October 14, 1992|By Theo Lippman Jr.

This is the 52nd presidential election.

The 38th came in 1936 after four years of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's revolutionary New Deal with its consolidation of power in the federal government.

His Republican opponents put aside their own personal and philosophical differences to unite behind Gov. Alf Landon, a popular, winning, somewhat progressive Kansan.

Summing up the party's mood, one Republican senator said at the national convention that there was only one faction and it had only one motto, ''Stop Roosevelt!''

FDR and the Democrats were equally combative. The president boasted that ''the forces of selfishness and of lust for power'' (read ''Republicans and big businessmen'') had ''met their match'' in his first term and would ''[meet] their master'' in his second.

Many analysts thought the election would be close, but FDR won by the biggest landslide in history to that point; in fact, his margins of victory in the Electoral College and in the popular-vote percentages haven't been bettered since. And Republican campaign planners had not seen the last of him.

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