In 1932, Roosevelt won the Democratic nomination for the presidency with John Nance Garner as his vice president. He was opposed by Republican incumbent Herbert Hoover. The Great Depression was both the backdrop and the main issue of the campaign. Hoover had lost the confidence of America, while Roosevelt, on the other hand, had gathered a brain trust to help him come up with effective public policy.
Franklin Roosevelt seemed destined for great things. He was related to many important figures in American and British history including George Washington, John and John Quincy Adams, James Madison, Martin Van Buren, William Henry and Benjamin Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Ulysses S. Grant, Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Winston Churchill.
Roosevelt campaigned continuously and his confidence and plans made Hoover's meager campaign pale in comparison. In the end, he carried 57 percent of the popular vote and 472 electors versus Hoover's fifty-nine.
In 1936, Roosevelt was again his party's nominee with Garner as his vice presidential running mate. The campaign centered on the New Deal while his opponent, progressive Republican Alf Landon, argued that the program was unconstitutional. Landon wanted any programs instituted to be run by the states. Roosevelt maintained his commitment to the New Deal and campaigned on the program's effectiveness, easily winning reelection with 532 of the possible 540 electoral votes. His landslide victory was assisted by support from the NAACP.
Unprecedented Third Term: 1940
Roosevelt did not publicly ask for a third term. However, when his name was placed on the ballot by his loyal followers, he was quickly nominated. The Republican nominee was Wendell Willkie. Willkie had been a Democrat. However, he switched parties as a protest to the creation of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). The TVA created cheap electricity for the poor in the Tennessee Valley, directly competing against the existing power companies, one of which Willkie represented as legal council.
One of the major issues of the election dealt with the war in Europe and America's response to it. Hitler was quickly taking over countries and appeasement did not seem to be working. Roosevelt, however, pledged to keep America out of the war. Many Americans felt that the United States should not get involved, having lost so many men during World War I. On the other hand, Willkie was in favor of a draft and wanted to stop Hitler. He also campaigned against Roosevelt's right to have a third term. No other president in history had run for three terms in office and, while not unconstitutional, it was a break in the precedent begun by George Washington. Roosevelt easily won the election with 449 out of 531 electoral votes.
Last Term: 1944
When Roosevelt was nominated for a fourth term in office, America was heavily involved in World War II and there was a strong desire to keep him in office through the course of it. However, Roosevelt's health was declining and the Democrats spent some time deciding who would be his vice presidential nominee. They wanted to make sure that they chose someone who would be a good president, seeing that he would have a strong possibility of taking over during the term. Harry S. Truman was eventually picked to be second in charge because he was a moderate Democrat who appealed to the party center.
The Republicans chose Thomas Dewey as their candidate. Dewey used Roosevelt's declining health and campaigned against the waste created by the New Deal. Roosevelt won by a slim margin, getting 53 percent of the popular vote. However, because of the distribution of votes, he was able to carry 432 electoral votes versus ninety-nine for Dewey.