Presidential Election Of 1884

How Slim Margins Decide So Many Presidential Elections And Affect American History And Government Policies!

The argument that many ill informed people have is that “voting does not matter”, when just the opposite is true.

As we begin 2017 and the reality of President Trump in 19 days, a look at history tells us clearly how small numbers of votes or percentages of votes make a dramatic difference, as demonstrated in the following elections in American history:

1844– a switch of a few thousand votes in New York would have given the election to Henry Clay, instead of James K. Polk, and the difference was the small third party, the Liberty Party.

1848–a switch of a few thousand votes, again in New York, would have given the election to Lewis Cass, instead of Zachary Taylor, but Free Soil Party nominee, Martin Van Buren, former Democratic President and from New York, won ten percent of the total national vote, and threw the election to Whig candidate Taylor in New York.

1876—the dispute over the contested votes of South Carolina, Louisiana, and Florida led to a special Electoral Commission set up, which rewarded all of those three states’ electoral votes to Rutherford B. Hayes, although Democrat Samuel Tilden led nationally by about 250,000 popular votes.

1880–James A. Garfield won the popular vote by the smallest margin ever, about 2,000 votes, and won the big state of New York by only 20,000 votes, in defeating his opponent Winfield Scott Hancock.

1884–Grover Cleveland won his home state of New York by about 1,000 votes, which decided the election, and nationally only by about 57,000 votes over James G. Blaine.

1888–Grover Cleveland won the national popular vote by about 90,000, but lost in close races in his home state of New York and opponent Benjamin Harrison’s home state of Indiana, so lost the Electoral College, as Harrison became President. The Harrison lead in New York was less than 14,000 votes and in Indiana, less than 2,000.

1916—Woodrow Wilson won California by less than 4,000 votes, but enough to elect him to the White House over Republican Charles Evans Hughes.

1948–Harry Truman won three states by less than one percent–Ohio, California and Illinois–over Thomas E. Dewey, and that decided the election.

1960–John F. Kennedy won Illinois by about 8,000 votes; Texas by about 46,000 votes; and Hawaii by under 200 votes, and only had a two tenths of one percentage point popular vote victory nationally, about 112,000 votes, over Richard Nixon.

1976–Jimmy Carter won over Gerald Ford by two percentage points, but a switch of 5,600 votes in Ohio and 3,700 votes in Hawaii would have given the election to Ford.

2000—Al Gore lost Florida by 537 votes, in the final judgment of the Supreme Court, which intervened in the election, and had he won Florida, he would have been elected President, even though he won the national popular vote by about 540,000. Bush also won New Hampshire by only about 7,000 votes, but won the Electoral College 271-266.

2016–Hillary Clinton won the national popular vote by about 2.85 million, but lost the crucial states of Michigan by about 10,000; Wisconsin by about 22,000; and Pennsylvania by about 46,000, to Donald Trump, so together about 79,000 votes decided the Electoral College.

So the idea that voting is not important, does not matter, is proved wrong so many times in American history! Every vote does indeed count, and has long range implications on who sits in the White House, and what policies are pursued, which affect all of us!

The Closest Presidential Elections In American History

The closest Presidential Elections in American history would be the following in chronological order since the introduction of popular vote in 1824:

Presidential Election of 1824—Andrew Jackson vs John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, and William Crawford

Presidential Election of 1876–Rutherford B. Hayes vs Samuel Tilden

Presidential Election of 1880–James A. Garfield vs Winfield Scott Hancock

Presidential Election of 1884–Grover Cleveland vs James G. Blaine

Presidential Election Of 1888–Benjamin Harrison vs Grover Cleveland

Presidential Election of 1892–Grover Cleveland vs Benjamin Harrison, James Weaver

Presidential Election of 1916–Woodrow Wilson vs Charles Evans Hughes

Presidential Election Of 1960–John F. Kennedy vs Richard Nixon

Presidential Election of 1976–Jimmy Carter vs Gerald Ford

Presidential Election of 2000–George W. Bush vs Al Gore, Ralph Nader, Pat Buchanan

Presidential Election of 2004–George W. Bush vs John Kerry

Ten Most Divisive And Polarizing Elections In American History

As we near the end of an extremely divisive and polarizing election, it is a good time to look back and judge what were the ten most divisive and polarizing elections in American history.

Chronologically, they would be the following:

The Election of 1800 between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson

The Election of 1828 between John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson

The Election of 1860 between Abraham Lincoln, Stephen Douglas, John C. Breckinridge, and John Bell

The Election of 1876 between Rutherford B. Hayes and Samuel Tilden

The Election of 1884 between Grover Cleveland and James G. Blaine

The Election of 1896 between William McKinley and William Jennings Bryan

The Election of 1912 between Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Eugene Debs

The Election of 1948 between Harry Truman, Thomas E. Dewey, Strom Thurmond, and Henry A. Wallace

The Election of 1968 between Richard Nixon, Hubert Humphrey, and George Wallace

The Election of 2000 between George W. Bush, Al Gore, Ralph Nader, and Pat Buchanan

Millard Fillmore’s Third Party Candidacy in 1856: Unique In American History In Many Ways!

The 1856 Presidential Election is unique in many ways.

It was the first national campaign of a political party, the Republican Party, which had been founded two years earlier in opposition to slavery and to its expansion.

The Republican Party replaced the moribund Whig Party, and many of the latter’s members had joined the new party. John C. Fremont was its nominee for President, and lost by about 500,000 popular votes margin to Democratic nominee James Buchanan.

The Democratic Party, bitterly divided over slavery, was on its way to a victory in a divided country, but it would be the last Democratic Party victory until Grover Cleveland squeaked out a narrow victory three decades later in 1884. Its nominee was James Buchanan, who won the election with 174 electoral votes to 114 for Fremont.

It was also a time of a “comeback” by the last Whig President, Millard Fillmore, who had succeeded Zachary Taylor upon his death in 1850, and had signed the Compromise of 1850 and opened up relations with the Japanese Kingdom.

Fillmore would go on to win the 8 electoral votes of Maryland, the only electoral votes Fillmore ever won for the Presidency, as he was denied the nomination of his party for a full term in 1852, the last national campaign of the Whigs.

Fillmore became the first of two former Presidents to win electoral votes and states after being President, the other being Theodore Roosevelt on the Progressive (Bull Moose) party line in 1912, when he won six states and 88 electoral votes.

Former President Martin Van Buren had run on a third party, the Free Soil Party of 1848, won ten percent of the popular vote, but won no states or electoral votes.

But Fillmore actually won 21.5 percent of the total national popular vote in 1856, winning about 873,000 total votes, running on the American (Know Nothing) party line, campaigning against Catholic immigration from Germany and Ireland, which would not add to his stature, unfortunately! Ironically, Fillmore was not present at the convention that nominated him, and never actually joined the American Party, but he accepted the nomination, nevertheless, and he ran as a nativist, not good for his historical reputation!

Speakers Of The House Of Representatives Who Sought The Presidency, And Now Paul Ryan?

The Speaker of the House of Representatives is second in line for the Presidency after the Vice President under the Presidential Succession Act of 1947, the third such law.

The first such law, from 1792-1886, put the Speaker third in line for the Presidency, with the Vice President and the President Pro Tempore of the US Senate ahead of him, later reversed in 1947.

The second law, from 1886-1947, did not include the Speaker in the line of succession, but rather the Cabinet officers after the Vice President.

In our history, only one Speaker of the House became President, James K. Polk of Tennessee, from 1845-1849, and he proved to be one of the more significant Presidents, adding more real estate to America than anyone other than Thomas Jefferson.  This was accomplished by treaty with Great Britain over the Pacific Northwest in 1846, and by war with Mexico from 1846-1848, which added the Southwestern United States to the Union.

But seven other Speakers sought the Presidency, including the following:

Henry Clay of Kentucky sought the Presidency in 1824, 1832, and 1844, and is regarded as the greatest single legislator in the history of both houses of Congress.  In 1844, we had the only Presidential election where the two opponents had both been Speaker of the House, Clay and Polk!  Clay lost his three elections to John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, and Polk.

John Bell of Tennessee was the Constitutional Union Party nominee for President in 1860 on the eve of the Civil War, and lost to Abraham Lincoln.

James G. Blaine of Maine was the Republican nominee for President in 1884 and lost the election to Grover Cleveland, and was also Secretary of State under three Presidents–James A. Garfield, Chester Alan Arthur, and a full term under Benjamin Harrison.

Thomas Reed of Maine lost the nomination of the Republican Party in 1896 to future President William McKinley.

Champ Clark of Missouri lost the nomination of the Democratic Party in 1912 to future President Woodrow Wilson.

John Nance Garner of Texas, after being Vice President under Franklin D. Roosevelt for two terms from 1933-1941, lost the nomination of the Democratic Party to his boss, President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940

Newt Gingrich of Georgia lost the Republican nomination for President to eventual nominee Mitt Romney in 2012.

So four Speakers were nominated for President, with only Polk winning; and four other Speakers lost the nomination when they sought the Presidency.

Now we may have a ninth such Speaker seeking the Presidency, Republican Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, whose name is being promoted, despite Ryan’s denial of any interest in running for President.

How Death “Might” Have Affected American History! Eleven Potential “Turning Points”!

Assassinations and assassination attempts, and threats, have affected American History, as is covered in my book, “Assassinations, Threats, And The American Presidency: From Andrew Jackson To Barack Obama”, Rowman Littlefield, August 2015.

But then there are cases, not covered  in my book, of situations that could have occurred and affected American history, that have nothing to do with assassinations.

Witness the following:

In 1857, newly inaugurated President James Buchanan was extremely ill at the time of the inauguration, and almost failed to deliver his Inaugural Address, and was in bed for a few weeks after the inauguration, until he recovered.  It was believed he might have been poisoned by an unsafe water supply at the hotel he stayed at before his inauguration.  Had he died in office, Vice President John C. Breckinridge would have been President, and would have been only 36 years old, the youngest President in American history, and actually elected in November 1856, when he was still 35!

Stephen Douglas, Senator from Illinois, was the Democratic nominee for President in the Presidential Election of 1860, a four way race won by Abraham Lincoln, but had Douglas won, he would have died in office three months later, two months after the Civil War had begun, transforming the whole era if that had occurred!

In 1872, Democratic and Liberal Republican Presidential nominee Horace Greeley, who lost the Presidential Election of 1872 to President Ulysses S. Grant, died three weeks after the election, and before the Electoral College met.  What if he had won the election?  It would have meant that Vice Presidential nominee, B. Gratz Brown, Governor of Missouri and, earlier, Senator from Missouri, would have been President!

President Chester Alan Arthur  (1881-1885) succeeded President James A. Garfield after his assassination in September 1881, and finished out the term, but was denied nomination for a full term in 1884, which turned out to be fortunate as Arthur died in 1886, and therefore, would have died in office!

President Grover Cleveland, in his second nonconsecutive term in the White House from 1893-1897, had serious surgery for cancer of the jaw in 1894, done in secret on a boat on the Hudson River, and kept secret until after his death in 1908.  Had he died of cancer, Vice President Adlai Stevenson, the grandfather of Democratic Presidential nominee, Adlai Stevenson II in 1952 and 1956, would have been President!

President William Howard Taft (1909-1913)  saw his Vice President, James Sherman, die in office in October 1912, shortly before the Presidential Election of 1912, which Taft lost, in the worst reelection defeat of any President in American history, winning only two states.  But when the Electoral College met, the name of Columbia University President Nicholas Murray Butler was substituted to count the electoral votes.  However, there was no provision for a replacement Vice President, so had Taft won, he would have had no Vice President for the entire term of 1913-1917!

President Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921) had a severe stroke in September 1919, and never fully recovered in his last year and a half in the White House, and his wife ran cabinet meetings in his absence, but had Wilson resigned or died, Vice President Thomas Marshall would have become President!

Franklin D. Roosevelt had Henry A. Wallace, his Secretary of Agriculture, as his third term Vice President from 1941-1945, and had he not been lobbied to replace the unpopular Wallace with Harry Truman for his fourth term run for the Presidency, it would have been Wallace who would have succeeded FDR in the Presidency after 82 days of the fourth term in 1945!

FDR’s Republican opponents in the Presidential Election of 1940 were businessman Wendell Willkie for President, and Oregon Senator Charles McNary for Vice President.  Had they won the White House, the nation would have faced losing both of them in the last year of the term–McNary dying in February 1944, and Willkie in October 1944, an unprecedented situation to have had both the President and Vice President in the same term die in office!  And this would have occurred during the height of the battle to win World War II, a very dangerous time for such an occurrence!

Harry Truman’s Vice President in his full term from 1949-1953 was Alben Barkley, who wished to run for President in 1952, but was pushed aside since he was already in his 70s, and it was felt it was not a good idea to have a President of that age come to office.  It was fortunate that this happened, since Barkley died in April 1956, so would have died in office!

President Gerald Ford replaced Vice President Nelson Rockefeller as his running mate in the 1976 election for Senator Bob Dole, under pressure from conservative Republicans led by Ronald Reagan, and lost the Presidential Election of 1976 to Jimmy Carter.  Had Ford kept Rockefeller on the ticket, some think he would have defeated Carter, and if that was so, then Ford would have lost his Vice President in office, as Rockefeller died in January 1979!

 

Nine Presidential Nominees Who Lost In Very Close Races To Their Opponents

It is not generally known that we have had several Presidential candidates who lost the Presidency in very close races, where one could note that a small switch of votes would have changed the result, with five such cases in American history. And some Presidential candidates have lost despite winning the national popular vote, with four such cases in American history. So therefore, nine elections saw these scenarios.

Andrew Jackson lost the Election of 1824 to John Quincy Adams despite winning the national popular vote by about 45,000.

Henry Clay lost the Election of 1844 to James K. Polk by losing New York State by about 5,000 votes.

Samuel Tilden lost the Election of 1876 to Rutherford B. Hayes despite winning the national popular vote by about 250,000.

James G. Blaine lost the Election of 1884 to Grover Cleveland by losing New York State by about 1,000 votes.

Grover Cleveland lost the Election of 1888 to Benjamin Harrison despite winning the national popular vote by about 100,000.

Charles Evans Hughes lost the Election of 1916 to Woodrow Wilson by losing California by about 3,800 votes.

Richard Nixon lost the Election of 1960 to John F. Kennedy by losing the state of Illinois by about 8,000 votes.

Gerald Ford lost the Election of 1976 to Jimmy Carter by losing the state of Ohio by 5,600 votes and the state of Hawaii by 3,700 votes.

Al Gore lost the Election of 2000 to George W. Bush despite winning the national popular vote by 540,000, and by losing the state of Florida by 537 votes.

Of course, Jackson, Cleveland, and Nixon went on to win the next national election in each case, and Ford, although never being elected, had the satisfaction of having been President for almost two and a half years.

Tilden and Gore were the most tragic cases, as they never ran again for President, and yet had won the national popular vote in each case.

Henry Clay and Charles Evans Hughes were exceptional public servants in so many ways, but would never be President.

Finally, James G. Blaine losing was probably good, as he was regarded as the most corrupt national candidate in American history!

Presidential Candidate Losers Become Secretaries Of State

If one cannot win the White House, there is always the consolation prize of being the leader of the Presidential cabinet, as Secretary of State.

So we see a distinguished list of Presidential candidate losers who took on the most important and most publicized cabinet agency, the State Department. What follows is the list of these distinguished public servants and the national election that they lost.

Henry Clay (1824) was Secretary of State under John Quincy Adams.

Daniel Webster (1836) was Secretary of State under William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, and Millard Fillmore.

Lewis Cass (1848) was Secretary of State under James Buchanan.

James G. Blaine (1884) was Secretary of State under James Garfield, Chester Alan Arthur, and Benjamin Harrison.

William Jennings Bryan (1896, 1900, 1908) was Secretary of State under Woodrow Wilson.

Charles Evans Hughes (1916) was Secretary of State under Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge.

John Kerry (2004) was Secretary of State under Barack Obama.

Multiple Losing Presidential Candidacies, And Those Who Lost, Then Won The Presidency

The history of multiple candidacies for the Presidency is an interesting one, with five candidates being nominated more than once and losing each time, and five candidates being nominated more than once, and losing before winning the White House (with unusual circumstances for Grover Cleveland)

Those who ran multiple times and continued to lose are:

Charles Pinckney, Presidential Elections of 1804 and 1808
Henry Clay, Presidential Elections of 1824, 1832, and 1844
William Jennings Bryan, Presidential Elections Of 1896, 1900, and 1908
Thomas E. Dewey, Presidential Elections of 1944 and 1948
Adlai Stevenson, Presidential Elections of 1952 and 1956

Those who ran multiple times and first lost, and then won the Presidency are (with unusual case of Grover Cleveland described below):

Thomas Jefferson, Presidential Elections of 1796, 1800 and 1804
Andrew Jackson, Presidential Elections of 1824, 1828 and 1832
William Henry Harrison, Presidential Elections of 1836 and 1840
Grover Cleveland, Presidential Elections of 1884, 1888, and 1892 (winning in 1884, losing in 1888, winning in 1892)
Richard Nixon, Presidential Elections of 1960, 1968 and 1972

Also, Jackson and Cleveland won the popular vote in the elections they lost in the Electoral College, so both actually won the popular vote three times, the only candidates to do that, other than Franklin D. Roosevelt, who won the popular vote and electoral vote four times, in the Presidential Elections of 1932, 1936, 1940, and 1944!

Additionally, Martin Van Buren ran a third time in 1848 on the Free Soil Party line and lost; and Theodore Roosevelt ran a second time in 1912 on the Progressive Party line and lost.

Mitt Romney’s Foreign Policy Debut In Great Britain: Total Disaster!

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, the GOP Presidential nominee, has struck out in his first foray into foreign policy, of which he has no background or experience at all!

Of all places, he bombed in Great Britain, the closest ally and friend of the United States for the past century!

He stupidly criticized London as not having prepared adequately for the Olympics, which totally insulted the mayor of London, as well as British Prime Minister David Cameron.

This man cannot utter a statement that is not seen as inadequate, as incomplete, needing further explanation, or being a pure embarrassment!

The British press is comparing Romney to Sarah Palin and George W. Bush! What kind of hope of diplomacy with our closest ally is seen as possible when the first impression is so negative?

British observers have said that Romney came across as without “charm, warmth, humour, or sincerity”!

What is a greater indictment of Romney than that statement? All of it is TOTALLY TRUE, as Romney is clearly a total PHONY, unconcerned about how people feel, and clearly, if he can alienate Great Britain, imagine Iran, China, Russia, North Korea, etc!

Romney is giving further proof that he is the WORST GOP Presidential nominee since James G. Blaine, the extremely corrupt nominee in 1884, against Democrat Grover Cleveland!

Realize this includes Richard Nixon and George W. Bush, but realistically, Romney is far worse than either of them or any other nominee since Blaine 128 years ago!

Romney is clearly digging his own grave!