The Democratic party had been out of office for 16 years, and consequently lacked a clear leader from the last administration. William Randolph Hearst attempted to secure renomination, citing his experience in office, and with the support of his large media empire. However he was never a frontrunner, and received only a handful of votes at the convention. The battle for the nomination soon became a three horse race, between three dark horse candidates who few had heard of before the election.
President Taft had ruled out serving a third term during the 1916 election campaign, however Former President Theodore Roosevelt made it clear he would seek the nomination for a non consecutive third term. Roosevelt was seen by many as a frontrunner and was expected to be nominated unopposed. However he faced stiff opposition from Conservative elements of the party, namely men like Warren Harding, Nicholas Murray Butler and Calvin Coolidge. Another contender was the commander of the US expeditionary force, General Leonard Wood. Wood was an ally of Roosevelt, but was thought of as a compromise candidate in the event of a deadlock, or as a possible running mate for Roosevelt.
Roosevelt won strong leads in the first ten ballots, but he seemed to lose ground following the 11th ballot. Roosevelt and Harding were neck and neck in until the 21st ballot. Then Harding won a sudden and unexcpected victory, gaining 698 votes to Roosevelts 212. Roosevelt declared the ballot fraudulent, and almost 200 delegates walked out of the convention with Roosevelt to form the Progressive Republican Party.
Progressive Republican Nomination
After Roosevelt Walked out of the Republican Convention, he and his supporters set up a new political party to try to stop Harding gaining office, and as a final vehicle for a second Roosevelt Presidency. The Party was officially called the Progressive Republican party, but campaigned simply as the Progressive or Bull Moose in strong democratic areas, or as the National Republicans or Roosevelt Republicans in more Republican areas. Roosevelt was nominated unanimously, and asked Vice President Gifford Pinchot to be his running mate.