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The United States presidential election of 1936 was the most lopsided presidential election in the history of the United Statesmarker in terms of electoral votes. In terms of the popular vote, it was the third biggest victory since 1820.

The election took place as the Great Depression entered its eighth year. Incumbent President Franklin D. Roosevelt was still working to push the provisions of his New Deal economic policy through Congress and the courts. However, the New Deal policies he had already enacted, such as Social Security and unemployment benefits, had proven to be highly popular with most Americans. Roosevelt's Republican opponent was Governor Alf Landon of Kansasmarker, a political moderate.

Although some political pundits predicted a close race, Roosevelt went on to win the greatest electoral landslide since the beginning of the current two-party system in the 1850s, carrying all but 8 electoral votes. Roosevelt carried every state except Maine and Vermont. Even as of 2008, Vermont has voted for more Republican presidential nominees than any other state. During the 1850's, Vermont began a voting record unequaled by any other state. From 1856 through 1960, Vermont gave the state's electoral votes to the Republican Party nominee in every presidential election; and the National Union Party in 1864 when Lincoln ran for re-election not on the Republican ticket which did not nominate any official candidates that year. No other state has voted so many times in a row for major candidates of the same political party. Maine also held a similar political record. From 1856 through 1960, Maine voted for the Republican candidate in every presidential election but one. In 1912, the state gave Democrat Woodrow Wilson a plurality of 39.43%.

By winning 523 electoral votes, Roosevelt received 98.49% of the electoral vote, the highest percentage since 1820. Roosevelt also won the largest number of electoral votes ever recorded at that time; so far only surpassed by Ronald Reagan in the 1984 election when 7 more electoral votes were available. In addition, Roosevelt won 60.8% of the national popular vote, the second highest popular-vote percentage won by a U.S. presidential candidate since 1820.

Nominations

Democratic Party nomination

Image:FDR in 1933.jpg|President Franklin D. Roosevelt of New YorkmarkerImage:Henry_Breckinridge.jpg|Former Assistant Secretary of War Henry S. Breckinridge of New Yorkmarker

President Roosevelt faced only one primary opponent other than favorite sons. Henry S. Breckinridge, an anti-New Deal lawyer from New York, filed to run against Roosevelt in four primaries. Breckinridge's test of the popularity of the New Deal among Democrats failed, as he lost by wide margins. In New Jersey, President Roosevelt did not file for the preference vote and lost that primary to Breckinridge, though he did receive 19% of the vote on write-ins. Roosevelt's candidates for delegate swept the race in New Jersey and elsewhere. In other primaries, Breckinridge's best showing was his 15% in Maryland. Overall, Roosevelt received 93% of the primary vote, compared to 2% for Breckinridge [6735].

The Democratic Party Convention was held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvaniamarker. The delegates unanimously renominated incumbents President Franklin Roosevelt and Vice President John Nance Garner. At Roosevelt's request, the two-thirds rule, which had given the South a veto power, was repealed.

The Balloting
Presidential Ballot Vice Presidential Ballot
Franklin D. Roosevelt 1100 John Nance Garner 1100


Republican Party nomination

Image:LandonPortr.jpg|Governor Alf Landon of KansasmarkerImage:Williameborah.jpg|Senator William Edgar Borah of IdahomarkerImage:Fknox.jpg|Owner and publisher Frank Knox of Illinoismarker

Although many candidates sought the Republican nomination, only two, Governor Landon and Senator Borah, were considered to be serious candidates. While favorite sons County Attorney Earl Warren of California, Governor Warren E. Green of South Dakotamarker, and Stephen A. Day of Ohiomarker won their respective primaries, the 70-year-old Borah, a well-known progressive and "insurgent," carried the Wisconsinmarker, Nebraskamarker, Pennsylvaniamarker, West Virginiamarker, and Oregonmarker primaries, while also performing quite strongly in Knox's Illinois and Green's South Dakota. However, the party machinery almost uniformly backed Landon, a wealthy businessman and centrist, who won primaries in Massachusettsmarker and New Jerseymarker and dominated in the caucuses and at state party convention.
Republican primaries by state results
With Knox withdrawing as Landon's selection for Vice President and Day, Green, and Warren releasing their delegates, the tally at the convention was:



Other nominations

Many people expected Huey Long, the colorful Democratic senator from Louisianamarker, to run as a third-party candidate with his "Share Our Wealth" program as his platform, but his bid was cut short when he was assassinated in September 1935. It was later revealed by historian and Long biographer T. Harry Williams that Long had never, in fact, intended to run for the presidency in 1936. Instead, he had been plotting with Father Charles Coughlin, a Catholic priest and populist talk radio personality, to run someone else on the soon-to-be-formed "Share Our Wealth" Party ticket. According to Williams, the idea was that this candidate would split the left-wing vote with President Roosevelt, thereby electing a Republican president and proving the electoral appeal of SOW. Long would then wait four years and run for president as a Democrat in 1940.

Prior to Long's death, leading contenders for the role of the sacrificial 1936 candidate included Senators Burton K. Wheeler (D-Montanamarker) and William E. Borah (R-Idahomarker) and Governor Floyd B. Olson (FL-Minnesotamarker). After the assassination, however, the two senators lost interest in the idea and Olson was diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer.

Father Coughlin, who had allied himself with Dr. Francis Townsend, a left-wing political activist who was pushing for the creation of an old-age pension system, and Rev. Gerald L.K. Smith, a well-known white supremacist and spokesman for the Christian Right, was eventually forced to run Congressman William Lemke (R-North Dakotamarker) as the candidate of the newly-created "Union Party." Lemke, who lacked the charisma and national stature of the other potential candidates, fared poorly in the election, barely managing 2% of the vote, and the party was dissolved the following year.

William Dudley Pelley, Chief of the Silver Shirts Legion, ran on the ballot in Washington state, managing to secure less than 2,000 votes.

General election

Campaign

[[Image:1936prescountymap2.PNG|thumb|right|400px|Election results by county.
]]
The election was held on November 3, 1936.

This election is notable for the Literary Digest poll, which was based on 10 million questionnaires mailed to readers and potential readers; over two million were returned. The Literary Digest, which had correctly predicted the winner of the last 5 elections, announced in its October 31 issue that Landon would be the winner with 370 electoral votes. The cause of this mistake is believed to be due to improper sampling: more Republicans subscribed to the Literary Digest than Democrats, and were thus more likely to vote for Landon than Roosevelt. This mistake by the Literary Digest proved to be devastating to the magazine's credibility, and in fact the magazine went out of existence within a few months of the election.

That same year, George Gallup, an advertising executive who had begun a scientific poll, predicted that Roosevelt would win the election, based on a quota sample of 50,000 people. He also predicted that the Literary Digest would mis-predict the results. His correct predictions made public opinion polling a critical element of elections for journalists and indeed for politicians. The Gallup Poll would become a staple of future presidential elections, and remains one of the most prominent election polling organizations to this day.

Roosevelt won by a landslide, carrying 46 of the 48 states and bringing in many additional Democratic members of Congress. After Lyndon Johnson in 1964, Roosevelt's 60.8% of the popular vote is the second-largest percentage in U.S. history since the nearly unopposed election of James Monroe in 1820 and his 98.5% of the electoral vote is the highest in two-party competition. Roosevelt won the largest number of electoral votes ever recorded at that time, so far only surpassed by Ronald Reagan in the 1984 election, when 7 more electoral votes were available. Some political pundits predicted the Republicans, whom many voters blamed for the Great Depression, would soon become an extinct political party. However, the Republicans would make a strong comeback in the 1938 congressional elections and would remain a potent force in Congress, although they were not able to win the presidency again until 1952.

The Electoral College results, in which Landon only won Maine and Vermont, inspired Democratic party chairman James Farley to amend the then-conventional political wisdom of "As Maine goes, so goes the nation" into "As goes Maine, so goes Vermont." Additionally, a prankster posted a sign on Vermont's border with New Hampshire the day after the 1936 election; it read: "You are now leaving the United States."

Results

Source (Popular Vote):

Source (Electoral Vote):

Results by state


>

Franklin RooseveltDemocratic Alfred LandonRepublican William LemkeUnion Other State Total
State electoral
votes
# % electoral
votes
# % electoral
votes
# % electoral
votes
# % electoral
votes
#
Alabama 11 238,136 86.4 11 35,358 12.8 - 551 0.2 - 1,639 0.6 - 275,244 AL
Arizona 3 86,722 69.9 3 33,433 26.9 - 3,307 2.7 - 701 0.6 - 124,163 AZ
Arkansas 9 146,765 81.8 9 32,039 17.9 - 4 0.0 - 615 0.3 - 179,423 AR
California 22 1,766,836 67.0 22 836,431 31.7 - not on ballot 35,615 1.4 - 2,638,882 CA
Colorado 6 295,021 60.4 6 181,267 37.1 - 9,962 2.0 - 2,434 0.5 - 488,684 CO
Connecticut 8 382,129 55.3 8 278,685 40.4 - 21,805 3.2 - 8,104 1.2 - 690,723 CT
Delaware 3 69,702 54.6 3 57,236 44.9 - 442 0.4 - 223 0.2 - 127,603 DE
Florida 7 249,117 76.1 7 78,248 23.9 - not on ballot 327,365 FL
Georgia 12 255,364 87.1 12 36,942 12.6 - 141 0.1 - 728 0.3 - 293,175 GA
Idaho 4 125,683 63.0 4 66,256 33.2 - 7,678 3.9 - not on ballot 199,617 ID
Illinois 29 2,282,999 57.7 29 1,570,393 39.7 - 89,439 2.3 - 13,691 0.4 - 3,956,522 IL
Indiana 14 934,974 56.6 14 691,570 41.9 - 19,407 1.2 - 4,946 0.3 - 1,650,897 IN
Iowa 11 621,756 54.4 11 487,977 42.7 - 29,687 2.6 - 3,313 0.3 - 1,142,733 IA
Kansas 9 464,520 53.7 9 397,727 46.0 - 497 0.1 - 2,770 0.3 - 865,014 KS
Kentucky 11 541,944 58.5 11 369,702 39.9 - 12,501 1.4 - 2,056 0.2 - 926,203 KY
Louisiana 10 292,894 88.8 10 36,791 11.2 - not on ballot 93 0.0 - 329,778 LA
Maine 5 126,333 41.5 - 168,823 55.5 5 7,581 2.5 - 1,503 0.5 - 304,240 ME
Maryland 8 389,612 62.4 8 231,435 37.0 - not on ballot 3,849 0.6 - 624,896 MD
Massachusetts 17 942,716 51.2 17 768,613 41.8 - 118,639 6.5 - 10,389 0.6 - 1,840,357 MA
Michigan 19 1,016,794 56.3 19 699,733 38.8 - 75,795 4.2 - 12,776 0.7 - 1,805,098 MI
Minnesota 11 698,811 61.8 11 350,461 31.0 - 74,296 6.6 - 6,407 0.6 - 1,129,975 MN
Mississippi 9 157,318 97.1 9 4,443 2.7 - not on ballot 329 0.2 - 162,090 MS
Missouri 15 1,111,043 60.8 15 697,891 38.2 - 14,630 0.8 - 5,071 0.3 - 1,828,635 MO
Montana 4 159,690 69.3 4 63,598 27.6 - 5,549 2.4 - 1,675 0.7 - 230,512 MT
Nebraska 7 347,445 57.1 7 247,731 40.7 - 12,847 2.1 - not on ballot 608,023 NE
Nevada 3 31,925 72.8 3 11,923 27.2 - not on ballot 43,848 NV
New Hampshire 4 108,460 49.7 4 104,642 48.0 - 4,819 2.2 - 193 0.1 - 218,114 NH
New Jersey 16 1,083,549 59.6 16 719,421 39.6 - 9,405 0.5 - 6,752 0.4 - 1,819,127 NJ
New Mexico 3 106,037 62.7 3 61,727 36.5 - 924 0.6 - 448 0.3 - 169,176 NM
New York 47 3,293,222 58.9 47 2,180,670 39.0 - not on ballot 122,506 2.2 - 5,596,398 NY
North Carolina 13 616,141 73.4 13 223,283 26.6 - 2 0.0 - 38 0.0 - 839,464 NC
North Dakota 4 163,148 59.6 4 72,751 26.6 - 36,708 13.4 - 1,109 0.4 - 273,716 ND
Ohio 26 1,747,140 58.0 26 1,127,855 37.4 - 132,212 4.4 - 5,382 0.2 - 3,012,589 OH
Oklahoma 11 501,069 66.8 11 245,122 32.7 - not on ballot 3,549 0.5 - 749,740 OK
Oregon 5 266,733 64.4 5 122,706 29.6 - 21,831 5.3 - 2,751 0.7 - 414,021 OR
Pennsylvania 36 2,353,987 56.9 36 1,690,200 40.8 - 67,468 1.6 - 26,771 0.7 - 4,138,426 PA
Rhode Island 4 165,238 53.1 4 125,031 40.2 - 19,569 6.3 - 1,340 0.4 - 311,178 RI
South Carolina 8 113,791 98.6 8 1,646 1.4 - not on ballot 115,437 SC
South Dakota 4 160,137 54.0 4 125,977 42.5 - 10,338 3.5 - not on ballot 296,472 SD
Tennessee 11 328,083 68.9 11 146,520 30.8 - 296 0.1 - 1,639 0.3 - 476,538 TN
Texas 23 734,485 87.1 23 103,874 12.3 - 3,281 0.4 - 1,842 0.2 - 843,482 TX
Utah 4 150,246 69.3 4 64,555 29.8 - 1,121 0.5 - 755 0.4 - 216,677 UT
Vermont 3 62,124 43.2 - 81,023 56.4 3 not on ballot 542 0.4 - 143,689 VT
Virginia 11 234,980 70.2 11 98,336 29.4 - 233 0.1 - 1,041 0.3 - 334,590 VA
Washington 8 459,579 66.4 8 206,892 29.9 - 17,463 2.5 - 8,404 1.2 - 692,338 WA
West Virginia 8 502,582 60.6 8 325,358 39.2 - not on ballot 2,005 0.2 - 829,945 WV
Wisconsin 12 802,984 63.8 12 380,828 30.3 - 60,297 4.8 - 14,451 1.1 - 1,258,560 WI
Wyoming 3 62,624 60.6 3 38,739 37.5 - 1,653 1.6 - 366 0.4 - 103,382 WY
TOTALS: 531 27,752,648 60.8 523 16,681,862 36.5 8 892,378 2.0 - 320,811 0.7 - 45,647,699
TO WIN: 266


Close states

New Hampshire, 1.75%

Bibliography

  • Kristi Andersen, The Creation of a Democratic Majority: 1928-1936 (1979), statistical
  • James McGregor Burns, Roosevelt: The Lion and the Fox (1956)
  • Fadely, James Philip. "Editors, Whistle Stops, and Elephants: the Presidential Campaign of 1936 in Indiana." Indiana Magazine of History 1989 85(2): 101-137. Issn: 0019-6673


  • William E. Leuchtenburg, "Election of 1936", in Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., ed., A History of American Presidential Elections vol 3 (1971), analysis and primary documents
  • Donald McCoy, Landon of Kansas (1968)
  • Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Politics of Upheaval (1960), online version


References



See also



External links



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