American Presidential Elections

The American presidential election system has produced some interesting quirks, such as...

1800, when Democrat-Republicans Jefferson and Burr receive the same number of electoral votes, thus forcing the House of Representatives to choose the president, or ...

1860, when Abraham Lincoln, earning just 40% of the popular vote, is the first Republican elected president. He wins in a four-way race against Stephen Douglas and John Breckenridge (who split the Democratic vote) and John Bell, who took most of the border states in the election that precipitated the Civil War or ...

1824, 1876, 1888, and 2000, years in which the persons (Jackson, Tilden, Cleveland, and Gore) receiving the most votes from citizens  are denied the presidency because of the electoral college system, or ...

1912, when Teddy Roosevelt, frustrated with the lack of Progressive zeal of his hand-picked Republican successor, William Howard Taft, enters the race and basically hands it to Democratic candidate Woodrow Wilson, or ...

1972, when Richard Nixon wins 49 out of 50 states, but is so fixated on his enemies that he allows practices to take place which cause him to be the first president to resign from office and the second of three presidents to have impeachment proceedings develop to a signficant level (The only two presidents formally impeached were Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. Both were acquitted in the Senate).

2000, when the U.S. Supreme Court by a vote of 5-4 overrules a Florida State Supreme Court ruling requiring the manual recount of undercounted votes, thus allowing George W. Bush to win the 25 electoral votes needed and become president, even though his opponent Al Gore wins more votes nationwide (Gore's total in 2000 is 542,000 greater than Bush's). Gore, of course, could have won the election outright if he had just carried his own state of Tennessee. Justice John Paul Stevens commented after the decision: "It is confidence in the men and women who administer the judicial system that is the true backbone of the rule of law. Time will one day heal the wound to that confidence that will be inflicted by today's decision. One thing, however, is certain. Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year's Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the nation's confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law."

The purpose of this site is to give some basic statistical information to students about the 57 times Americans have chosen a president. If you find it helpful in any way, please let me know.

 


John F. Kennedy narrowly defeated Richard Nixon in 1960, marking the first election of a Roman Catholic and the first "winner" of televised debates.
(Paul Schutzer, Life Magazine 1961 ©Time, Inc.)

 
Year
Candidates
Parties
Popular 
Vote
% of Popular 
Vote
Electoral 
Vote
% of Voter 
Participation
1789 George Washington
John Adams 
Others



69 
34 
35

1792 George Washington
John Adams 
George Clinton 
Others



132 
77 
50 
5

1796 John Adams
Thomas Jefferson 
Thomas Pinckney 
Aaron Burr 
Others
Federalist 
Democrat-Republican Federalist 
Democrat-Republican 
--


71 
68 
59 
30 
48

1800 Thomas Jefferson
Aaron Burr 
John Adams 
C.C. Pinckney 
John Jay
Democrat-Republican Democrat-Republican Federalist 
Federalist 
Federalist


73 
73 
65 
64 
1

1804 Thomas Jefferson
C.C. Pinckney
Democrat-Republican Federalist

162 
14

1808 James Madison
C.C. Pinckney 
George Clinton
Democrat-Republican Federalist 
Democrat-Republican


122 
47 
6

1812 James Madison
DeWitt Clinton
Democrat-Republican Federalist

128 
89

1816 James Monroe
Rufus King
Democrat-Republican Federalist

183 
34

1820 James Monroe
John Quincy Adams
Democrat-Republican National Republican

231 
1

1824 John Q.Adams
Andrew Jackson 
William Crawford Henry Clay
National Republican 
Democrat-Republican Democrat-Republican Democrat-Republican
108,740 
153,544 
46,618 
47,136
30.5
43.1
13.1
13.2
84 
99 
41 
37
26.9
1828 Andrew Jackson
John Q. Adams
Democrat 
National Republican
647,286 
508,064
56.0
44.0
178 
83
57.6
1832 Andrew Jackson
Henry Clay 
John Floyd 
William Wirt
Democrat 
National Republican 
Independent 
Anti-Mason
687,502 
530,189
-
33,108 
55.0
42.4
-
-
219 
49 
11 
7
55.4
1836 Martin Van Buren
W.H. Harrison 
Hugh White 
Daniel Webster 
W.P. Magnum
Democrat 
Whig 
Whig 
Whig
Independent
765,483
739,795
-
-
50.9
49.1
-
-
-
170 
73 
26 
14 
11
57.8
1840 W.H. Harrison
Martin Van Buren 
J.G. Birney
Whig 
Democrat 
Liberty
1,274,624 
11,27,781
7,069
53.1
46.9
-
234 
60
-
80.2
1841-1845 John Tyler took office on Harrison's death Whig in name, but Democrat in principle



1844 James K. Polk
Henry Clay 
J.G. Birney
Democrat 
Whig 
Liberty
1,338,464 
1,300,097 
62,300
49.6
48.1
2.3
170 
105
-
78.9
1848 Zachary Taylor
Lewis Cass 
Martin Van Buren
Whig 
Democrat 
Free-Soil
1,360,967 
1,222,342 
291,263
47.4
42.5
10.1
163 
127
-
72.7
1850-
1853
Millard Fillmore took
office on Taylor's death
Whig
     
1852 Franklin Pierce
Winfield Scott 
John P. Hale
Democrat 
Whig 
Free-Soil
1,601,117 
1,385,453 
155,825
50.9
44.1
5.0
254 
42
-
69.6
1856 James Buchanan
John C. Fremont 
Millard Fillmore
Democrat 
Republican 
American
1,832,955 
1,339,932 
871,731
45.3
33.1
21.6
174 
114 
8
78.9
1860 Abraham Lincoln
Stephen Douglas 
John Breckenridge 
John Bell
Republican 
Democrat 
Democrat 
Union
2,213,655 
1,382,713 
848,356 
592,906
39.8
29.5
18.1
12.6
180 
12 
72 
39
81.2
1864 Abraham Lincoln
George McClellan
Republican 
Democrat
2,213,655 
1,805,237
55.0
45.0
212 
21
73.8
1865-
1869
Andrew Johnson took 
office on Lincoln's death
Union        
1868 Ulysses S. Grant
Horatio Seymour
Republican 
Democrat
3,012,833 
2,703,249
52.7
47.3
214 
80
78.1
1872 Ulysses S. Grant
Horace Greeley
Republican 
Democrat
3,597,132 
2,834,125
55.6
43.9
286 
66
71.3
1876 Rutherford B. Hayes
Samuel Tilden
Republican 
Democrat
4,036,298 
4,300,590
48.0
51.0
185 
184
81.8
1880 James Garfield
Winfield S. Hancock
Republican 
Democrat
4,454,416 
4,444,952
48.5
48.1
214 
155
79.4
1881- 
1885
Chester Arthur took office
on Garfield's death
Republican        
1884 Grover Cleveland
James G. Blaine
Democrat 
Republican
4,874,986 
4,851,981
48.5
48.2
219 
182
77.5
1888 Benjamin Harrison
Grover Cleveland
Republican 
Democrat
5,439,853 
5,540,309
47.9
48.6
233 
138
79.3
1892 Grover Cleveland
Benjamin Harrison 
James B. Weaver
Democrat 
Republican 
People's
5,556,918 
5,176,108 
1,041,028
46.1
43.0
8.5
277 
145 
22
74.7
1896 William McKinley
William J. Bryan
Republican 
Democrat
7,104,779
6,502,925
51.1
47.7
271 
176
79.3
1900 William McKinley
William J. Bryan
Republican 
Democrat
7,207,923
6,502,925
51.7
45.5
292
155
73.2
1901
Theodore Roosevelt took office on McKinley's death
Republican




1904 Theodore Roosevelt
Alton B. Parker
Eugene V. Debs
Republican
Democrat
Socialist
7,623,486
5,077,911
402,283
57.9
37.6
3.0
336
140
0
65.2
1908 William H. Taft
William J. Bryan
Eugene V. Debs
Republican
Democrat
Socialist
7,678,908
6,409,104
420,793
51.6
43.1
2.8
321
162
0
65.4
1912 Woodrow Wilson
Theodore Roosevelt
William H. Taft
Eugene V. Debs
Democrat
Progressive
Republican
Socialist
6,293,454
4,119,538
3,484,980
900,672
41.9
27.4
23.2
6.0
435
88
8
0
58.8
1916 Woodrow Wilson
Charles E. Hughes
A.L. Benson
Democrat
Republican
Socialist
9,129,606
8,538,221
585,113
49.4
46.2
3.2
277
254
0
61.6
1920 Warren Harding
James M. Cox
Eugene V. Debs
Republican
Democrat
Socialist
16,152,200
9,147,353
919,799
60.4
34.2
3.4
404
127
0
49.2
1923 Calvin Coolidge took office on Harding's death
Republican




1924 Calvin Coolidge
John W. Davis
Robert M. LaFollette
Republican
Democrat
Progressive
15,725,016
8,386,503
4,822,856
54.0
28.8
16.6
382
136
13
48.9
1928 Herbert Hoover
Alfred Smith
Norman Thomas
Republican
Democrat
Socialist
21,391,381
15,016,443
267,835
58.2
40.9
0.7
444
57
0
56.9
1932 Franklin Roosevelt
Herbert Hoover
Norman Thomas
Democrat
Republican
Socialist
22,821,857
15,761,841
881,951
57.4
39.7
2.2
472
59
0
56.9
1936 Franklin Roosevelt
Alfred M. Landon
William Lemke
Democrat
Republican
Union
27,751,597
16,679,583
882,479
60.8
36.5
1.9
523
8
0
61
1940 Franklin Roosevelt
Wendell Wilkie
Democrat
Republican
27,244,160
22,305,198
54.8
44.8
449
82
62.5
1944 Franklin Roosevelt
Thomas E. Dewey
Democrat
Republican
25,602,504
22,006,285
53.5
46.0
432
99
55.9
1948 Harry S Truman
Thomas E. Dewey
Strom Thurmond
Henry A. Wallace
Democrat
Republican
States-Rights Demo.
Progressive
24,105,695
21,969,170
1,169,021
1,156,103
49.5
45.1
2.4
2.4
304
189
38
0
53
1952 Dwight Eisenhower
Adlai Stevenson
Republican
Democrat
33,936,252
27,314,992
55.1
44.4
442
89
63.3
1956 Dwight Eisenhower
Adlai Stevenson
Republican
Democrat
35,575,423
26,033,066
57.6
42.1
457
73
60.6
1960 John F. Kennedy
Richard Nixon
Other
Democrat
Republican
--
34,227,096
34,108,546
--
49.9
49.6
--
303
219
15

62.8
1964 Lyndon Johnson
Barry Goldwater
Democrat
Republican
43,126,506
27,176,799
61.1
38.5
486
52
61.7
1968 Richard Nixon
Hubert Humphrey 
George Wallace
Republican
Democrat
American Ind.
31,770,237
31,270,533
9,906,141
43.4
42.7
13.5
301
191
46
60.6
1972 Richard Nixon
George McGovern
Other
Republican
Democrat
-
47,169,911
29,170,383
-
60.7
37.5
-
520
17
1
55.2
 1974 Gerald Ford took office on Nixon's resignation Republican        
1976 Jimmy Carter
Gerald Ford
Other
Democrat
Republican
-
40,828,587
39,147,613
1,575,459
50.0
47.9
2.1
297
241
0
53.5
1980 Ronald Reagan
Jimmy Carter
John P. Anderson
Ed Clark
Republican
Democrat
Independent
Libertarian
43,901,812
35,483,820
5,719,722
921,188
50.7
41.0
6.6
1.1
489
49
0
0
52.6
1984 Ronald Reagan
Walter Mondale
Republican
Democrat
54,455,075
37,577,185
59.0
41.0
525
13
53.3
1988 George Bush
Michael Dukakis
 Republican
Democrat
48,886,000
41,809,000 
53.4
45.6 
426
111 
57.4 
1992 Bill Clinton
George Bush
H. Ross Perot
Democrat
Republican
Independent
43,728,375
38,167,416
19,237,247
43
38
19
370
168
0
55
1996 Bill Clinton
Bob Dole
H. Ross Perot
Democrat
Republican
Independent
45,590,703
37,816,307
8,085,402
50
41
8
379
159
0
48.8
2000
George W. Bush
Al Gore
Ralph Nader
Republican
Democrat
Green
50,456,167
50,996,064
2,864,810
47.88
48.39
2.72
271
266*
0
51.2
2004
George W. Bush
John Kerry
Ralph Nader
Republican
Democrat
Independent

59,651,290
56,158,908
404,285
51
48
0.3
286
252

59
2008
Barack Obama
John McCain
Democrat
Republican
66,882,230
58,343,671
53
46
365
173
64**
2012

Barack Obama
Mitt Romney

Democrat
Republican

62,610,717
59,136,717
51
48

332
206

58

Notes: Electors are not required to vote for a candidate. Several times electors, as they have met at their state capitals following the November elections, have cast protest votes for individuals.

* One elector abstained in 2000.

**Barack Obama achieved the highest total votes (66.8 million) as 64% of the American electorate voted, the highest number since 1900.

 Basic Source: American History by Richard Current, et al. New York: Knopf.