The Closest Presidential Races
Presidential races that went to the wire
by David Johnson and Beth Rowen
For the original method of electing the President and the Vice President (elections of 1789, 1792, 1796, and 1800), see Article II, Section 1, of the U.S. Constitution.
From the early days of the 2000 presidential campaign season, it was clear the race would be a tight one between Vice President Al Gore and Texas governor George W. Bush. Few, however, predicted that the contest would not only come down to the wire, but to a single state and a few hundred votes.
Only the 1960 race, in which John F. Kennedy squeaked out victory over Richard M. Nixon by just 0.1 of a percent, was closer. In fact, Kennedy's triumph wasn't official until noon the following day. And in 1976, Jimmy Carter also waited overnight to be declared the winner over Gerald Ford.
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 threw 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.
CLOSE PRESIDENTIAL RACES
|PRESIDENT||ELECTORAL VOTES||POPULAR VOTES|
|Thomas Jefferson (Dem.-Rep.)||73||-|
|Aaron Burr (Dem.-Rep.)||73||-|
|John Adams (Federalist)||65||-|
|Charles C. Pinckney||64||-|
|Rutherford B. Hayes (R)||185||4,033,768|
|Samuel J. Tilden (D)||184||4,285,992|
|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)||266||50,992,335|
|George W. Bush (R)||286||62,028,285|
|John F. Kerry (D)||251||59,028,109|
* As Jefferson and Burr were tied, the House of Representatives chose the president. In a vote by states, 10 votes were cast for Jefferson, 4 for Burr; 2 votes were not cast.