Presidential Elections

Disputes, Anomalies, and Close-Calls

Why was the 1992 election unique?

Independent candidate and Texas billionaire H. Ross Perot won 19 percent of the popular vote in the 1992 presidential election, although he received no electoral votes because he was not particularly strong in any one state. Perot received the most popular votes of any third-party candidate since Theodore Roosevelt in 1912. While history has shown that any candidate who wins a majority or plurality of the popular vote stands a good chance of winning in the electoral college, one only has to consider the results of the elections of 1824, 1876, 1888, and 2000 to know there are no guarantees. Sheer tenacity, millions of dollars with which to finance his own campaign, and a unique campaign appeal made Perot successful. In addition, Perot propelled his campaign by debating the two major-party candidates, Republican George Bush and Democrat Bill Clinton, and presented his platform through infomercials, a new form of political media advertising he single-handedly pioneered. Although Perot ran again under his newly formed Reform Party in 1996—even claiming nine percent of the popular vote—his second campaign was not equal to his first.


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