Ranking every presidential race from least to most dominant
Ranking every presidential race from least to most dominant
Politics are often compared to sports, in that how much one wins by is sometimes just as significant as the win itself—politicians celebrate major victories, too. President Donald J. Trump tends to remark about his historic electoral college victory, but how does his win compare to previous presidents? To find out which American leader had the most dominant support from voters, Stacker looked into data compiled by 270towin regarding the margin of victory in America's 58 presidential elections by the percentage of electoral college votes.
In the U.S., presidential candidates do not have to win the popular vote, but they do need to receive 270 electoral college votes to win the presidency. A few historical leaders fell quite a bit short in terms of winning the majority of Americans' votes. Some presidents, however, won their election in a landslide.
Read on to discover the ways in which Thomas Jefferson's win stacked up against John F. Kennedy's victory, how Kennedy's win compared to Ronald Reagan's triumph, and learn which president received more than 99% of the electoral votes.
RELATED: Click here to read how experts rank the best U.S. Presidents of all time
#58. 1796 election: John Adams vs. Thomas Jefferson
Candidates: John Adams (Federalist), Thomas Jefferson (Democratic-Republican), Thomas Pinckney (Federalist), Aaron Burr (Democratic-Republican), Others (Various)
Winner: John Adams with 71 of 276 electoral votes (25.7%)
John Adams won the first American presidential election in 1796 after former president George Washington stepped down following two terms. Adams, who was previously Washington’s vice president, ran for the Federalist party and won 71 electoral votes. The second-place finisher, Thomas Jefferson, became vice president.
#57. 1800 election: Thomas Jefferson vs. Aaron Burr
Candidates: Thomas Jefferson (Democratic-Republican), Aaron Burr (Democratic-Republican), John Adams (Federalist), Charles C. Pinckney (Federalist)
Winner: Thomas Jefferson with 73 of 275 electoral votes (26.5%)
The election of 1800 was a rematch between incumbent president John Adams and Democratic-Republican leader Thomas Jefferson. The Democratic-Republican party focused on moving power from a centralized government to various states. Jefferson’s win and Aaron Burr’s second-place finish signaled the beginning of the end for the Federalist party, in which Adams and Alexander Hamilton had been leading figures.
#56. 1824 election: John Quincy Adams vs. Andrew Jackson
Candidates: John Quincy Adams (Democratic-Republican), Andrew Jackson (Democratic-Republican), William H. Crawford (Democratic-Republican), Henry Clay (Democratic-Republican)
Winner: John Quincy Adams with 84 of 261 electoral votes (32.2%) and 108,740 of 350,671 popular votes (41.5%)
When no candidate won a majority of the electoral votes, the winner of the 1824 election was decided by the U.S. House of Representatives. Four candidates from the Democratic-Republican party were running, but John Quincy Adams was chosen to be president. The election was notable given Adams had 84 electoral votes, compared to Andrew Jackson’s 99.
#55. 1789 election: George Washington vs. John Adams
Candidates: George Washington (Federalist), John Adams (Federalist), George Clinton (Anti-Federalist), Others (Federalist)
Winner: George Washington with 69 of 138 electoral votes (50.0%)
Taking place just months after the ratification of the United States Constitution, America’s first presidential election carried George Washington to his first of two terms. John Adams become the vice president, receiving about half of the electoral votes as Washington. The election was one of the first major tests for the nation with a new constitution and one elected leader.
#54. 1792 election: George Washington vs. John Adams
Candidates: George Washington (Federalist), John Adams (Federalist), George Clinton (Anti-Federalist), Others (Anti-Federalist)
Winner: George Washington with 132 of 264 electoral votes (50.0%)
The election of 1792 featured two new voting states—Kentucky and Vermont. Incumbent president George Washington ran unopposed with John Adams staying on as his vice president. The voting system at the time involved each state appointing an elector, who cast two votes for the president.
#53. 1876 election: Rutherford B. Hayes vs. Samuel J. Tilden
Candidates: Rutherford B. Hayes (Republican), Samuel J. Tilden (Democratic)
Winner: Rutherford B. Hayes with 185 of 369 electoral votes (50.1%) and 4,036,298 of 8,336,888 popular votes (48.4%)
The race between Rutherford B. Hayes and Samuel J. Tilden came down to the electoral votes of three states—Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina. Combined, the states had 20 electoral votes that eventually went to Hayes after heated political and legal dispute. Many historians refer to Hayes’ victory as the “Compromise of 1877” because it is believed that Democrats agreed to let Hayes be president in exchange for federal troops leaving the post-Civil War South.
#52. 2000 election: George W. Bush vs. Albert Gore, Jr.
Candidates: George W. Bush (Republican), Albert Gore, Jr. (Democratic), Ralph Nader (Green)
Winner: George W. Bush with 271 of 537 electoral votes (50.5%) and 50,456,062 of 104,335,599 popular votes (49.7%)
The election of 2000 made the phrase “hanging chad” famous. The governor of Texas George W. Bush beat then-Vice President Al Gore in a race that came down to Florida’s 25 electoral votes. Florida’s win for Bush, and the subsequent presidential win, was controversial since Gore had won the popular vote in Florida and nationally.
#51. 1916 election: Woodrow Wilson vs. Charles E. Hughes
Candidates: Woodrow Wilson (Democratic), Charles E. Hughes (Republican), Allan Benson (Socialist)
Winner: Woodrow Wilson with 277 of 531 electoral votes (52.2%) and 9,129,606 of 18,252,940 popular votes (51.7%)
Incumbent president Woodrow Wilson ran a successful campaign of war neutrality. World War I was raging in Europe in 1916, but the U.S. had not yet taken a side. Wilson hoped to keep his nation from the conflict and his campaign championed that message to victory over Charles E. Hughes. The U.S. declared war on Germany in 1917.
#50. 2004 election: George W. Bush vs. John F. Kerry
Candidates: George W. Bush (Republican), John F. Kerry (Democratic)
Winner: George W. Bush with 286 of 537 electoral votes (53.3%) and 62,039,073 of 121,066,551 popular votes (51.2%)
The War on Terror and 2003 war in Iraq were major topics in the 2004 presidential election. Incumbent George W. Bush carried Ohio, which was the deciding state in the election. Democratic nominee John F. Kerry did not dispute the Ohio results, although there was controversy about the fairness of the election there.
#49. 1884 election: Grover Cleveland vs. James G. Blaine
Candidates: Grover Cleveland (Democratic), James G. Blaine (Republican)
Winner: Grover Cleveland with 219 of 401 electoral votes (54.6%) and 4,874,986 of 9,726,967 popular votes (50.1%)
The election of 1884 featured more mudslinging than policy debate. Attacks about having a child out of wedlock or appealing to Irish voters characterized the race between Grover Cleveland and James G. Blaine. Ultimately, Cleveland won the election, relying on the electoral votes of his home state of New York.
#48. 1976 election: Jimmy Carter vs. Gerald R. Ford
Candidates: Jimmy Carter (Democratic), Gerald R. Ford (Republican)
Winner: Jimmy Carter with 297 of 537 electoral votes (55.3%) and 40,825,839 of 79,973,609 popular votes (51.0%)
Jimmy Carter ran a successful outsider campaign in 1976 to win the election over Gerald R. Ford. The peanut farmer from Georgia won the electoral and popular vote over Ford, who had taken a hit in popularity for pardoning Richard M. Nixon. Nixon vacated the presidency years earlier following the Watergate scandal.
#47. 1968 election: Richard M. Nixon vs. Hubert H. Humphrey
Candidates: Richard M. Nixon (Republican), Hubert H. Humphrey (Democratic), George C. Wallace (American Independent)
Winner: Richard M. Nixon with 301 of 538 electoral votes (55.9%) and 31,710,470 of 72,514,998 popular votes (50.6%)
Americans were reeling in 1968 from the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy. Hubert H. Humphrey took Kennedy’s place on the Democratic ticket, but he was unable to beat Richard M. Nixon. Nixon ran a “law and order” campaign, which appealed to a nation embroiled in race riots and the war in Vietnam.
#46. 1848 election: Zachary Taylor vs. Lewis Cass
Candidates: Zachary Taylor (Whig), Lewis Cass (Democratic), Martin Van Buren (Free Soil)
Winner: Zachary Taylor with 163 of 290 electoral votes (56.2%) and 1,360,099 of 2,872,144 popular votes (52.7%)
Incumbent president James Polk chose not to run for a second term, leaving the presidential field open in 1848. Whig Party candidate Zachary Taylor was a Mexican-American War hero and one of only two Whig presidents in U.S. history.
#45. 1960 election: John F. Kennedy vs. Richard M. Nixon
Candidates: John F. Kennedy (Democratic), Richard M. Nixon (Republican), Harry F. Byrd ()
Winner: John F. Kennedy with 303 of 537 electoral votes (56.4%) and 34,227,096 of 68,450,990 popular votes (50.1%)
Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy edged Vice President Richard M. Nixon by just over 100,000 popular votes in 1960. Kennedy’s win was historic for members of the Catholic faith, as there had only been one failed Catholic presidential nominee before him and anti-Catholic prejudice was prominent at the time. Kennedy’s running mate Lyndon B. Johnson would later become president following Kennedy’s assassination in 1963.
#44. 1948 election: Harry S. Truman vs. Thomas E. Dewey
Candidates: Harry S. Truman (Democratic), Thomas E. Dewey (Republican), J. Strom Thurmond (States' Rights Democratic), Henry Wallace (Progressive)
Winner: Harry S. Truman with 303 of 531 electoral votes (57.1%) and 24,105,695 of 48,401,214 popular votes (52.3%)
Harry S. Truman, the incumbent Democratic president, beat Thomas E. Dewey in what many considered an upset victory. Truman oversaw America’s final days in World War II, but the Republican Dewey was seen as the more popular candidate in 1948. At the time, Americans were debating how to aid war-torn Europe in what would become the Marshall Plan.
#43. 2016 election: Donald J. Trump vs. Hillary R. Clinton
Candidates: Donald J. Trump (Republican), Hillary R. Clinton (Democratic), Gary Johnson (Libertarian), Jill Stein (Green), Evan McMullin (Independent)
Winner: Donald J. Trump with 304 of 531 electoral votes (57.3%) and 62,980,160 of 135,500,034 popular votes (48.9%)
Businessman Donald J. Trump’s victories in the key swing states of Ohio, Florida, and Iowa sealed the presidency for him over Democratic nominee Hillary R. Clinton. Trump lost the popular vote by more than 2.9 million, but carried the electoral votes with the help of states such as Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Trump’s presidential victory was the first by anyone without previous public service experience.
#42. 1836 election: Martin Van Buren vs. William H. Harrison
Candidates: Martin Van Buren (Democratic), William H. Harrison (Whig), Hugh L. White (Whig), Daniel Webster (Whig), W.P. Mangum (Independent)
Winner: Martin Van Buren with 170 of 294 electoral votes (57.8%) and 762,678 of 1,685,637 popular votes (50.9%)
The election of 1836 was historic in terms of the strategy put forth by the Whig party. The Whigs ran four different candidates in four different regions of the country, hoping to unseat Democrat Martin Van Buren. The plan failed with Van Buren winning both the electoral and popular votes.
#41. 1880 election: James A. Garfield vs. Winfield S. Hancock
Candidates: James A. Garfield (Republican), Winfield S. Hancock (Democratic), James Weaver (Greenback)
Winner: James A. Garfield with 214 of 369 electoral votes (58.0%) and 4,454,416 of 9,207,946 popular votes (50.1%)
Republican James A. Garfield took the 1880 popular vote by the smallest margin of victory in history. Ohio-native Garfield beat Civil War Gen. Winfield S. Hancock in an election that split the nation almost perfectly along the Mason-Dixon Line. Garfield was later assassinated in 1881, less than four months into his presidency.
#40. 1888 election: Benjamin Harrison vs. Grover Cleveland
Candidates: Benjamin Harrison (Republican), Grover Cleveland (Democratic)
Winner: Benjamin Harrison with 233 of 401 electoral votes (58.1%) and 5,439,853 of 10,980,162 popular votes (49.5%)
Tariffs were the key voting issue in 1888. Benjamin Harrison of the Republican party, wanted fewer tariffs. Incumbent president Grover Cleveland won the popular vote, but his policies alienated key voting blocs among farmers and veterans. These groups carried Harrison to an electoral college victory and the presidency.
#39. 1856 election: James Buchanan vs. John C. Fremont
Candidates: James Buchanan (Democratic), John C. Fremont (Republican), Millard Fillmore (American)
Winner: James Buchanan with 174 of 296 electoral votes (58.8%) and 1,838,169 of 4,052,433 popular votes (57.8%)
America was on the brink of Civil War during the 1856 election. Democrat James Buchanan campaigned on a message that a Republican victory would tear the nation apart. John C. Fremont, meanwhile, spoke about the dangers of expanding the slave trade. Buchanan won with 45% of the popular vote as the vote was split between the Democrat, Republican, Whig, and American parties.
#38. 1812 election: James Madison vs. De Witt Clinton
Candidates: James Madison (Democratic-Republican), De Witt Clinton (Federalist)
Winner: James Madison with 128 of 217 electoral votes (59.0%)
The election of 1812 was the state of Louisiana’s first presidential election. Incumbent James Madison won handily against De Witt Clinton, who was originally a Democratic-Republican, too, but was supported by the Federalist party. Clinton’s support was centralized to the northeastern states, whereas Madison carried the rest of the nation.
#37. 1860 election: Abraham Lincoln vs. John C. Breckinridge
Candidates: Abraham Lincoln (Republican), John C. Breckinridge (Democratic), John Bell (Constitutional Union), Stephen A. Douglas (Democratic)
Winner: Abraham Lincoln with 180 of 303 electoral votes (59.4%) and 1,866,452 of 4,690,024 popular votes (68.8%)
The threat of a civil war was looming over the presidential election of 1860, as well as debates about the rights of states and the role of slavery in America. The North-South divide played out in voting with winner Abraham Lincoln from the Republican party winning all of the Northern states and Democrat John C. Breckinridge holding strong with Southern voters. Just a month after the election, Southern states seceded from the Union.
#36. 1896 election: William McKinley vs. William J. Bryan
Candidates: William McKinley (Republican), William J. Bryan (Democrat-Populist)
Winner: William McKinley with 271 of 447 electoral votes (60.6%) and 7,104,779 of 13,607,704 popular votes (52.2%)
Economic issues such as the gold standard and tariffs dominated the 1896 presidential election, according to 270towin. William McKinley spent heavily to reach skilled workers, farmers, and businessmen, carrying the Northeast and Midwest states. McKinley’s opponent, William J. Bryan had strong Southern and Western support as a Democrat-Populist.
#35. 2012 election: Barack H. Obama vs. W. Mitt Romney
Candidates: Barack H. Obama (Democratic), W. Mitt Romney (Republican), Gary Johnson (Libertarian)
Winner: Barack H. Obama with 332 of 538 electoral votes (61.7%) and 65,446,032 of 127,311,087 popular votes (51.9%)
Incumbent Barack H. Obama beat Republican challenger W. Mitt Romney in the 2012 election. Obama’s support largely mirrored the votes he won during his first presidential race in 2008. Libertarian Gary Johnson received more than 1 million votes in the election, but not a single electoral college vote.
#34. 1844 election: James K. Polk vs. Henry Clay
Candidates: James K. Polk (Democratic), Henry Clay (Whig)
Winner: James K. Polk with 170 of 275 electoral votes (61.8%) and 1,337,243 of 2,636,305 popular votes (50.7%)
Democrat James K. Polk favored the annexation of Texas after the state declared independence from the Republic of Mexico in 1836. Polk wanted to expand the American territory and his message resonated with voters, who chose him over Whig party candidate Henry Clay. The election of 1844 was the last presidential election to be held on different days in different states.
#33. 1892 election: Grover Cleveland vs. Benjamin Harrison
Candidates: Grover Cleveland (Democratic), Benjamin Harrison (Republican), James Weaver (People's)
Winner: Grover Cleveland with 277 of 444 electoral votes (62.4%) and 5,556,918 of 11,760,355 popular votes (51.8%)
Former President Grover Cleveland made a second bid for the nation’s top office in the election of 1892 against incumbent Republican Benjamin Harrison. Cleveland’s win made him the only person to serve two non-consecutive terms as president. Harrison had beat Cleveland in 1888 by winning the electoral vote, but Cleveland took both the electoral and popular vote in 1892.
#32. 1900 election: William McKinley vs. William J. Bryan
Candidates: William McKinley (Republican), William J. Bryan (Democrat-Populist)
Winner: William McKinley with 292 of 447 electoral votes (65.3%) and 7,207,923 of 13,566,056 popular votes (53.1%)
Republican William McKinley and Democrat-Populist William J. Bryan squared off again in the election of 1900. McKinley’s recent success in the Spanish-American War provided him momentum for a second term as president. McKinley was later assassinated in 1901 and replaced by his vice president, Theodore Roosevelt.
#31. 1908 election: William H. Taft vs. William J. Bryan
Candidates: William H. Taft (Republican), William J. Bryan (Democratic)
Winner: William H. Taft with 321 of 483 electoral votes (66.5%) and 7,678,908 of 14,088,012 popular votes (54.5%)
William H. Taft, former secretary of war for President Theodore Roosevelt, led the Republican party to another presidential victory in 1908. Taft ran against Democrat William J. Bryan, who had twice been nominated and lost. Bryan’s loss to Taft was his worst defeat.
#30. 2008 election: Barack H. Obama vs. John S. McCain
Candidates: Barack H. Obama (Democratic), John S. McCain (Republican)
Winner: Barack H. Obama with 365 of 538 electoral votes (67.8%) and 69,456,897 of 129,391,711 popular votes (53.7%)
The first months of the 2008 economic crisis forced economic reform issues to the forefront of the 2008 election. Illinois Sen. Barack H. Obama represented the Democratic party in a race against Republican John S. McCain, an Arizona senator. Obama won support from nine states that had previously voted Republican under George W. Bush. Obama’s victory marked the first time an African-American was elected president in the United States.
#29. 1828 election: Andrew Jackson vs. John Quincy Adams
Candidates: Andrew Jackson (Democratic), John Quincy Adams (National Republican)
Winner: Andrew Jackson with 178 of 261 electoral votes (68.2%) and 647,286 of 1,155,350 popular votes (56.0%)
Democrat Andrew Jackson won the electoral vote handily over incumbent president John Quincy Adams, a National Republican. This was the second election in which the two candidates faced one another. However, this time Adams’ incumbent vice president John C. Calhoun sided with Jackson’s party in an election that featured a strong focus on trade tariffs.
#28. 1992 election: William J. Clinton vs. George H.W. Bush
Candidates: William J. Clinton (Democratic), George H.W. Bush (Republican), Ross Perot (Independent)
Winner: William J. Clinton with 370 of 538 electoral votes (68.8%) and 44,908,254 of 103,754,418 popular votes (53.5%)
Three major candidates emerged as contenders in the 1992 election. Incumbent President George H.W. Bush was defeated by William J. Clinton, a Democrat governor from Arkansas. Independent Ross Perot received nearly 20 million votes, which some historians believe helped shift the election for Clinton. The breaking up of the Soviet Union and economic recession were important election issues at the time.
#27. 1808 election: James Madison vs. Charles C. Pinckney
Candidates: James Madison (Democratic-Republican), Charles C. Pinckney (Federalist), George Clinton (Democratic-Republican)
Winner: James Madison with 122 of 175 electoral votes (69.7%)
James Madison of the Democratic-Republican party continued the party’s hold over the presidency in his 1808 win over Federalist candidate Charles C. Pinckney. Madison had served as secretary of state under President Thomas Jefferson.
#26. 1996 election: William J. Clinton vs. Robert Dole
Candidates: William J. Clinton (Democratic), Robert Dole (Republican), Ross Perot (Independent)
Winner: William J. Clinton with 379 of 538 electoral votes (70.4%) and 45,590,703 of 91,492,304 popular votes (54.7%)
Incumbent Democratic President William J. Clinton continued his role as president by beating Republican candidate Robert Dole in the 1996 election with a platform of economic recovery. The nation was slowly emerging from the recession in the 1990s, which helped Clinton win both the electoral and popular vote. Reform candidate Ross Perot again ran for president, but he played a lesser role than in his 1992 run.
#25. 1904 election: Theodore Roosevelt vs. Alton B. Parker
Candidates: Theodore Roosevelt (Republican), Alton B. Parker (Democratic), Eugene Debs (Socialist)
Winner: Theodore Roosevelt with 336 of 476 electoral votes (70.6%) and 7,623,486 of 13,104,292 popular votes (60.0%)
President Theodore Roosevelt was elected to another term as president in 1904, after Roosevelt had assumed the role following the assassination of William McKinley. Roosevelt’s win over Democrat Alton B. Parker was the widest margin of victory in the popular vote to date. America’s acquisition of the Panama Canal in 1904 was a key issue for Roosevelt’s campaign.
#24. 1924 election: Calvin Coolidge vs. John W. Davis
Candidates: Calvin Coolidge (Republican), John W. Davis (Democratic), Robert M. LaFollette (Progressive)
Winner: Calvin Coolidge with 382 of 531 electoral votes (71.9%) and 15,725,016 of 28,934,375 popular votes (65.2%)
Republican President Calvin Coolidge won a second term in the office in 1924 given his successful record during his first term. A strong economy and few international problems supported Coolidge’s re-election over Democrat John W. Davis. Progressive candidate Robert M. Lafollette won 13 electoral votes, all the votes from his home state of Wisconsin.
#23. 1868 election: Ulysses S. Grant vs. Horatio Seymour
Candidates: Ulysses S. Grant (Republican), Horatio Seymour (Democratic)
Winner: Ulysses S. Grant with 214 of 294 electoral votes (72.8%) and 3,012,833 of 5,716,082 popular votes (52.7%)
Civil War Gen. Ulysses S. Grant rode a wave of Northern popularity to the Republican presidential nomination in the election of 1868. Grant took the position from incumbent Republican Andrew Jackson, who had become unpopular in the party. The disenfranchisement of Southern whites was key to Grant’s massive electoral and popular vote victories, according to 270towin. Texas, Mississippi, and Virginia were not allowed to vote since they had not been restored to the Union by 1868.
#22. 1920 election: Warren G. Harding vs. James M. Cox
Candidates: Warren G. Harding (Republican), James M. Cox (Democratic), Eugene Debs (Socialist)
Winner: Warren G. Harding with 404 of 531 electoral votes (76.1%) and 16,152,200 of 26,219,352 popular votes (63.8%)
International relations were a hot-button issue in the election of 1920, as America’s economic build-up to World War I resulted in an economic recession and President Woodrow Wilson became unpopular. The Democrats then nominated James M. Cox, a newspaper publisher and governor of Ohio, to run against Republican Warren G. Harding. Harding dominated the popular vote in the largest percentage margin of victory in American history.
#21. 1832 election: Andrew Jackson vs. Henry Clay
Candidates: Andrew Jackson (Democratic), Henry Clay (National Republican), John Floyd (Independent), William Wirt (Anti-Masonic)
Winner: Andrew Jackson with 219 of 286 electoral votes (76.6%) and 687,502 of 1,318,742 popular votes (56.5%)
Incumbent President Andrew Jackson won 219 electoral college votes in the 1832 election against National Republican candidate Henry Clay. Vermont’s electoral votes went to Anti-Masonic candidate William Wirt.
#20. 1988 election: George H.W. Bush vs. Michael S. Dukakis
Candidates: George H.W. Bush (Republican), Michael S. Dukakis (Democratic)
Winner: George H.W. Bush with 426 of 537 electoral votes (79.3%) and 47,946,000 of 88,962,000 popular votes (53.9%)
George H.W. Bush, the incumbent vice president under President Ronald Reagan, emerged as the Republican nominee in 1988. Bush’s win continued the Republican hold on the presidency and was a decisive victory over Democrat Michael S. Dukakis. A strong economy at home and few international conflicts persuaded voters to continue republican rule.
#19. 1840 election: William H. Harrison vs. Martin Van Buren
Candidates: William H. Harrison (Whig), Martin Van Buren (Democratic)
Winner: William H. Harrison with 234 of 294 electoral votes (79.6%) and 1,275,016 of 2,404,118 popular votes (53.0%)
The election of 1840 made famous the campaign slogan, “Tippecanoe and Tyler, too,” the rallying cry for Whig party candidate William H. Harrison. Harrison was a notable war hero fighting Native Americans. He would die in office a year later, giving the presidency to his second-in-command John Tyler.
#18. 1944 election: Franklin D. Roosevelt vs. Thomas E. Dewey
Candidates: Franklin D. Roosevelt (Democratic), Thomas E. Dewey (Republican)
Winner: Franklin D. Roosevelt with 432 of 531 electoral votes (81.4%) and 25,602,504 of 47,608,789 popular votes (53.8%)
The election of 1944 marked the historic fourth term for incumbent President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The nation was in the midst of World War II, and Roosevelt’s success in international relations and economic prosperity made him extremely popular among voters. Roosevelt died in office in 1945 and was replaced by Harry S. Truman.
#17. 1912 election: Woodrow Wilson vs. Theodore Roosevelt
Candidates: Woodrow Wilson (Democratic), Theodore Roosevelt (Progressive), William H. Taft (Republican), Eugene Debs (Socialist)
Winner: Woodrow Wilson with 435 of 531 electoral votes (81.9%) and 6,293,454 of 14,798,134 popular votes (60.4%)
The election of 1912 was a race between three major candidates. Incumbent president William H. Taft ended up finishing third in the race that elected Democrat Woodrow Wilson. Progressive candidate Theodore Roosevelt finished second in the last American presidential race to have a third-party candidate finish in the top two.
#16. 1872 election: Ulysses S. Grant vs. Thomas A. Hendricks
Candidates: Ulysses S. Grant (Republican), Thomas A. Hendricks (Democratic), Horace Greeley (Democratic)
Winner: Ulysses S. Grant with 286 of 349 electoral votes (81.9%) and 3,597,132 of 6,431,257 popular votes (55.9%)
Incumbent President Ulysses S. Grant ran for a second term against Democrat Horace Greeley in 1872. However, between the time the popular votes and electoral votes were cast, Greeley died, resulting in the electoral votes being split by four other Democratic candidates. However, Grant had already won the popular and electoral votes.
#15. 1952 election: Dwight D. Eisenhower vs. Adlai Stevenson
Candidates: Dwight D. Eisenhower (Republican), Adlai Stevenson (Democratic)
Winner: Dwight D. Eisenhower with 442 of 531 electoral votes (83.2%) and 33,778,963 of 61,093,955 popular votes (55.3%)
Following World War II, relations between the United States and the Soviet Union were escalating in the Cold War. This international tension colored the 1952 presidential election between Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower and Democrat Adlai Stevenson. Stevenson was taking the place of incumbent president Harry S. Truman, whose unpopularity kept him from running again. Eisenhower leveraged his success as a wartime general to win more than 83% of the electoral votes.
#14. 1928 election: Herbert C. Hoover vs. Alfred E. Smith
Candidates: Herbert C. Hoover (Republican), Alfred E. Smith (Democratic)
Winner: Herbert C. Hoover with 444 of 531 electoral votes (83.6%) and 21,391,381 of 36,407,824 popular votes (58.8%)
Republicans rode popular support for their economic success in the 1920s to another presidential victory for Herbert C. Hoover. Democrat candidate Alfred E. Smith faced tough opposition from anti-Catholic voters, and Hoover even won New York, Smith’s home state.
#13. 1816 election: James Monroe vs. Rufus King
Candidates: James Monroe (Democratic-Republican), Rufus King (Federalist)
Winner: James Monroe with 183 of 217 electoral votes (84.3%)
The Democratic-Republican party continued its hold on the presidency with the election of James Monroe in 1816. Monroe had served under President James Madison as the secretary of state. Rufus King, the Federalist party candidate, suffered from the collapse of his own party, winning only three states.
#12. 1940 election: Franklin D. Roosevelt vs. Wendell L. Willkie
Candidates: Franklin D. Roosevelt (Democratic), Wendell L. Willkie (Republican)
Winner: Franklin D. Roosevelt with 449 of 531 electoral votes (84.6%) and 27,244,160 of 49,549,358 popular votes (55.0%)
Despite breaking tradition and running for a third presidential term, Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt won decidedly against Republican Wendell L. Willkie in 1940. The United States was on the brink of entering World War II at the time, though Roosevelt ran a campaign of neutrality. America would eventually enter the war in 1941 after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
#11. 1852 election: Franklin Pierce vs. Winfield Scott
Candidates: Franklin Pierce (Democratic), Winfield Scott (Whig), John P. Hale (Free Soil)
Winner: Franklin Pierce with 254 of 296 electoral votes (85.8%) and 1,601,274 of 3,143,064 popular votes (53.6%)
The election of 1852 was the final election in which the Whig party played any notable role. Winfield Scott led the Whigs in the race against Democratic candidate Franklin Pierce. Pierce dominated the election. Soon after, the Republican party emerged as the main contender against Democrats.
#10. 1956 election: Dwight D. Eisenhower vs. Adlai Stevenson
Candidates: Dwight D. Eisenhower (Republican), Adlai Stevenson (Democratic)
Winner: Dwight D. Eisenhower with 457 of 530 electoral votes (86.2%) and 35,581,003 of 61,319,768 popular votes (58.0%)
Democratic candidate Adlai Stevenson returned to face incumbent President Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 1956 election. The results were the same as in 1952, but Eisenhower won even more decisively. Eisenhower was able to run on popularity for ending the Korean War.
#9. 1932 election: Franklin D. Roosevelt vs. Herbert C. Hoover
Candidates: Franklin D. Roosevelt (Democratic), Herbert C. Hoover (Republican)
Winner: Franklin D. Roosevelt with 472 of 531 electoral votes (88.9%) and 22,821,857 of 38,583,698 popular votes (59.1%)
The Great Depression loomed large in the 1932 presidential election between Franklin D. Roosevelt and Herbert C. Hoover. Roosevelt was able to unseat the incumbent Hoover as voters felt Hoover did not do enough to stop the economic collapse. Roosevelt’s promise to reverse course and his New Deal proposal won him widespread support.
#8. 1964 election: Lyndon B. Johnson vs. Barry M. Goldwater
Candidates: Lyndon B. Johnson (Democratic), Barry M. Goldwater (Republican)
Winner: Lyndon B. Johnson with 486 of 538 electoral votes (90.3%) and 42,825,463 of 69,972,432 popular votes (61.2%)
Incumbent Lyndon B. Johnson’s campaign platform of expanding social welfare programs won popular support against Republican Barry M. Goldwater in the 1964 election. Johnson had assumed the role of president a year earlier following the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Civil rights and the Vietnam War were important issues for voters in the early 1960s, too.
#7. 1980 election: Ronald Reagan vs. Jimmy Carter
Candidates: Ronald Reagan (Republican), Jimmy Carter (Democratic), John Anderson (Independent), Ed Clark (Libertarian)
Winner: Ronald Reagan with 489 of 538 electoral votes (90.9%) and 43,901,812 of 86,026,610 popular votes (55.3%)
Republican nominee Ronald Reagan unseated incumbent President Jimmy Carter in 1980 with a campaign of economic reform. Carter had fallen in popularity with his handling of the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, and Reagan had national recognition as a popular movie star.
#6. 1864 election: Abraham Lincoln vs. George B. McClellan
Candidates: Abraham Lincoln (Republican), George B. McClellan (Democratic)
Winner: Abraham Lincoln with 212 of 233 electoral votes (91.0%) and 2,213,665 of 4,018,902 popular votes (55.1%)
Abraham Lincoln was re-elected as president in 1864 over Civil War Gen. George B. McClellan. Lincoln was popular among Union states, which were the only ones able to vote since Southern states had left the Union. Lincoln was assassinated just six weeks after his inauguration.
#5. 1804 election: Thomas Jefferson vs. Charles C. Pinckney
Candidates: Thomas Jefferson (Democratic-Republican), Charles C. Pinckney (Federalist)
Winner: Thomas Jefferson with 162 of 176 electoral votes (92.0%)
Thomas Jefferson won his second term as president in 1804, a major victory over Federalist candidate Charles C. Pinckney. Jefferson was popular among voters after completing the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.
#4. 1972 election: Richard M. Nixon vs. George McGovern
Candidates: Richard M. Nixon (Republican), George McGovern (Democratic)
Winner: Richard M. Nixon with 520 of 537 electoral votes (96.8%) and 46,740,323 of 75,641,921 popular votes (61.8%)
Incumbent Richard M. Nixon easily defeated Democrat George McGovern in 1972 to win a second term as president. McGovern was anti-war, but Nixon was able to market his success in ending the Vietnam War and improving U.S. relations with China. Nixon’s margin of victory in the popular vote—by nearly 18 million—is the largest in U.S. history.
#3. 1984 election: Ronald Reagan vs. Walter F. Mondale
Candidates: Ronald Reagan (Republican), Walter F. Mondale (Democratic)
Winner: Ronald Reagan with 525 of 538 electoral votes (97.6%) and 54,455,000 of 92,032,000 popular votes (59.2%)
Ronald Reagan became the second U.S. president to win 49 of 50 states in his 1984 re-election. Democratic challenger Walter F. Mondale only received electoral votes from Washington D.C. and his home state of Minnesota. Reagan championed his economic recovery success in his campaign.
#2. 1936 election: Franklin D. Roosevelt vs. Alfred M. Landon
Candidates: Franklin D. Roosevelt (Democratic), Alfred M. Landon (Republican)
Winner: Franklin D. Roosevelt with 523 of 531 electoral votes (98.5%) and 27,751,597 of 44,431,180 popular votes (62.5%)
With 523 electoral votes, Franklin D. Roosevelt won the most dominant electoral victory in U.S. history in 1936. He beat Republican candidate Alfred M. Landon on the success of his social welfare programs, such as unemployment help and Social Security. These policies were helping the nation recover from the ongoing Great Depression.
#1. 1820 election: James Monroe vs. John Quincy Adams
Candidates: James Monroe (Democratic-Republican), John Quincy Adams (Independent)
Winner: James Monroe with 231 of 232 electoral votes (99.6%)
The re-election of James Monroe was mostly a foregone conclusion in 1820, since Monroe was running unopposed. The Democratic-Republican party was the single American party at the time. While John Quincy Adams received votes as an Independent, he only won one electoral college vote.