1940 United States presidential election
The 1940 United States presidential election happened during World War II but before the United States began fighting in it. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was already president, and he was running for reelection. Republican Wendell Willkie ran against him. It was the 39th presidential election in United States history. This was the only time anyone has ever been elected to a third term as President of the United States.
531 electoral votes of the Electoral College
266 electoral votes needed to win
Presidential election results map. Blue denotes those won by Roosevelt/Truman, red denotes states won by Dewey/Bricker. Numbers indicate the number of electoral votes allotted to each state.
Franklin was not sure whether he wanted to run for president again. He waited to see what would happen with the war in Europe. Then he decided he wanted to run. At the Democratic convention in Chicago, Franklin Roosevelt's wife, Eleanor Roosevelt, gave a speech to the party, and they chose him to run. Franklin Roosevelt chose Secretary of Agriculture Henry Wallace to run with him for Vice President. This was the first time a presidential candidate had chosen his own running mate instead of letting the party choose.
The Republican Party chose Wendell Willkie. Willkie had run an electric company. He had liked the New Deal until Roosevelt made the Tennessee Valley Authority, which sold people cheap electricity. Willkie traveled to 31 states by train. In his campaign, he told voters he would keep most New Deal programs and talked about how anyone having a third term as president would be bad. "If one man is indispensable, then none of us is free," he said.
Roosevelt won with 54% of the popular vote. That means 54% of the voters in the United States voted for him. He won 449 out of 531 electoral college votes. Wilke lost with 48% of the popular vote. This was the first time any person had been elected to a third term as President of the United States.
During the campaign, Roosevelt promised Americans that the country would not fight in World War II. Both Roosevelt and Willkie said they would continue helping the Allies in other ways, like the Lend-Lease program.
After Willkie lost the election, he supported the New Deal programs and getting ready for war. He wrote an essay called "One World," which was about preventing more wars after WWII was over. He died of a heart attack in 1944.
- "Franklin D. Roosevelt". Ballotpedia. Retrieved June 27, 2021.
- "Share of electoral college* and popular votes** in the 39th US presidential election in 1940". Statista. Retrieved June 27, 2021.
- "1940 Electoral College Results". National Archives. Retrieved June 27, 2021.
- "1940: FDR's Third Presidential Campaign". City University of New York. Retrieved June 27, 2021.