For What Was the American Election of 1932 a Turning Point?

The American presidential election of 1932 was a turning point that ended Republican dominance in national politics and finished the Progressive Era of the early 20th century. From 1860 to 1932, only two non-Republican presidents were elected: Grover Cleveland and Woodrow Wilson for two terms each. The election also effectively stopped a multiparty system, and the two-party system became the norm.

The stock market crash of 1929 and the beginning of the Great Depression turned American voters away from Republicans, and Democratic candidate Franklin D. Roosevelt won the presidential election of 1932 in a landslide over incumbent Herbert Hoover. Just four years earlier, Hoover crushed Alfred E. Smith with 444 electoral votes to Smith's 87. In 1932, Roosevelt received 472 electoral votes to Hoover's 59 in a remarkable reversal.

American voters were upset about how Hoover handled the economic crisis. The so-called Progressive Era, which started with President William McKinley in 1896, ended with Hoover's defeat in 1932. Pro-business interests dominated the first 30 years of the 20th century. When those interests nose-dived in 1929, Americans turned to a different political paradigm to try to fix the damage.

Roosevelt was the first of five successive presidential election victories for Democrats. His New Deal reforms became the basis for eight years of economic policy until the United States entered World War II in late 1941.