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Democrats F.D.R. and Magnuson win, and Production-For-Use loses in general election on November 3, 1936.

HistoryLink.org Essay 5593 : Printer-Friendly Format

On November 3, 1936, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1881-1945) wins re-election as president, Warren G. Magnuson (1905-1989) wins election to Congress, but ballot measures such as old-age pensions and the radical Production-For-Use fail. Democrats sweep the state legislature and Congress.

Roosevelt's victory was a validation of his New Deal programs to fight the effects of the Great Depression. Democrats in Washington state also won big, with majorities in the state legislature and Governor Clarence D. Martin (1884-1955) besting former Republican Governor Roland H. Hartley. King County Prosecutor Warren G. Magnuson won the first of four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives (he would go on to six terms in the U.S. Senate).

Unemployment caused by the Great Depression gave rise to the Washington Commonwealth Federation, a coalition of liberal and left-wing political groups that managed to gain control of the state Democratic Convention in 1936. The WCF backed Initiative 119, Production-For-Use, which would have allowed the state to issue $55 million in bonds and to spend $10 million a year to put unemployed people to work in closed businesses. The measure failed by a substantial margin.

Voters also rejected an expansion of old-age pensions, the establishment of a state-wide electrical utility, an income tax, $5.00 in daily expenses for state legislators, and flood control bonds. Only a reduction in property taxes passed. Most of the rejected ballot measures reflected the liberalism that emerged during the Depression.

Statewide, 82 percent of registered voters cast ballots and in King County it was almost 81 percent.

Voter returns were as follows:

U.S. President

  • Franklin D. Roosevelt (D) - 459,579
  • Alfred M. Landon (R) - 206,892

  • Clarence D. Martin (D) - 466,550
  • Roland H. Hartley (R) - 189,141

    U.S. House of Representatives - First District
  • Warren G. Magnuson (D) - 103,967
  • Frederick J. Wettrick (R) - 58,794

    Initiative 114, 40-mill tax limit:
         Yes - 417,641 No - 120,478

    Initiative 115, Old-Age Pensions:
         Yes - 153,551   No - 354,162

    Initiative 119, Production for Use:
         Yes - 97,329   No - 370,140

    Constitutional amendment - Income Tax:
         Yes - 93,598   No -328,675

    Constitutional amendment - Statewide power:
         Yes - 173,930   No - 278,943

  • Sources:
    "Socialistic P-F-U Bill Decisively Repudiated," The Seattle Daily Times, November 4, 1936, p. 1; "President Adds New Hampshire to Victory," Ibid.; "Forty-Mill Tax Limit Bill Only Measure to Win," Ibid., 8; "Magnuson Wins; State's Solons All Democratic," Ibid., 9; Washington Secretary of State, Abstract of Votes polled in the State of Washington at the General Election, November 3, 1946, (Olympia: Secretary of State, 1936); Steve Johnston, "Gorton takes Magnuson's job," The Seattle Times, November 5, 1980, p. A-24.

    Travel through time (chronological order):
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