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Lloyd Sealy Library
John Jay College of Criminal Justice

U.S. Elections 1972-2020: Elections

Guide for Library Research on US Elections from 1972-2020

US Elections 1972-2020

This page lists the various US presidental elections from 1972 onward. Included are the two main candidates who ran for their respective parties and who won the election for that year.

1972 Nixon vs Mcgovern

1972 Nixon vs Mcgovern

In the 1972 presidential election, incumbent Republican President Richard M. Nixon faced off against Democratic challenger George Mcgovern. Nixon won the election in a landslide, capturing 49 states including Mcgovern's home state of South Dakota. Mcgovern won only Massachucetts and the District of Columbia.

1976 Ford vs Carter

1976 Ford vs Carter

In the 1976 presidential election, incumbent Republican President Gerald Ford, who had replaced President Richard Nixon following his resignation in 1974, faced off against Democratic challenger Jimmy Carter. The poor economic situation and major political events such as pardoning Nixon and the defeat of South Vietnam by the communists hobbled Ford's candidacy. Carter won the election and became the only Democratic presidential candidate since Lyndon Johnson to win all the states in the American South.

1980 Carter vs Reagan

1980 Carter vs Reagan

In the 1980 presidential election, incumbent Democratic President Jimmy Carter faced off against Republican challenger Ronald Reagan. Carter's incompetent presidency known historically as a period of "malaise" and which included terrible economic news and abysmal foreign relations including the Iran hostage crisis helped to usher in a landslide victory for Reagan who won 44 states.

1984 Reagan vs Mondale

1984 Reagan vs Mondale

In the 1984 presidential election, incumbent Republican President Ronald Reagan faced off against Democratic challenger Walter Mondale. Reagan won the election in a landslide, capturing 49 states. Mondale won only his home state of Minnesota and the District of Columbia.

1988 Bush vs Dukakis

1988 Bush vs Dukakis

In the 1988 presidential election, Republican candidate George H.W. Bush faced off against Democratic challenger Michael Dukakis. Bush won the election, capturing 40 states in a win that was widely seen as being more of a third term for Reagan who was ineligible to run again due to the 22nd amendment of the Constitution. Bush became the first sitting vice president to be elected President since Martin Van Buren in 1836.

1992 Bush vs Clinton

1992 Bush vs Clinton

In the 1992 presidential election, incumbent Republican President George H.W. Bush  faced off against Democratic challenger Bill Clinton. Also a major factor in the election was Independent candidate Ross Perot who ultimately won 18% of the voters. Clinton won the election, capturing 43% of the vote in comparison to Bush's winning 37%. 

1996 Clinton vs Dole

1996 Clinton vs Dole

In the 1996 presidential election, incumbent Democratic President Bill Clinton faced off against Republican challenger Bob Dole. Also a major factor in the election was Reform party candidate Ross Perot who ultimately won 8% of the voters. Clinton won the election, becoming the first Democrat since FDR to win two presidential elections back to back. Turnout for this election was the lowest for a presidential election since 1924.

2000 Bush vs Gore

2000 Bush vs Gore

In the 2000 presidential election, Democratic candidate and sitting vice President Al Gore faced off against Republican challenger George W. Bush. This election was considered controversial due to the fact that on election night it was unclear who had won due to massive incompetence in counting votes in Florida. The vote in that state was so close that a recount had to be done which lead to a series of lawsuits. Ultimately after a month of chaos the Supreme Court ended the recount. Bush won Florida by 537 votes and thus won enough votes in the electoral college to become President.

2004 Bush vs Kerry

2004 Bush vs Kerry

In the 2004 presidential election, incumbent Republican President George W. Bush faced off against Democratic challenger John Kerry. Bush won the election with 50.7% of the popular vote and a majority of 286 electoral votes.

2008 Obama vs McCain

2008 Obama vs McCain

In the 2008 presidential election, Republican candidate John Mccain faced off against Democratic candidate Barack Obama. Obama won the election decisively with a sizeable amount of the popular vote and a very large majority of the electoral college. Obama was the first African-American to be elected president.

2012 Obama vs Romney

2012 Obama vs Romney

In the 2012 presidential election, incumbent Democratic President Barack Obama faced off against Republican challenger Mitt Romney. Obama won the election by 51%, defeating a half-hearted Romney campaign which ended up only winning 47%  of the electorate in comparison.

2016 Trump vs Clinton

2016 Trump vs Clinton

In the 2016 presidential election, Republican candidate Donald J. Trump  faced off against Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton. In the run-up to the election Hillary Clinton led in most election polls but those polls did not hold up as she wound up losing the election to Trump. His election was considered by some to be one of the greater political upsets in US electoral history, comparable to Truman's reelection in 1948.

2020 Trump vs Biden

In the 2020 presidential election, Republican incumbent President Donald J. Trump ran against Democratic challenger Joe Biden. In January 2021 Joe Biden was inaugurated 46th President of the United States.