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Wendell Willkie ran as the Republican candidate in the 1940 presidential election. He seemingly came out of nowhere, having switched political parties in 1939. Willkie was against isolationism, an issue dividing the party. He was too progressive for conservative Republicans, but he gathered the support of many disaffected Republicans who wanted someone with a chance of defeating Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He also modeled his image as an “everyman” with a Midwestern accent, rumpled suit, and “country” haircut. He also pledged to not reduce New Deal welfare programs and expand Social Security. Although this attracted middle class voters, Willkie had difficulty attracting the working class. Roosevelt was able to keep his popularity with working class, minority, and Southern voters, winning the 1940 election by 5 million votes and an electoral landslide.
Wendell Willkie. En.wikipedia.org. (2020). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wendell_Willkie.