The Republican Party had split before the 1912 election, dividing their supporters and causing an overwhelming loss for both the Republican Party and the Progressive Party. With the intention of reconnecting the two groups, party leaders chose Charles Evan Hughes to unify the party. As a Supreme Court Justice, Hughes had not needed to publicly support either of the parties during the past election, making him less controversial as a party leader. The delegation then nominated Charles W. Fairbanks, who had previously served as vice president under Theodore Roosevelt, to be his running mate.
Though the leaders of the Progressive Party wanted to continue to support Theodore Roosevelt as presidential candidate, he joined the Republicans in supporting Hughes. The Progressive Party soon collapsed without their leader, and its members united with the Republicans once again.
The night of the election, Hughes took an early lead, winning most of the votes in the Northeast and Midwest. He had such an overwhelming majority in these regions that he was believed to be the winner, going to bed that night thinking he was the next President of the United States. Wilson held out, however, and as the votes from the South and the West began rolling in, Wilson closed the gap. California was an especially close race, and turned out to be the decisive one. Wilson won California by a tiny margin of 0.3 percent.
He took the lead, winning one of the closest electoral races in U.S. history. Wilson won 277 electoral votes - only eleven more than were required to secure the presidency. He was reelected as President of the United States, guiding the nation through the First World War. Wilson suffered a stroke toward the end of his second term, the effects of which were kept quiet, while Wilson's wife, Edith, assisted him with his responsibilities until the end of his term.
The electoral votes for the 1916 election were distributed as follows:
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