Home>Presidential Election>Wilson helped New Jersey Democrats sweep in 1912, then lost the state in 1916

Woodrow Wilson was elected governor of New Jersey in 1910 and president of the United States in 1912

Wilson helped New Jersey Democrats sweep in 1912, then lost the state in 1916

New Jersey governor had enormous coattails

By David Wildstein, February 20 2023 12:10 am

Democrat Woodrow Wilson remains the only New Jerseyan to win the presidency, but the former governor of New Jersey only carried New Jersey in one of his two White House bids.

Wilson was elected in 1912, at the end of his second year as governor, carried New Jersey with 41.2% of the vote in a three-way race.

Former president Theodore Roosevelt, running as the progressive candidate, finished second with 33.6%.  The incumbent, Republican William Howard Taft, received 20.5%.

Wilson carried 17 counties, although he cleared 50% in just Hudson, Hunterdon, Sussex and Warren.

Roosevelt won Essex, Passaic, Ocean and Cumberland counties.

Wilson’s coattails helped Democrats win 11 of 12 congressional seats – only a Republican congressman from Camden County survived – along with one new State Senate seat and 28 new Assembly seats.   That gave Democrats a 12-9  majority in the Senate and a 51-9 control of the Assembly.

The legislative gains helped William Hughes, a 40-year-old Passaic County judge and former congressman, oust Republican U.S. Senator Frank Briggs by a 63 to 17 vote before the direct election of senators.

Wilson’s popularity in his home state was short-lived.

When he ran for re-election in 1916, Republican Charles Evans Hughes – a former New York Governor and U.S. Supreme Court Justice – won New Jersey by nearly twelve percentage points – 54.4%-43.7%.

Wilson carried only Hudson, Hunterdon, Sussex and Warren counties.

After the 1916 election, New Jersey Republicans had nine congressmen and controlled both houses of the legislature.

After Wilson’s presidency came to an end in 1921, he remained in Washington, D.C. instead of returning to Princeton.

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