The election of 1912 saw a heated battle between the third-party Progressive Republican Theodore Roosevelt and the Democrat Woodrow Wilson. William Howard Taft ran on the Republican ticket, but his electoral gains were minimal. The election took place right in the middle of the Progressive Movement, and its importance showed: each candidate's campaign hinged on appeasing the members of the movement.
Roosevelt proposed a plan he dubbed "New Nationalism." His plan entailed many objectives, including:
1) Woman Suffrage
2) Broad social welfare
3) More aggressive Progresivism
4) Increased regulation of big business
To battle Roosevelt, Wilson put forth his plan of "New Freedom." The plan included:
1) Favoring of small enterprise
2) Increased individual competition
3) Vigorous enforcement of anti-trust
4) A "free market
" for the economy
New Nationalism and New Freedom had many similiarities. Both obviously catered to the Progressive movement. Both were anti-big business. And both favored the rise of the "little man".
The two policies differed in what means would be used to acheive these ends. Roosevelt's New Freedom proposed broad social welfare, much like that seen in the 1930's from Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Wilson violently opposed welfare, saying that the little man must be forced into competition without head starts from the government. Both favored a sort of free market for the economy: Wilson favored the pure market, Roosevelt allowed those who had losses to be given another chance.
Wilson won the election, but not necessarily because his New Freedom was superior: the Republican vote was split between Taft and Roosevelt, making Democratic victory a certainty.