Presidential Elections

Disputes, Anomalies, and Close-Calls

Which presidents were elected to the office with a national popular vote of less than 50 percent?

Fourteen presidential candidates became president with a popular vote of less than 50 percent of the total ballots cast nationwide. They are: John Quincy Adams (32 percent in 1824); Zachary Taylor (47 percent in 1848); James Buchanan (45 percent in 1856); Abraham Lincoln (40 percent in 1860); Rutherford B. Hayes (48 percent in 1876); James A. Garfield (48.3 percent in 1880); Grover Cleveland (49 percent in 1884 and 46 percent in 1892); Benjamin Harrison (48 percent in 1888); Woodrow Wilson (42 percent in 1912 and 49 percent in 1916); Harry S. Truman (49 percent in 1948); John F. Kennedy (49.7 percent in 1960); Richard Nixon (43.4 percent in 1968); Bill Clinton (43 percent in 1992 and 49 percent in 1996), and George W. Bush (48 percent in 2000). In fact, only three successful presidential candidates since 1960—Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964, Richard Nixon in 1972, and Ronald Reagan in 1984—have captured more than 55 percent of the popular vote.


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