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Author Topic: Categorizing elections historically...  (Read 194 times)
twenty42
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« on: September 09, 2017, 03:58:49 pm »
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Let's categorize the elections by popular vote margin, starting with 1824 (when the popualr vote became a thing).

Nail-biters = <2%
Close margins = 2-5%
Comfortable margins = 5-10%
Landslides = >10%
Italics indicate a PV/EV split.

Nail-biters (7)
1844, 1880, 1884, 1888, 1960, 1968, 2000

Close margins (10)
1848, 1876, 1892, 1896, 1916, 1948, 1976, 2004, 2012, 2016

Comfortable margins (12)
1840, 1852, 1868, 1900, 1908, 1940, 1944, 1980, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2008

Landslides (20)

1824, 1828, 1832, 1836, 1856, 1860, 1864, 1872, 1904, 1912, 1920, 1924, 1928, 1932, 1936, 1952, 1956, 1964, 1972, 1984

Some curious data points to point out...

--While landslides have happened less often than not with approximately 41% of elections falling into the category, the plurality of American elections have indeed been landslides.

--We haven't experienced a landslide in the last eight elections. This is a record amount of time without one, beating the 1876-1900 streak of seven non-landslides.

--Nail-biters have been the rarest category historically, however three of the seven occurred consecutively from 1880-1888. Interestingly, Richard Nixon participated in two of the seven, losing one and winning one.

--On two occasions, back-to-back landslides have voted for opposite parties...1856/1860 and 1928/1932.

--We often talk of our current era as being one of unprecedented polarization, but a look at the data shows that isn't quite true. There was a streak of six elections from 1876-1896 where the popular vote spread was less than 5%, with three nail-biters and three close margins. In contrast to this, our last six elections included two comfortable margins, along with three close margins and one nail-biter.

--Richard Nixon was the only president to win both a nail-biter and a landslide.

--Only one nail-biter, 1888, featured an incumbent president. Curiously, President Cleveland won the popular vote, but did not win the electoral college.

--Four presidents won reelection with close margins (Cleveland 1892, Wilson 1916, Bush 2004, Obama 2012). Two of these instances resulted in reduced margins (Wilson went from landslide to close in 1916, and Obama went from comfortable to close in 2012).

--Longest streaks of each category...
  • Nail-biter: 3, 1880-1888
  • Close: 2 (tied), 1892-1896, 2012-2016
  • Comfortable: 3, 1988-1996
  • Landslide: 5, 1920-1936

--Nine out of 14 elections from 1904 through 1956 were landslides, and an additional three were comfortable margins. Why did presidential elections tend to be so decisive in the first half of the twentieth century? Did both parties alternate between periods of massive unpopularity, or was the American voting public just wildly elastic during this period?
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MIKESOWELL
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« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2017, 10:04:33 am »
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Great list. I would downgrade 1916 from close election to nail biter. A 277-254 Electoral College win is quite a squeaker, and less than four thousand votes saved Wilson in California from defeat. I also disagree with 1824, 1836, 1856, and 1860 as being landslides.
 
« Last Edit: September 11, 2017, 10:07:33 am by MIKESOWELL »Logged

Exactly what are Donald Trump's qualifications for the most powerful office in the world again?
SWE
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« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2017, 08:22:55 pm »
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Great list. I would downgrade 1916 from close election to nail biter. A 277-254 Electoral College win is quite a squeaker, and less than four thousand votes saved Wilson in California from defeat. I also disagree with 1824, 1836, 1856, and 1860 as being landslides.
 
OP wasn't making subjective judgement calls, he was categorizing these elections into clearly defined objective categories based on popular vote. The only way to disagree with these categories is to be wrong.
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twenty42
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« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2017, 10:13:48 am »
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Great list. I would downgrade 1916 from close election to nail biter. A 277-254 Electoral College win is quite a squeaker, and less than four thousand votes saved Wilson in California from defeat. I also disagree with 1824, 1836, 1856, and 1860 as being landslides.
 
OP wasn't making subjective judgement calls, he was categorizing these elections into clearly defined objective categories based on popular vote. The only way to disagree with these categories is to be wrong.

Yeah...I was actually surprised by a couple of these myself. I always considered a 1980 a landslide, but it wasn't quite a double-digit win so it just missed the cut. I also never realized that 1988 and 2008 were so similar in margin...you'd never guess so looking at both maps.
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MIKESOWELL
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« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2017, 05:43:42 pm »
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Great list. I would downgrade 1916 from close election to nail biter. A 277-254 Electoral College win is quite a squeaker, and less than four thousand votes saved Wilson in California from defeat. I also disagree with 1824, 1836, 1856, and 1860 as being landslides.
 
OP wasn't making subjective judgement calls, he was categorizing these elections into clearly defined objective categories based on popular vote. The only way to disagree with these categories is to be wrong.

I understand the set criteria. My point was that despite the categories, I wouldn't personally consider 1824 as being a landslide as well as a few others. I have my own PERSONAL criteria for what a landslide is. Also, I clearly said great list, knowing how and why he grouped each election into each category.
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Exactly what are Donald Trump's qualifications for the most powerful office in the world again?
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