Presidential Elections in the United States: A Statistical History, 1860-1992

Presidential Elections in the United States: A Statistical History, 1860-1992

Presidential Elections in the United States: A Statistical History, 1860-1992

Presidential Elections in the United States: A Statistical History, 1860-1992

Excerpt

Part I of the book begins with a table showing the percentage of the popular and electoral vote cast for each party on a national level from 1860 through 1992. Abraham Lincoln's election in 1860 is picked as the starting point because it marks the true beginning of the contest between the Democratic and Republican parties as we know them today.

The Democratic party took root and grew into a major party during the winning campaigns of Andrew Jackson in 1828 and 1832. The party nominated Martin Van Buren in 1836, and he beat three candidates of the new Whig party (including William Harrison) to become president (a result Harrison reversed in 1840). The Whig party was able to win only one more election (in 1848), and it fell to third place in 1856 behind the new Republican party. The first candidate for the Republicans was John Fremont, who finished second to Democrat James Buchanan in 1856.

Thus, 1860 was the first time the Republican party and the Democratic party faced each other as the major opposition parties in the nation. The Democrats were split on the slavery issue and ran two candidates who divided the vote and gave the election to Lincoln. As a result primarily of the Civil War and its outcome, the Democrats, winners of six of the previous eight elections, lost to the Republicans six times in a row starting in 1860 before Grover Cleveland gave them a win in 1884.

Overall, the Republicans won 11 of the 13 elections from 1860 through 1908 before Teddy Roosevelt split the party in 1912 and gave the election to Democrat Woodrow Wilson (what goes around comes around). Democrats then won seven of the 10 elections from 1912 through 1948, including the last five in a row (led by Franklin Roosevelt's four wins from 1932 through 1944).

The result from 1860 through 1948 was that the two parties were very close in average winning and losing margins. The Democrats won nine elections with an average popular vote of 51.3 percent, while the Republicans won 14 with an average popular vote of 52.2 percent. The Democrats had a similar narrow edge in average electoral vote with 73.5 percent to 69.0 percent for the Republicans. The bottom line was that the winning party, whether Democratic or Republican, won by about the same average margin.

There was a substantial change from 1952 through 1992. There were 11 elections, with the Republicans winning seven times and the Democrats four. The . . .

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