November 6: Election Day Special!
Today’s special issue of This Day in History is devoted to various U.S. Presidents elected this day throughout American history.
1860 – Abraham Lincoln
Mr. Lincoln is the first President in our list, as he was elected November 6, 1860. What an important event for the nation it was! A strong leader, Lincoln led the U.S through the bloodiest conflict in American history—the Civil War. And, of course, he is well-known for the abolition of slavery and modernizing the economy of the U.S.
Lincoln was the first president representing the Republican Party. It doesn’t take a genius to understand that he gained victory over his opponents, Southern Democrat John C. Breckinridge (of Kentucky), Constitutional Unionist (of Tennessee) and Northern Democratic Stephen A. Douglas (of Illinois) due to the wide support he enjoyed in the Northern and Western parts of the country, while no ballots were cast for him in 10 out of 15 Southern states.
His overall support in the South a year before the Civil War was quite low, as he won in just two counties of about a thousand there. Lincoln won the Presidential election of 1860 receiving 1,866,452 votes in total.
1861 – Jefferson Davis
Exactly a year to the day that Abraham Lincoln became President of the U.S., his main enemy during the Civil War, Jefferson Davis, won the only election ever held in the Confederate States of America after having served as provisional President since February 1861.
Davis didn’t have a single opponent during the election and won with a remarkable result, gaining the support of 97 % of Southern voters, or 47,057 in terms of popular votes. Yes, back in those days in the Confederate States of America, not that many people had the right to express their opinion during the election.
Technically, this wasn’t an election at all, since this was only an act of the confirmation of the decision that Davis and his Vice President, Alexander Stephens, would continue ruling the state, leading the South through the tragic era of the American Civil War.
1928 – Herbert Hoover
A Republican from Iowa, a talented engineer, and a great businessman defeated his Democrat opponent Al Smith (of New York) during the Presidential campaign of 1928. Yet, Herbert Hoover’s Presidency led America into the years of the Great Depression, which branded him a truly failed a politician.
Hoover received 444 electoral votes, winning in every state apart from six Southern states (Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia and South Carolina) and, surprisingly, with the exception of two North-Eastern states: Massachusetts and Rhode Island. In terms of popular vote, he received the support of more than 21 million Americans.
Of course, he didn’t manage to win the re-election in four years, as the Great Depression was on its deadly way. He lost to legendary American President Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt and became an opponent of his New Deal policies.
1956 – The re-election of Dwight Eisenhower
The Former Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, the architect of Operation Overlord, a big friend of glorious Red Army General Georgy Zhukov, Eisenhower was a hardline and persistent U.S. President in the first years of the Cold War.
He was really popular among Americans, and, as a President, went down in history as a “progressive conservator.” He also continued the New Deal programs of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, expanded Social Security system, took the lead in building the Interstate Highway System, and established NASA. Eisenhower was also the president of the era of prosperity, which the 1950’s surely were for the United States.
No wonder during the re-election campaign back in 1956 he received nine million more votes than his Democratic opponent, Adlai Stevenson, receiving more than 35 million votes in terms of popular vote and 457 electoral votes. The only true drawback of Eisenhower was that his running-mate was Richard Nixon, but that’s a completely different story.
1984 – The re-election of Ronald Reagan
A former Hollywood star and a hardline Republican, Ronald Reagan was famous for being an image of a Washington “war hawk” in terms of foreign policy. Yet, domestically, the Reagan administration implemented a major tax cut, cut non-military spending, and made a huge effort to eliminate a number of federal regulations.
Reagan’s administration developed a supply-side inspired economic policy, also known as “Reaganomics,” which eventually led to the huge growth of the federal debt.
During the re-election campaign of 1984, he smashed his Democratic opponent, Walter Mondale, receiving 525 electoral votes. Mondale managed win only his home state of Minnesota and Washington, D.C.: not very impressive. More than 54 million Americans supported Reagan back in those days in terms of popular vote.
2012 – The re-election of Barack Obama
The first African-American president in U.S. History, whose crooked political decisions still influence American society and the country in general, as well as foreign relations, defeated his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, with 332 electoral votes versus 206 in a very close race, as 60 million Americans supported Romney against 65 million casting their ballots for Obama.
Interesting electoral fact: for the first time in almost 70 years (since FDR’s victory back in 1944), Obama won the re-election campaign with fewer electoral votes received and a lower popular vote percentage than he had during his first presidential campaign, and this says a lot about the true relation of the American people towards Barack Obama’s era.