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U.S. presidential election

The United States presidential elections determine who becomes the President of the United States of America.

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How elections are administered

The election of the United States President is governed by Section 1 of Article Two of the United States Constitution, as amended by Amendment Twelve.

The President and Vice President are elected on the same ticket by the U.S. Electoral College, whose members are elected directly from each state; the President and Vice President serve four-year terms.

Elections take place every four years on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. The last election was held on November 7, 2000. See U.S. presidential election, 2000.

The next election will take place on November 2, 2004.


Election year President Major Opponent(s)*
1789George Washington(not opposed)
1792George Washington(not opposed)
1796John Adams (Federalist)Thomas Jefferson (Democratic-Republican)
1800Thomas Jefferson (Democratic-Republican)John Adams (Federalist)
1804Thomas Jefferson (Democratic-Republican)Charles C. Pinckney[?] (Federalist)
1808James Madison (Democratic-Republican)Charles C. Pinckney[?] (Federalist)
1812James Madison (Democratic-Republican)DeWitt Clinton (Federalist/Peace)
1816James Monroe (Democratic-Republican)Rufus King (Federalist)
1820James Monroe (Democratic-Republican)(not opposed)
1824John Quincy Adams† (Democratic-Republican)Andrew Jackson (Democratic-Republican)
William H. Crawford[?] (Democratic-Republican)
Henry Clay (Democratic-Republican)
1828Andrew Jackson (Democrat)John Quincy Adams (National Republican[?])
1832Andrew Jackson (Democrat)Henry Clay (National Republican[?])
William Wirt[?] (Anti-Masonic)
John Floyd[?] (Nullifiers[?])
1836Martin Van Buren (Democrat)William Henry Harrison (Whig)
Hugh L. White (Whig)
Daniel Webster (Whig)
Willie P. Mangum[?] (A Whig, but votes received from Nullifiers[?])
1840William Henry Harrison (Whig)Martin Van Buren (Democrat)
James G. Birney[?] (Liberty Party[?])
1844James K. Polk† (Democrat)Henry Clay (Whig)
James G. Birney[?] (Liberty Party[?])
1848Zachary Taylor (Whig)Lewis Cass (Democrat)
Martin Van Buren (Free Soil Party)
1852Franklin Pierce (Democratic)Winfield Scott (Whig)
John P. Hale[?] (Free Soil Party)
1856James Buchanan† (Democratic)John C. Fremont (Republican)
Millard Fillmore (American Party/Whig)
1860Abraham Lincoln† (Republican)Stephen A. Douglas (Democrat (northern))
John C. Breckinridge (Democrat (southern))
John Bell[?] (Constitutional Union (Whig))
1864Abraham Lincoln (Republican)George McClellan (Democrat)
1868Ulysses S. Grant (Republican)Horatio Seymour (Democrat)
1872Ulysses S. Grant (Republican)Horace Greeley (Democrat/Liberal Republican)
Thomas A. Hendricks (Independent Democrat)
1876Rutherford B. Hayes† (Republican)Samuel J. Tilden (Democrat)
1880James Garfield† (Republican)Winfield S. Hancock (Democrat)
James B. Weaver (Greenback-Labor Party)
1884Grover Cleveland† (Democrat)James G. Blaine (Republican)
1888Benjamin Harrison† (Republican)Grover Cleveland (Democrat)
Clinton B. Fisk[?] (Prohibition[?])
1892Grover Cleveland† (Democrat)Benjamin Harrison (Republican)
James B. Weaver (Populist Party)
James Bidwell[?] (Prohibition[?])
1896William McKinley (Republican)William Jennings Bryan (Democrat/Populist Party)
1900William McKinley (Republican)William Jennings Bryan (Democrat)
John G. Woolley[?] (Prohibition[?])
Eugene V. Debs (Socialist[?])
1904Theodore Roosevelt (Republican)Alton B. Parker (Democrat)
Eugene V. Debs (Socialist[?])
Silas C. Swallow[?] (Prohibition[?])
1908William Howard Taft (Republican)William Jennings Bryan (Democrat)
Eugene V. Debs (Socialist[?])
Eugene W. Chafin[?] (Prohibition[?])
1912Woodrow Wilson† (Democrat)Theodore Roosevelt (Progressive)
William Howard Taft (Republican)
Eugene V. Debs (Socialist[?])
Eugene W. Chafin[?] (Prohibition[?])
1916Woodrow Wilson† (Democrat)Charles Evans Hughes (Republican)
Allan L. Benson[?] (Socialist[?])
Frank Hanly[?] (Prohibition[?])
1920Warren G. Harding (Republican)James M. Cox (Democrat)
Eugene V. Debs (Socialist[?])
1924Calvin Coolidge (Republican)John W. Davis (Democrat)
Robert M. La Follette[?] (Progressive/Socialist)
1928Herbert Hoover (Republican)Alfred E. Smith (Democrat)
1932Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Democrat)Herbert Hoover (Republican)
Norman Thomas (Socialist)
1936Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Democrat)Alfred M. Landon (Republican)
William Frederick Lemke[?] (Union[?])
1940Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Democrat)Wendell Willkie (Republican)
1944Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Democrat)Thomas Dewey (Republican)
1948Harry S. Truman† (Democrat)Thomas Dewey (Republican)
J. Strom Thurmond (States' Rights Democratic)
Henry Wallace (Progressive)
1952Dwight Eisenhower (Republican)Adlai Stevenson (Democrat)
1956Dwight Eisenhower (Republican)Adlai Stevenson (Democrat)
1960John F. Kennedy† (Democrat)Richard Nixon (Republican)
1964Lyndon Johnson (Democrat)Barry Goldwater (Republican)
1968Richard Nixon† (Republican)Hubert H. Humphrey (Democrat)
George Wallace (American Independent[?])
1972Richard Nixon (Republican)George McGovern (Democrat)
1976Jimmy Carter (Democrat)Gerald Ford (Republican)
1980Ronald Reagan (Republican)Jimmy Carter (Democrat)
John Anderson (Independent)
1984Ronald Reagan (Republican)Walter Mondale (Democrat)
1988George H. W. Bush (Republican)Michael Dukakis (Democrat)
1992Bill Clinton† (Democrat)George H. W. Bush (Republican)
Ross Perot (Independent)
1996Bill Clinton† (Democrat)Bob Dole (Republican)
Ross Perot (Reform)
2000George W. Bush† (Republican)Al Gore (Democrat)
Ralph Nader (Green)
2004Next election: November 2, 2004

† Denotes a minority President—one receiving less than 50% of all popular votes. This is typically an indication of a particularly strong third-party candidate or an extremely close election.

* "Major Opponent" is defined as a candidate receiving greater than 1% of the total popular vote for elections including and after 1824, or greater than 5 electoral votes for elections including and before 1820. (This column may not be complete).

Voter turnout

Voter turnout in Presidential elections has been on the decline in recent years, although it bounced back slightly during the 2000 election from 1996's lows. While turnout has been decreasing, registration has been increasing. Registration rates varied from 65% to 70% of the voting age population from the 1960s to the 1980s, and due in part to greater government outreach programs, registration swelled to 75% in 1996 and 2000. Despite greater registration, however, turnout has not greatly improved.

Year Voting Age Population † Turnout % Turnout of VAP
2000 205,815,000 105,586,274 51.30%
1996 196,511,000 96,456,345 49.08%
1992 189,529,000 104,405,155 55.09%
1988 182,778,000 91,594,693 50.11%
1984 174,466,000 92,652,680 53.11%
1980 164,597,000 86,515,221 52.56%
1976 152,309,190 81,555,789 53.55%
1972 140,776,000 77,718,554 55.21%
1968 120,328,186 73,211,875 60.84%
1964 114,090,000 70,644,592 61.92%
1960 109,159,000 68,838,204 63.06%

Source: Federal Election Commission (http://www.fec.gov/pages/htmlto5.htm)

†It should be noted that the voting age population includes all persons over the age of 18 as reported by the Census Bureau, which necessarily includes a significant number of persons ineligible to vote, such as non-citizens or felons. The actual number of eligible voters is somewhat lower. The number of non-citizens in 1994 was approximately 13 million, and in 1996, felons numbered around 1.3 million, so it can be estimated that around 7-10% of the voting age population is ineligible to vote.

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