By the time of the 1944 presidential election, the United States had entered World War II under the leadership of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Roosevelt had already served three full terms,
but the president maintained his popularity and was chosen to run for a fourth term. Thomas E. Dewey won the 1944 bid to challenge Roosevelt, and though he was Roosevelt’s most successful presidential opponent, Roosevelt won his fourth presidential election.
Roosevelt was practically unopposed within the Democratic Party, though the party was critical of his current vice president, Henry A. Wallace. Many of the conservative Democrats believed he was too liberal, and party leaders suggested Harry S. Truman to be Roosevelt’s new running mate. While Roosevelt knew and liked Wallace, he agreed to campaign with Truman to keep party unity. At the Democratic National Convention, many liberal delegates cast their votes for Wallace, but Truman prevailed.
Republican frontrunners were General Douglas MacArthur of the U.S. Army, John W. Bricker, a conservative governor of Ohio, and Thomas E. Dewey of New York. General MacArthur gained popularity for his vital role in World War II, but was unable to spend time campaigning while he was involved in the war, and was not successful in the primaries. When Dewey pulled ahead at the convention, he chose second-place candidate, Bricker, as his running mate to prevent the party from splitting. Dewey, who had fought for the Republican nomination in the previous election, became the Republican presidential nominee and won the chance to challenge Roosevelt.
The Republicans campaigned against Roosevelt’s spending policies and social programs, which they said were excessive. But Roosevelt’s proven leadership and war successes helped him, and he defeated Dewey with a total of 432 electoral votes. Despite his loss, Dewey was the most successful of any of Roosevelt past rivals, receiving 99 electoral votes and winning twelve states. Roosevelt was elected to a fourth term-a record that no president will ever break, because the Twenty-second Amendment was passed in 1947, setting a two-term limit on the presidential seat.
The Democratic Party’s choice of Harry S. Truman proved important, as President Roosevelt’s health began to fail and he died in office on April 12, 1945. After his death, Truman succeeded him to become the thirty-third President of the United States.
|Presidential Candidate||Home State||Party||Electoral Votes||Running Mate|
|Franklin D. Roosevelt||New York||Democratic||432||Harry S. Truman|
|Thomas E. Dewey||New York||Republican||99||John W. Bricker|
|Norman Thomas||New York||Socialist||0||Darlington Hoopes|
|Claude A. Watson||California||Prohibition||0||Andrew N. Johnson|