The two top insurgent Republicans, Robert LaFollette and George Norris, stayed with their party and supported Hughes. CEH stated that we should be giving more aid to the Allied Powers especially Great Britain. President Wilson wanted us to stay neutral but his actions were plainly and without question in favor of the Allies. Both LaFollette and Norris wanted to stay out of the European war. Whatever else they thought of Hughes, they knew him as a man of candor, honesty, and consistency. The polices and actions of a Hughes Administration would have been consistent with the rhetoric. This was logic that drove the these Insurgent Republicans to support Charles Evans Hughes for President in 1916 and I believe it was correct.
Had Hughes won the United States would still have been in WWI. However, the debate would have been sharper, easier to understand, and in the context of our our own interest. Democrats would have found it easier to oppose our entry into war. Going against a President of their own party, especially in cases of war and peace, was much more difficult. I believe there was more opposition to the war than the 88 to 6 vote in the Senate indicated; Charles Evans Hughes in the White House would have confirmed this assumption.
Like Wilson, Hughes had a deep intellect and high ideals; unlike Wilson he was not rigid or self righteous. He would have worked more harmoniously with other allied leaders at the Versailles . CEH had a deep respect for the constitution and recognized that the United States Senate is a partner with the President in both the making and execution of foreign policy. He would have taken key Senators from both parties to Versailles to help negotiate a treaty. Hughes would have sought support from the Senate for confirmation of the treaty meeting with both individual Senators and groups. President Wilson almost expected the Senators to just sign on the dotted line.
As a firm believer in Civil Liberties, Hughes would not have allowed the Justice Department to harass, imprison, or deport German and Irish Americans, and those dissenting from our involvement in the war. Hughes would have respected the rights of organized labor and not just associated legimate union demands with the Bolshevik Revolution is Russia. In general, a Hughes Presidency would have lessened the acrimonious process of making war and then peace with both foreign powers and within the United States.
The election was very close and undecided for three days. Wilson had 277 Electoral Votes and 49% of the Popular Vote and Hughes had 254 Electoral Votes and 46% of the Popular Vote. California put Wilson over the majority; and Wilson won the Golden State by just under 4,000 votes. Charles Evans Hughes went on to become become Secretary of State from 1921 to 1925 and Chief Justice Supreme Court from 1930 to 1941. In all positions held Charles achieved greatness. The Presidency would have been no less.