On 7 June 1916, the Republican National Convention started in Chicago, but their house was in disarray in that the Grand Old Party still hadn't resolved its clash between the conservative, moderate, and liberal branches of the party. The Old Guard of the party refused to accept Theodore Roosevelt as the nominee believing that he valued himself over the Republican Party. Their focus instead shifted to Supreme Court Associate Justice Charles Evans Hughes, who was also the former governor of New York. An eager Hughes garnered the nomination on the 3rd ballot with TR far back in the tally of delegates. Hughes was pro-business and eager to enter the war in Europe. Hughes was the only Supreme Court justice to leave the bench to run for President. Doing so allowed Wilson to nominate a Progressive judge to the Supreme Court who was quickly confirmed by the Senate.
Wilson traveled as far west as Nebraska, while the Democratic Party sent the appropriate surrogates to campaign for Wilson in specific areas, such as large voting blocs of immigrant voters in New York City and William Jennings Bryan in the Midwest and the Great Plains. Wilson had become an even greater orator by 1916, and he refused to "talk down" to the voters. But Hughes proved to be a match for Wilson in almost every category, including oratory and academic background.
However, the Republican campaign for Hughes wasn't nearly as cohesive and focused as was Wilson's, and Hughes lacked a positive message or a vision. During the campaign, Wilson announced that the US had become a creditor nation, which took much of the wind out of the sails for Hughes in terms of of his pro-business rhetoric. Theodore Roosevelt's attacks on Wilson intensified during the campaign, but TR failed to bring voters in the Bull Moose Party to the Republican fold, with a sizable number ready to vote Democratic.
Similar to the Chicago Tribune's headline in 1948, the New York Times said it would flash a light on top of its building when a winner was determined on Election Day, white for Wilson and red for Hughes; late on Election Day the NY Times building flashed red. The New York World also predicted a Hughes victory at 10 pm on Election Day, and Theodore Roosevelt issued a public statement thanking Americans for electing Hughes as President. As the day after Election Day dawned, results coming in from the West had been unexpectedly pro-Wilson and as the morning hours passed the result was still in doubt with the Electoral Tally too close to call.
The final tally in the Electoral College was Wilson with 277 and Hughes at 254. Wilson had 9.13 million votes to Hughes 8.55 million. Wilson was the first Democratic candidate elected to a second term since Andrew Jackson in 1832, and Wilson was the first Democratic candidate since James Knox Polk in 1844 to win the Presidency without carrying his home state (which in Wilson's case was New Jersey). However, the Democrats lost two seats in the Senate, but still held an advantage of 54 to 42 over the Republicans. In the House, the Democrats fared much worse, in that the Republicans held an advantage of 215 - 214, but three Progressive Party representatives announced they would caucus with the Democrats, giving them a razor-thin majority. The Republican candidate for President, Charles Evans Hughes, didn't concede the election by telegram until 22 November 1916.