I've seen the term "Landslide" thrown around here on ATS for the current 2016 election. I've seen it used by both supporters of Hillary and supporters
of Trump, both claiming that their candidate will win in a "landslide" come this Tuesday on November 8th.
So what constitutes a "landslide" ? What is it exactly? When was the last presidential election where the candidate won by a "landslide" ? Are we
talking Popular Vote or Electoral Votes?
So off to the Internets I went and here is some of the interesting information I found. I hope some of you find it as interesting too.
First: What is a "landslide" for elections?
As defined by wikipedia,
a "landslide" victory is:
A landslide victory is an electoral victory in a political system, when one candidate or party receives an overwhelming majority of the votes or seats
in the elected body, thus all but utterly eliminating the opponents. The winning party has reached more voters than usual, and a landslide victory is
often seen in hindsight as a turning point in people's views on political matters.
Okay, well it certainly answered another question, which was are we talking about Popular Vote or Electoral Vote? And the above definition defines it
as the Electoral Vote.
Still, the phrase "receives an overwhelming majority" is kind of vague for me. I mean I could say that if a candidate received 300 electoral votes,
that is 30 more than needed, and certainly is a majority.
So we need some examples here of what wikipedia considers "overwhelming majority", and list them they did:
Landslide Victories for the United States.
Look at the list, we see 17 elections listed out of the 57 we have had (the 2016 election is our 58th). This means that the majority of the time,
presidential candidates that win do not win by a "landslide" election.
The first one listed was the election of 1804 with Thomas Jefferson vs. Charles Pinckney where Jefferson took 92% (162 votes) of the electoral vote
(back then there were only 176 electoral votes to get due to there only being 20 actual states existing at the time).
The largest landslide recorded so far was the election of 1936 with Franklin D. Roosevelt vs. Alf Landon. Roosevelt took 98.5 percent of the electoral
vote in that election. Here is a map that shows that:
As high as that number is ( 98.5% ), Roosevelt actually only received 60.8% of the popular vote! So by wikipedias definition of "landslide" FDR did
win in a "landslide" if we only look at the electoral vote, but he did not win in a "landslide" if we look at the popular vote.
The second highest "landslide" victory that any presidential candidate has won, is also the last time we have had a "landslide" victory for any
candidate, and that was the election of 1984 with Ronald Reagan vs. Walter Mondale. Reagan won 97.6% of the electoral votes. Here is a map for that
Again, this election has a huge different with the popular vote. Reagan won with a popular vote of only 58.8%
So it has been 32 years since any presidential candidate has won by a "landslide" according to wikipedia.
Looking through all the presidential elections, turns out that the presidential candidate that had the highest popular vote, was that very first
landslide victory for Thomas Jefferson in 1804. He won 72.8% of the popular vote. No presidential candidate has come close to that again so far.
So "landslide" elections are actually quite rare compared to most elections. I'd be unwilling to throw that term out when talking about any
As a interesting side note, I invite you to take a look at the US
Presidential Election of 1912
It was the last election where a non-Republican and non-Democrat was listed as having taken a good percentage of both the popular vote and the
electoral vote. Here's the list and map:
Woodrow Wilson (Democrat) - 435 electoral
Teddy Roosevelt (Progressive) - 88 electoral
William Taft (Republican) - 8 electoral
Eugene Debs (Socialist) - 0 electoral
edit on 11/4/2016 by eriktheawful because: (no reason given)