1936 Election Campaign
"I should like to have it said of my first Administration that in it the forces of selfishness and of lust for power met their match. I should like to have it said of my second Administration that in it these forces met their master."
- Franklin Roosevelt, Address at Madison Square Garden, October 31, 1936
It was clear FDR would seek a second term in 1936. His New Deal had restored confidence, and America was climbing slowly out of the Depression. Unemployment remained high, but had fallen from 25 percent to 17 percent.
The right bitterly despised FDR, but he also faced a serious challenge from populists on the left. His most formidable opponent was Senator Huey Long of Louisiana, whose "Share Our Wealth" program promised every American a guaranteed minimum income, financed by steep taxes on the rich. But Long was assassinated in 1935 and the populist challenge faded.
FDR's GOP opponent, Kansas Governor Alfred Landon, was a progressive Republican - but he opposed much of the New Deal. Roosevelt responded with fiery, class-based rhetoric. The forces of "organized money...are unanimous in their hate for me," he charged, "and I welcome their hatred." He defeated Landon in a landslide.
1936 Election Results
FDR's 1936 victory was the biggest electoral landslide in American history.
Republican candidate Alfred Landon carried just two states = Maine and Vermont. Long a bellwether of Presidential elections, Maine once boasted: "As Maine goes, so goes the nation." Now Democrats joked, "As Maine goes, so goes Vermont."
A powerful new Democratic majority emerged in 1936. Known as the "New Deal" coalition, it dominated national politics for decades. It included the traditionally Democratic South, along with urban ethnic voters, farmers and organized labor - whose ranks were growing rapidly with the help of the Wagner Act. African Americans were the final group in the coalition. Closely allied with the party of Lincoln since the Civil War, black voters moved decisively to the party of FDR in 1936.