United States presidential election, 1908: Wikis


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1904 United States 1912
United States presidential election, 1908
November 3, 1908
William Howard Taft.jpg WilliamJBryan1902.png
Nominee William Howard Taft William Jennings Bryan
Party Republican Democratic
Home state Ohio Nebraska
Running mate James S. Sherman John Worth Kern
Electoral vote 321 162
States carried 29 17
Popular vote 7,678,395 6,408,984
Percentage 51.6% 43.0%
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.

Incumbent President
Theodore Roosevelt

The United States presidential election of 1908 was held on 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 badly lost the 1904 election 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 in his three presidential campaigns, and Taft won by a comfortable margin.




Republican Party nomination

Republican candidates:

Candidates gallery

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 United States presidential election, 1904, when Democratic Party voters held a primary among uninstructed candidates for delegate. During early 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 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 Pennsylvania Senator Philander C. Knox.

The 1908 Republican Convention was held in Chicago from June 16 to June 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 Knox 68
Charles Evans Hughes 67
Joseph Gurney Cannon 58
Charles W. Fairbanks 40
Robert M. LaFollette, Sr. 25
Theodore Roosevelt 3
Absention 1

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 75
George L. Sheldon 10
Charles W. Fairbanks 1

Democratic Party nomination

Democratic candidates:

Candidates gallery

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

The Balloting
Presidential Ballot Vice Presidential Ballot
William Jennings Bryan 892.5 John W. Kern 1002
George Gray 50.5
John A. Johnson 46

General election


The aging and balding "Boy Orator of the Platte" gives a speech during his 1908 run for the presidency.
Taft-Sherman postcard with U.S. Capitol

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, losing almost all the Northern states to Taft and losing the popular vote by eight percentage points. This would be Bryan's last campaign for the presidency; however, 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.

Roosevelt handing over his policies to his political protégé, William H. Taft.


(46 States participated, as Oklahoma had joined the Union the year before)

Presidential candidate Party Home state Popular vote Electoral
Running mate Running mate's
home state
Running mate's
electoral vote
Count Pct
William Howard Taft Republican Ohio 7,678,395 51.6% 321 James Schoolcraft Sherman New York 321
William Jennings Bryan Democratic Nebraska 6,408,984 43.0% 162 John Worth Kern Indiana 162
Eugene Victor Debs Socialist Indiana 420,793 2.8% 0 Benjamin Hanford New York 0
Eugene Wilder Chafin Prohibition Illinois 254,087 1.7% 0 Aaron Sherman Watkins Ohio 0
Thomas Louis Hisgen Independence Massachusetts 82,571 0.6% 0 John Temple Graves Georgia 0
Thomas Edward Watson Populist Georgia 28,822 0.2% 0 Samuel Williams Indiana 0
Other 15,550 0.1% Other
Total 14,889,261 100% 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 (July 28, 2005).

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

Campaign memorabilia

See also


  1. ^ Bain, Richard C.; Parris, Judith H.. Convention Decisions and Voting Records. p. 174.  

Further reading

External links


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