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tight ship

United States presidential election, 1932

The United States presidential election of 1932 took place as the effects of the 1929 Stock Market Crash and the Great Depression were being felt intensely across the country. President Hoover's popularity was falling as voters felt he was unable to reverse the economic collapse, or deal with prohibition. Franklin D. Roosevelt saw that Hoover's failure to deal with these problems could be used as a platform for his own election, promising reform in his policy called the New Deal. Although vague about how he would remedy the situation, Roosevelt won by a landslide, and this "critical election" marked the collapse of the Fourth Party System or Progressive Era. The voters soon were realigned into the Fifth Party System, dominated by Roosevelt's New Deal Coalition.

Nominations

Democratic Party nomination

''See also: 1932 Democratic National Convention
Democratic candidates

Candidates gallery

Throughout the spring and summer of 1932, New York Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt was viewed as the heavy favorite to win the Democratic nomination. However, he did receive some unexpected setbacks, such as when Al Smith, the 1928 Democratic presidential nominee, defeated Roosevelt in the Massachusetts primary. However, as the Democratic Convention opened in Chicago, Roosevelt was believed to have more delegate votes than all of his opponents combined. Due to the two-thirds rule, however, many of Roosevelt's rivals hoped that he would be unable to win the nomination, and that the delegates would turn to them in later ballots.

On the first ballot Roosevelt was well ahead of his rivals, of whom the strongest was Smith. However, he was still below the two-thirds percentage he needed to win. On the next two ballots Roosevelt's total went up only slightly, and his managers - Louis Howe and James Farley - became concerned that if he did not win the nomination on the next few ballots, his strength would ebb and move to other candidates. Before the fourth ballot began, Farley and Howe cut a deal with the press baron William Randolph Hearst in which FDR would make John Nance Garner, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and also a candidate, his Vice President. Garner and his manager, Texas Congressman Sam Rayburn, agreed to the deal and on the fourth ballot Garner withdrew his candidacy and supported Roosevelt. Additionally, former Secretary of the Treasury William G. McAdoo, whose own presidential ambitions were thwarted by Al Smith eight years before, gleefully changed California's votes from Garner to Roosevelt, which set off a stampede that led to Roosevelt's nomination by the end of the fourth ballot.

Presidential Ballot
Ballot 1 2 3 4
Franklin D. Roosevelt 666.5 677 682 945
Al Smith 201 194 190 190
John Nance Garner 90.25 90.25 101.3 -
George White 52 50.5 52.5 -
Harry F. Byrd 25 24 25 -
Melvin A. Traylor 42.5 40 40 -
James A. Reed 24 18 27 -
Albert C. Ritchie 21 23 23 -
William H. Murray 23 - - -
Will Rogers - 22 - -
Newton D. Baker 8.5 8.5 8.5 -

Vice Presidential Ballot
Ballot 1
John Nance Garner 1154

The Democratic Party Platform included repeal of Prohibition (devolving the decision of allowing or prohibiting alcohol to the individual states to decide for themselves).

Republican Party nomination

See also: 1932 Republican National Convention

Republican candidates

Candidates gallery

As the year 1932 began, the Republican Party still had hopes that the worst of the Depression was over; in any case President Herbert Hoover controlled the party. Little-known former U.S. Senator Joseph I. France ran against Hoover in the primaries, often unopposed. His primary wins were tempered by two events: first, Hoover entered the Maryland primary and defeated France in his home state; second, few delegates to the national convention were chosen in the primaries.

Hoover's managers at the Republican National Convention ran a tight ship, not allowing expressions of concern for the direction of the nation. Hoover was nominated on the first ballot with 98% of the delegate vote.

The tally was spectacularly lopsided:

Presidential Ballot, RNC 1932
President Herbert Hoover 1126.5
U.S. Senator John J. Blaine 13
Former President Calvin Coolidge 4.5
Former U.S. Senator Joseph I. France 4
James W. Wadsworth 1

Both the agricultural Republicans and the extreme hard money Republicans (the latter hoping to nominate Coolidge) balked at the floor managers and voted against the renomination of Vice President Charles Curtis, who won with just 55% of the delegate votes.

General election

Campaign

After making a dangerous airplane trip from his Hyde Park estate to the Democratic convention, Roosevelt accepted the nomination in person. In this history-making speech, he committed himself to battling the Great Depression in the United States with a "New Deal" when he stated: "I pledge you, I pledge myself, to a new deal for the American people." Roosevelt's trip to Chicago was the first of several successful, precedent-making moves designed to make him appear to be the candidate of change in the election. Large crowds greeted Roosevelt as he traveled around the nation; his campaign song "Happy Days Are Here Again" became one of the most popular in American political history.

In contrast, President Hoover was widely blamed for the Great Depression; for more than two years Hoover had been issuing statements that the worst was over, only to have the economy make further downturns. Hoover's attempts to publicly campaign were a disaster, as he often had objects (especially rotten fruit and vegetables) thrown at him or his vehicle as he rode through city streets. In his addresses, Hoover attacked Roosevelt as a dangerous radical who would only make the Depression worse by raising taxes and increasing the federal debt to pay for expensive welfare and social-relief programs. However, with unemployment at a record 33% , Hoover's criticisms failed to gain traction with the public.

The election was held on November 8, 1932. Maine held separate state elections in September.

1932 was a realigning election. Roosevelt and the Democratic ticket won a sweeping victory over Hoover and the Republicans, extending their control over the U.S. House and gaining control of the U.S. Senate. Twelve years of Republican leadership came to an end, and twenty consecutive years of Democratic control of the White House would ensue. Until 1932, the Republicans had controlled the Presidency for 56 of the previous 72 years, dating to Abraham Lincoln's election in 1860. After 1932, the Democrats would control the Presidency for 28 of the next 36 years, until the 1968 presidential election created a new alignment which favored the Republicans.The vote for Roosevelt was nearly 8 million higher than that for Smith in 1928, an increase of 52%. Hoover's popular vote was reduced by 26% from his result in the 1928 election. In addition, the vote for most minor parties rose dramatically: increases of 230% for the Socialist Party (Norman Thomas's highest raw vote total of his campaigns); an increase of 112% for the Communist Party; an increase of 305% for the Prohibition Party; and an increase of 57% for the Socialist Labor Party.

Hoover's 17.76% margin of loss is the largest ever margin of defeat for an incumbent President to date.

Results

Source (Popular Vote):

Source (Electoral Vote):

Close States (Margin of Victory Less than 10%)

  1. Connecticut, 1.1%
  2. New Hampshire, 1.4%
  3. New Jersey, 1.9%
  4. Delaware, 2.4%
  5. Ohio, 2.9%
  6. Massachusetts, 4.0%
  7. Pennsylvania, 5.5%
  8. Michigan, 7.9%
  9. Kansas, 9.4%

Results by state

>

Franklin Roosevelt

Democratic
Herbert Hoover

Republican
Norman Thomas

Socialist
Other State Total
State electoral
votes
# % electoral
votes
# % electoral
votes
# % electoral
votes
# % electoral
votes
#
Alabama 11 207,910 84.7 11 34,675 14.1 - 2,030 0.8 - 739 0.3 - 245,354 AL
Arizona 3 79,264 67.0 3 36,104 30.5 - 2,618 2.2 - 265 0.2 - 118,251 AZ
Arkansas 9 189,602 86.0 9 28,467 12.9 - 1,269 0.6 - 1,224 0.6 - 220,562 AR
California 22 1,324,157 58.4 22 847,902 37.4 - 63,299 2.8 - 32,608 1.4 - 2,267,966 CA
Colorado 6 250,877 54.8 6 189,617 41.4 - 13,591 3.0 - 3,611 0.8 - 457,696 CO
Connecticut 8 281,632 47.4 - 288,420 48.5 8 20,840 3.5 - 3,651 0.6 - 594,183 CT
Delaware 3 54,319 48.1 - 57,073 50.6 3 1,376 1.2 - 133 0.1 - 112,901 DE
Florida 7 206,307 74.7 7 69,170 25.0 - 775 0.3 - not on ballot 276,252 FL
Georgia 12 234,118 91.6 12 19,863 7.8 - 461 0.2 - 1,148 0.5 - 255,590 GA
Idaho 4 109,479 58.7 4 71,417 38.3 - 526 0.3 - 5,203 2.8 - 186,625 ID
Illinois 29 1,882,304 55.2 29 1,432,756 42.0 - 67,258 2.0 - 25,608 0.8 - 3,407,926 IL
Indiana 14 862,054 54.7 14 677,184 42.9 - 21,388 1.4 - 16,301 1.0 - 1,576,927 IN
Iowa 11 598,019 57.7 11 414,433 40.0 - 20,467 2.00 - 3,768 0.4 - 1,036,687 IA
Kansas 9 424,204 53.6 9 349,498 44.1 - 18,276 2.3 - not on ballot 791,978 KS
Kentucky 11 580,574 59.1 11 394,716 40.2 - 3,853 0.4 - 3,920 0.4 - 983,063 KY
Louisiana 10 249,418 92.8 10 18,853 7.0 - not on ballot 533 0.2 - 268,804 LA
Maine 5 128,907 43.2 - 166,631 55.8 5 2,489 0.8 - 417 0.1 - 298,444 ME
Maryland 8 314,314 61.5 8 184,184 36.0 - 10,489 2.1 - 2,067 0.4 - 511,054 MD
Massachusetts 17 800,148 50.6 17 736,959 46.6 - 34,305 2.2 - 8,702 0.6 - 1,580,114 MA
Michigan 19 871,700 52.4 19 739,894 44.4 - 39,205 2.4 - 13,966 0.8 - 1,664,765 MI
Minnesota 11 600,806 59.9 11 363,959 36.3 - 25,476 2.5 - 12,602 1.3 - 1,002,843 MN
Mississippi 9 140,168 96.0 9 5,180 3.4 - 686 0.5 - not on ballot 146,034 MS
Missouri 15 1,025,406 63.7 15 564,713 35.1 - 16,374 1.0 - 3,401 0.2 - 1,609,894 MO
Montana 4 127,286 58.8 4 78,078 36.1 - 7,891 3.7 - 3,224 1.5 - 216,479 MT
Nebraska 7 359,082 63.0 7 201,177 35.3 - 9,876 1.7 - 2 0.0 - 570,137 NE
Nevada 3 28,756 69.4 3 12,674 30.6 - not on ballot 41,430 NV
New Hampshire 4 100,680 49.0 - 103,629 50.4 4 947 0.5 - 264 0.1 - 205,520 NH
New Jersey 16 806,394 49.5 16 775,406 47.6 - 42,988 2.6 - 4,719 0.3 - 1,629,507 NJ
New Mexico 3 95,089 62.7 3 54,217 35.8 - 1,776 1.2 - 524 0.4 - 151,606 NM
New York 47 2,534,959 54.1 47 1,937,963 41.3 - 177,397 3.8 - 38,295 0.8 - 4,688,614 NY
North Carolina 13 497,566 69.9 13 208,344 29.3 - 5,591 0.8 - not on ballot 711,501 NC
North Dakota 4 178,350 69.6 4 71,772 28.0 - 3,521 1.4 - 2,647 1.0 - 256,290 ND
Ohio 26 1,301,695 49.9 26 1,227,319 47.0 - 64,094 2.5 - 16,620 0.6 - 2,609,728 OH
Oklahoma 11 516,468 73.3 11 188,165 26.7 - not on ballot 704,633 OK
Oregon 5 213,871 58.0 5 136,019 36.7 - 15,450 4.2 - 3,468 0.9 - 368,808 OR
Pennsylvania 36 1,295,948 45.3 - 1,453,540 50.8 36 91,223 3.2 - 18,466 0.7 - 2,859,177 PA
Rhode Island 4 146,604 55.1 4 115,266 43.3 - 3,138 1.2 - 1,162 0.4 - 266,170 RI
South Carolina 8 102,347 98.0 8 1,978 1.9 - 82 0.1 - not on ballot 104,407 SC
South Dakota 4 183,515 63.6 4 99,212 34.4 - 1,551 0.5 - 4,160 1.4 - 288,438 SD
Tennessee 11 259,473 66.5 11 126,752 32.5 - 1,796 0.5 - 2,235 0.6 - 390,256 TN
Texas 23 760,348 88.1 23 97,959 11.4 - 4,450 0.5 - 669 0.1 - 836,426 TX
Utah 4 116,750 56.5 4 84,795 41.1 - 4,087 2.0 - 946 0.5 - 206,578 UT
Vermont 3 56,266 41.1 - 78,984 57.7 3 1,533 1.1 - 197 0.1 - 136,980 VT
Virginia 11 203,979 68.5 11 89,637 30.1 - 2,382 0.8 - 1,944 0.7 - 297,942 VA
Washington 8 353,260 57.5 8 208,645 33.9 - 17,080 2.8 - 35,829 5.8 - 614,814 WA
West Virginia 8 405,124 54.5 8 330,731 44.5 - 5,133 0.7 - 2,786 0.4 - 743,774 WV
Wisconsin 12 707,410 63.5 12 347,741 31.2 - 53,379 4.8 - 6,278 0.6 - 1,114,808 WI
Wyoming 3 54,370 56.1 3 39,583 40.8 - 2,829 2.9 - 180 0.2 - 96,962 WY
TOTALS: 531 22,821,277 57.4 472 15,761,254 39.7 59 884,885 2.2 - 284,482 0.7 - 39,751,898

TO WIN: 266

Bibliography

  • Kristi Andersen, The Creation of a Democratic Majority: 1928-1936 (1979), statistical
  • James McGregor Burns, Roosevelt: The Lion and the Fox (1956)
  • Frank Freidel, Franklin D. Roosevelt: The Triumph (1956)
  • Frank Freidel, "Election of 1932", in Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., ed., The Coming to Power: Critical Presidential Elections in American History (1981),
  • Harold F. Gosnell, Champion Campaigner: Franklin D. Roosevelt (1952)
  • Herbert Hoover, The Memoirs of Herbert Hoover: The Great Depression, 1929-1941 (1952)
  • Roy V. Peel and Thomas C. Donnelly, The 1932 Campaign: An Analysis (1935)
  • Donald A. Ritchie, Electing FDR: The New Deal Campaign of 1932 (2007)
  • Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. The Crisis of the Old Order (1957),

See also

External links

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