Interesting Questions, Facts, and Information
Campaigns & Elections
|In the 2000 election, George W. Bush defeated Al Gore, with the controversial election in Florida going to Bush. In Palm Beach County, what Reform Party candidate received 3407 votes (0.8%), many of which were probably intended for Gore?||Interesting or Controversial U.S. Elections
Pat Buchanan. The infamous butterfly ballot in Palm Beach County printed the names of candidates on opposite pages, with holes to punch in the middle. It is believed that people saw Gore as the second name on the left page, so punched the second hole, thus voting for Buchanan, who was the first name on the right page. Buchanan ended up with 0.29% of the votes in Florida, and 0.43% nationwide.
The initial tally in Florida showed that Bush won by 1784 votes. A recount showed that Bush won by 537 votes. The Gore campaign wanted a manual recount in four counties, but the U.S. Supreme Court stopped the recount.
|Probably the most controversial thing about the 1972 election was the break-in at the Watergate complex. Richard Nixon defeated George McGovern in a landslide, 520 to 17. However, one faithless elector cast his ballot to Libertarian John Hospers and his running mate. Who was the first woman to receive an electoral vote in a presidential election? (Hint: She shares her first name with a Byzantine empress)||Interesting or Controversial U.S. Elections
Theodora "Tonie" Nathan. Jeannette Rankin was the first woman elected to the House of Representatives, Hattie Caraway was the first woman elected to the Senate, and Shirley Chisholm was the first African-American woman elected to the House of Representatives.
The Libertarian Party had only recently been organized, so only was on the ballot in Washington and Colorado, and only received 8715 popular votes. However, Roger MacBride of Virginia voted for Hospers and Nathan despite being pledged to vote for Nixon and Spiro Agnew. MacBride was the Libertarian presidential candidate in 1976.
Geraldine Ferraro more famously received 13 electoral votes as the Democratic vice presidential candidate in 1984.
|It is well known that Grover Cleveland served non-consecutive terms, losing the election in 1888 to Benjamin Harrison. Why didn't his first vice president, Thomas Hendricks, run again in 1892?||Interesting or Controversial U.S. Elections
He was dead. Hendricks died in office in November 1885. Hendricks had been governor of Indiana from 1873 to 1877, but that didn't stop him from running as Samuel Tilden's running mate in 1876. Hendricks was the first vice president who never became president to have his portrait on U.S. paper money.
|In 1836, Martin Van Buren won the presidency relatively easily. However, his running mate Richard Johnson did not receive a majority of electoral votes. How was he chosen as vice president?||Interesting or Controversial U.S. Elections
He was chosen by the Senate. Martin Van Buren won 170 electoral votes out of 294. Virginia's 23 electors were pledged to vote for Johnson for vice president but instead voted for William Smith (such electors are called faithless electors), leaving Johnson with only 147 electoral votes, 1 vote short of a majority (exactly 50% does not count as a majority). Johnson defeated Francis Granger in the Senate, 33-16.
The astute reader will notice that the method for choosing the president in the House of Representatives and the method for choosing the vice president in the Senate when nobody receives a majority of electoral votes differs. Under the Twelfth Amendment, if there is no majority for president, three candidates are voted on by the House of Representatives, and each state gets one vote. If there is no majority for vice president, two candidates are voted on by the Senate, and each senator gets one vote. Don't ask me why there is a difference.
|In 1824, no presidential candidate received a majority of electoral votes, and John Quincy Adams ended up winning in the House of Representatives. Why did John Calhoun win the vice presidency without a similar process?||Interesting or Controversial U.S. Elections
He was the running mate for both John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson. Some people did vote for a different running mate than that of the presidential candidate they voted for, but that actually reduced the number of electoral votes Calhoun received: Adams (84) and Jackson (99) combined for 183 electoral votes, and Calhoun ended up receiving 182.
The result of the presidential election was controversial, since Adams won despite Jackson winning a plurality of popular and electoral votes. Adams defeated Jackson and William Crawford in the House of Representatives, 13 states to 7 and 4.
There was no Federalist candidate. The Federalist party was effectively dead by 1820, so they did not have a candidate. 17,465 people voted for the Federalist slate, but even their electors voted for Monroe. DeWitt Clinton received 1893 votes in New York as an independent candidate, but received no electoral votes. William Plumer cast his electoral vote for John Quincy Adams, so Monroe won 228 or 231 (depending on whether Missouri is counted) to 1. (Popular votes are according to the website www.ourcampaigns.com, which says that 28 Federalist electors voted for Monroe.)
The vice presidential election is even more interesting. Daniel Tompkins, Monroe's running mate, received 215 or 218 electoral votes. William Plumer cast his vice presidential vote for Richard Rush. Federalist electors who voted for Monroe cast a combined 13 vice presidential votes to three Federalists: Richard Stockton, Daniel Rodney, and Robert Goodloe Harper.
|The main Democratic-Republican candidates in 1800 were the same as in 1796, and Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr both received 73 electoral votes, sending the election to the House of Representatives. For the first 35 ballots, neither candidate received a majority of states. Who is generally credited with breaking the deadlock?||Interesting or Controversial U.S. Elections
Alexander Hamilton. Most Federalist representatives were unwilling to vote for Jefferson, so they voted for Burr instead. As a result, six of the eight states controlled by the Federalists voted for Burr. Vermont and Maryland were evenly split, so they cast a blank ballot, and eight states voted for Jefferson, one short of the majority needed.
Hamilton, while having no liking for Jefferson, thought Burr was even worse. (I'm sure this opinion was strengthened when Burr shot and killed him in a duel.) Therefore, he tried to convince Federalists to support Jefferson. Either this or a promise from Jefferson persuaded several representatives to change their vote from Burr to no vote. As a result, Vermont and Maryland changed their vote to Jefferson, and two states changed their votes from Burr to a blank vote, so Jefferson received ten votes to Burr's four.
As a result of this and the 1796 election, the Twelfth Amendment was ratified, so that each elector cast one vote for president and one vote for vice president.
|Before the adoption of the Twelfth Amendment, each US elector got two votes, and the candidate with the second-most votes became vice president. This system was not designed with political parties in mind, which complicated the 1796 election. How many electors voted for both the winning presidential and vice presidential candidates?||Interesting or Controversial U.S. Elections
1. John Adams and Thomas Pinckney were the Federalist candidates, and Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr were the Democratic-Republican candidates.
To avoid the situation that occurred in the 1800 election, the parties planned to have most of their electors vote for both candidates, but a few to vote for a different vice presidential candidate. Alexander Hamilton confused the issue by urging northern electors to vote for Adams and Pinckney, while convincing electors in South Carolina to vote for Jefferson and Pinckney, hoping that Pinckney would become president and Adams would become vice president. The Federalists found out about this, so many of them voted for Adams and not for Pinckney.
As a result of the confusion, 50 electors voted for Adams and Pinckney, 30 voted for Jefferson and Burr, 9 voted for Jefferson and Pinckney (including all 8 from South Carolina), 20 voted for Adams and somebody else, 28 voted for Jefferson and somebody else (for no reason I can see), and 1 voted for Adams and Jefferson. George Washington even received 2 votes (symbolic, I assume).
In the end, Adams received 71 electoral votes, Jefferson received 68, Pinckney received 59, and Burr received 30. As a result, for the first time the president and vice president were from different parties. I wonder if that elector from Maryland boasted that he was the only one to vote for both the victorious president and vice president.