List of United States presidential candidates
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. 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. 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
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.[a]
The following candidates received at least one electoral vote in elections held before the ratification of the Twelfth Amendment in 1804. Winning candidates are bolded. Political parties began to nominate presidential candidates in the 1796 presidential election, 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
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.[b] Since 1824, the national popular vote has been recorded, though the national popular vote has no direct effect on the winner of the election.[c]
- † 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)
- List of Democratic Party presidential primaries
- Republican Party presidential primaries
- List of United States major party presidential tickets
- List of United States major third party and independent presidential tickets
- List of United States presidential candidates by number of votes received
- 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.
- 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.
- Five candidates have lost a presidential election despite winning a plurality or majority of the popular vote in that election.
- Clinton was a Northern Democratic-Republican who challenged the incumbent Democratic-Republican president, James Madison, in the general election. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Democratic-Republican Party was unable to unite behind a single candidate in 1824. 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.
- The Whigs did not unite around a single candidate in 1836, but the party ran only one presidential candidate per state. 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).
- 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. 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.
- 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. Nonetheless, the American Party is frequently described as a third party. 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.
- 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. Many sources consider Breckinridge to be a third party candidate, but other sources do not.
- 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.
- 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. 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.
- 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.
- In 1896, after Bryan won the Democratic presidential nomination, he was also nominated by the Populist Party, a major third party. 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.
- Byrd did not campaign in the 1960 election, and he tacitly supported the candidacy of Republican Richard Nixon. 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.
- Blake, Aaron (April 27, 2016). "Why are there only two parties in American politics?". Washington Post. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
- Neale, Thomas H. (3 November 2016), Contingent Election of the President and Vice President by Congress: Perspectives and Contemporary Analysis (PDF), Congressional Research Service
- "Electoral College Box Scores 1789–1996". National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved 16 September 2018.
- "United States Presidential Election Results". Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections. Retrieved 16 September 2018.
- Southwick (1998), pp. 12–13
- For a full list of faithless electors, see: "Faithless Electors". FairVote. Retrieved October 25, 2019.
- Morgan (1969), pp. 191–193
- Siry (1985), pp. 457–460
- Deskins et al. (2010), pp. 65
- Preston, Daniel. "James Monroe: Campaigns and Elections". Miller Center. University of Virginia. Retrieved 16 September 2018.
- Morgan (1969), p. 195
- Deskins et al. (2010), pp. 106–107
- Gienapp (1988), pp. 20–21
- Gienapp (1988), pp. 29–30
- McPherson (1988), pp. 140–144, 153–154
- Cooper, William. "James Buchanan: Campaigns and Elections". Miller Center. University of Virginia. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
- Boissoneault, Lorraine (January 26, 2017). "How the 19th-Century Know Nothing Party Reshaped American Politics". Smithsonian. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
- Hicks (1933), p. 10
- Gienapp (1985), p. 547
- Smith (1975), pp. 106–113
- VandeCreek, Drew E. "Campaign of 1860". Northern Illinois University Libraries. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
- Patch, B. W. (1936). "Third Party Movements in American Politics". CQPress. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
- Rosenstone et al. (2018), pp. 59–63
- Hicks (1933), pp. 3–28
- White (2009), pp. 592–593.
- Hale (1950), p. 338
- Faber & Bedford (2008), p. 81
- Kazin (2006), pp. 63–65
- Sweeney (1991), pp. 3, 32
- Sweeney (1991), p. 3
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