Politics

Largest Landslide Victories In US Presidential Election History

The 'Intra-War Era', including the Roaring Twenties and the worst of the Great Depression, saw 5 of the 10 largest margins of victory ever in US Presidential Elections.

10. Herbert Hoover defeats Al Smith, 1928 (17.41% margin)

The 1928 Presidential Election ushered in a landslide victory for the Republican candidate, Herbert Hoover, who won by the large margin of 17.41% in the elections. At that time, the Republicans were respected for their success in ushering in the economic boom in the country in the 1920’s. The Democrat candidate, Al Smith, on the other hand, suffered criticism for his anti-prohibitionist stance, and the legacy of corruption of Tammany Hall (a political machine that long dominated New York City politics) with which he was associated. Anti-Catholics also believed that if Smith came to power, the country would be dictated by the Catholic Church to which he belonged, and even be influenced by the Pope. Thus, people chose Hoover over Smith in the 1928 elections. Hoover even managed to achieve victory in Smith’s home state of New York. Smith won the electoral votes in only two New England states, however, home to a large section of Catholic voters, as well as a few traditionally Democratic states in the Southern United States.

9. Franklin Roosevelt defeats Herbert Hoover, 1932 (17.76% margin)

During the term of the Republican President Hoover, the American economy had suffered a major setback known as the Great Depression. This was the primary cause that was said to have led to the landslide victory of Hoover's opponent, the Democrat candidate Franklin D. Roosevelt. Roosevelt defeated the Republican candidate Herbert Hoover by a margin of 17.76% in the 1932 Presidential Elections. During the election, the American voters were faced with a tough choice. On one side was Hoover, with his apparently unsuccessful policies which, during his term in office, seemed to have accomplished little for the better. Then, on the other side, was Roosevelt, with his loosely defined and proposed 'New Deal' program. In his campaigns, Roosevelt promised to provide aid to farmers, implement government monitoring of private economic power, and introduce a balanced budget. While Roosevelt appeared confident with his words, Hoover remained grim and stern throughout the campaign. In the end, Roosevelt won the elections by receiving 57.3% of the votes in his favor, while Hoover received only 39.6% of the American popular votes.

8. Andrew Jackson defeats Henry Clay, 1832 (17.81% margin)

The 1832 American Presidential election was unique, in that it was the first election in U.S. history where Presidential candidates were nominated by national nominating conventions. The incumbent President Andrew Jackson received an overwhelming support from his own fellow Democrats, and was nominated from that party in a bid for reelection, while the Republicans nominated Henry Clay as their Presidential candidate. Others to run in the race were William Wirt of the Anti-Masonic Party and John Floyd of the Nullifier Party. The entire campaign was dominated by the issue of dealing with the Bank of the United States. The bank was highly unpopular among a large section of the American population, which considered the bank to be only a tool for the rich. While Jackson was completely determined to eliminate the bank after he came to power, and went on to veto the reauthorization of the bank shortly after being nominated, Clay decided to criticize Jackson on this issue. Clay based his campaign from Pennsylvania, where the bank was headquartered, and started making Jackson’s veto a major issue in the campaign. However, his efforts proved futile in the end, and he lost to Jackson in the 1832 elections by the large margin of 17.81%.

7. Ronald Reagan defeats Walter Mondale, 1984 (18.21% margin)

The Presidential Election of the United States of America that was held on November 6, 1984, led to a major victory for the Republican presidential candidate, Ronald Reagan. With the win, Reagan was appointed for a second time to the prestigious office of the President of the United States of America. The Democrat candidate, Walter Mondale, was defeated in this election by a margin of 18.21%, a major landslide in U.S. election history. Another interesting fact about this election was that for the first time in the country’s history, a major party had a female on its ticket, as Mondale and the Democrats had decided to select Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate. Even though Ferraro’s presence galvanized Mondale’s campaign at first, controversies over Ferraro and her husband's finances soon cropped up. This led to great criticism over Mondale’s choice of running mate. Another mistake made by Mondale was his pledge to raise taxes, which was highly disapproved of by the American society. On the other side, though Reagan’s age became an issue, and one seen by some as compromising his suitability to be the American President, he continued to exude confidence and optimism, and won over the American people with his unique charisma and conservative platform.

6. Theodore Roosevelt defeats Alton Parker, 1904 (18.83% margin)

Following the assassination of President McKinley in 1901, the late President's running mate in the election of 1900, Theodore Roosevelt, then aged 42, was appointed as the President. In the process, "Teddy" became the youngest United States President in history. He championed the ‘Square Deal’, a series of acts involving implementation of domestic policies that would promise the average American citizen fairness. This included ensuring pure food and drugs were available, and that railroads and other large industries were properly regulated. Roosevelt was also a great conservationist, and as such was a trailblazer in setting up national parks, monuments, and protected areas with which to protect the country’s vast natural resources. It was not surprising, therefore, that Roosevelt managed to defeat the Democrat Party nominee, Alton Parker, in a landslide win in the presidential elections of 1904, when he came to office for a full term in his own right.

5. Lyndon Johnson defeats Barry Goldwater, 1964 (22.58% margin)

In one of the most crushing Presidential election victories in U.S. history, Lyndon Baines Johnson, who had been serving as the President of US.A. since the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963, defeated the Republican candidate, Barry Goldwater, in the elections of 1964. Throughout the campaign, Goldwater criticized Johnson’s liberal domestic agenda, and defended his own stance regarding vetoing the landmark Civil Rights Act. He also threatened to use force to dismantle Castro’s Communist government regime in Cuba, and hinted at the possibility of using nuclear weapons against North Vietnam to achieve the objectives of his own country. Goldwater’s stern delivery and harsh policies failed to influence the American populace. The election ended in a landslide victory for Johnson who, by a staggering margin of 22.58% in the popular vote, now became the U.S. President for a full term.

4. Richard Nixon defeats George McGovern, 1972 (23.15% margin)

The United States Presidential Election of 1972 was held on November 7, and led to the victory of the Republican candidate, Richard Nixon, over the Democratic candidate, George McGovern, by a landslide. With a margin of 23.15%, this is the 4th largest margin of victory in U.S. Presidential election history. McGovern ran an anti-war campaign that was well appreciated by many, though his 'outsider' status, and the scandal surrounding his Vice Presidential Democrat nominee, Thomas Eagleton, contributed to his failure in winning the election. Nixon’s win was based on his emphasis on a sound economy, and his successes in handling the foreign affairs of the country efficiently. These included the establishment of better relations with China and ending America’s involvement in Vietnam, which were among the greatest positive highlights of Nixon's widely criticized political career.

3. Franklin Roosevelt defeats Alf Landon, 1936 (24.26% margin)

On November 3, 1936, in a landslide win, incumbent President Franklin D. Roosevelt was re-elected to the US Presidential office after defeating the Republican candidate, Alf Landon. President Roosevelt had first assumed office four years earlier at a time when the U.S.A. was going through the worst of an economic crisis commonly referred to as "the Great Depression". Roosevelt introduced a new policy called the ‘New Deal’ to handle this crisis. Though successful at first, the ‘New Deal’ was unable to introduce significant changes to recover the U.S. economy fully. This was the major issue that formed the basis of the campaign for the Republican opposition. However, Landon was no match for the forceful personality of Roosevelt, and, in the end, Roosevelt won over the votes of the people, with his leadership qualities, rather than his policies, likely giving him the necessary boost to do so.

2. Calvin Coolidge defeats John Davis, 1924 (25.22% margin)

The 1924 American presidential election saw the second greatest landslide victory in the history of the United States, when President Calvin Coolidge, the Republican candidate in the elections, defeated John Davis, the Democratic candidate. Coolidge had been the President for a short term, following the 1923 death of President Warren G. Harding. The short term served by Coolidge was largely peaceful and successful, characterized by an apparently booming economy in the country and no apparent crisis abroad. Thusly, Coolidge was already a favorite of the people when he stood up for Presidential election in 1924. Davis, on the other hand, was a little known former congressman and a conservative Democrat who was even shunned by a significant section of his own party, any of whom backed the Progressive candidate, M. LaFollette, instead. That said, the victory of Coolidge was expected to happen, and it did so in style.

1. Warren Harding defeats James Cox, 1920 (26.17% margin)

The U.S. Presidential election of 1920 was influenced by the aftermath of World War I. The country was facing one of its most difficult times, and there was utter chaos within the country. The public were fuming with anger against the outgoing President, Woodrow Wilson, who had been viewed as being highly unsuccessful in handling the tense situations plaguing the country. In the 1920 elections, the Democrats nominated a newspaper publisher, Governor James M. Cox, as their Presidential candidate, while the Republicans chose another newspaper publisher, Senator Warren G. Harding, to act as their own. Even though Cox did his best to outdo Harding, the latter completely ignored Cox in his campaigns, and instead focused almost completely on criticizing the policies of the incumbent Wilson. The public thus found faith and sympathy in Harding’s words, and voted wholeheartedly for this Republican candidate, setting up Harding for executive power by a large margin in the 1920 popular vote.

Largest Popular Vote Victories In US Presidential Election History

RankCandidatesMargin of VictoryYear
1Warren Harding, Rep. defeats James Cox, Dem.26.17%1920
2Calvin Coolidge, Rep. defeats John Davis, Dem.25.22%1924
3Franklin Roosevelt, Dem. defeats Alf Landon, Rep.24.26%1936
4Richard Nixon, Rep. defeats George McGovern, Dem.23.15%1972
5Lyndon Johnson, Dem. defeats Barry Goldwater, Rep.22.58%1964
6Theodore Roosevelt, Rep. defeats Alton Brooks Parker, Dem.18.83%1904
7Ronald Reagan, Rep. defeats Walter Mondale, Dem.18.21%1984
8Andrew Jackson, Dem. defeats Henry Clay, N.R.17.81%1832
9Franklin Roosevelt, Dem. defeats Herbert Hoover, Rep.17.76%1932
10Herbert Hoover, Rep. defeats Al Smith, Dem.17.41%1928
11Dwight Eisenhower, Rep. defeats Adlai Stevenson, Dem.15.40%1956
12Woodrow Wilson, Dem. defeats Theodore Roosevelt, Prog.14.44%1912
13Martin Van Buren, Dem. defeats William Henry Harrison, Whig14.20%1836
14Andrew Jackson, Dem. defeats John Quincy Adams, N. R.12.25%1828
15James Buchanan, Dem. defeats John Fremont, Rep.12.20%1856
16Ulysses Grant, Rep. defeats Horace Greeley, L. R.11.80%1872
17Dwight Eisenhower, Rep. defeats Adlai Stevenson, Dem.10.85%1952
18Abraham Lincoln, Rep. defeats John Breckinridge, Dem.10.13%1860
19Abraham Lincoln, Rep. defeats George McClellan, Dem.10.08%1864
20Franklin Roosevelt, Dem. defeats Wendell Willkie, Rep.9.96%1940
21Ronald Reagan, Rep. defeats Jimmy Carter, Dem.9.74%1980
22William Taft, Rep. defeats William Jennings Bryan, Dem.8.53%1908
23Bill Clinton, Dem. defeats Bob Dole, Rep.8.51%1996
24George H. W. Bush, Rep. defeats Michael Dukakis, Dem.7.72%1988
25Franklin Roosevelt, Dem. defeats Thomas Dewey, Rep.7.50%1944
26Barack Obama, Dem. defeats John McCain, Rep.7.27%2008
27Franklin Pierce, Dem. defeats Winfield Scott, Whig6.95%1852
28William McKinley, Rep. defeats William Jennings Bryan, Dem.6.12%1900
29William Henry Harrison, Whig defeats Martin Van Buren, Dem.6.05%1840
30Bill Clinton, Dem. defeats George H. W. Bush, Rep.5.56%1992
31Ulysses Grant, Rep. defeats Horatio Seymour, Dem.5.32%1868
32Zachary Taylor, Whig defeats Lewis Cass, Dem.4.79%1848
33Harry Truman, Dem. defeats Thomas Dewey, Rep.4.48%1948
34William McKinley, Rep. defeats William Jennings Bryan, Dem.4.31%1896
35Barack Obama, Dem. defeats Mitt Romney, Rep.3.86%2012
36Woodrow Wilson, Dem. defeats Charles Evans Hughes, Rep.3.12%1916
37Grover Cleveland, Dem. defeats Benjamin Harrison, Rep.3.01%1892
38George W. Bush, Rep. defeats John Kerry, Dem.2.46%2004
39Jimmy Carter, Dem. defeats Gerald Ford, Rep.2.06%1976
40James Polk, Dem. defeats Henry Clay, Whig1.45%1844
41Richard Nixon, Rep. defeats Hubert Humphrey, Dem.0.70%1968
42Grover Cleveland, Dem. defeats James Blaine, Rep.0.57%1884
43John Kennedy, Dem. defeats Richard Nixon, Rep.0.17%1960
44James Garfield, Rep. defeats Winfield Scott Hancock, Dem.0.09%1880
45George W. Bush, Rep. defeats Al Gore, Dem.-0.51%2000
46Benjamin Harrison, Rep. defeats Grover Cleveland, Dem.-0.83%1888
47Rutherford Hayes, Rep. defeats Samuel Tilden, Dem.-3.00%1876
48John Quincy Adams, D.-R. defeats Andrew Jackson, D.-R.-10.44%1824

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