Who Were The US Presidents That Won All 50 States?

By Antonia Čirjak on May 26 2020 in Politics

Believe it or not, there was not a single president in US history that managed to win all 50 states in the election.
  • Ever since the United States started being composed of 50 states, no presidential candidate managed to win the majority of votes in all of the states.
  • The presidents that came closest to winning all 50 states were Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.
  • The only presidents in US history that managed to win their elections unanimously, by winning all electoral spots were George Washington and James Monroe.

Believe it or not, there was not a single president in US history that managed to win all 50 states in the election. Some came close, but none succeeded. However, it should be noted that 50 states existed in the US for a somewhat short amount of time. Hawaii was admitted into the United States in 1959, so they were allowed to vote only since the 1960 presidential election. Another thing worth mentioning is that the District of Columbia was allowed to vote for the first time in 1964.

The Most Successful Elections

Since then, there were several times that presidents managed to win a large number of votes, but none did so in all 50 states. A notable example is Richard Nixon, who won the votes of 49 states in 1972. This is the highest number any president has won since 50 states were allowed to vote. The second time it happened was in 1984 when Ronald Reagan also managed to win in 40 out of 50 states. Since then, no one has managed to dominate the voting as much as these two.

Washington, DC. USA, 1990 Former President Richard Milhous Nixon. Along with Congressman David Dreier (R) CA. who was escorting him around capital hill that day.
CaptionWashington, DC. USA, 1990 Former President Richard Milhous Nixon with Congressman David Dreier (R) CA. Image credit: mark reinstein / Shutterstock.com.

George Bush managed to win in 40 states in 1988, while the highest Bill Clinton ever managed to get were 32 states. Donald Trump won in 30 out of 50 states in 2016. If we go back further in history, the situation changes a bit. We should mention again how there weren’t 50 states back then. Still, it is an important part of history, and we should be well informed about these things. In 1936, Franklin D. Roosevelt managed to win in 46 out of 48 states, which is pretty impressive.

Going further back in time, Abraham Lincoln won 22 out of 25 states in 1864. This brings us to 1820 when a Presidential candidate managed to win in every single state. This was James Monroe, and it happened in 1820 when he won votes in 24 out of 24 states. The only other president that managed to achieve this was George Washington, who got unanimous votes to form the Electoral College in 1789 and 1792.

The Fifty-State Strategy

An attempt to win out votes in all fifty states in the US is called the fifty-state strategy. Oftentimes, presidential candidates determine that certain states are unwinnable, and they give up on trying to win the majority of votes there. However, using this strategy, the candidate tries to appeal to a broader public and tries to achieve a win in every state. It does not matter if the win is extremely small.

This strategy is generally considered to be one of the most ambitious, and it usually does not last very long. Many candidates abandon this strategy once the election day draws closer to focus on the states where they have a higher chance of sweeping their opponent. This strategy also requires a lot of resources, and some of those resources will be spent in the areas where the rival is dominating. This is why this strategy is rarely used. It is generally better to concede certain states and focus on the ones where the chance of winning is higher.

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