The Effects on American Politics
From the Election of 1912 During the Progressive Era, Americans faced the challenge of choosing between four strong candidates of the election of 1912. Each candidate held concrete platforms that would have different effects on progressivism. Americans could chose the conservative presidential incumbent William Howard Taft(R), the New Jersey governor Woodrow Wilson (D), the long-time fighter for social reform-Eugene V. Debs (S), or the former president Theodore Roosevelt of the newly formed Bull Moose Party (Progressive Party). Through this election many steps were taken to change the face of the election season, including women's rights, primaries, and third parties. The 1912 election became the first to use presidential primaries on a nationwide scale, encompassing 12 states. Rhodes Cook states that by early 1912, seven states had enacted legislation establishing presidential primaries with either a preference vote, the direct election of delegates, or the combination of two. Cook also states that five other states added primaries in short order. (21-22) The primaries forced the nominees of each party to run two full campaigns, one for the nomination and one for the general election. The 1912 election showed that poor campaigning in the primaries led to low numbers of votes in the general election. This was seen in Taft's case, which did little in the Republican primary and got 632,874 popular votes less than Roosevelt and 2,806,829 less than Woodrow Wilson (Congressional Quarterly 122). Roosevelt is to be quoted on the issue of candidates' attitudes of primaries"[Their] feeling is that politics is a game, that the people should simply sit on the bleachers as spectators, and that no appeal lies to the people from the men who, for their own profit, are playing the game."(March 8, 1912 Kendell 1) Since this first important presidential primary, the presidential election has not been...
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