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Free Citizen

This writer espouses individual liberty, free markets, and limited government.

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Location: Jackson, Mississippi, United States

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Southern Political Report Wrong on 1860 Presidential Race

Stephen Douglas was a U. S. senator from Illinois, having defeated Abraham Lincoln in 1858. John C. Breckinridge, a Kentuckian and the incumbent vice president, later served as secretary of war for the Confederacy. John Bell of Tennessee was the candidate of the Constitutional Union Party.

Breckinridge finished second in electoral votes, Bell third, and Douglas fourth. ~~ SR

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From Ballot Access News:

Southern Political Report of November 16 has a story about divisions in the present-day Democratic Party over health care. The article starts by saying, “Most folks don’t know that Democrats won more votes than Abraham Lincoln in the 1860 presidential election. But given that those popular votes were split between Stephen Douglas and John C. Breckinridge, Lincoln was able to take advantage of the division and win the Electoral College even though he had less than 40% of the popular vote.”

That second sentence is not true; Lincoln’s victory did not depend on the fact that the Democrats were split. Even if all the popular votes for both Douglas and Breckinridge had been cast for a single Democratic presidential candidate, Abraham Lincoln still would have won a majority in the Electoral College. Lincoln got a majority of the popular vote in all the states that he carried, except for California and Oregon, which only had 7 electoral votes between them. Back in 1860, a majority in the Electoral College was 152 electoral votes, and Lincoln won 180 electoral votes.

The Democrats in 1860 had been aware that their chances were injured by having two presidential candidates, and they had formed “fusion” slates of presidential elector candidates in some states to counter the effects of their division. There were fusion slates in Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island (some of these fusion slates also included some electors for the Constitutional Union Party candidate, the fourth strong candidate in the race). There was also a Constitutional Union-southern Democratic fusion slate in Texas. None of the fusion anti-Lincoln slates won any electors, except three in New Jersey, all of which went to Douglas. Click here for the Southern Political Report story.

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