List of United States presidential candidates

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This article is a list of United States presidential candidates. The first U.S. presidential election was held in 1789, followed by the second in 1792. Presidential elections have been held every four years thereafter.

Presidential candidates win the election by winning a majority of the electoral vote. If no candidate wins a majority of the electoral vote, the winner is determined through a contingent election held in the United States House of Representatives; this situation has occurred twice in U.S. history. The procedures governing presidential elections were changed significantly with the ratification of the Twelfth Amendment in 1804. Since 1824, a national popular vote has been tallied for each election, but the national popular vote does not directly affect the winner of the presidential election.

The United States has had a two-party system for much of its history, and the major parties of the two-party system have dominated presidential elections for most of U.S. history.[1] The two current major parties are the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. At various points prior to the American Civil War, the Federalist Party, the Democratic-Republican Party, the National Republican Party, and the Whig Party were major parties.[1] These six parties have nominated candidates in the vast majority of presidential elections, though some presidential elections have deviated from the normal pattern of two major party candidates. In most elections, third party and independent candidates have also sought the presidency, but no such candidates have won the presidency since the ratification of the Twelfth Amendment, and only two such candidates have finished second in either the popular vote or the electoral vote.

Pre-12th Amendment: 1789–1800[edit]

Prior to the ratification of the Twelfth Amendment in 1804, each member of the Electoral College cast two votes, with no distinction made between electoral votes for president and electoral votes for vice president. Under these rules, the individual who received the most electoral votes would become president, and the individual who received the second most electoral votes would become vice president.[2][a]

The following candidates received at least one electoral vote in elections held before the ratification of the Twelfth Amendment in 1804.[3][4] Winning candidates are bolded. Political parties began to nominate presidential candidates in the 1796 presidential election,[5] and candidates are listed as members of the Democratic-Republican Party (DR) or the Federalist Party (F) for the 1796 and 1800 elections.

Year Winning Candidate Runner-up Other candidates
1789 George Washington John Adams John Jay, Robert H. Harrison, John Rutledge, John Hancock, George Clinton, Samuel Huntington, John Milton, James Armstrong, Benjamin Lincoln, Edward Telfair
1792 George Washington John Adams George Clinton, Thomas Jefferson, Aaron Burr
1796 John Adams (F) Thomas Jefferson (DR) Thomas Pinckney (F), Aaron Burr (DR), Samuel Adams (DR), Oliver Ellsworth (F), George Clinton (DR), John Jay (F), James Iredell (F), Samuel Johnston (F), George Washington, John Henry (F), Charles Cotesworth Pinckney (F)
1800 Thomas Jefferson (DR) Aaron Burr (DR) John Adams (F), Charles Cotesworth Pinckney (F), John Jay (F)

Post-12th Amendment: 1804–present[edit]

Since the ratification of the Twelfth Amendment in 1804, each member of the Electoral College has cast one vote for president and one vote for vice president, and presidential candidates have generally competed on a ticket with a running mate who seeks to win the vice presidency.[2][b] Since 1824, the national popular vote has been recorded,[3] though the national popular vote has no direct effect on the winner of the election.[c]

The following candidates won at least 0.1% of the national popular vote in elections held since 1824, or won at least one electoral vote from an elector who was not a faithless elector.[4][6]

  • † and bolded indicates a winning candidate
  • ‡ indicates a losing candidate who won a plurality or majority of the popular vote
  • ↑ indicates a third party or independent candidate who finished second in the popular vote or the electoral vote (or both)
Year Democratic-Republican candidate Federalist candidate Other candidate(s)
1804 Thomas Jefferson Charles Cotesworth Pinckney
1808 James Madison Charles Cotesworth Pinckney
1812 James Madison DeWitt Clinton[d]
1816 James Monroe Rufus King[e]
1820 James Monroe No opponent[f]
Year Winning candidate Runner-up Other candidate(s)
1824 John Quincy Adams[g] Andrew Jackson[g] William H. Crawford (Democratic-Republican)
Henry Clay (Democratic-Republican)
Year Democratic candidate National Republican candidate Other candidate(s)
1828 Andrew Jackson John Quincy Adams
1832 Andrew Jackson Henry Clay John Floyd (Nullifier)
William Wirt (Anti-Masonic)
Year Democratic candidate Whig candidate Other candidate(s)
1836 Martin Van Buren William Henry Harrison[h] Hugh Lawson White (Whig)
Daniel Webster (Whig)
Willie Person Mangum (Whig)
1840 Martin Van Buren William Henry Harrison James G. Birney (Liberty)
1844 James K. Polk Henry Clay James G. Birney (Liberty)
1848 Lewis Cass Zachary Taylor Martin Van Buren (Free Soil)
1852 Franklin Pierce Winfield Scott John P. Hale (Free Soil)
Daniel Webster (Whig)[i]
Year Democratic candidate Republican candidate Other candidate(s)
1856 James Buchanan John C. Frémont Millard Fillmore (American)[j]
1860 Stephen A. Douglas[k] Abraham Lincoln John C. Breckinridge↑ (Southern Democratic)[k]
John Bell (Constitutional Union)
1864 George B. McClellan Abraham Lincoln[l]
1868 Horatio Seymour Ulysses S. Grant  
1872 Horace Greeley[m] Ulysses S. Grant Charles O'Conor (Straight-Out Democratic)
James Black (Prohibition)
1876 Samuel J. Tilden[n] Rutherford B. Hayes Peter Cooper (Greenback)
1880 Winfield Scott Hancock James A. Garfield James B. Weaver (Greenback)
Neal Dow (Prohibition)
1884 Grover Cleveland James G. Blaine John St. John (Prohibition)
Benjamin Butler (Greenback/Anti-Monopoly)
1888 Grover Cleveland Benjamin Harrison Clinton B. Fisk (Prohibition)
Alson Streeter (Union Labor)
1892 Grover Cleveland Benjamin Harrison James B. Weaver (Populist)
John Bidwell (Prohibition)
Simon Wing (Socialist Labor)
1896 William Jennings Bryan[o] William McKinley John M. Palmer (National Democratic)
Joshua Levering (Prohibition)
Charles H. Matchett (Socialist Labor)
Charles E. Bentley (National Prohibition)
1900 William Jennings Bryan William McKinley John G. Woolley (Prohibition)
Eugene V. Debs (Socialist)
Wharton Barker (Populist)
Joseph F. Maloney (Socialist Labor)
1904 Alton B. Parker Theodore Roosevelt Eugene V. Debs (Socialist)
Silas C. Swallow (Prohibition)
Thomas E. Watson (Populist)
Charles H. Corregan (Socialist Labor)
1908 William Jennings Bryan William Howard Taft Eugene V. Debs (Socialist)
Eugene W. Chafin (Prohibition)
Thomas L. Hisgen (Independence)
Thomas E. Watson (Populist)
1912 Woodrow Wilson William Howard Taft Theodore Roosevelt↑ (Progressive)
Eugene V. Debs (Socialist)
Eugene W. Chafin (Prohibition)
Arthur E. Reimer (Socialist Labor)
1916 Woodrow Wilson Charles Evans Hughes Allan L. Benson (Socialist)
Frank Hanly (Prohibition)
1920 James M. Cox Warren G. Harding Eugene V. Debs (Socialist)
Parley P. Christensen (Farmer-Labor)
Aaron Watkins (Prohibition)
James E. Ferguson (American)
William Wesley Cox (Socialist Labor)
1924 John W. Davis Calvin Coolidge Robert M. La Follette (Progressive)
Herman P. Faris (Prohibition)
William Z. Foster (Communist)
Frank T. Johns (Socialist Labor)
1928 Al Smith Herbert Hoover Norman Thomas (Socialist)
William Z. Foster (Communist)
1932 Franklin D. Roosevelt Herbert Hoover Norman Thomas (Socialist)
William Z. Foster (Communist)
William D. Upshaw (Prohibition)
William Hope Harvey (Liberty)
1936 Franklin D. Roosevelt Alf Landon William Lemke (Union)
Norman Thomas (Socialist)
Earl Browder (Communist)
1940 Franklin D. Roosevelt Wendell Willkie Norman Thomas (Socialist)
Roger W. Babson (Prohibition)
Earl Browder (Communist)
1944 Franklin D. Roosevelt Thomas E. Dewey Norman Thomas (Socialist)
Claude A. Watson (Prohibition)
1948 Harry S. Truman Thomas E. Dewey Strom Thurmond (States' Rights)
Henry A. Wallace (Progressive)
Norman Thomas (Socialist)
Claude A. Watson (Prohibition)
1952 Adlai Stevenson II Dwight D. Eisenhower Vincent Hallinan (Progressive)
Stuart Hamblen (Prohibition)
1956 Adlai Stevenson II Dwight D. Eisenhower T. Coleman Andrews (States' Rights)
1960 John F. Kennedy Richard Nixon Harry F. Byrd (Democratic)[p]
1964 Lyndon B. Johnson Barry Goldwater
1968 Hubert Humphrey Richard Nixon George Wallace (American Independent)
1972 George McGovern Richard Nixon John G. Schmitz (American Independent)
Linda Jenness (Socialist Workers)
Benjamin Spock (People's Party)
1976 Jimmy Carter Gerald Ford Eugene McCarthy (Independent)
Roger MacBride (Libertarian)
Lester Maddox (American Independent)
Thomas J. Anderson (American)
Peter Camejo (Socialist Workers)
1980 Jimmy Carter Ronald Reagan John B. Anderson (Independent)
Ed Clark (Libertarian)
Barry Commoner (Citizens)
1984 Walter Mondale Ronald Reagan David Bergland (Libertarian)
1988 Michael Dukakis George H. W. Bush Ron Paul (Libertarian)
Lenora Fulani (New Alliance)
1992 Bill Clinton George H. W. Bush Ross Perot (Independent)
Andre Marrou (Libertarian)
Bo Gritz (Populist)
1996 Bill Clinton Bob Dole Ross Perot (Reform)
Ralph Nader (Green)
Harry Browne (Libertarian)
Howard Phillips (Taxpayers)
John Hagelin (Natural Law)
2000 Al Gore George W. Bush Ralph Nader (Green)
Pat Buchanan (Reform)
Harry Browne (Libertarian)
2004 John Kerry George W. Bush Ralph Nader (Independent/Reform)
Michael Badnarik (Libertarian)
Michael Peroutka (Constitution)
David Cobb (Green)
2008 Barack Obama John McCain Ralph Nader (Independent)
Bob Barr (Libertarian)
Chuck Baldwin (Constitution)
Cynthia McKinney (Green)
2012 Barack Obama Mitt Romney Gary Johnson (Libertarian)
Jill Stein (Green)
2016 Hillary Clinton Donald Trump† Gary Johnson (Libertarian)
Jill Stein (Green)
Evan McMullin (Independent)
Darrell Castle (Constitution)
2020 Joe Biden (presumptive) Donald Trump (presumptive)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The pre-12th Amendment constitutional rules required a contingent election when multiple candidates tied for the highest number of electoral votes, or when no individual won an electoral vote from a majority of the electors. The former situation occurred in the 1800 presidential election, when the House of Representatives elected Thomas Jefferson over his nominal running mate, Aaron Burr.[2]
  2. ^ A presidential candidate must win a majority of the electoral vote to win the election. If no candidate wins a majority of the vote, a contingent election is held in the House of Representatives. Just one election, the 1824 election, has been decided by a contingent election since the ratification of the Twelfth Amendment.[2]
  3. ^ Five candidates have lost a presidential election despite winning a plurality or majority of the popular vote in that election.
  4. ^ Clinton was a Northern Democratic-Republican who challenged the incumbent Democratic-Republican president, James Madison, in the general election.[7] Clinton was nominated for president by a legislative caucus of New York Democratic-Republicans, and much of his support came from Democratic-Republicans dissatisfied with Madison's leadership in the War of 1812. The Federalist Party did not officially nominate Clinton, but most Federalist leaders tacitly supported Clinton's candidacy in hopes of defeating Madison.[8]
  5. ^ The Federalists did not nominate a ticket in 1816, though some Federalists were elected to serve as presidential electors. A majority of the Federalist electors cast their presidential vote for King and their vice presidential vote for Howard.[9]
  6. ^ The Federalist Party did not nominate a presidential candidate and essentially conceded the 1820 presidential election before it was held. Monroe did not face any opposition in the election, although one presidential elector, William Plumer, cast his vote for John Quincy Adams.[10]
  7. ^ a b The Democratic-Republican Party was unable to unite behind a single candidate in 1824.[11] Four Democratic-Republicans received electoral votes in the general election, and, as no candidate won a majority of the electoral vote, the election was decided in a contingent election held in the House of Representatives. John Quincy Adams won that contingent election.[4]
  8. ^ The Whigs did not unite around a single candidate in 1836, but the party ran only one presidential candidate per state.[12] 25 states held a popular vote in the 1836 election; Harrison was the Whig candidate in fifteen states, most of which were in the North, White was the Whig candidate in nine states, all of which were in the South, and Daniel Webster was the Whig candidate in Massachusetts. Harrison and White each received electoral votes from multiple states, while Webster and Willie Person Mangum each received electoral votes from a single state (Massachusetts and South Carolina, respectively).[4]
  9. ^ After his defeat at the 1852 Whig National Convention, Webster allowed various third party groups to nominate him for president, although he did not openly condone these efforts.[13] Though Webster died shortly before the 1852 election was held, thousands of Whigs opposed to Winfield Scott, as well as members of the nativist Native American Party, cast their vote for Webster.[14]
  10. ^ After the collapse of the Whig Party in the mid-1850s, the Republican Party and the American Party (the political organization of the Know Nothing movement) emerged as the major challengers to the Democratic Party. By 1856, neither the Republican nor the American Party had truly supplanted the Whig Party as the second major political party in the United States.[15] Nonetheless, the American Party is frequently described as a third party.[16][17][18] After the 1856 election, the Republican Party firmly established itself as one of the two major parties alongside the Democratic Party, while the American Party collapsed.[19]
  11. ^ a b The Democratic Party fractured along sectional lines in 1860 and held multiple national conventions. The Northern Democrats nominated Stephen A. Douglas and the Southern Democrats nominated John C. Breckinridge.[20][21] Many sources consider Breckinridge to be a third party candidate,[22][4][23] but other sources do not.[24][3]
  12. ^ Hoping to rally War Democrats and other unionists during the American Civil War, the Republican Party campaigned as the National Union Party in the 1864 election.[25]
  13. ^ Greeley and his running mate, Benjamin Gratz Brown, were originally nominated by the Liberal Republican Party, a splinter group of Republicans opposed to President Ulysses S. Grant. The Liberal Republican ticket was later nominated by the 1872 Democratic National Convention, as the Democrats hoped to defeat President Grant's re-election bid by uniting with the Liberal Republicans.[26] Greeley died after election day but before the Electoral College cast its votes, and thus did not receive any electoral votes. Most of the electoral votes that he would have received had he lived instead went to Democrat Thomas A. Hendricks.[3]
  14. ^ Though other losing candidates have won a plurality of the popular vote, Tilden is the only candidate in American history to lose a presidential election despite receiving a majority of the popular vote.[27]
  15. ^ In 1896, after Bryan won the Democratic presidential nomination, he was also nominated by the Populist Party, a major third party.[28] Bryan's running mate on the Democratic ticket, Arthur Sewall, won 149 electoral votes for vice president, while his running mate on the Populist ticket, Thomas E. Watson, won 27 electoral votes for vice president.[4]
  16. ^ Byrd did not campaign in the 1960 election, and he tacitly supported the candidacy of Republican Richard Nixon.[29] Nonetheless, he received 14 electoral votes from unpledged electors in Mississippi and Alabama, as well as 1 electoral vote from a faithless elector in Oklahoma.[30]


  1. ^ a b Blake, Aaron (April 27, 2016). "Why are there only two parties in American politics?". Washington Post. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d Neale, Thomas H. (3 November 2016), Contingent Election of the President and Vice President by Congress: Perspectives and Contemporary Analysis (PDF), Congressional Research Service
  3. ^ a b c d "Electoral College Box Scores 1789–1996". National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved 16 September 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "United States Presidential Election Results". Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections. Retrieved 16 September 2018.
  5. ^ Southwick (1998), pp. 12–13
  6. ^ For a full list of faithless electors, see: "Faithless Electors". FairVote. Retrieved October 25, 2019.
  7. ^ Morgan (1969), pp. 191–193
  8. ^ Siry (1985), pp. 457–460
  9. ^ Deskins et al. (2010), pp. 65
  10. ^ Preston, Daniel. "James Monroe: Campaigns and Elections". Miller Center. University of Virginia. Retrieved 16 September 2018.
  11. ^ Morgan (1969), p. 195
  12. ^ Deskins et al. (2010), pp. 106–107
  13. ^ Gienapp (1988), pp. 20–21
  14. ^ Gienapp (1988), pp. 29–30
  15. ^ McPherson (1988), pp. 140–144, 153–154
  16. ^ Cooper, William. "James Buchanan: Campaigns and Elections". Miller Center. University of Virginia. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
  17. ^ Boissoneault, Lorraine (January 26, 2017). "How the 19th-Century Know Nothing Party Reshaped American Politics". Smithsonian. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
  18. ^ Hicks (1933), p. 10
  19. ^ Gienapp (1985), p. 547
  20. ^ Smith (1975), pp. 106–113
  21. ^ VandeCreek, Drew E. "Campaign of 1860". Northern Illinois University Libraries. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
  22. ^ Patch, B. W. (1936). "Third Party Movements in American Politics". CQPress. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
  23. ^ Rosenstone et al. (2018), pp. 59–63
  24. ^ Hicks (1933), pp. 3–28
  25. ^ White (2009), pp. 592–593.
  26. ^ Hale (1950), p. 338
  27. ^ Faber & Bedford (2008), p. 81
  28. ^ Kazin (2006), pp. 63–65
  29. ^ Sweeney (1991), pp. 3, 32
  30. ^ Sweeney (1991), p. 3

Works cited[edit]

Further reading[edit]