United States presidential election, 1908

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United States presidential election, 1908
United States
1904 ←
November 3, 1908 → 1912

All 483 electoral votes of the Electoral College
242 electoral votes needed to win
  William Howard Taft, Bain bw photo portrait, 1908.jpg William Jennings Bryan, 1860-1925.jpg
Nominee William Howard Taft William J. Bryan
Party Republican Democratic
Home state Ohio Nebraska
Running mate James S. Sherman John W. Kern
Electoral vote 321 162
States carried 29 17
Popular vote 7,678,395 6,408,984
Percentage 51.6% 43.0%

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About this image
Presidential election results map. Blue denotes states won by Bryan/Kern, Red denotes those won by Taft/Sherman. Numbers indicate the number of electoral votes allotted to each state.

President before election

Theodore Roosevelt
Republican

Elected President

William Howard Taft
Republican

The United States presidential election of 1908 was the 31st quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 3, 1908. Popular incumbent President Theodore Roosevelt, honoring a promise not to seek a third term, persuaded the Republican Party to nominate William Howard Taft, his close friend and Secretary of War, to become his successor. Having lost the 1904 election badly with a conservative candidate, the Democratic Party turned to two-time nominee William Jennings Bryan, who had been defeated in 1896 and 1900 by Republican William McKinley. Despite his two previous defeats, Bryan remained extremely popular among the more liberal and populist elements of the Democratic Party. Despite running a vigorous campaign against the nation's business elite, Bryan suffered the worst loss of his three presidential campaigns.

Nominations[edit]

Republican Party nomination[edit]

Republican candidates:

Candidates gallery[edit]

Taft/Sherman campaign poster

The Republican nomination contest marked the introduction of the presidential preference primary. The idea of the primary to nominate candidates was sponsored by anti-machine politicians such as New York Governor Charles Evans Hughes and Senator Albert B. Cummins. The first state to hold a presidential primary to select delegates to a national convention was Florida in 1904, when Democratic Party voters held a primary among uninstructed candidates for delegate. Early in 1908, the only two Republican contenders running nationwide campaigns for the presidential nomination were Secretary of War William Howard Taft and Governor Joseph B. Foraker, both of Ohio. In the nomination contest, four states held primaries to select national convention delegates. In Ohio, the state Republican Party held a primary on February 11. Candidates pledged to Taft were printed on the ballot in a Taft column, and candidates pledged to Foraker were printed in a column under his name. Taft won a resounding victory in Ohio. The three states holding primaries to select delegates without the preference component were split: California chose a slate of delegates that supported Taft; Wisconsin elected a slate that supported Wisconsin Senator Robert M. La Follette, Sr., and Pennsylvania elected a slate that supported its Senator Philander C. Knox.

The 1908 Republican Convention was held in Chicago between June 16 and 19. William Howard Taft was nominated with 702 votes to 68 for Knox, 67 for Hughes, 58 for Cannon, 40 for Fairbanks, 25 for LaFollette, 16 for Foraker, 3 for President Roosevelt, and one abstention.[1]

Presidential Ballot
William Howard Taft 702
Philander C. Knox 68
Charles Evans Hughes 67
Joseph Gurney Cannon 58
Charles W. Fairbanks 40
Robert M. LaFollette, Sr. 25
Theodore Roosevelt 3

Representative James S. Sherman of New York received the vice-presidential nomination.

Vice Presidential Ballot
James S. Sherman 702
Edward F. Murphy 77
Curtis Guild, Jr. 75
George L. Sheldon 10
Charles W. Fairbanks 1

Democratic Party nomination[edit]

Democratic candidates:

Candidates gallery[edit]

The 1908 Democratic Convention was held in Denver between July 7 and 10. Despite a challenge by Minnesota governor John Albert Johnson, William Jennings Bryan quickly won the overwhelming support of his party.

John W. Kern of Indiana was unanimously declared the candidate for vice-president without a formal ballot after the names of Charles A. Towne, Archibald McNeil, and Clark Howell were withdrawn from consideration.

Presidential Ballot
1st Unanimous
William J. Bryan 888.5 1002
George Gray 59.5
John A. Johnson 46
Blank 8
Vice Presidential Ballot
Unanimous
John W. Kern 1002

Others[edit]

Independence Party nomination[edit]

Independence candidates:

Candidates gallery[edit]

Disappointed with his performance in the 1904 Democratic presidential nomination campaign, and disillusioned as to his chances of successfully attaining it in 1908, William Randolph Hearst decided to run instead on the ticket of a third party of his own making. Originally borne from the Municipal Ownership League, a vehicle for Hearst's ultimately unsuccessful bid for the mayoralty of New York in 1905, it was Heart's intention to fuse it with the remnants of the Populist Party lead by Thomas Watson, a former Congressmen from Georgia who had been its presidential nominee in 1904. However, these intentions were dashed when every candidate that the Independence Party put forth in elections held in New York was elected except Hearst himself, despite an endorsement by the Democratic Party. Devastated, Hearst declared his intention never again to be a candidate.

While Hearst would no longer be the nominee, he fully intended to exercise influence at Independence Party's convention; the platform itself was in large part a statement of his own views. With its candidates nominated, the party's purpose was changed from being a path for Heart's presidential ambitions to being an instrument of his wrath. Through the influence of his papers and generous financial donations, Hearst hoped that the Independence ticket would draw away votes from William Jennings Bryan and lead to his defeat against Taft, a personal vendetta for Bryan failing to support his own bid for the Presidency in 1904.

Presidential Ballot
1st 2nd 3rd
Thomas L. Hisgen 396 590 831
John T. Graves 213 189 7
Milford W. Howard 200 109 38
Reuben R. Lyon 71 0 0
William R. Hearst 49 49 2

[2]

Socialist Party nomination[edit]

Socialist candidates:

Candidates gallery[edit]

Eugene Debs had originally hoped that Bill Haywood, who had attained a national profile from being put on trial for the murder of Frank Steunenberg, of which he was acquitted, would run for the Socialist nomination for president. At this time however the Socialist Party was fracturing between its radical and more moderate elements, and Debs was deemed the only candidate capable of keeping the party unified. He was overwhelmingly nominated for the presidency on the first ballot, with Benjamin Hanford again named as his running-mate.

General election[edit]

Campaign[edit]

The aging and balding "Boy Orator of the Platte" delivers a speech.

With the Free Silver issue no longer dominant, Bryan campaigned on a progressive platform attacking "government by privilege." His campaign slogan, "Shall the People Rule?", was featured on numerous posters and campaign memorabilia. However, Taft undercut Bryan's liberal support by accepting some of his reformist ideas, and Roosevelt's progressive policies blurred the distinctions between the parties. Republicans also used the slogan "Vote for Taft now, you can vote for Bryan anytime," a sarcastic reference to Bryan's two failed previous presidential campaigns.

Businessmen continued to support the Republican Party, and Bryan failed to secure the support of labor. As a result, Bryan ended up with the worst of his three defeats in the national popular vote. He lost almost all the northern states to Taft and the popular vote by 8 percentage points.

This would be Bryan's last campaign for the presidency, although he would remain a popular figure within the Democratic Party and in 1912 would play a key role in securing the presidential nomination for Woodrow Wilson.

Results[edit]

Results by county explicitly indicating the percentage for the winning candidate. Shades of red are for Taft (Republican), shades of blue are for Bryan (Democratic), and shades of green are for "Other(s)" (Non-Democratic/Non-Republican).[3]
Roosevelt handing over his policies to his political protégé, William H. Taft.

46 states participated, as Oklahoma had joined the Union less than a year before. Bryan won 48 counties in the new state of Oklahoma. The most important increase in number of counties carried by Bryan was in the West South Central section (this was in part due to the vote of newly admitted Oklahoma).[4]

Of the 2,858 counties making returns, Taft won in 1,494 (52.27%) while Bryan carried 1,355 (47.41%). 9 (0.31%) counties recorded more votes cast for "Other(s)" than either of the two-party candidates. Taft had a majority in 1,325 counties while Bryan had a majority in 1,204 counties.

By carrying 1,355 counties, Bryan won more counties than he had in 1900 (1,340), but he did not reach or surpass the number of counties he had won in 1896 (1,559). While Bryan won more counties than McKinley in 1896, Bryan failed to carry more counties than the Republican candidate in 1900 or 1908. Compared with his strength in previous elections, however, Bryan carried 69 counties in 1908 which had not been Democratic in either 1896 or 1900.[5]

Bryan increased the area carried by Democrats in every part of the country except New England and the South. He doubled the number of Democratic counties in Wisconsin and won more counties in Indiana than were carried by plurality vote by the Democrats in any election in the Fourth Party System except 1912. He made decided gains in Missouri and in Nebraska.[6]

Notable was the Bryan come-back in Colorado and Nevada. But in four Western states (Washington, Oregon, Wyoming, and North Dakota), there was not a Democratic county. This was true likewise of Michigan, Delaware, and each of the New England states.

The total vote increased greatly, more than a million over that of 1904. Each party shared in the increase, but whereas Taft had nearly 50,000 more than Theodore Roosevelt, Bryan had nearly 1,500,000 more votes than Alton Parker had garnered, and more than in either of his previous campaigns.

It was noticeable that the "other" vote was only about 7,000 less than four years earlier. The "other" vote prevailed in 9 counties in the states of Georgia and Texas.

The size of the vote cast for the defeated Bryan in 1908 is clear evidence of perhaps the most striking feature of the American presidential vote. In this third attempt at the presidency, and in an election following one in which the nominee of his party polled only 5,000,000 votes, Bryan had heavy support in every section of the country, and in every state. Moreover, nearly 2/3 of the vote cast for Bryan was from the 15 states of the (Northeastern) Mid-Atlantic, East North Central, and West North Central sections, in which the Democratic candidate carried only one state (Nebraska).

Despite all conclusions as to predominant sentiment in the different sections and its economic, social, and political causes, there was a national vote cast for Bryan, and it was urban as well as rural; it was eastern, western, southern, and northern. Everywhere the Democratic Party was the minority party, and it was not hopeless, nor was it helpless. It was the agency for the expression of the opposition of almost 6,500,000 voters.[7]

Presidential candidate Party Home state Popular vote Electoral
vote
Running mate
Count Pct Vice-presidential candidate Home state Elect. vote
William Howard Taft Republican Ohio 7,678,335 51.57% 321 James S. Sherman New York 321
William Jennings Bryan Democratic Nebraska 6,408,979 43.04% 162 John W. Kern Indiana 162
Eugene V. Debs Socialist Indiana 420,852 2.83% 0 Benjamin Hanford New York 0
Eugene W. Chafin Prohibition Illinois 254,087 1.71% 0 Aaron S. Watkins Ohio 0
Thomas L. Hisgen Independence Massachusetts 82,574 0.55% 0 John Temple Graves Georgia 0
Thomas E. Watson Populist Georgia 28,862 0.19% 0 Samuel Williams Indiana 0
August Gillhaus Socialist Labor New York 14,031 0.09% 0 Donald L. Munro Virginia 0
Other 1,519 0.01% Other
Total 14,889,239 100% 483 483
Needed to win 242 242

Source (Popular Vote): Leip, David. 1908 Presidential Election Results. Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections (September 10, 2012).

Source (Electoral Vote): Electoral College Box Scores 1789–1996. Official website of the National Archives. (July 31, 2005).

Popular vote
Taft
  
51.57%
Bryan
  
43.04%
Debs
  
2.83%
Chafin
  
1.71%
Others
  
0.85%
Electoral vote
Taft
  
66.46%
Bryan
  
33.54%

Results by state[edit]

[8]

States won by Taft/Sherman
States won by Bryan/Kern
William Howard Taft
Republican
William Jennings Bryan
Democratic
Eugene V. Debs
Socialist
Eugene Chafin
Prohibition
Thomas Hisgen
Independence
Thomas Watson
Populist
August Gillhaus
Socialist Labor
Margin State Total
State electoral
votes
#  % electoral
votes
#  % electoral
votes
#  % electoral
votes
#  % electoral
votes
#  % electoral
votes
#  % electoral
votes
#  % electoral
votes
#  % #
Alabama 11 25,561 24.31 - 74,391 70.75 11 1,450 1.38 - 690 0.66 - 497 0.47 - 1,576 1.50 - - - - -48,830 -46.44 105,152 AL
Arkansas 9 56,624 37.30 - 87,015 57.31 9 5,842 3.85 - 1,026 0.68 - 289 0.19 - 1,026 0.68 - - - - -30,391 -20.02 151,822 AR
California 10 214,398 55.46 10 127,492 32.98 - 28,659 7.41 - 11,770 3.04 - 4,278 1.11 - - - - - - - 86,906 22.48 386,597 CA
Colorado 5 123,693 46.88 - 126,644 48.00 5 7,960 3.02 - 5,559 2.11 - - - - - - - - - - -2,951 -1.12 263,858 CO
Connecticut 7 112,915 59.43 7 68,255 35.92 - 5,113 2.69 - 2,380 1.25 - 728 0.38 - - - - 608 0.32 - 44,660 23.50 190,003 CT
Delaware 3 25,014 52.10 3 22,055 45.94 - 239 0.50 - 670 1.40 - 29 0.06 - - - - - - - 2,959 6.16 48,007 DE
Florida 5 10,654 21.58 - 31,104 63.01 5 3,747 7.59 - 1,356 2.75 - 553 1.12 - 1,946 3.94 - - - - -20,450 -41.43 49,360 FL
Georgia 13 41,355 31.21 - 72,350 54.60 13 584 0.44 - 1,452 1.10 - 76 0.06 - 16,687 12.59 - - - - -30,995 -23.39 132,504 GA
Idaho 3 52,621 54.09 3 36,162 37.17 - 6,400 6.58 - 1,986 2.04 - 124 0.13 - - - - - - - 16,459 16.92 97,293 ID
Illinois 27 629,932 54.53 27 450,810 39.02 - 34,711 3.00 - 29,364 2.54 - 7,724 0.67 - 633 0.05 - 1,680 0.15 - 179,122 15.50 1,155,254 IL
Indiana 15 348,993 48.40 15 338,262 46.91 - 13,476 1.87 - 18,045 2.50 - 514 0.07 - 1,193 0.17 - 643 0.09 - 10,731 1.49 721,126 IN
Iowa 13 275,209 55.62 13 200,771 40.58 - 8,287 1.67 - 9,837 1.99 - 404 0.08 - 261 0.05 - - - - 74,438 15.05 494,769 IA
Kansas 10 197,216 52.46 10 161,209 42.88 - 12,420 3.30 - 5,033 1.34 - 68 0.02 - - - - - - - 36,007 9.58 375,946 KS
Kentucky 13 235,711 48.03 - 244,092 49.74 13 4,093 0.83 - 5,885 1.20 - 200 0.04 - 333 0.07 - 405 0.08 - -8,381 -1.71 490,719 KY
Louisiana 9 8,958 11.93 - 63,568 84.63 9 2,514 3.35 - - - - 77 0.10 - - - - - - - -54,610 -72.70 75,117 LA
Maine 6 66,987 63.00 6 35,403 33.29 - 1,758 1.65 - 1,487 1.40 - 700 0.66 - 1 0.00 - - - - 31,584 29.70 106,336 ME
Maryland 8 116,513 48.85 2 115,908 48.59 6 2,323 0.97 - 3,302 1.38 - 485 0.20 - - - - - - - 605 0.25 238,531 MD
Massachusetts 16 265,966 58.21 16 155,543 34.04 - 10,779 2.36 - 4,374 0.96 - 19,237 4.21 - - - - 1,011 0.22 - 110,423 24.17 456,919 MA
Michigan 14 335,580 61.93 14 175,771 32.44 - 11,586 2.14 - 16,974 3.13 - 760 0.14 - - - - 1,096 0.20 - 159,809 29.49 541,830 MI
Minnesota 11 195,843 59.11 11 109,401 33.02 - 14,527 4.38 - 11,107 3.35 - 426 0.13 - - - - - - - 86,442 26.09 331,304 MN
Mississippi 10 4,363 6.52 - 60,287 90.11 10 978 1.46 - - - - - - - 1,276 1.91 - - - - -55,924 -83.59 66,904 MS
Missouri 18 347,203 48.50 18 346,574 48.41 - 15,431 2.16 - 4,284 0.60 - 402 0.06 - 1,165 0.16 - 868 0.12 - 629 0.09 715,927 MO
Montana 3 32,333 46.98 3 29,326 42.61 - 5,855 8.51 - 827 1.20 - 481 0.70 - - - - - - - 3,007 4.37 68,822 MT
Nebraska 8 126,997 47.60 - 131,099 49.14 8 3,524 1.32 - 5,179 1.94 - - - - - - - - - - -4,102 -1.54 266,799 NE
Nevada 3 10,775 43.93 - 11,212 45.71 3 2,103 8.57 - - - - 436 1.78 - - - - - - - -437 -1.78 24,526 NV
New Hampshire 4 53,149 59.32 4 33,655 37.56 - 1,299 1.45 - 905 1.01 - 584 0.65 - - - - - - - 19,494 21.76 89,600 NH
New Jersey 12 265,298 56.80 12 182,522 39.07 - 10,249 2.19 - 4,930 1.06 - 2,916 0.62 - - - - 1,196 0.26 - 82,776 17.72 467,111 NJ
New York 39 870,070 53.11 39 667,468 40.74 - 38,451 2.35 - 22,667 1.38 - 35,817 2.19 - - - - 3,877 0.24 - 202,602 12.37 1,638,350 NY
North Carolina 12 114,887 45.49 - 136,928 54.22 12 372 0.15 - 354 0.14 - - - - - - - - - - -22,041 -8.73 252,554 NC
North Dakota 4 57,680 61.02 4 32,885 34.79 - 2,421 2.56 - 1,496 1.58 - 43 0.05 - - - - - - - 24,795 26.23 94,525 ND
Ohio 23 572,312 51.03 23 502,721 44.82 - 33,795 3.01 - 11,402 1.02 - 439 0.04 - 162 0.01 - 721 0.06 - 69,591 6.20 1,121,552 OH
Oklahoma 7 110,474 43.33 - 122,363 47.99 7 21,734 8.52 - - - - - - - 412 0.16 - - - - -11,889 -4.66 254,983 OK
Oregon 4 62,530 56.39 4 38,049 34.31 - 7,339 6.62 - 2,682 2.42 - 289 0.26 - - - - - - - 24,481 22.08 110,889 OR
Pennsylvania 34 745,779 58.84 34 448,782 35.41 - 33,914 2.68 - 36,694 2.90 - 1,057 0.08 - - - - 1,224 0.10 - 296,997 23.43 1,267,450 PA
Rhode Island 4 43,942 60.76 4 24,706 34.16 - 1,365 1.89 - 1,016 1.40 - 1,105 1.53 - - - - 183 0.25 - 19,236 26.60 72,317 RI
South Carolina 9 3,945 5.94 - 62,288 93.84 9 100 0.15 - - - - 46 0.07 - - - - - - - -58,343 -87.89 66,379 SC
South Dakota 4 67,536 58.84 4 40,266 35.08 - 2,846 2.48 - 4,039 3.52 - 88 0.08 - - - - - - - 27,270 23.76 114,775 SD
Tennessee 12 117,977 45.87 - 135,608 52.73 12 1,870 0.73 - 301 0.12 - 332 0.13 - 1,092 0.42 - - - - -17,631 -6.86 257,180 TN
Texas 18 65,666 22.35 - 217,302 73.97 18 7,870 2.68 - 1,634 0.56 - 115 0.04 - 994 0.34 - 176 0.06 - -151,636 -51.62 293,757 TX
Utah 3 61,028 56.19 3 42,601 39.22 - 4,895 4.51 - - - - 87 0.08 - - - - - - - 18,427 16.97 108,613 UT
Vermont 4 39,552 75.08 4 11,496 21.82 - - - - 799 1.52 - 804 1.53 - - - - - - - 28,056 53.26 52,680 VT
Virginia 12 52,572 38.36 - 82,946 60.52 12 255 0.19 - 1,111 0.81 - 51 0.04 - 105 0.08 - 25 0.02 - -30,374 -22.16 137,065 VA
Washington 5 106,062 57.68 5 58,691 31.92 - 14,177 7.71 - 4,700 2.56 - 249 0.14 - - - - - - - 47,371 25.76 183,879 WA
West Virginia 7 137,869 53.42 7 111,418 43.17 - 3,679 1.43 - 5,139 1.99 - - - - - - - - - - 26,451 10.25 258,105 WV
Wisconsin 13 247,747 54.52 13 166,662 36.67 - 28,147 6.19 - 11,565 2.54 - - - - - - - 318 0.07 - 81,085 17.84 454,441 WI
Wyoming 3 20,846 55.43 3 14,918 39.67 - 1,715 4.56 - 66 0.18 - 64 0.17 - - - - - - - 5,928 15.76 37,609 WY
TOTALS: 483 7,678,335 51.57 321 6,408,979 43.04 162 420,852 2.83 - 254,087 1.71 - 82,574 0.55 - 28,862 0.19 - 14,031 0.09 - 1,269,356 8.53 14,889,239 US

Close states[edit]

Margin of victory less than 5% (80 electoral votes):

  1. Missouri, 0.09%
  2. Maryland, 0.25%
  3. Colorado, 1.12%
  4. Indiana, 1.49%
  5. Nebraska, 1.54%
  6. Kentucky, 1.71%
  7. Nevada, 1.78%
  8. Montana, 4.37%
  9. Oklahoma, 4.66%

Margin of victory between 5% and 10% (60 electoral votes):

  1. Delaware, 6.16%
  2. Tennessee, 6.86%
  3. Ohio, 6.20%
  4. North Carolina, 8.73%
  5. Kansas, 9.58%

Geography of Results[edit]

Cartographic Gallery[edit]

Statistics[edit]

Counties with Highest Percent of Vote (Republican)

  1. Leslie County, Kentucky 92.96%
  2. Unicoi County, Tennessee 92.77%
  3. Sevier County, Tennessee 91.44%
  4. Keweenaw County, Michigan 90.56%
  5. Johnson County, Tennessee 90.21%

Counties with Highest Percent of Vote (Democratic)

  1. Hampton County, South Carolina 100.00%
  2. King County, Texas 100.00%
  3. Garza County, Texas 100.00%
  4. Loving County, Texas 100.00%
  5. Wilcox County, Alabama 99.81%

Counties with Highest Percent of Vote (Other)

  1. Terry County, Texas 100.00%
  2. Glascock County, Georgia 69.97%
  3. McDuffie County, Georgia 64.31%
  4. Lincoln County, Georgia 61.65%
  5. Oconee County, Georgia 56.21%

Campaign memorabilia[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bain, Richard C.; Parris, Judith H. Convention Decisions and Voting Records. p. 174. ISBN 0-8157-0768-1. 
  2. ^ New York Times; July 29th, 1908
  3. ^ The Presidential Vote, 1896-1932 – Google Books. Stanford University Press. 1934. Retrieved August 12, 2014. 
  4. ^ The Presidential Vote, 1896-1932, Edgar E. Robinson, pg. 13
  5. ^ The Presidential Vote, 1896-1932, Edgar E. Robinson, pg. 14
  6. ^ The Presidential Vote, 1896-1932, Edgar E. Robinson, pg. 13
  7. ^ The Presidential Vote, 1896-1932, Edgar E. Robinson, pg. 14
  8. ^ "1908 Presidential General Election Data - National". Retrieved April 26, 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]