This was only the start of a fundamental restructuring of government to create a social safety net and assist those in need.
FDR also understood the need to communicate effectively with the country. He dominated the media of his time—newspapers and especially radio—and connected directly with everyday people. One of his most powerful tools was the "fireside chat" on the radio in which he talked in a folksy, approachable way about the problems of the country and what he was doing about them. Millions of Americans tuned in, and his voice became one of the most recognizable in history. Most important, his jaunty optimism proved infectious.
Eventually, the economy would again stall and Roosevelt's opponents would slow his programs. He would be accused of overreaching and betraying the American values of self-reliance and free market capitalism. But the election of 1932 had changed America forever.
'FDR would go on to win three more terms and lead America to victory in World War II. In the process, he became one of the nation's most beloved presidents and built a vast and powerful governing coalition. It consisted in part of working-class whites, union members, immigrants, African Americans, Southern whites, Catholics, Jewish voters, and city dwellers. This coalition dominated American politics for more than a generation—another key part of FDR's legacy.
More from our Most Consequential Elections series:
George Washington and the Election of 1788
Thomas Jefferson and the Election of 1800
Andrew Jackson and the Election of 1828
Abraham Lincoln and the Election of 1860
Abraham Lincoln and the Election of 1864
Theodore Roosevelt and the Election of 1904
Woodrow Wilson and the Election of 1912
Lyndon Johnson and the Election of 1964
Ronald Reagan and the Election of 1980