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Author Topic: What constitutes a landslide victory?  (Read 28474 times)
Todd Whiting
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« on: November 05, 2003, 07:24:06 pm »
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I am doing some research prior to writing a letter to the editor of my loacal newspaper. What percentage of the vote constitutes a landslide victory?

I would like to comment on a local race wher one candidate won with 65% of the vote, and the challenger recieved 35%. I don't want to refer to it as a landslide if it does not fit the bill.



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Kevinstat
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« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2003, 08:51:56 pm »
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People love to use strong sounding terms these days, and I think the term landslide is probably used to describe races that a generation ago would not have been called landslides.  Some people use a 20% margin of victory (which in a two-way race would be 60% to 40%) as the boundary between a landslide win and merely a "comfortable" win.  See the Center for Voting and Democracy's summary of 1998 election predictions at http://www.fairvote.org/reports/monopoly/predict/ .  Still, if a candidate gets close to four out of every ten voters (I know it's also two out of every five but people often think more in powers of ten) to vote for him or her, it doesn't seem to me like that candidate has been defeated in a landslide even if all the remaining voters voted for one other candidate.  Most people will consider a two to one victory in a two way or nearly two way (if there are some other candidates but they get a very small percentage of the vote) race as a landslide, and I feel I agree with that.  A third of the vote is a sizable portion of the vote, but two-thirds is a very large majority and most legal hurdles in America (like overriding vetoes and in my home state of Maine sending bond issues or constitutional amendments to the people) that require more than a simple majority of the vote require two-thirds of the vote, giving that fraction some significance and suggesting that the founding fathers thought that was a landslide victory.  A 65% to 35% result is close to two to one, and I think you could get away with calling that a landslide.  You might get a whining letter to the editor from the local grouch who supported the losing candidate (and who perhaps remembers a time when such a result would not have been considered a landslide), but I think the editor or whoever checks your work (if anyone) before it goes to the paper would have no problem with it and may even suggest you add it if you didn't use the word landslide.  Good luck in writing your article and in deciding whether or not to use the term landslide.

Sincerely,

Kevin Lamoreau
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Sibboleth
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« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2003, 12:27:11 pm »
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Over here a landslide is either a huge majority or a big swing.
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Dave Leip
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« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2003, 04:52:40 pm »

I generally believe that the media misuses the word "landslide".  In presidential politics, the term is most often used to refer to an "Electoral Vote" landslide - such as Ronald Reagan in 1984 or Franklin Roosevelt in 1936 ("as goes Maine, so goes Vermont").  I personally set the bar for an Electoral Vote landslide to be 9:1 (> 90% of the EVs going to one candidate).  Of course, such a result is always concurrent with a much closer result in the popular vote (Reagan won the popular vote in 1984 with 59% to 41%, but won the electoral vote 98% to 2%).   I would classify the popular vote as a solid win, but the electoral vote as a landslide.

On the other hand, Clinton's victory in 1992, winning the popular vote 43% to 37% to 19% was a modest win and the electoral vote win of 69% to 31% as a solid win (or even a supermajority), but not a landslide.

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Demrepdan
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« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2003, 09:27:55 pm »
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Allow me to throw in my two cents. From what I've read, in political science books and history text books, a landslide victory is, as stated earlier, 60%. Although many consider a majority of 55% to be a "solid win" or a "safe seat".  I suppose in a Presidential election, you must throw in the popular vote AND the electoral vote majority. Since the Presidential election is, of course, not decided by popular vote, you would think you would just go by the electoral votes only, however I still feel popular vote plays an important part in the election.
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« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2003, 12:14:20 pm »
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To put in my bit I personally consider a landslide as >66% of the vote. (two-thirds majority)

However the term landslide is very often used simply when a winning candidate far outshines expectations.

Good luck with your paper

Ryan.
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« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2003, 03:02:09 pm »
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To put in my bit I personally consider a landslide as >66% of the vote. (two-thirds majority)


Well, I won't argue with you that 66% would indeed be a landslide victory. However, how often does that ever happen? For a candidate to receive 66% of the vote is an extreme rarity. I couldn't  imagine something like that happening, unless it occurs in a small election such as a Congressional district or a Mayoral race, or something of that nature.  I couldn't even imagine a Governor or Senator winning that large of a majority, unless he or she were VERY popular. And I'm certain that this kind of result would never take place during a Presidential election. That would be crazy. You wanna know what a TRUE landslide victory is? It is when the candidate wins 100% of the vote (i.e. when the candidate runs unopposed.) SmileyWink
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« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2003, 09:50:05 am »
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To put in my bit I personally consider a landslide as >66% of the vote. (two-thirds majority)


You wanna know what a TRUE landslide victory is? It is when the candidate wins 100% of the vote (i.e. when the candidate runs unopposed.) SmileyWink

LOL yeah you could say that. Btw does anyone have a list of winners in 2002 who ran unopposed- completely unopposed or no opposing major party candidate. I had one but cant seem to find it.
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« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2003, 09:53:29 am »
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To put in my bit I personally consider a landslide as >66% of the vote. (two-thirds majority)


And I'm certain that this kind of result would never take place during a Presidential election. That would be crazy.


On the >66% requirement for landslide, certainly thats too high for a Presidential election. What I was going for was some kind of Universal figure which would be accepted as a landslide anywhere. 66% which sounds good in the papers as a "stunning two-thirds Majority"
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« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2003, 10:02:45 am »
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Well, I won't argue with you that 66% would indeed be a landslide victory. However, how often does that ever happen? For a candidate to receive 66% of the vote is an extreme rarity. I couldn't  imagine something like that happening, unless it occurs in a small election such as a Congressional district or a Mayoral race, or something of that nature.  I couldn't even imagine a Governor or Senator winning that large of a majority, unless he or she were VERY popular
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Actually a >66% majority occurs very often these days in Senate races. This is of course due to popularity of the candidate but also because in some very uncompetitive states the other party often doesnt field a serious candidate.

Off the top of my head I can Indentify John Kerry, Robert Byrd, Jay rockerfeller on the dem side and Jon Kyl (91% I think) Thad Cochan and Jon Warner (GOP) who have crossed 66% and there are many more.

Till the 70's and actually after democrats in the South would be ashamed if they got any less than that (66%)

Governors do it too though not that often. Kenny Guinn (R-Nevada) did it in the last election.

and of course you are right at the congressional and local level 66% is all too common.
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« Reply #10 on: November 11, 2003, 06:05:55 pm »
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From the Presidential standpoint, I think Coolidge's victory in 1924 could be called a landslide even though he did not win more than 400 electoral votes.
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« Reply #11 on: November 16, 2003, 11:58:48 am »
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The definition of a landslide is pretty subjective, and there are several measures.

In a presidential election, I think that more than about 400 electoral votes constitutes a landslide, provided that it is accompanied by at least 55% of the popular vote.

If a candidate wins most states by a very narrow margin, that would be a broad geographical victory but not a landslide.  George Bush in 1988 won 40 states with 426 electoral votes, but got only 54% of the popular vote.  I would consider that a near-landslide, but not an actual landslide, because his share of the popular vote indicates a wide but relatively shallow victory, rather than a wide and deep victory, which is the definition of a landslide.

Bill Clinton received 370 and 379 electoral votes, respectively, in the 1992 and 1996 elections, but I don't consider his wins to be near-landslides because he never won a majority of the popular vote.  He won 43% and 49% of the popular vote in 1992 and 1996, respectively, and a minority winner cannot be considered a landslide or near-landslide winner in my opinion.

In a regular election, I would consider 60% of the vote as a landslide, since the winner would have received 150% of the votes that the loser received.

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jravnsbo
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« Reply #12 on: December 03, 2003, 03:38:03 pm »
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what constitutes a landslide?

Call McGovern, Mondale and they can tell you all about it.
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« Reply #13 on: December 05, 2003, 08:00:05 am »
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what constitutes a landslide?

Call McGovern, Mondale and they can tell you all about it.

LOL are they still alive?? I know Mondale is; in fact he is still happily losing elections Cheesy
What about McGovern??
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« Reply #14 on: December 06, 2003, 04:15:06 am »
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McGovern is still alive.
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« Reply #15 on: December 09, 2003, 08:10:00 am »
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In the UK a landslide victory is usually a parliamentary majority of more than 100 seats, (i.e 1983, 1987, 1997 and 2001). In the US I would definately call the 1984 election a landslide! Poor old Minnesota must have felt a bit left out after that election!
Landslides are usually a bad thing in any country since the government then tends to think it can get away with murder.
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« Reply #16 on: December 09, 2003, 10:33:18 am »
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However 1966 is usually considored as landslide...even though Wilson's majority was under 100.
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« Reply #17 on: December 09, 2003, 05:06:44 pm »
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I agree that in Presidential elections, 55% would constitute a PV landslide, and anything where the losing major-party candidate gets less that 100 EV's would be a landslide loss.  Different for straight-up PV congressional elections, though.
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« Reply #18 on: December 09, 2003, 09:28:50 pm »
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In a Presidential Election, I would probably consider 55% of the popular vote a landslide victory, because you are dealing with a LARGE amount of people, and the candidate should be great full that 5% more than half wanted him to be elected.

As far as the electoral college, anything from 350 or more can be considered a landslide in my opinion. Accordingly, if the candidate receives at least 350 Electoral Votes, and at least 55% of the popular vote, it is a "clear landslide".

I've stated this previously on this thread, that in a smaller election, such as a Gubernatorial, Congressional, or Senatorial election, if the candidate receives 55% of the vote, then he or she has a "safe seat" or "solid win", but not really a landslide. At the state level, 60% or more is a landslide, in my opinion. Many political science books back this up as well.
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« Reply #19 on: December 10, 2003, 11:25:28 am »
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I agree that 55% of the PV is a landslide.  I think that a landslide EV victory would have to be more than 350 for the winner.  If you need 270 to win and recieve 350, that's a spread of only 70.  I this day and age, winning 2 states can make up for that so I really wouldn't call that a landslide.  I think that anything over 438 is a landslide for the EV.
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« Reply #20 on: December 11, 2003, 01:10:13 am »

In the UK a landslide victory is usually a parliamentary majority of more than 100 seats, (i.e 1983, 1987, 1997 and 2001). In the US I would definately call the 1984 election a landslide! Poor old Minnesota must have felt a bit left out after that election!
Landslides are usually a bad thing in any country since the government then tends to think it can get away with murder.
I wouln't go so far as say 'murder', but I would say 'mandate' Ronald Reagan was given a Mandate by the American People in 1980 and so was President Nixon's Second Term.
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« Reply #21 on: December 11, 2003, 10:07:48 am »
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Landslides are usually a bad thing in any country since the government then tends to think it can get away with murder.
Eh?  Care to elaborate?

I meant it purely as a euphemism!! I know that Maggie Thatcher after 1983 and to an extent Tony Blair after 2001 seemed to become a lot more bold in their policies, often taking no notice whatsoever of public opinion. This I think is dangerous. It is essential to have a strong opposition I believe, even if often you don't agree with the opposing viewpoint.
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« Reply #22 on: December 18, 2003, 02:41:50 pm »
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Read an article by McGovern recently, said something like Dean can't win the general election, but should wi the nomination anyway because he sticks to his principles. McGovern is clearly still in the landslide business.

Sarge Shriver has had greater success, getting his son-in-law elected Governor of California. But then, Arnold is a Republican, so no surprises.
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« Reply #23 on: December 24, 2003, 12:00:43 am »
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Sarge didn't have much to do with arnold's win, but good show of unity when he did win.

55% would be good for a landslide.  It was for Jeb in 2002 in the governor's race.

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« Reply #24 on: December 26, 2003, 02:07:21 pm »
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I think I remember hearing that a landslide was greater than 55% of the vote and more than 45 states in a Predsidential Election.  Considering no candidate has broken 50% since 1988 55% would be very impressive.
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