primaries, the latter contended, evidenced popular support for a more progressive Republican agenda.

The rift between progressive and conservative wings of the Republican Party was apparent even before Roosevelt left office. Roosevelt's support of government regulation, his groundbreaking efforts in conservation and consumer protection, and his willingness to work with organized labor alienated pro-business party members. When Roosevelt tapped William Howard Taft as his successor in 1908, he had assumed Taft would continue to support his agenda. Although Taft's record suggested a leader sympathetic to reform, the former jurist's quiet demeanor and attention to the letter of the law irritated Roosevelt and disappointed Republican progressives.

Republican progressives reconvened in Chicago's Orchestra Hall and endorsed the formation of a national progressive party. When formally launched later that summer, the new Progressive Party chose Roosevelt as its presidential nominee. Questioned by reporters, Roosevelt said he felt as strong as a "bull moose." Thenceforth known as the "Bull Moose Party," the Progressives promised to increase federal regulation and protect the welfare of ordinary people.

Other candidates included Eugene V. Debs of the Socialist Party of America, who received 900,369 popular votes (6% of total), and Eugene W. Chafin of the Prohibition Party, who received 207,972 (1.4%).

General Election

The 1912 presidential campaign was bitterly fought and easily won on November 5. With the Republican Party divided, progressive Democrat Woodrow Wilson captured the presidency handily. Although he failed to become chief executive again, Roosevelt succeeded in his vendetta against Taft who received just twenty-three percent of the popular vote compared to Roosevelt's twenty-seven percent.

Former President Theodore Roosevelt's formation of the Progressive or "Bull Moose" party resulted in the only instance in the 20th century of a candidate of neither the Republican nor Democratic party receiving more votes than one of the candidates of those two leading parties.

Despite an impressive showing in 1912, the Bull Moose failed to establish itself as a viable third party. Still active on the state level, Progressives did not put forward a presidential candidate again until Wisconsin Senator Robert M. La Follette's run in the election of 1924.

After the election, Nicholas Butler was selected to receive the electoral votes from Utah and Vermont due to the death of V.P. James S. Sherman.

Source: Library of Congress

See also: President of the United States, U.S. presidential election, 1912, History of the United States (1865-1918)