What's the most recent US presidential election where you can't remember who the loser was?

Just something that popped into my head this morning as a way to stretch the ol’ brain muscles and see what I remember from those AP US History classes back in the day. Without referring to Google, Wikipedia, the encyclopedia, or any resource other than your own memory, how many presidential elections can you go back before you can’t remember who the major party candidate was that came in second?

Answer before you read downthread to avoid spoilerizing yourself. For myself, here’s what I came up with before hitting a brick wall at 1944;

2012: Romney
2008: McCain
2004: Kerry
2000: Gore
1996: Dole
1992: Bush
1988: Dukakis
1984: Mondale
1980: Carter
1976: Ford
1972: McGovern
1968: Humphrey
1964: Goldwater
1960: Nixon
1956: Stevenson
1952: Stevenson
1948: Dewey

That’s as far as I made it. I hit a blank on 1944, and had to go to Wikipedia to learn that Dewey was the candidate then as well. [/SPOILER]

How far back can you go?

Exactly the same result for me.

  1. Can’t remember who Hoover beat off the top of my head. Basically quite fuzzy from then back.


I’m embarrassed to admit it (so *why *am I posting?) but I made it all the way back to 2012. I drew a blank on 2008.

After that I did OK for a couple decades.

The fact I’m revolted by the modern presidential election process certainly helps with my desire to retain this info.

I was born in 1963 (and I think that’s a useful thing to know about those answering), so my memory of politics starts with Nixon-McGovern, and it’s solid from then on… Everything before that is history, and some candidates stand out more than others. My thoughts ended up like this:

1968: Lessee, I don’t think Johnson ran, and RFK died so… Humphrey? My uncertainty here almost makes me stop, but I remember the earlier candidates better, so I move on:
1964: Goldwater - Johnson’s “nuke” ad was unforgettable.
1960: Nixon - Debates with Kennedy
1956: Stevenson - Chiefly known in my memory as “that guy who kept losing to Eisenhower,” so I named him for '56 and '52 even though there’s a big foggy blotch about the actual campaigns.
1952: Stevenson
1948: Dewey - Would have gotten this if I’d considered it, but I was sufficiently fuzzy about 1952 that I didn’t try.
1944: I’m sure I’ve heard before that Dewey lost twice, but unless I dredged up that passing reference, I’d have had no clue. As it is, I didn’t try.
So, either 1968 or 1952, and hypothetically 1944, or - on a good day - 1940.

James Cox, though I did know that FDR was his running mate.

Brit here, couldn’t name 1972.

I had a go for my own country andfailed at the 2nd fence, guessing Cameron for 2005

Pretty much the same here. I can vaguely recall 1956 election and “I like Ike” buttons. I know he beat Stevenson. I know but don’t remember it was the same matchup in 1952 and I’ve see the Dewey defeats Truman headline picture enough to recall that one. So 1944 is my first blank.

1948 Dewey

OK, I see that’s also as far as the OP went. Furthest-back election that registers in my own childhood memory is 1968.

I knew Al Smith was a losing candidate, but I thought he ran in 1924. He ran in 1928 so I missed a chance to improve my result.

Same for me (I’m 39). After a bit of thought I got the 1924 loser, while no matter how hard I thought I couldn’t remember Cox.

  1. In my defense, I was born in '87. I have of course heard of Dukakis, Mondale, McGovern, Goldwater, etc. but attaching them to a specific year and the person they lost to is harder.

<hangs head in shame> I forgot Hubert; which is especially bad since he was one of my favorites. :smack:

Got the others back to 1928 though.

Canadian here. Blanked at 1944.

1924 or 1928.

I wasn’t sure about who Hoover beat in 1928. But I would have guessed Al Smith.

I didn’t even have a guess for 1924.

American, born 1956. I couldn’t remember who Eisenhower beat without peeking.


I wish I could have gone back further, since there were so many good stories.

"What’s the difference between Woodrow Wilson and Charles Evans Hughes? " “a shave.” (Nothing new about no real choice)

“Blaine, Blaine, James G. Blain. The continental liar from the state of Maine” is just fun to say.

The illegitimate child fathered by Grover Cleveland was lost to history, but photographic evidence suggests one descendant to be Sarah Silverman.

I can name all of FDR’s opponents, but I’d need to look them up to make sure I got them in the right order.