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Civil Rights and Labor History Consortium / University of Washington

Votes for Radical and Progressive Parties by States and Counties 1904-1948

by James Gregory

It was not until the mid 1930s that Democratic and Republican Parties became so dominant that radicals began to abandon third party strategies. The Populist Party had briefly broken the monopoly in the 1890s. Founded in 1901, the Socialist Party soon developed an ambitious electoral strategy, winning more than 900,000 votes in 1912 and 1920 while electing hundreds of candidates to local offices. In 1912, Teddy Roosevelt's Bull Moose Progressive Party made the presidential election a four-way race. Beginning in the 1920s, the Communist Party often fielded slates of candidates. Meanwhile, other disaffected Socialists launched Farmer-Labor parties in several states. In 1924, Robert LaFollette won 4.8 million votes running as a candidate of the Socialist, Farmer-Labor, and Progressive Parties. In 1932, at the depths of the Great Depression, both the SP and CP expected to do well. Neither did. That defeat marked a turn in leftwing political strategies as many radicals began working within the Democratic Party. Henry Wallace's Progressive Party campaign in 1948, the Peace and Freedom Party campaign in 1968, and Green Party campaigns since 1996 retested third party strategies -- with little success.

These maps and charts show the rise and fall of independent leftwing parties from 1904 to 1948. See also the more detailed maps of Socialist votes and Communist votes. The maps are hosted by Tableau Public and may take a few seconds to respond. If slow, refresh the page. 


Sources: Vote charts and maps are based on data from Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research. United States Historical Election Returns, 1824-1968 [Computer File]. ICPSR00001-v3. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 1999-04-26.