The Election of 1920

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The History of the Presidential Election

The presidential election of 1920 was definitely a change in the political landscape. The election produced the first of three straight Republican presidents, Warren G. Harding.

The American people had had enough of World War I, which had ended two years earlier. President Woodrow Wilson and his involvement in international affairs were very unpopular, and many voteres transferred that level of unpopularity onto the Democratic candidate, James M. Cox, a newspaper publisher from Ohio who was also the state's governor.

In one of history's greatest coincidences, the Republican, Harding, was also a newspaper publisher from Ohio. He was also one of the state's senators.

Harding (right) promised "a return to normalcy," which was, in essence, a movement away from the internationalism of Wilson. Harding campaigned almost exclusively against Wilson, virtually ignoring his real foe, Cox. The result was an overwhelming victory, the largest deficit between candidates in a century: 60% to 34%.

Along the way, Harding campaigned mostly from his home, while Cox (left) toured the country, speaking to groups large and small. Harding and his Republican Party had far more money to spend than did the Democratic Party, and so Harding advertised nationally without going out on the road all that much.

The only part of the country that didn't go heavily for Harding was the Deep South.

The election also featured vice-presidential candidates who would each become president: Calvin Coolidge ascended to the presidency in 1923, when Harding died, and Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected president in 1932.

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