Landslide Presidential Elections

by Ed Sawicki - November 2020

In 2016, Donald Trump described his winning the presidential election as having an “electoral college landslide”. To make such an ignorant statement is to be unaware of previous elections. Trump won 304 electoral votes to Clinton's 227—hardly a landslide—especially since Trump lost the popular vote by 2.8 million votes.

Here's what the election map looked like in 2016. Many other elections looked similar to this. Instead of a landslide election, Trump's win is average.

2016 US presidential election results 3 3 8 7 55 6 11 6 4 3 3 9 5 36 7 6 5 3 3 10 10 20 6 10 6 8 6 9 16 29 9 15 11 8 11 16 18 5 13 20 29 3 1 3 1 1 1 1 NH 4 VT 3 MA 11 RI 4 CT 7 NJ 14 DE 3 MD 10 DC 3 Clinton Trump Powell Spotted Eagle Paul Kasich Sanders

The best example of an actual landslide election happened in 1972. Republican Richard Nixon won 520 electoral votes to George McGovern's 17. Nixon won by 18 million popular votes. Here's a map that illustrates Nixon's win.

1972 US presidential election results 3 4 9 6 45 3 4 4 4 3 7 6 4 26 8 7 5 4 3 10 11 26 8 12 6 10 7 9 12 17 8 13 10 9 13 21 25 6 11 27 41 4 McGovern Nixon NH 4 VT 3 MA 14 RI 4 CT 8 NJ 17 DE 3 MD 10 DC 3

Another landslide election, this time for the Democrats, was Lyndon Johnson winning 486 electoral votes to Goldwater's 52 in 1964. Johnson won by 16 million popular votes.

1968 US presidential election results 3 4 9 6 40 3 4 4 4 3 6 5 4 25 8 7 5 4 4 10 12 26 9 12 6 10 7 10 12 14 8 13 11 9 13 21 26 7 12 29 43 4 Johnson Goldwater NH 4 VT 3 MA 14 RI 4 CT 8 NJ 17 DE 3 MD 10 DC 3

The following table shows election results since 1876, when the Democrats and Republicans were the major parties. The % column under Popular vote is the percentage of voter turnout to the entire population. Note that the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution that gave women the right to vote was ratified by the requisite number of states in 1920. You see the percentage of people voting increase in the following years.

 CandidatesPopular voteElectoral vote
YearDemsGOPDemsGOPDifference%DemsGOP
1876TildenHayes4,288,5464,034,311254,23521.6184185
1880HancockGarfield4,444,2604,446,1581,89817.7155214
1884ClevelandBlaine4,914,4824,856,90557,57718.0219182
1888ClevelandHarrison5,534,4885,443,89290,59618.9168233
1892ClevelandHarrison5,556,9185,176,108380,81017.0277145
1896BryanMcKinley6,510,8077,112,138601,33119.7176271
1900BryanMcKinley6,370,9327,228,864857,93217.9155292
1904ParkerRoosevelt5,083,8807,630,4572,546,57715.5140336
1908BryanTaft6,408,9847,678,3951,269,41115.9162321
1912WilsonTaft6,296,2843,486,2422,810,04210.34358
1916WilsonHughes9,126,8688,548,728578,14017.3277254
1920CoxHarding9,139,66116,144,0937,004,43223.7127404
1924DavisCoolidge8,386,24215,723,7897,337,54721.1136382
1928SmithHoover15,015,46421,427,1236,411,65930.287444
1932RooseveltHoover22,821,27715,761,2547,060,02330.947259
1936RooseveltLandon27,747,63616,679,54311,068,09334.75238
1940RooseveltWilkie27,313,94522,347,7444,966,20137.644982
1944RooseveltDewey25,612,91622,017,9293,594,98734.443299
1948TrumanDewey24,179,34721,991,2922,188,05531.5303189
1952StevensonEisenhower27,375,09034,075,5296,700,43939.089442
1956StevensonEisenhower26,028,02835,579,1809,551,15236.573457
1960KennedyNixon34,220,98434,108,157112,82737.8303219
1964JohnsonGoldwater43,127,04127,175,75415,951,28736.648652
1968HumphreyNixon31,271,83931,783,783511,94431.4191301
1972McGovernNixon29,173,22247,168,71017,995,48836.417520
1976CarterFord40,831,88139,148,6341,683,24736.7297240
1980CarterReagan35,480,11543,903,2308,423,11534.949489
1984MondaleReagan37,577,35254,455,47216,878,12039.013525
1988DukakisBush41,809,07448,886,5977,077,52337.1111426
1992ClintonBush44,909,88939,104,5505,805,33932.8370168
1996ClintonDole47,401,18539,197,4698,203,71632.1379159
2000GoreBush50,999,89750,456,002543,89536.0266271
2004KerryBush59,028,44462,040,6103,012,16641.3251286
2008ObamaMcCain69,498,51659,948,3239,550,19342.6365173
2012ObamaRomney62,984,82860,933,5042,051,32439.5332206
2016ClintonTrump65,853,51462,984,8282,868,68639.9227304
2020BidenTrump78,856,95773,216,8865,640,07146.0290232

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