Race in the Election


According to a September article in The Crisis, in the 1912 election African Americans had over 600,000 eligible voters. Although an overwhelming majority of African Americans lived in the South, most of these voters resided in the North and in the West as the following table illustrates.

    As the party-specific pages demonstrate, all major parties attempted to appeal to African-American voters, some more successfully than others. For the first time, many African-American leaders and newspapers turned against the Republican Party and looked for other alternatives. If you examine the party pages you can see how and why this happened.

   As you examine the party pages, be sure to notice the advertisements parties placed in the black press. It is interesting to compare and contrast the  language each advertisement uses as well as the types of arguments they employ. Which parties appear to be running on their past records and which make only promises of future action?

    As for the 1912 presidential election itself, Wilson won with a plurality of over 2.1 million. He did not win a clear majority of the popular votes, gaining only 41.8% of the popular vote compared to Roosevelt's 37.4%, Taft's 23.2%, and Debs's 6%.

    Wilson did, however, win the electoral count in a landslide. Of the 531 possible electoral votes, Wilson claimed 435 of them; Taft took 8, and Roosevelt 88. Debs, despite collecting over 900,000 votes, did not carry any states.

    To learn more about how racial issues affected the election, see the pages on race and the Democrats, Republicans, Progressives, and Socialists.

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