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  New Jersey, Split Electoral Vote, 1860
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Author Topic: New Jersey, Split Electoral Vote, 1860  (Read 9852 times)
rbt48
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« on: July 27, 2008, 01:03:35 am »

I've often wondered how Lincoln received four of New Jersey's seven electoral votes in 1860 in spite of losing the popular vote to Douglas, 62,869 to 58,346.  I finally found the answer which you can read at this link:  http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?_r=1&res=9407E0DC1638E233A25755C2A9649D94639ED7CF&oref=slogin

I don't fully understand the particulars, but the popular vote totals given for New Jersey are the top elector totals.  Four of the seven Democratic electors received fewer votes than the seven Rebuplican electors, whose totals ranged from 58,316 to the maximum total shown of 58,346.

I welcome any comments others may have.
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Meeker
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« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2008, 01:44:44 pm »

How they used to elect members of the electoral college was literally voting for the electors (they printed the names on the ballot). Generally people vote for all the electors of the candidate they support, but not always. That "not always" becomes important when the election is close, like in New Jersey in 1860.

The NJ Democrats originally nominated all Douglas electors. But, due to the schism in the national and NJ Democratic Party, the Democrats reversed their decision and nominated a slate of fusion delegates (3 who favored Douglas, 2 who favored Breckenridge and 2 who favored Bell). Then you need to keep in mind that back in these days you weren't given a ballot by an elections official. You were given a ballot by the party and then turned the ballot in. So the NJ Democrats sent out the fusion ballots to their county officials to pass out on election day, but the county official in one of the counties decided not to pass out the fusion ballots and instead passed out the Douglas ballots. That reduced the number of votes the two Breckenridge and two Bell electors received statewide by enough of a margin to allow four Republican electors to be chosen.

You probably already knew most of that, but I hope that clears up the details.

And anyone who knows better than me can feel free to correct me, I'm not 100% of the details of 1860's New Jersey election and nominating law.
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bullmoose88
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« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2008, 01:52:17 pm »

New Jersey voting for someone else than Abe Lincoln is just another screwup in the long list of Jersey Electoral blunders.
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rbt48
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« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2008, 03:03:46 pm »
« Edited: July 27, 2008, 03:06:53 pm by rbt48 »

New Jersey voting for someone else than Abe Lincoln is just another screwup in the long list of Jersey Electoral blunders.
Well, Lincoln lost the popular vote to McClellan by over 5% in 1864 which was (I would judge) even a bigger blunder.  Republicans wouldn't capture NJ in a presidential election until Grant's run for a second term in 1872 and not for a second time until 1896.  After that, save for 1912, it was reliably Republican until 1932. 

It does seem to me misleading that, in tabulations of popular vote for 1860, zero votes are credited to Breckenridge as well as for Bell (and all to Douglas) even though 4 of the 7 were not pledged to Douglas.  I suppose that is consistent with how the Alabama popular votes for the Democratic electors were all credited to Kennedy, even though only 5 of the 11 electors were pledged to Kennedy.  I don't have a method to rectify this misleading situation, but it might be worthy of further discussion.

Additionally mysterious in 1860 is the Pennsylvania popular vote tally.  Breckenridge is credited with 37.5% of the vote and Douglas with only 3.5%, a little more than Bell's 2.7%.  I'm inferring that the statewide party chose to run a Breckenridge slate and a few counties distributed Douglas slates.  If anyone has further insight on the Pennsylvania vote, please share it.
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Daniel Adams
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« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2008, 06:24:48 pm »
« Edited: July 27, 2008, 06:30:54 pm by Daniel Adams »

It does seem to me misleading that, in tabulations of popular vote for 1860, zero votes are credited to Breckenridge as well as for Bell (and all to Douglas) even though 4 of the 7 were not pledged to Douglas.  I suppose that is consistent with how the Alabama popular votes for the Democratic electors were all credited to Kennedy, even though only 5 of the 11 electors were pledged to Kennedy.  I don't have a method to rectify this misleading situation, but it might be worthy of further discussion.
In his article "Popular Myths About Popular Vote–Electoral College Splits" (PDF file), Brian J. Gaines suggests adding the votes for both the "loyal" and the "free" Democratic camps and then dividing both sums by 11 (the total number of EVs). This gives Kennedy 144,355 votes and unpledged Democrats 175,893 votes. This method actually makes Nixon the winner of the nationwide popular vote.

Gaines also discusses the convention of reporting a presidential candidates' total vote by giving the total won by the elector who received the most votes in stat where voters chose electors directly. He contends that this method is deceiving and instead proposes taking the average vote of each elector.

Additionally mysterious in 1860 is the Pennsylvania popular vote tally.  Breckenridge is credited with 37.5% of the vote and Douglas with only 3.5%, a little more than Bell's 2.7%.  I'm inferring that the statewide party chose to run a Breckenridge slate and a few counties distributed Douglas slates.  If anyone has further insight on the Pennsylvania vote, please share it.
Michael Dubin's United States Presidential Election, 1788-1860 offers this explanation:
"The Democratic Party [of Pennsylvania] chose its slate of electors before the National Convention. The electoral candidates agreed in advance to support the eventual nominee of the convention. However, the convention, meeting in Charleston, SC, adjourned without selecting a candidate, after several southern delegates left. A conventioned reassembled in Baltimore with more than a third of the delegates absent and nominated Douglas. Another conventioned assembled again in Charleston, with many of the delegates who left the original convention present, along with other delegates, and nominated Breckinridge. Both candidates' supporters claimed the right for their man to be considered the party candidate and the support of the electoral slate. Eventually, the state party worked out an agreement: if either candidate could win the national election with Pennsylvania's electoral vote, then all her electoral votes would go to that candidate. Of the 27 electoral candidates, 15 were Breckinridge supporters; the remaining 12 were for Douglas. This was often referred to as the Reading electoral slate, because it was in that city that the state party chose it. However, not all of the Douglas supporters agreed to this deal and established a separate Douglas only ticket. This slate comprised the 12 Douglas electoral candidates on the Reading ticket, and 15 additional Douglas supporters. This ticket was usually referred to as the Straight Douglas ticket. Thus 12 electoral candidates appeared on two tickets, Reading and Straight Douglas."

It was the Reading ticket which recieved 37.5% of the vote, and the Straight Douglas ticket which got 3.5%.
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rbt48
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« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2008, 10:06:43 pm »

Thanks for this great response (Daniel Adams) on New Jersey (1860), Alabama (1960), and Pennsylvania (1860).  For years it baffled me how Breckenridge could have run so strongly in Pennsylvania, but this explains what really took place.
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« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2008, 11:26:03 am »


It was the Reading ticket which recieved 37.5% of the vote, and the Straight Douglas ticket which got 3.5%.

So did voters in PA vote for whole tickets, rather than individual electors?

Because otherwise I'm afraid that makes no sense. Wink
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ill ind
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« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2008, 12:48:37 pm »

  The way that I understand it is that indeed voters cast ballots for entire tickets.  Party leaders would hand out tickets with all of the electors names printed on them, then on election day you would take yoour 'ticket' to the voting booth and put it into the box.  This is how you voted.
  There was a provision that allowed you to take a pencil and scratch off the name of anybody on the ticket that you didn't wish to vote for.  I imagine there was some of that in New Jersey too where people crossed off the names of the Bell and Breckenridge electors as a sign of their dissaproval of the 'fusion' ticket.

Ill_Ind
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jimrtex
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« Reply #8 on: July 30, 2008, 01:39:38 pm »


It was the Reading ticket which recieved 37.5% of the vote, and the Straight Douglas ticket which got 3.5%.

So did voters in PA vote for whole tickets, rather than individual electors?

Because otherwise I'm afraid that makes no sense. Wink
The Australian ballot did not come into use in the USA until the late 19th century, early 20th century.  An Australian ballot is one in which the government electoral officials prepare a ballot with the names of all candidates which is then given to the voter.  Elections prior to that were either conducted by paper ballot or voice vote. 

Originally, this amounted to a write-in ballot since a voter would write the name of a candidate on the ballot, but later the parties would prepare ballots with candidates names on the ballot which voters could then cast.  This was especially convenient in the case of elections for presidential electors, where a voter could vote for many individual electors.  Voters could also strike off names of individuals, or substitute their own choices.

But different elements of a party could prepare different versions of the party ballot.  It appears that this is what happened in Pennsylvania, where there are no known records of votes cast for the two slates.  What is shown on Dave's (and other) results, is the votes of the highest placed Breckinridge elector on the Reading slate (John Ahl), and the highest number of votes for a Douglas elector who was not on the Reading slate.    The leading Democratic elector (and Douglas supporter), Joseph Laubach, had 194,834 votes vs. the 178,871 for the leading Breckinridge elector, and the 16,765 for the best non-Reading slate Douglas elector.

Candidates of the Straight Douglas slate received a few votes in almost every county, so these may have been true write-in votes, or perhaps ballots where a voter had made a manual substitution.  For example, in Adams County (seat Gettysburg), the leading Breckinridge elector received 2,644 votes vs. 36 for the best non-Reading elector (48.6% vs 0.7% vs. 50.1% for Lincoln, and 0.7% for Bell).

The Straight Douglas slate was extremely concentrated.  Over half the statewide vote was in Phildaelphia, where the Breckinridge elector received 28.0%, and the Straight Douglas elector received 12.0%.

The last time a State split its electors because of differences in votes cast for individual electors was 1916 in West Virginia - though of course the split in Alabama in 1960 was because the individual electors in Alabama were chosen in the Democrat primary runoff.
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jimrtex
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« Reply #9 on: July 30, 2008, 01:58:55 pm »

Thanks for this great response (Daniel Adams) on New Jersey (1860), Alabama (1960), and Pennsylvania (1860).  For years it baffled me how Breckenridge could have run so strongly in Pennsylvania, but this explains what really took place.
Vice President Breckinridge had quite comparable totals to Douglas in Connecticut, where Breckinridge outpolled Douglas in Fairfield, Hartford, Middlesex and New Haven counties; in California; and in Oregon, where Breckinridge finished 2nd and within 1.8% of Lincoln.  In New York, the "Douglas" vote is actually the support for a fusion slate of 18 Douglas, 11 Bell, and 7 Breckinridge supporters).
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rbt48
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« Reply #10 on: July 30, 2008, 04:35:06 pm »
« Edited: July 30, 2008, 09:01:48 pm by rbt48 »

As to Breckenridge's strength in parts of the north (1860), I recall that (later) Secretary of War Edwin Stanton was a Pennsylvania supporter of Breckenridge, as he believed his election would best serve to preserve the Union.  This sentiment is probably reflective of some of the northern support for Breckenridge.  Though, it is worth pointing out that except for CA, CT, PA, and OR, his best showing in the North was a mere 6.3% of the vote in Maine.

Breckenridge's VP running mate was Sen Herschel Lane of Oregon, which might have contributed to his strong second place finish in that state.
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Lewis Trondheim
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« Reply #11 on: July 31, 2008, 04:35:32 am »

But different elements of a party could prepare different versions of the party ballot.  It appears that this is what happened in Pennsylvania, where there are no known records of votes cast for the two slates.  What is shown on Dave's (and other) results, is the votes of the highest placed Breckinridge elector on the Reading slate (John Ahl), and the highest number of votes for a Douglas elector who was not on the Reading slate.    The leading Democratic elector (and Douglas supporter), Joseph Laubach, had 194,834 votes vs. the 178,871 for the leading Breckinridge elector, and the 16,765 for the best non-Reading slate Douglas elector.
Ah, thanks. That clears it up.
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12th Doctor
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« Reply #12 on: July 31, 2008, 10:00:36 am »

As to Breckenridge's strength in parts of the north (1860), I recall that (later) Secretary of War Edwin Stanton was a Pennsylvania supporter of Breckenridge, as he believed his election would best serve to preserve the Union.  This sentiment is probably reflective of some of the northern support for Breckenridge.  Though, it is worth pointing out that except for CA, CT, PA, and OR, his best showing in the North was a mere 6.3% of the vote in Maine.

Breckenridge's VP running mate was Sen Herschel Lane of Oregon, which might have contributed to his strong second place finish in that state.

It's also worth noting that there was still slavery in some parts of PA up until the 1850's (that's not mentioning indentured sevitute, of course).  It was illegal, but that ban wasn't enforced in alot of the more rural counties.  The 1850 census of Clearfield County reveals that they might have been as many as 10 slaves still living in the county at the time.
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ill ind
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« Reply #13 on: July 31, 2008, 11:07:31 am »

  I believe that in the case of Connecticut there were actually 5 tickets out there.  In addition to the Lincoln, Douglas, Breckenridge, and Bell tickets there was also a fusion ticket that only was distributed in some areas.
  Who those votes were eventually counted for, I do not know.
  As a Wisconsin native, I'm often perplexed by the fact that Bell and Breckenridge together got only 3/4 of 1% of the entire vote.  Hardly any support whatsoever.

Ill_Ind
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12th Doctor
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« Reply #14 on: August 01, 2008, 05:47:06 pm »

  I believe that in the case of Connecticut there were actually 5 tickets out there.  In addition to the Lincoln, Douglas, Breckenridge, and Bell tickets there was also a fusion ticket that only was distributed in some areas.
  Who those votes were eventually counted for, I do not know.
  As a Wisconsin native, I'm often perplexed by the fact that Bell and Breckenridge together got only 3/4 of 1% of the entire vote.  Hardly any support whatsoever.

Ill_Ind

Some of the candidate weren't even "on the ballot" in some many states.  Back then, the parties strongly controlled who was on the ballot.  In many places, you "ballot" was handed to you by a party official, all you did was check the one named provided and put it in the box.
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