What was the worst defeat suffered by a president running for reelection?
Popular or Electoral?
Off the top of my head with no time to research I think Hoover 1932 on the popular vote, Carter electorally in 1980.
I’m sure I will be corrected with cites if I am wrong on either.
Taft running as the incumbent only got 8 electoral votes from his 23.2% of the popular vote. He didn’t even manage to win his home state of Ohio. That election also saw another former President, Teddy Roosevelt, lose by a pretty wide margin - 88 electoral votes on 27.4% of the popular vote. It was a real three way race. That’s going to make comparisons difficult. I’d say it has to be considered in the running.
Hmm. Good catch. I forgot about Taft. A quick check of Dave Leips shows 23.18% popular, 1.5% electoral. It looks like he was the biggest loser on both standards.
In terms of the national vote, the biggest blowout was in 1804 when Thomas Jefferson defeated Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, winning the popular vote 72.8% to 27.2%. Jefferson won 92% of the electoral vote.
In 1936, Franklin Roosevelt scored the most lopsided electoral college victory, winning 98% of the EC votes; he won 60% of the popular vote. Reagan (1984) and Nixon (1972) get honorable mention for dishing out political ass kickings.
Depending on how you look at it, though, it’s the election of 1804 or 1936 was the most lopsided, with the biggest losers being Charles Pinckney and Alf Landon respectively.
The OP’s question was about a President running for re-election and losing.
I am, like, 99.999% sure Charles Cotesworth Pinckney was never the President. Pretty sure you missed the OP.
What was the worst loss by a presidential incumbent running for reelection IN A TWO MAN RACE?
I believe pkbites had it right.
In 1932, Hoover lost to FDR by 57.4% to 39.7% of the popular vote, and by 472 to 59 electoral votes (89% to 11%)
In 1980, Carter lost to Reagan by 50.7% to 41.0% of the popular vote, and by 489 to 49 electoral votes (90.9% to 9.1%).
I would still consider this to be a two man race since the independent candidate, John Anderson, failed to gain any electoral votes although he got 6.6% of the popular vote. (Otherwise you’ll have to define exactly what you mean by a two-man race, since there have been third party candidates in many presidential elections.)
Oops. Checking further, it seems in 1800 Jefferson defeated John Adams by 61.4% to 38.6 % of the popular vote, but by only 73 to 65 electoral votes (52.9% to 47.1%), so Adams was the worst loser in the popular vote.
(Note: This was however the election in which the Vice Presidential candidate, Aaron Burr, under the system at the time, technically got the same number of electoral votes as Jefferson, throwing the election to the House, where Jefferson was elected.)
It’s always fascinated me that even in the worst defeats, the winning candidate got only between 60-62% of the popular vote. That speaks volumes about how deeply entrenched our two-party system has been, and remains.
Rather meaningless, though, since only five of 16 states conducted popular elections in 1800, and one of them just happened to be Virginia. The popular vote from Kentucky has been lost, so we have results from only four states; Jefferson carried his home state by 21,000 to 6,000, and the combined result from the other three states (Rhode Island, Maryland, and North Carolina) was nearly even.
how bad did bush sr lose to clinton?
The '92 election results, particularly the popular vote, were unusual due to Ross Perot’s independent candidacy.
In the popular vote, Clinton got 43%, Bush 37%, and Perot 19%. Clinton received 370 electoral votes (69%), to Bush’s 168 (31%).
This (and other questions) can be answered at Dave Leips site. He has an electoral calculator which is fun to play with too.
Thanks for the clarification. I did not realize that at the time in most states electors were appointed by the state legislatures.
At what point did most states select electors by popular vote?
To answer my own question, by 1832 the only state where the electors were still appointed by the legislature was South Carolina, which held out until the Civil War.
Taft also had the ignominy of coming in third place in both the EC and popular vote. Strangely, the only states we won were Utah and Vermont.
In the 1936 election, Roosevelt received all of the electoral votes except Maine and Vermont, leading to the saying “As Maine goes, so goes Vermont”, riffing on the well-known Maine boast, “As Maine goes, so goes the nation”.
In the 1972 election, Nixon received all of the electoral votes except Washington, D.C. and Massachusetts, leading to the mnemonic, “We Democrats Can’t Miss”.
In the 1984 election, Reagan received all of the electoral votes except Washington D.C. and Wisconsin, but did not lead to any interesting sayings. (The Mondale primary campaign did have an amusing riff on the Wendy’s “Where’s the Beef” ad.)
In each of these three cases the winning side received about 60% of the popular vote.
Five presidents were defeated at their parties convention and were not nominated.