The worst performances of presidential candidates

Since WWII, which US presidential candidates have had the worst results?

goldwater1964poster.jpg

For months, I have sounded the alarm that Trump had a chance to win.  He defied the pundits by storming the GOP nomination and tapping into a rich vein of populist resentment.  He had a bump in the polls following the RNC convention.  He had a terrible August but rebounded following Hillary Clinton’s fainting episode in September.  He stayed surprisingly competitive in Ohio and Florida.  He now seems to have come crashing down. Though I think some wooden stakes should be kept on hand in the event they need to be driven through his political heart.

As Chart 1 shows, there has been a lot of volatility between the Democrats and GOP over time.  However, in the past five elections, the Democrats’s worst showing was 48.3% in 2004.  During that time, the GOP has only been above 48.3% once – in 2004 with George W.

Chart 1: Presidential popular vote (1948-2012)

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The worst presidential candidate results, by popular vote, since WWII have been:

  • 1992 – George HW Bush (37.4%) – vote was split by Ross Perot (18.9%)
  • 1972 – George McGovern (37.5%)
  • 1964 – Barry Goldwater (38.5%)

In fact, they are the only major presidential candidates to have sunk below 40% during that time.

The top showings since WWII are:

  • 1964 – LBJ (61.1%)
  • 1972 – Richard Nixon (60.7%)
  • 1984 – Ronald Reagan (58.8%)

The worst presidential candidate performances, by electoral college votes, have been:

  • 1984 – Walter Mondale (13)
  • 1972 – George McGovern (17)
  • 1980 – Jimmy Carter (49)
  • 1964 – Barry Goldwater (52)

It’s unlikely that Hillary Clinton will be anywhere near the top results but holding the trend line of the last five Democratic showings will secure victory.

Will Trump continue to slide?  Right now, he is tempting history.  He appears well above historic lows in electoral college votes, in part due to GOP strength in the South and rural states, but his ranking on popular vote could become Goldwater-esque.

 

 

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