The Closest Presidential Races
Although the 2000 presidential race was extremely close, there have been others that were also too close to call immediately after the election. Indeed, the results of the Nov. 7 election in 1876 were not known until March 2, 1877, just three days before the inauguration. More recently, John F. Kennedy's defeat of Richard M. Nixon in 1960 wasn't official until noon the following day.
Election of 1876
Samuel J. Tilden, the Democratic candidate, received a popular majority but lacked one undisputed electoral vote to carry a clear majority of the electoral college.
The crux of the problem was in the 22 electoral votes which were in dispute because Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Oregon each sent in two sets of election returns.
In the three southern states, Republican election boards had thrown out enough Democratic votes to certify the Republican candidate, Rutherford B. Hayes. In Oregon, the Democratic governor disqualified a Republican elector, replacing him with a Democrat. Since the Senate was Republican and the House of Representatives Democratic, it seemed useless to refer the disputed returns to the two houses for solution.
Instead Congress appointed an Electoral Commission with five representatives each from the Senate, the House, and the Supreme Court. All but one justice was named, giving the Commission seven Republican and seven Democratic members. The naming of the fifth justice was left to the other four. The fifth justice was a Republican who first favored Tilden but, under pressure from his party, switched to Hayes, ensuring his election by the Commission voting 8 to 7 on party lines.
The Democrats in Congress were outraged and threatened to block the decision until Republicans privately agreed to a number of concessions, including the removal of federal troops from the South, which effectively ended Reconstruction. As a result, Hayes was elected president, in what became known as the Compromise of 1877.
|Thomas Jefferson (Dem.-Rep.)||73||—|
|Aaron Burr (Dem.-Rep.)||73||—|
|John Adams (Federalist)||65||—|
|Charles C. Pinckney (Federalist)||64||—|
|John Jay (Federalist)||1||—|
|John Quincy Adams (no party)||84||—|
|Andrew Jackson (no party)||99||—|
|William H. Crawford (no party)||41||—|
|Henry Clay (no party)||37||—|
|Rutherford B. Hayes (R)||185||4,033,768|
|Samuel J. Tilden (D)||184||4,285,992|
|James A. Garfield (R)||214||4,449,053|
|Winfield S. Hancock (D)||155||4,442,035|
|Woodrow Wilson (D)||277||9,129,606|
|Charles E. Hughes (R)||254||8,538,221|
|John F. Kennedy (D)||303||34,226,731|
|Richard M. Nixon (R)||219||34,108,157|
|Richard M. Nixon (R)||301||31,785,480|
|Hubert H. Humphrey (D)||191||31,275,166|
|George C. Wallace (American Independent)||46||9,906,473|
|Jimmy Carter (D)||297||40,830,763|
|Gerald R. Ford (R)||240||39,147,973|
|George W. Bush (R)||271||50,455,156|
|Albert A. Gore (D)||2663||50,992,335|
|Presidential Election of 1996, Electoral and Popular Vote Summary||U.S. Elections||Who Can Vote and Who Can Be Elected|