Presidential Elections

Disputes, Anomalies, and Close-Calls

Which eighteenth- and nineteenth-century elections were landslides?

America’s very first election, in 1789, was America’s first landslide election, where all sixty-nine electors of the electoral college voted unanimously for George Washington. In 1792, Washington again won the vote of every elector, making him the only president in history to be elected unanimously. During 1820’s “Era of Good Feelings,” incumbent president James Monroe stood unopposed for reelection. His victory was near-unanimous: one of the 231 electors voted instead for Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, a noncandidate—supposedly to preserve Washington’s record as the only unanimously elected president in history. Andrew Jackson’s 1828 victory was another landslide election; “Old Hickory” claimed the electoral vote victory by garnering 178 votes while incumbent president John Quincy Adams won 83 votes. In addition, a greatly expanded electorate gave Jackson some 648,000 votes to Adams’s 507,000. Further, most historians rank the election of Abraham Lincoln to a second term in 1864 as one of the nineteenth-century’s most interesting landslide elections.


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