- United States presidential election, 1940
election_name = United States presidential election, 1940
country = United States
type = presidential
ongoing = no
previous_election = United States presidential election, 1936
previous_year = 1936
next_election = United States presidential election, 1944
next_year = 1944
election_date = November 5, 1940
Franklin D. Roosevelt
party1 = Democratic Party (United States)
Henry A. Wallace
electoral_vote1 = 449
states_carried1 = 38
popular_vote1 = 27,313,945
percentage1 = 54.7%
party2 = Republican Party (United States)
Charles L. McNary
electoral_vote2 = 82
states_carried2 = 10
popular_vote2 = 22,347,744
percentage2 = 44.8%
map_size = 395px
map_caption = Presidential election results map. Red denotes states won by Willkie/McNary, Blue denotes those won by Roosevelt/Wallace. Numbers indicate the number of electoral votes allotted to each state.
title = President
Franklin D. Roosevelt
before_party = Democratic Party (United States)
Franklin D. Roosevelt
after_party = Democratic Party (United States)The United States presidential election of 1940 was fought in the shadow of
World War IIas the United States was emerging from the Great Depression. Incumbent President Franklin D. Roosevelt(FDR), a Democrat, broke with tradition and ran for a third term, which became a major issue. The surprise Republican candidate was maverick businessman Wendell Willkie, a dark horsewho crusaded against Roosevelt's failure to end the Depression and eagerness for war. Roosevelt, aware of strong isolationistsentiment in the U.S., promised there would be no foreign wars if he were reelected. Willkie conducted an energetic campaign and managed to revive Republican strength in areas of the Midwestand Northeast. However, Roosevelt won a comfortable victory by building strong support from labor unions, big-city political machines, ethnic voters, and the traditionally Democratic Solid South.
The subsequent passing of the 22nd Amendment of the
United States Constitutionin 1947 renders this election the only occasion in American history in which a candidate has been elected for a third term as president (Roosevelt would subsequently be elected for a fourth term, although he died after only a few months in office).
Democratic Party Nomination
Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United Statesfrom New York
James A. Farley, former U.S. Postmaster General from New York
John Nance Garner, Vice President of the United Statesfrom Texas
Throughout the winter, spring, and summer of 1940 there was much speculation as to whether Roosevelt would break with long-standing tradition and run for an unprecedented third term. The "two-term" tradition, although not yet enshrined in the
U.S. Constitution, had been established by President George Washingtonwhen he refused to run for a third term in 1796, and no President had ever been elected to a third term. Roosevelt, however, refused to give a definitive statement as to his willingness to be a candidate again, and he even indicated to some ambitious Democrats, such as James Farley, that he would not run for a third term and that they could seek the Democratic nomination. However, as Nazi Germanyswept through Western Europeand menaced Britain in the spring and summer of 1940 Roosevelt decided that only he had the necessary experience and skills to see the nation safely through the Nazi threat. He was aided by the party's political bosses, who feared that no Democrat except Roosevelt could defeat the popular Willkie.
At the Democratic Convention Roosevelt easily swept aside challenges from Farley and
John Nance Garner, his Vice-President. Garner was a Texas conservative who had turned against FDR in his second term due to his liberal economic and social policies. As a result, FDR decided to pick a new running mate; he chose Henry A. Wallaceof Iowa, his Secretary of Agricultureand an outspoken liberal. Wallace was strenuously opposed by many of the party's conservatives, who felt that he was too radical and "eccentric" in his private life (he practiced New Agespiritual beliefs, and often consulted with a Russian spiritual gurunamed Nicholas Roerich) to be an effective running mate. However, FDR insisted that without him on the ticket he would decline renomination. Wallace won the vice-presidential nomination by a vote of 626 to 329 for House Speaker William Bankheadof Alabama.
The fall campaign
Willkie crusaded against Roosevelt's attempt to break the two-term presidential tradition, arguing that "if one man is indispensable, then none of us is free." Even some Democrats who had supported Roosevelt in the past disapproved of FDR's attempt to win a third term, and Willkie hoped to win their votes. Willkie also criticized what he claimed was the incompetence and waste in Roosevelt's New Deal welfare programs; he stated that as President he would keep most of FDR's government programs but would make them more efficient. However, many Americans still blamed business leaders for the
Great Depression, and the fact that Willkie symbolized "Big Business" hurt him with many working-class voters. Willkie was a fearless campaigner; he often visited industrial areas where Republicans were still blamed for causing the Great Depressionand where FDR was highly popular. In these areas Willkie frequently had rotten fruit and produce thrown at him, and was heckled by crowds, yet he was unfazed. Willkie also accused Roosevelt of leaving the nation unprepared for war, but Roosevelt preempted the military issue by expanding military contracts and establishing the lend-leaseprogram to supply the British with badly-needed weapons and warships. Willkie then reversed his approach and charged Roosevelt with secretly planning to take the nation into World War II. The accusation did cut into Roosevelt's support; in response FDR, in a pledge that he would later regret, promised that he would "not send American boys into any foreign wars." On election day - November 5 - Roosevelt received 27 million votes to Willkie's 22 million, and in the Electoral College, Roosevelt defeated Willkie 449 to 82. Willkie did get over six million more votes than the GOP's 1936 nominee, Alfred M. Landon, and he ran strong in ruralareas in the American Midwest, taking over 57% of the farm vote. Roosevelt, meanwhile, carried every American city with a population over 400,000 except for Cincinnati, Ohio.
Source (Popular Vote): Leip PV source 2| year=1940| as of=July 31, 2005
Source (Electoral Vote): National Archives EV source| year=1940| as of=July 31, 2005
Close states (margin of victory less than 8%)
#New York, 3.56%
#New Jersey, 3.62%
#New Hampshire, 6.44%
Results by state
President of the United States
United States Senate elections, 1940
History of the United States (1918-1945)
* James McGregor Burns, "Roosevelt: The Lion and the Fox" (1956)
* Ellsworth Barnard, "Wendell Willkie: Fighter for Freedom" (1966)
* [http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=98186825 Cole, Wayne S. "Charles A. Lindbergh and the Battle against American Intervention in World War II" (1974)]
* [http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=85979197 Cole, Wayne S. "America First: The Battle against Intervention, 1940-41" (1953)]
* Doenecke, Justus D. "The Battle Against Intervention, 1939-1941" (1997), includes short narrative and primary documents.
* Doenecke, Justus D. "Storm on the Horizon: The Challenge to American Intervention, 1939-1941" (2000).
* Henry O. Evjen, "The Willkie Campaign; An Unfortunate Chapter in Republican Leadership", "Journal of Politics", 14 (May 1952), in JSTOR
* S. Everett Gleason and William L. Langer; "The Undeclared War, 1940-1941" 1953 Policy toward war in Europe; pro FDR
* Grant, Philip A., Jr. "The Presidential Election of 1940 in Missouri." "Missouri Historical Review" 1988 83(1): 1-16. ISSN 0026-6582 Abstract: Missouri serves as a good barometer of nationwide political sentiment; The two major political parties considered Missouri a key state in the 1940 presidential election. Wendell Willkie captured 64 of the state's 114 counties, but huge majorities in the urban counties carried the state for Franklin D. Roosevelt.
* Jonas, Manfred. "Isolationism in America, 1935-1941" (1966).
* Neal, Steve. "Dark Horse: A Biography of Wendell Willkie" (1989)
* Herbert S. Parmet and Marie B. Hecht; "Never Again: A President Runs for a Third Term" 1968. the major scholarly study
* Peters, Charles. "Five Days in Philadelphia: 1940, Wendell Willkie, and the Political Convention That Freed FDR to Win World War II" (2006)
* Ross, Hugh. "John L. Lewis and the Election of 1940." "Labor History" 1976 17(2): 160-189. ISSN 0023-656X Fulltext at Ebsco. Abstract: The breach between John L. Lewis and Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940 stemmed from domestic and foreign policy concerns. The struggle to organize the steel industry, and after 1938, business attempts to erode Walsh-Healy and the Fair Labor Standards Act provided the backdrop for the feud. But activities of Nazi agents, working through William Rhodes Davis, increased Lewis' suspicions of Roosevelt's interventionist foreign policy and were important in the decision to support Wendell Willkie.
* [http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=105486029 Schneider, James C. "Should America Go to War? The Debate over Foreign Policy in Chicago, 1939-1941" (1989)]
* [http://geoelections.free.fr/USA/elec_comtes/1940.htm 1940 popular vote by counties]
* [http://www.msu.edu/~sheppa28/elections.html#1940 How close was the 1940 election?] - Michael Sheppard, Michigan State University
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