Click here for COVID-19 updates affecting the campus community

COLUMN: The 2016 election cycle was not the wildest in American history


mitchellmug

For many young voters, the Nov. 8 elections signaled the end of what’s been called the most controversial presidential race in the country’s history.

It’s safe to say the Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton campaign cycle will stick in everyone’s minds for a long time. The question has to be asked: Has the 2016 election really been crazier than all 57 election cycles before it?

As it turns out, this election has been just another in to a long line of wild campaigns for the White House.

1860: Lincoln v. Douglas

Trump's racist rhetoric has hung over this campaign since the beginning -- so much so that some are calling this the most racially-divisive election since Abraham Lincoln became president after the election of 1860. 

After a number of controversies under Democratic incumbent James Buchanan, the United States' fledgling political parties began to fracture, the election cycle saw four candidates facing off: Republican nominee Abraham Lincoln, northern Democratic Stephen Douglas, southern Democrat John Breckinridge and Constitutional Union nominee John Bell.

Lincoln's anti-slavery position was so unpopular in some parts of the country that he wasn't even listed on many Southern ballots. Though he only managed to get 40 percent of the popular vote, Lincoln snagged enough electoral votes in the North to win the nomination.

So, whenever you hear someone today say they might move to Canada if their nominee doesn't win this election, just remember Lincoln's nomination was so controversial that it immediately started a Civil War.

1912: Wilson vs. Taft (vs. Roosevelt)

If third party candidates like Gary Johnson or Jill Stein had been taken a bit more seriously during this election cycle, America could have seen a repeat of the final result of the Election of 1912.

Though Democrat Woodrow Wilson eventually took the White House after the dust had settled, throughout the campaign most eyes were on the feud between republican nominee William Taft and former president Theodore Roosevelt, who was now running for the Progressive Party.

Taft and Roosevelt were close friends before the election, but political differences had turned them into bitter enemies. If Trump calling Clinton a “nasty woman” sparked so much controversy, imagine if social media had been around for all of Roosevelt’s jabs on Taft’s infamous weight problems.

Even though Wilson ended up getting only 44 percent of the popular vote, he was still ahead of all of his opponents, as the republican vote was split between Taft and Roosevelt.

2000: Bush vs. Gore

For many older voters, Trump’s comments about only accepting the election results if he wins can conjure up some bad memories of the controversy surrounding the 2000 election.

In one of the closest presidential elections in U.S. history, George W. Bush won the electoral vote with 271 to Al Gore’s 266. However, Gore beat Bush when it came to the popular vote with 48.4 percent to Bush’s 47.9 percent.

Much of the final decision came down to the swing state of Florida, where several recounts of votes took place before the results had to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. Their decision ultimately resulted in George W. Bush becoming the 43rd President of the United States.

Though Gore did eventually concede and accept Bush's victory, the scandal still serves as a reminder of a number of important aspects of the election process, including the disconnect between the popular vote and the Electoral College or how other branches of government have an effect on who becomes president.

Share: