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Distribution of votes in the 1912 US presidential election

The 1912 US presidential election saw three US Presidents compete with one another; these were Woodrow Wilson of the Democratic Party, incumbent President William Howard Taft of the Republican Party, and Theodore Roosevelt, who was a member of the Republican Party while in office, but now ran as a member of the Progressive Party. Five-time candidate Eugene V. Debs of the Socialist Party also had a noticeable presence along the campaign trail.

Republican split

Although Taft had ascended to the presidency with Roosevelt's support, a rift developed between the two friends during Taft's tenure as president, due to his conservativism. This eventually caused a split in the Republican Party, with Taft and his conservative supporters narrowly winning the nomination at the Republican National Convention. Following this, Roosevelt and his progressive followers from the Republican Party convened in Chicago and formed the Progressive Party, also known as the "Bull Moose" Party. The most famous incident on the campaign trail was the assassination attempt on Roosevelt's life, in which Roosevelt was shot in the chest as he arrived to give a speech. Undeterred, Roosevelt then proceeded to speak for eighty four minutes, before making his way to the hospital with the bullet still lodged firmly in his ribs. The bullet would remain in Roosevelt's chest until his death in 1919.


The split in the Republican Party saw the Democratic nominee win one of the most convincing victories in US history, taking 40 out of 48 states, and winning an 82 percent share of the electoral votes. However ,the popular vote was much closer, returning just a 42 percent share for the new President. The incumbent President Taft received just 1.5 percent of the electoral votes, while Roosevelt took almost 17 percent; and this is the only time in US history where a third party candidate received more popular or electoral votes than a candidate from the two major parties. Wilson's victory has been attributed to the rift in the Republican Party, and this rift also drove many disenfranchised Republicans to vote for the Socialist Party, who received a six percent share of the popular vote.

Share of electoral college* and popular votes** in the 32nd US presidential election in 1912

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Release date



United States

Survey time period


Supplementary notes

*Actual number of electoral votes:
Woodrow Wilson - 435
Theodore Roosevelt - 88
William Howard Taft - 8
Eugene V. Debs - 0

**Actual number of popular votes:
Woodrow Wilson - 6,293,152
Theodore Roosevelt - 4,119,207
William Howard Taft - 3,483,922
Eugene V. Debs - 901,551

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