A common theme to historians' recaps of Weimar elections is the idea that the Nazis never received a majority of the vote. Now there is a powerful message with that people who grow up in America as well as other European states. Specifically in America, we see a majority victorious as having the consent and expressing the will of the people as well as an approved mandate to govern. This chips away at the idea that the Nazis used legitimate means to gain power. it also allows for the Germans to wipe away some guilt and separate themselves from those nasty, icky Germans that voted the Nazis in. "It was not all of Germany." they can say. True, but it was an unusual percentage of Germans for that era.
If you look at the history of Weimar elections, the politics was incredibly low level due to the low hurdles to get a party on ballots and low hurdle for voter percentage to get seats in parliament. Think of the ridiculously low level of signatures needed to have a citizens' referendum in California. Germans took to voting like fish to water with incredibly high turnouts well over what we experience today. This made forming a large party with a large share of the vote difficult. In fact, it was so difficult that no one could do it but the Nazis and only until the very end of the republic when things became so chaotic, the voters were looking for willpower to end their problems.
The Social Democratic Party of Germany, which still exists today, declared right at the end of the first world war a German republic. This party had amazing fanfare behind it, and an infrastructure that other parties lacked. Now they had a bit of a rival problem as the communists declared a republic too. There were also people's councils popping up everywhere, so the bolshevik scare was rising. Even with all of the advantages the SDP had, they could only muster 37.9% of the vote in 1919. No party would crack 30% again until 1932. To put this in perspective, only one party has cracked 40%, and only once, in German elections since 2000.
The German ruling coalition had basically dissolved in 1930. The Weimar Republic did have provisions that would allow the president to rule by decree. This power along with the great German bureaucracy, allowed the government to churn along as the elected government got nothing done and warred in the streets. Consider the lack of a budget in America, the rule by executive fiats, the Federal bureaucracy humming along and the lack of cooperation in the elected government in DC, does this sound familiar? Weimar Germany still provided basics for their people, they just had no coalitions in the elected government to steer the ship.
Who did crack the 30% voter barrier in 1932? The Nazis, who garnered 37% of the vote. They did this despite years of obscurity, years of being banned from public speaking and the media yelling at them in near unison. Weimar Germany had experienced center-left coalition governments, center coalition governments and even right coalition governments. No one had answers, but everyone knew something was completely broken in German society. What changed for the Nazis was the elite right wing growing exasperated with the other right wing parties and finally giving the Nazis a try. The Nazis would stay above 30% and even crack 40% two elections later, but that was the post-Reichstag fire election.
These elections were brutal affairs in some areas with street fights and constant police intervention. One thing often noted by modern historians is how those evil, wicked Nazis grew out of the Freikorps and other paramilitary groups. They were not the only political party to do so in Weimar Germany. Your schools will not discuss it because it reveals that the Nazis just were the most successful, not the most evil. The Communist Party of Germany got its start in Weimar Germany as the Spartacus League. The Spartacus League was a revolutionary Marxist group (sounds like Occupy and BLM) that initiated the Spartacist Uprising that attempted to overthrow the government. The communists would try this three separate times. They still formed a political party that would receive roughly 10% of the vote and would fight in the streets with all comers.
It is true the Nazis never cracked 50% in parliament, but no other party ever cracked 40%. Besides the very first election, no one cracked 30% until the Nazis found their message worked in the depression. This essay does not condone or approve of the Nazis. This essay merely points out that the historians who explain the past to you today chip away at what was really at work in Weimar Germany. No one could build a large base of support for a majority or even close to a majority. Those same historians will not put their electoral results into context to show the weakness built into the system. Weimar Germany's pure democracy was doomed from the start.