Sunday, March 02, 2008

1860 Election Lincoln Beat All Three Opponents

See a very interesting letter to the editor in March 1, 2008 Wall Street Journal. See It contains information that I never realized.

Consider the Third Party 'Spoilers' in 1860 Election
"In his review of "Gaming the Vote" by William Poundstone, Daniel Casse illustrates the effect of third parties on election results by referring to the victory of Abraham Lincoln in the 1860 presidential election ("Figuring Out the Will of the People," Bookshelf, Feb. 28). Noting that the "lesser known" candidates got more than 30% of the popular vote, Mr. Casse states that, "Without them, historians believe, [Sen. Stephen A.] Douglas would have defeated [Mr.] Lincoln."

"In 1860, Mr. Lincoln carried the 15 northern states and the two Pacific coast states (California and Oregon) that represented a total of 180 electoral votes. Sen. Douglas and the other candidates carried the remaining 15 states that represented a total of 123 electoral votes. Mr. Lincoln won each of the northern states by a clear majority in the popular vote ranging from 50.7% in Illinois to 75.7% in Vermont. He won California and Oregon by pluralities of 32.2% and 36.1%, respectively. Assuming that a historical vote for Mr. Lincoln would remain a vote for Mr. Lincoln and a historical vote for Sen. Douglas would remain a vote for Mr. Douglas, and assuming further (contrary to reasonable expectations) that all the votes not cast for Mr. Lincoln were gained by Sen. Douglas, Mr. Lincoln would have lost California and Oregon, which represented a total of seven electoral votes, but he still would have carried the 15 northern states, and he would have won the election with an electoral vote of 173 to 130.

Acknowledging that a different set of historical conditions could have led to a different historical result, the historical evidence suggests that Mr. Lincoln's election victory in 1860 was robust."

Gil Hahn Wilmington, Del.

See to confirm that Gil is correct, except that Lincoln received 48.1% of New Jersey’s vote with the electoral votes split with Lincoln getting 4 and Douglas 3.

Lincoln did pretty well considering that he was not on ten state ballots, of the fifteen states that he lost. Lincoln received 39.8% of the total vote which compares pretty well to the 43.0% President Bill Clinton received being elected in 1992 (when Ross Perot ran as a third party), and to the 41.8% President Woodrow Wilson received in 1912 (when Bull Moose Teddy Roosevelt ran as a third party).

In addition to the New Jersey 3 electoral votes, Senator Stephen A. Douglas only carried Missouri with 35.5% of the votes getting their 9 electoral votes for a total of 12 electoral votes.


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