Woodrow Wilson's Presidency

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Why was the election of 1912 significant ?

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One major significance of the election of 1912 was that it showed the effect of what can happen when a viable third party candidate enters to contest. When Theodore Roosevelt entered the race against his former secretary of war, Howard Taft, he split the progressive vote, essentially handing the election over to Democrat Woodrow Wilson.

Roosevelt felt that Taft was not progressive enough (at this time the Republican party was the more liberal or progressive party in the country). Therefore, he ran against him in the 1912 election. This led to an insurgency within the Republican party. As a result of this split in the GOP, Wilson was easily able to win a majority of electoral votes even though he only won 42 percent of the popular vote. It seems highly unlikely that Wilson would have won the election if the progressives had not been divided.

This election thus serves as a warning to the two major American political parties today. It is why many politicians pledge to support their party's...

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