Presidential Election of 1912
Future President William Howard Taft descending from the speaker's platform on Taft Day in Cincinnati, Ohio, 1908. Taft was the twenty-seventh President, serving from 1909-1913.
The Presidential Election of 1912 reflected both the important influence of Progressivism on American politics and the deep divisions that it could cause. In the state of Ohio, the Democratic Party chose Governor Judson Harmon as their candidate for president. At the Democratic National Convention, delegates selected Woodrow Wilson to represent the party instead. Harmon appeared to be too conservative and did not support popular Progressive reforms like initiative and referendum.
The debate over the Republican presidential candidate proved to be far more controversial. President William Howard Taft, an Ohioan, wished to run for reelection. The Ohio Progressive Republican League, founded in January 1912, originally supported the candidacy of Progressive reformer Robert M. LaFollette. Former president Theodore Roosevelt, critical of the direction of Taft's administration, also declared his desire to run. At the Republican National Convention, delegates eventually chose Taft as the party's candidate. Members of the Ohio Progressive Republican League, as well as many other Progressives, left the convention to form their own political party. This new party was named the Progressive Party, also known as the Bull Moose Party, and its members chose Roosevelt as their presidential candidate.
Eugene V. Debs represented the Socialist Party in this election.
Ultimately, Ohioans chose Woodrow Wilson in the election. Wilson received a plurality of almost 148,000 votes in Ohio. Although Taft was an Ohioan, the split within the Republican Party meant that he did not receive enough votes to win the state. It was the first time since the creation of the Republican Party in 1854 that Ohio's Electoral College votes went to the Democratic Party's candidate. The results in Ohio reflected national trends as well. Woodrow Wilson became the United States' next president.