The US Election Landslides: Top 10 presidential election victories (with electoral maps and how it happened)

Top 10: Franklin Pierce vs Winfield Scott vs John P. Hale (1852)

Electoral votes: 254-42-0

1852-mapLittle suspense existed in the Election of 1852, regarding either the outcome or the issues. The Whigs were barely clinging to life, so a Democratic victory was assured from the start. Slavery, the only real issue of the day, was assiduously avoided by both sides. The Democratic nomination (on the 49th ballot) went to Franklin Pierce of New Hampshire. The nearly moribund Whigs pinned their hopes on a military hero, General Winfield Scott, hoping that his Mexican War fame would appeal to voters.The Free-Soil Party appeared again, drawing off votes from the Whigs.The campaign itself was lackluster but the results in the electoral college were a landslide for Pierce. The election of 1852 was the swan song for the Whigs, whose membership drifted away to the Know-Nothing Movement and the new Republican Party. (

Top 9: Dwight Eisenhower vs Adlai Stevenson (1956)

Electoral votes: 457-73

1956American presidential election held on Nov. 6, 1956, in which incumbent Republican Pres. Dwight D. Eisenhower defeated Democrat Adlai E. Stevenson. It was the second consecutive election in which Stevenson lost to Eisenhower. Eisenhower enjoyed a huge advantage politically. More than three-fifths of the country’s newspapers endorsed the president, while only about one in six backed Stevenson. The repudiation of the two Democratic candidates at the polls was equally overwhelming. They won only seven states (six Southern states plus Missouri), with 73 electoral votes, while the Eisenhower-Nixon ticket won 457 electoral votes. Eisenhower won 57.4 percent of the popular vote, bettering his 1952 total by 2.5 percent and defeating Stevenson by nearly 10 million votes. Democrats, however, maintained the House of Representatives and the Senate; only once before in American history (1848) had the presidential office been won by a party that did not achieve a majority in either house of Congress. (

Top 8: Franklin Roosevelt vs. Herbert Hoover (1932)

Electoral votes: 472-59

1932In June 1932, Republican delegates convened in Chicago to choose their condidates for the fall election. Spirits were not high. The nation was in the depths of its worst depression and more than 13 million Americans were out of work. Without enthusiasm, the party turned to the incumbents, Herbert Hoover and Charles Curtis, who were renominated without meaningful opposition. The 1932 Republican platform reflected Hoover’s desire to stay the course and rely primarily on voluntarism to solve the nation’s ills. In the end, Hoover had the impossible task of defending failed policies and strategies. The Democratic victory took on landslide proportions, prevailing as expected in the Solid South and the major urban areas, but also doing well throughout the West. The triumph spread to both houses of Congress, where the Democrats achieved sizable majorities, and to the governors’ mansions and assemblies in many states. The electorate had clearly provided the president-elect with a mandate for change. (

Top 7:  Lyndon Johnson vs Barry Goldwater (1964)

Electoral votes: 486-52

1964In one of the most crushing victories in the history of U.S. presidential elections, incumbent Lyndon Baines Johnson defeats Republican challenger Barry Goldwater, Sr. With over 60 percent of the popular vote, Johnson turned back the conservative senator from Arizona to secure his first full term in office after succeeding to the presidency after the assassination of John F. Kennedy in November 1963.During the 1964 campaign, Goldwater was decidedly critical of Johnson’s liberal domestic agenda, railing against welfare programs and defending his own decision to vote against the Civil Rights Act passed by Congress earlier that year. (

Top 6: Ronald Reagan vs Jimmy Carter vs John Anderson (1980)

Electoral votes: 489-49-0

1980With all the problems Jimmy Carter faced that year, it’s hardly surprising that he was soundly beaten by Republican challenger Ronald Reagan in the presidential election of 1980. What is remarkable is that just a week before Election Day, the contest was a dead heat. “People think of the 1980 election as this huge landslide for Reagan, which in terms of the numbers, it was,” remembers journalist Elizabeth Drew. “But I saw the numbers on the Friday before the election — and both sides will tell you this — it was a tie.” In the end, Ronald Reagan won the electoral vote 489 to 49, and enjoyed a 10 percent bulge in the popular vote. Though many call the election the dawn of the “Reagan Revolution,” it’s clear that the tectonic shift in American politics was well underway during the Carter presidency. “We had an underlying conservative electorate to begin with,” remembers Carter’s chief domestic policy advisor, Stuart Eizenstat. “The events that occurred over the four-year Carter presidency had reinforced that. Inflation that seemed out of control, a foreign policy that seemed weak because of the hostage crisis… the whole ambience reinforced the conservatism that was already present.” (

Top 5: Abraham Lincoln vs George McClellan (1864)

Electoral votes: 212-21

electoralcollege1864-svgIt is hard for modern Americans to believe that Abraham Lincoln, one of history’s most beloved Presidents, was nearly defeated in his reelection attempt in 1864. Yet by that summer, Lincoln himself feared he would lose. How could this happen? First, the country had not elected an incumbent President for a second term since Andrew Jackson in 1832 — nine Presidents in a row had served just one term. Also, his embrace of emancipation was still a problem for many Northern voters. Everything changed on September 6, 1864, when General Sherman seized Atlanta. The war effort had turned decidedly in the North’s favor and even McClellan now sought military victory. Two months later, Lincoln won the popular vote that eluded him in his first election. He won the electoral college by 212 to 21 and the Republicans had won three-fourths of Congress. A second term and the power to conclude the war were now in his hands. (

Top 4: Thomas Jefferson vs Charles Pinckney (1804)

Electoral votes:  162-14

577px-electoralcollege1804-svgThe strongest opposition to Jefferson was based in New England. Federalist William Plumer of New Hampshire lamented that Jefferson and his supporters were even allowed to call themselves “republican,” believing “Democrats and Jacobins” far more appropriate. Plumer authored six newspaper articles under the pseudonym Cato in which he went through Jefferson’s political career from secretary of state to the presidency and even referenced Jefferson’s one published book, Notes on the State of Virginia, to outline what he saw as Jefferson’s inconsistencies.

Despite these efforts, Plumer had to record in his personal journal entry for Feb. 13, 1805, his party’s overwhelming loss. When the electoral ballots were counted that day before a joint session of Congress, Jefferson and Clinton received 162 votes apiece while Pinckney and his running mate, Rufus King of New York, had 14 apiece. It was none other than Aaron Burr, sitting as presiding officer of the Senate, who declared that Thomas Jefferson had been elected president and George Clinton vice president. (

Top 3: Richard Nixon vs George McGovern (1972)

Electoral votes: 520-17

1972The campaign was almost a formality. It was evident from the beginning that George McGovern was too liberal for the majority of American voters. The results on election day, November 3, 1972, were an overwhelming Republican victory. McGovern carried only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia, losing even his home state of South Dakota. Voters, however, distinguished McGovern from the Democratic Party as a whole. Republican gains were limited to a dozen seats in the House of Representatives, leaving them 50 seats short of the Democrats. Democrats actually added two seats in the Senate, giving them 56 to the Republicans two.

During the campaign, despite his overwhelmingly strong position, Richard Nixon had engaged in a variety of dirty tricks, culminating in the botched burglary in the Watergate. The Watergate scandal would ultimately be his undoing, leading to his resignation in 1974, but it had no impact on the 1972 campaign. (

Top 2: Ronald Reagan vs Walter Mondale (1984)

Electoral votes: 525-13

1984Ronald Reagan won virtually every demographic group except African Americans. His margin of victory over Mondale was nearly 17 million popular votes, the second largest in history; it was surpassed only by Richard Nixon’s margin over McGovern in 1972. His electoral landslide of 525–13 was second only to Franklin Roosevelt’s 523–8 margin over Alf Landon in 1936. Mondale carried only the District of Columbia (three electoral votes) by a convincing margin. He won his home state of Minnesota by a scant 3,800 votes (less than 0.2 percent). (

Top 1: Franklin Roosevelt vs Alf Landon (1936)

Electoral votes: 523-8

1936-mapThe 1936 general election was not competitive, as incumbent President and Democrat Franklin Roosevelt had the firm support of farmers, labourers, and the poor. He faced the equally firm opposition of conservatives, but the epithets hurled at him from the right merely helped to unify his following. Kansas Governor Alf Landon could do little to stem the Roosevelt tide. Landon received fewer than 17 million votes to Roosevelt’s more than 27 million, and Roosevelt carried every state except Maine and Vermont. (


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