Nov 3, 2008

Presidential election trivia II: states and electoral votes

Only 3 states have held the distinction of being the state with the most electoral votes: Virginia until 1808, New York 1812-1968, and California since 1972.

1812 was the first election in which some electoral votes came from west of the Mississippi - from Louisiana.

The second state west of the Mississippi was Missouri (first voted in the 1820 election), the third was Arkansas (1836), followed by Iowa and Texas in 1848 and California in 1852.

States that voted for the first Republican presidential candidate (John Frémont) in 1856: all of New England, plus Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa. All except OH look reliably Democratic for 2008. All except OH and IA voted Democratic in 2004. All except OH and NH voted Democratic in 2000. All voted Democratic in 1992 and 1996.

Free states that voted for James Buchanan in 1856: Pennsylvania (his home state), Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey, and California (Frémont's home state). In 1860, Lincoln won all of them (NJ split its electoral votes 4-3 in Lincoln's favor).

States Lincoln lost in 1864: Kentucky (where he was born), Delaware, New Jersey. He won Missouri and Maryland although they were slave states. He won West Virginia which was still a slave state, although it was formally committed to abolishing slavery. He also won Kansas, where the status of slavery was violently contested before the Civil War.

1872 was the first time New Jersey went completely Republican and the last time until 1928 that Virginia voted Republican.

Southern states that never voted Republican during the Civil War or the Reconstruction: Georgia and Kentucky.

In 1876, Connecticut voted Democratic, the first New England state to do that since the emergence of the Republican Party.

In 1880, the South solidified Democratic. It was also the first time Nevada voted Democratic, and the first time California did so since 1856. The only time CA went D between 1880 and 1916 was in 1892, when it split its electoral votes 8D, 1R.

In 1900, the two Dakotas voted for the same candidate for the first time (in 1892, ND split its votes 3-way and SD voted R; in 1896, ND voted R and SD voted D; in 1900, they both went R.) They voted together in every subsequent election except 1912 (when ND voted Democratic and SD Progressive) and 1916 (ND-D, SD-R). Almost all those votes were for the Republican, except in 1932, 1936, and 1964.

In 1904, Missouri voted Republican for the first time since 1864. Teddy Roosevelt solidified the West - he won all states west of the Mississippi except Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana. Roosevelt was the first candidate to win more than 300 electoral votes.

In 1912, Woodrow Wilson became the first candidate to win over 400 electoral votes (435 out of 531) and to carry 40 states (out of 48), despite winning only 41.8% of popular vote (which was the lowest percentage for the winner since Lincoln in 1860).

All New England states except Vermont went Democratic in 1912. Other than Connecticut, they had not done so since 1852. Massachusetts had not voted Democratic since 1820 (and in a contested election not since 1804). Ohio also went D for the first time since 1852.

Only Vermont and Utah voted Republican in 1904 1912. (Six other states - PA, MI, MN, CA, WA, SD - voted Progressive.)

From 1856 to 1908, these were the only instances of states that border Canada voting Democratic:
  • New York in 1868, 1876, 1884, and 1892; each time, the Democratic candidate was from NY.
  • Washington, Idaho and Montana in 1896 (and ID and MT again in 1900).
  • Also, in 1892, Michigan split its votes R9, D5, North Dakota split 3-way (D-R-P), and Idaho went Populist.
Pacific Coast states voting Democratic during the same period:
  • California in 1856 and 1880; also splitting its votes in 1892 (D8, R1) and 1896 (D1, R8);
  • Oregon in 1868;
  • Washington in 1896.
After the 1912-16 hiatus, all Canadian-border and Pacific-coast states again voted Republican throughout the 1920s.

In 1912, Woodrow Wilson became the first candidate to win over 400 electoral votes (435, out of 531) and to carry 40 states (out of 48) despite winning only 41.8% of the popular vote.

In 1916, the only Republican states west of the Mississippi were OR, SD, MN and IA; the West almost solidified D in a near-reversal of 1904. However, all of Northeast (except NH) was back in the Republican column.

Wilson won in 1916 despite losing his home state (NJ); he was the only presidential candidate ever to do that. Charles Hughes became the first candidate to lose despite winning more than 200 electoral votes (254). Only Al Gore won more EV while losing the election (267); had Florida been counted properly, the 2000 election would not have been as close as the 1916 one.

In 1920, Tennessee went Republican for the first time since 1868, and Oklahoma for the fist time since it became a state. The West was again solidly Republican as in 1904. Harding became the first Republican to win more than 400 EV.

In the three elections of the 1920s, the only Democratic electoral votes outside the Confederacy came from Kentucky in 1920, Oklahoma in 1924, and Massachusetts and Rhode Island in 1928.

1928 was the first election in which Texas and Kentucky voted Republican; Texas didn't go Republican again until 1952 and Kentucky not until 1956. Also, FL went R the first time since the controversial 1876 and NC and VA the first time since 1872. Hoover won more EV (444) than any Republican before him, and was the first Republican to carry 40 states.

In 1932, Minnesota voted Democratic for the first time ever, Michigan the first time since 1852, Ohio the second time since 1852 (the only exception was 1912), South Dakota the second time since statehood (first was in 1896), and Wisconsin the third time since 1852 (the first two were 1892 and 1912).

In 1936, FDR won 523 electoral votes out of 531. Ronald Reagan won 525 EV in 1984, but out of a greater total (538), so that FDR still holds the record for the highest percentage of electoral votes won.

States that voted against FDR:
  • ME, VT - all 4 times;
  • IN, ND, SD, NE, KS, IA, CO - twice (1940, 1944);
  • PA, DE, CT, NH in 1932;
  • MI in 1940;
  • WY, OH in 1944.
FDR won a cumulative total of 1876 electoral votes in his 4 elections. None of his opponents won 100 EVs (Dewey did the best with 99). The cumulative total of EVs his opponents won in the 4 elections (248) would not have been enough to win a single election.

Harry Truman in 1948 was the first Democratic nominee to lose SC and LA since 1876 and MS and AL since 1872. (Of course, Thurmond, who won them, was also a Democrat at the time, so it wasn't a party realignment.)

In 1952, Texas went Republican for the second time ever, Virginia for the second time since 1872, and Florida the second time since 1876. (In each case, the first time was in 1928.) In a dramatic switch of allegiance, Virginia has only voted Democratic once since - in 1964.

In 1956, Eisenhower carried more states (41) and won more electoral votes (457) than any Republican before him. Eisenhower's cumulative total of 899 EVs was second only to FDR's. (It has since been exceeded by Nixon and Reagan.) Louisiana went Republican the first time since 1876.

Eisenhower won Massachusetts twice, the only Republican to do so since McKinley between McKinley and Reagan.

In 1960, Nixon won more states than JFK (26-22), but lost the Electoral College 303-219. It was the first election in which the loser carried more states than the winner since the anomalous 1824 election, which was decided by the House of Representatives. (Garfield and Hancock carried 19 states each in 1880; Taylor and Cass carried 15 each in 1848.) It happened again in 1976, when Ford won more states than Carter, and it would have happened in 2000 if Gore had won Florida.

Pennsylvania and Michigan voted for JFK in 1960. The only Democrat they had voted for since 1856 (1852 in Michigan's case) was FDR (and each state even voted against him once).

1964 landslide LBJ victory was the only time Alaska voted Democratic, the first time Vermont voted D since 1852, and the second time ME voted D since 1852 (first was in 1912). However, it was also the first time ever that Georgia voted Republican (it didn't do so even during the Reconstruction) and the best Republican showing in the Deep South (all 5 states, 47 EVs) ever, and the only time R had done better in the Confederacy since 1872 was in 1928, when Hoover won 5 states and 62 EVs. Interestingly, there is no Southern state that both Hoover and Goldwater carried. (They did both carry Arizona, however.) 1964 was the last time Virginia voted Democratic.

1968 was the last time a third-party candidate won electoral votes. George Wallace carried 5 states (AR, LA, MS, AL, GA) worth 46 electoral votes. 4 of the 5 states were Goldwater states in 1964; the difference is that Wallace carried AR, but lost SC.

Before Wallace, the last third-party candidate to win electoral votes was Harry Byrd, who won 15 EVs in 1960, carrying Mississippi, the majority of Alabama's EV, and 1 EV from Oklahoma. His running mate, Strom Thurmond, had won 4 states (LA, MS, AL, SC) and 39 EVs in 1948.

The last non-Dixiecrat who won EVs as a third-party candidate was Robert M. La Follette, Sr., Progressive who won Wisconsin's 13 EV in 1924. Teddy Roosevelt, running as a Progressive in 1912, made the best showing of any third-party candidate, winning 6 states and 88 EV. He won more popular and more electoral votes than the Republican candidate William Howard Taft. In 1888, Populist Weaver won 4 states (KS, CO, NV, ID) and partial EV from another two (OR, ND), for a total of 22 EV.

In 1872, 6 candidates won EVs, but all of them were Republicans and Democrats (and the election was complicated by Greeley's death). In 1860, 4 candidates won EVs: Lincoln (Republican) 180, Breckinridge (Southern Democrat) 72, Douglas (Northern Democrat) 12, and Bell (Constitutional Union) 39. Bell won KY, TN, and VA. Douglas only won MO, despite winning almost as many popular votes as Breckinridge and Bell together.

Millard Fillmore carried Maryland's 8 EV as the Know-Nothing candidate in 1856.

5 people won EVs in 1836, but they were all Democrats or Whigs. In 1832, Nullifier John Floyd won South Carolina and Anti-Masonic William Wirt won Vermont. And, of course, in 1824, four Democratic-Republicans split the EV and the House had to decide the election.

In 1972, Nixon set the record, carrying 49 states. He failed to top FDR's 523 EV, but his 520 brought his cumulative total to 1040, surpassing Eisenhower and remaining to this day second only to FDR. It was also the first time the Republican candidate swept the Confederacy, and the first time Hawaii voted Republican

1976 was the closest EV race between 1916 and 2000. Ford won more states than Carter (27 vs. 23+DC), but Carter won 297 EV to Ford's 240 (plus 1 that a rogue elector cast for Reagan). It was also the last time a Democrat won MS, AL, SC, or NC.

In 1980 and 1984 Reagan won Massachusetts. The only other Republican to win MA since 1924 was Eisenhower (who won it twice).

Reagan's 525 EV in 1984 was the most ever (but FDR won a higher percentage of EV in 1936) and his 49 states tied Nixon's record from 1972. It was the second and last time Hawaii went Republican. Reagan's 1014 cumulative EV total (1015 if 1976 is counted) is the third-highest ever (after FDR and Nixon), but the highest ever from two elections. (FDR's 2-election best is 995 in 1932-36.) The last candidate to lose fewer electoral votes in two elections was James Monroe, who was barely opposed in 1816 and essentially unopposed in 1820. Monroe lost a total of 37 EV, but he only won 411, so percentage-wise Reagan did better. Only Washington did clearly better than Reagan in this respect, but he was unopposed both times.

1988 was the last time CA, CT, DE, IL, MD, ME, MI, NJ, PA and VT voted Republican.

1992 was the last time CO, GA and MT voted Democratic.

1996 was the last time "the man" (column of 5 states comprising MN, IA, MO, AR and LA) voted for the same candidate. (It also happened in 1932, 1936, 1972, and 1992, so FDR, Nixon and Clinton were the only candidates to carry all those 5 states.) It was also the last time AR, AZ, FL, KY, LA, MO, NV, OH, TN, and WV voted Democratic; in Arizona's case, it was the only time since 1948.

In 2000, Al Gore got the most EV ever for a losing candidate (267, but officially 266 because one elector cast a protest vote). It was also the last election in which the 2 largest states went for the same candidate (and the last election in which NY was the 2nd-largest state).

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