Presidential Elections

Disputes, Anomalies, and Close-Calls

Was the election of 1864 considered a landslide?

Historians mention the election of 1864 as unparalleled in American history. It was a landslide victory for sitting president Abraham Lincoln, who remained in office while America was in the midst of its only civil war. Lincoln won the election, despite criticisms over his handling of the war and the odds against him: no president had won a second term since Andrew Jackson more than thirty years prior. While some people voted to replace Lincoln, the Union Army successes (including General William Sherman’s capture of Atlanta), Lincoln’s release of Union soldiers to go home on furlough (and vote), and Lincoln’s campaign slogan, “Don’t swap horses in the middle of the stream,” won out over Democratic challenger George B. McClellan. Lincoln received 212 electoral votes to McClellan’s 21. Lincoln’s most vocal critics were in Southern states that seceded from the Union.


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