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Greatest/Worst Election Victories Since 1788


vcczar
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I created an algorithm that looks at % states won, % of Electoral Votes won, % of Popular Vote, % of margin of PV vs other major party, % votes not going to 3rd parties and divided each category by voter turnout to calculate who that most all-encompassing impressive victory.  I applied a score for each category and weighed each category equally. The number below is just to show how close total score are. 

The Top 10 Greatest Electoral Victories in US History 

  1. LBJ def. Goldwater in 1964 -- 43pts
  2. FDR def. Landon in 1936 -- 42 pts
  3. Nixon def. McGovern in 1972 -- 39 pts
  4. Reagan def. Mondale in 1984 -- 27 pts  (kind of a shocker points-wise but PV and PV margin and turnout was lower than the above)
  5. Lincoln def. McClellan in 1864 -- 26 pts
  6. Grant def. Seymour in 1868 -- 25 pts
  7. Harrison def. Van Buren in 1840 -- 22 pts
  8. Harding def. Cox in 1920 -- 20 pts (hurt by sub-50% voter turnout)
  9. Madison def. Pinckney in 1816 -- 18 pts
  10. 4-way tie with 16 pts: Eisenhower def. Stevenson '56; Grant def. Greeley '72; Pierce def. Scott '52; Jefferson def. Pinckney '04

Note: You may ask: Where are the Washington, Coolidge, Hoover and other FDR landslides? Where's Obama? Washington was dealing with voter turnout of only about 10% and 6% in his elections respectively. He was the only choice on the ballot in many of those places. Despite this, he still had about 10% write-ins going against him in 1788 of the few that were allowed. Washington's elections aren't impressive when they're orchestrated. Coolidge's victory saw among the lowest voter turnout in the modern era. He's deeply hurt by that and by the fact that so many voters went 3rd party. Hoover and FDR '32 almost made the list but their turnout, while not terrible, undermined them a bit. Obama's great victory isn't that impressive, historically speaking. It's only impressive when looking at elections from 1992-2020. Recent elections have been among the least impressive election victories. Obama's score for 2008 is actually exactly 0 pts. 

Top 10 Weakest Electoral Victories in US History

  1. Adams def. Jackson in 1824 - negative 52 (This victory was so glaringly weak. Adams gets more negative points than LBJ gets positive points. Adams lost the PV and EV to Jackson, but as no one got the required EVs needed, the House decided the election for Adams). 
  2. Bush def. Gore in 2000 - negative 30 (lost PV)
  3. Adams def. Jefferson in 1796 - negative 25 (slim margin + low turnout)
  4. Hayes def. Tilden in 1876 - negative 20 (lost PV)
  5. Trump def. Clinton in 2016 - negative 20 (lost PV)
  6. Nixon def. Humphrey in 1968 - negative 18
  7. Taylor def. Cass in 1848 - negative 17 
  8. Harrison def. Cleveland in 1888 - negative 15 (lost PV)
  9. Clinton def. Bush in 1992 - negative 15 (Very low PV%; extremely high 3rd party voting)
  10. Kennedy def. Nixon in 1960 - negative 13

If anyone is curious, Bush '04 got negative 4 pts, Biden '20 got negative 3 pts. Obama '12 got negative 2 pts. This makes Biden's recent victory the 36th greatest electoral victory, according to my algorithm. That's quite unimpressive, historically speaking. The biggest mark against him was that he won only 50% of the states. What helped him was that turnout was extremely high, but overall margins, EVs, etc weren't high enough to really score on that turnout for this algorithm. 

Historically, every election of the 21st century, except for Obama's 2008 election win which netted 0 pts has been a negative score election victory. This shows how difficult it is to really score a home run, electorally speaking in presidential elections now. One has to go back to 1988, when Bush Sr scored 2 pts vs Dukakis in his relatively grand victory. It looks like Reagan's 1984 victory will be the last true landslide, so long as we remain as ideologically polarized as we are. 

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Here's the full list in order:

Election Winner Loser Totals (based on ranking of the right)
1964 Johnson Goldwater 43
1936 Roosevelt Landon 42
1972 Nixon McGovern 39
1984 Reagan Mondale 27
1864 Lincoln McClellan 26
1868 Grant Seymour 25
1840 Harrison Van Buren 22
1920 Harding Cox 20
1808 Madison Pinckney 18
1956 Eisenhower Stevenson 16
1872 Grant Greeley 16
1852 Pierce Scott 16
1804 Jefferson Pinckney 16
1932 Roosevelt Hoover 15
1904 Roosevelt Parker 15
1980 Reagan Carter 12
1952 Eisenhower Stevenson 12
1928 Hoover Smith 12
1940 Roosevelt Wilkie 8
1896 McKinley Bryan 8
1788 Washington n/a 7
1816 Monroe King 6
1792 Washington n/a 5
1944 Roosevelt Dewey 4
1900 McKinley Bryan 4
1924 Coolidge Davis 3
1988 Bush Dukakis 2
1908 Taft Bryan 2
1844 Polk Clay 2
1828 Jackson Adams 2
2008 Obama McCain 0
1832 Jackson Clay 0
1820 Monroe n/a 0
1800 Jefferson Adams -1
2012 Obama Romney -2
2020 Biden Trump -3
2004 Bush Kerry -4
1948 Truman Dewey -4
1836 Van Buren Harrison -4
1880 Garfield Hancock -6
1856 Buchanan Fremont -6
1912 Wilson Taft -7
1884 Cleveland Blaine -7
1996 Clinton Dole -8
1860 Lincoln Douglas -10
1976 Carter Ford -11
1916 Wilson Hughes -11
1892 Cleveland Harrison -12
1812 Madison Clinton -12
1960 Kennedy Nixon -13
1992 Clinton Bush -15
1888 Harrison Cleveland -15
1848 Taylor Cass -17
1968 Nixon Humphrey -18
2016 Trump Clinton -20
1876 Hayes Tilden -20
1796 Adams Jefferson -25
2000 Bush Gore -30
1824 Adams Jackson -52
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1 hour ago, vcczar said:

Here's the full list in order:

Election Winner Loser Totals (based on ranking of the right)
1964 Johnson Goldwater 43
1936 Roosevelt Landon 42
1972 Nixon McGovern 39
1984 Reagan Mondale 27
1864 Lincoln McClellan 26
1868 Grant Seymour 25
1840 Harrison Van Buren 22
1920 Harding Cox 20
1808 Madison Pinckney 18
1956 Eisenhower Stevenson 16
1872 Grant Greeley 16
1852 Pierce Scott 16
1804 Jefferson Pinckney 16
1932 Roosevelt Hoover 15
1904 Roosevelt Parker 15
1980 Reagan Carter 12
1952 Eisenhower Stevenson 12
1928 Hoover Smith 12
1940 Roosevelt Wilkie 8
1896 McKinley Bryan 8
1788 Washington n/a 7
1816 Monroe King 6
1792 Washington n/a 5
1944 Roosevelt Dewey 4
1900 McKinley Bryan 4
1924 Coolidge Davis 3
1988 Bush Dukakis 2
1908 Taft Bryan 2
1844 Polk Clay 2
1828 Jackson Adams 2
2008 Obama McCain 0
1832 Jackson Clay 0
1820 Monroe n/a 0
1800 Jefferson Adams -1
2012 Obama Romney -2
2020 Biden Trump -3
2004 Bush Kerry -4
1948 Truman Dewey -4
1836 Van Buren Harrison -4
1880 Garfield Hancock -6
1856 Buchanan Fremont -6
1912 Wilson Taft -7
1884 Cleveland Blaine -7
1996 Clinton Dole -8
1860 Lincoln Douglas -10
1976 Carter Ford -11
1916 Wilson Hughes -11
1892 Cleveland Harrison -12
1812 Madison Clinton -12
1960 Kennedy Nixon -13
1992 Clinton Bush -15
1888 Harrison Cleveland -15
1848 Taylor Cass -17
1968 Nixon Humphrey -18
2016 Trump Clinton -20
1876 Hayes Tilden -20
1796 Adams Jefferson -25
2000 Bush Gore -30
1824 Adams Jackson -52

Why is Hayes-Tilden higher than Bush-Gore?

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The 2 elections which put the biggest trouble in american history are definitively 2000 and 1876 anyways (not only in terms of closeness but also negative impact)

1876 was the election that was very shady in which, probably Tilden won but gave the presidency to his opponent in exchange of withdrawing federal troops from the South which created an era of segregation which lasted up to the 60s

2000 is a terrible election result because it's the only time where the real winner was never known in Florida, because of the very ackward election ballots in Florida (not only because of republicans, also because of local democrats in charge of organizing elections). Also because of Gore bad lawsuit tactic to pick only 4 counties instead of calling for a wide state recount from the beginning and because of the overly politicized decision of the Supreme Court to end the recount in Florida and to directly give the presidency to GW Bush

A recount could definitively have changed the result of the election in both ways, for example 3000 votes which initially went to Gore in New Mexico changed hands after a recount and almost flipped the state for his opponent, and the 2000 election really paved the way for nowadays america

In 2020 many Trumpers got all the time they wished for recounts in Arizona and Georgia, I don't imagine if the Supreme Court interrupted Georgia's recounts. In a way, 2000 taught to medias to be cautious before calling states, and to federal Courts and mostly the Supreme Court, to remain out of political cases for what comes outside of pure judicial questions. The lesson still helped 20 years later but was it necessary?

Edited by Edouard
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