Monday, November 01, 2004

Close/Contraversial Presidential Elections

1800: As a result of confusion over the voting procedure, Democratic-Republican electors cast one vote apiece to Thomas Jefferson and his running mate, Aaron Burr. The resulting tie -- 73 to 73 -- sent the election to the House. Over six days, 35 ballots were cast with Jefferson receiving 8 of the 9 votes needed each time. Finally, on the 36th ballot -- just 15 days prior to inauguration -- the logjam broke and Jefferson won 10 of the 17 votes. This incident prompted the creation and passing of the 12th Ammendment: electors now voted for president and vice-president separately to avoid confusion.

1844: Polk won by 1.41% of the popular vote.

1876: Initial reports showed Democrat Samuel Tilden handily defeating Republican Rutherford B. Hayes, but the results of four states -- Florida, Louisiana, Oregon, and South Carolina -- were contested: each submitted and certified two contradictory sets of electoral votes. In Oregon, the Democratic governor claimed that one elector was ineligible as they were a postmaster and thus held a federal office -- illegal for an elector to hold. In the other three states, fraud and violence caused the Republican governors to give Hayes the votes, but the Democratic legislatures supported Tilden. To solve the dilemma, Congress created a 15-person Election Commission -- 5 from the House, 5 from the Senate, and 5 from the Supreme Court -- to choose the president. The commission split down party lines -- 8 Republicans and 7 Democrats -- giving Hayes the presidency. Democrats threatened a filibuster, but were convinced not to by concessions of removal of federal troops from the South, a Southerner appointed to Hayes' cabinet, and economic considerations -- this officially ended Reconstruction. Despite this compromise, many considered the election stolen by "Rutherfraud" Hayes.

1884: Grover Cleveland defeated James Blaine -- 219 to 182 -- Cleveland's home state of Ohio provided the final 23 crucial electoral votes, won by just 1,100 votes. This marked the first Democratic victory since before the Civil War.

1888: Grover Cleveland won the popular vote -- by 90,596 votes or 0.796% of the total -- but Benjamin Harrison won the electoral college.

1916: Wilson won by 3.19% of the popular vote and 4.33% of the electoral vote.

1960: Kennedy won over Nixon by 119450 votes or 0.1735% of the popular vote.

1968: Nixon won by 812415 votes or 1.11% of the popular vote.

1976: Carter won by 2.06% of the popular vote.

2000: Gore won by 0.516% of the popular vote, but Bush won by 5 electoral votes, 0.929% of the total.

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