Several former, incumbent, or future presidents have unsuccessfully sought the presidency. Several individuals have unsuccessfully sought the presidency as the candidate of a major party multiple times; only Henry Clay and William Jennings Bryan have done so thrice.[d] Seven different third parties have nominated a candidate who won at least ten percent of the electoral vote or at least ten percent of the popular vote in a single election, and who was not nominated by a major party in that election. Two of those candidates, Theodore Roosevelt and John C. Breckinridge, finished with the second-highest share of the electoral vote. Since 1796, just one independent candidate, Ross Perot, has accrued more than ten percent of the popular or electoral vote. One third party candidate, Horace Greeley of the Liberal Republican Party, was nominated by a major party only after being nominated by a third party.[e]
^There have been 58 unsuccessful major party candidacies by 51 individuals in 55 of the 58 presidential elections. This figure does not include individuals who were affiliated with a major party but were not the primary nominee of that party and only competed in a small fraction of the states that participated in the election.
^Though Washington did not receive serious opposition in the 1792 election, the nascent Democratic-Republican Party attempted to defeat Vice President John Adams's bid for re-election. The Democratic-Republican candidate, George Clinton, finished with 50 electoral votes, but Adams won re-election with 77 electoral votes.
^The Federalist Party did not nominate a presidential candidate and essentially conceded the 1820 presidential election before it was held. Monroe did not face any opposition in the election, although one presidential elector, William Plumer, cast his vote for John Quincy Adams.
^Additionally, George Clinton, Aaron Burr, and Charles Cotesworth Pinckney each received electoral votes for president in three elections that they did not win. However, each of those candidates was their party's actual or de facto vice presidential nominee in at least one of those elections.
^Other third parties, such as the Populist Party, have nominated individuals who had previously been nominated for president by a major party.
^ abThe most recent elective office, or senior appointive position, held by the candidate when the presidential election was held.
^This column reflects the share of the total presidential electoral vote won by the losing candidate. Prior to the ratification of the Twelfth Amendment in 1804, each member of the Electoral College cast two votes, with no distinction made between electoral votes for president and electoral votes for vice president. For the elections of 1796 and 1800, the number in this column reflects the share of presidential electors who cast one of their two votes for Jefferson (in 1796) or Adams (in 1800).
^ abPrior to the ratification of the Twelfth Amendment in 1804, each member of the Electoral College cast two votes, with no distinction made between votes for president and votes for vice president. The Democratic-Republicans may or may not have officially nominated Jefferson for president through a congressional nominating caucus, but Jefferson was widely regarded as the party's main presidential candidate in the 1796 election. The Democratic-Republicans did not select an official vice presidential candidate. Aaron Burr finished with the second-most electoral votes among individuals affiliated with the party. Because Jefferson won more electoral votes than the second Federalist candidate, Thomas Pinckney, he was elected as vice president.
^Prior to the ratification of the Twelfth Amendment in 1804, each member of the Electoral College cast two votes, with no distinction made between votes for president and votes for vice president. Thomas Jefferson and the other main Democratic-Republican candidate, Aaron Burr, each won the votes of 73 presidential electors, more than either of the Federalist candidates. Because Jefferson and Burr tied in the electoral vote, the election was decided by a contingent election held in the House of Representatives; Jefferson was elected president and Burr became vice president.
^Prior to the ratification of the Twelfth Amendment in 1804, each member of the Electoral College cast two votes, with no distinction made between votes for president and votes for vice president. The Federalist congressional nominating caucus nominated a ticket of Adams and Charles C. Pinckney. Though the party did not officially nominate either candidate for president or vice president, most Federalists favored Adams for president and Pinckney for vice president. Adams won 65 electoral votes and Pinckney won 64 electoral votes.
^Clinton was a Northern Democratic-Republican who challenged the incumbent Democratic-Republican president, James Madison, in the general election. Clinton was nominated for president by a legislative caucus of New York Democratic-Republicans, and much of his support came from Democratic-Republicans dissatisfied with Madison's leadership in the War of 1812. The Federalist Party did not officially nominate Clinton, but most Federalist leaders tacitly supported Clinton's candidacy in hopes of defeating Madison.
^The Federalists did not nominate a ticket in 1816, though some Federalists were elected to serve as presidential electors. A majority of the Federalist electors cast their presidential vote for King and their vice presidential vote for Howard.
^The Democratic-Republican Party was unable to unite behind a single candidate in 1824. Four Democratic-Republicans received electoral votes in the general election, and, as no candidate won a majority of the electoral vote, the election was decided in a contingent election held in the House of Representatives. John Quincy Adams won that contingent election.
^ abcIn the election 1824, no presidential candidate won a majority of the electoral vote for president, but John C. Calhoun won a majority of the electoral vote for vice president, and thus was elected vice president. Most presidential electors who voted for either Adams or Jackson for president voted for Calhoun for vice president. Similarly, most electors who cast their presidential vote for Clay cast their vice presidential vote for Nathaniel Macon, and most electors who cast their presidential vote for Crawford cast their vice presidential vote for Sanford.
^The Whigs did not unite around a single candidate in 1836, but the party ran only one presidential candidate per state. 25 states held a popular vote in the 1836 election; Harrison was the Whig candidate in fifteen states, most of which were in the North, White was the Whig candidate in nine states, all of which were in the South, and Daniel Webster was the Whig candidate in Massachusetts. Harrison and White each received electoral votes from multiple states, while Webster and Willie Person Mangum each received electoral votes from a single state (Massachusetts and South Carolina, respectively). In total, the Whigs won 49.1 percent of the popular vote and 41.8 percent of the electoral vote.
^ abThe Whigs did not select an official vice presidential nominee, and, as in the presidential race, two vice presidential contenders emerged. In most Northern states, the Whigs fielded a ticket of Harrison and Granger, and in most Southern states, the Whigs fielded a ticket of White and Tyler. Granger, Tyler, and two Democrats, Richard Mentor Johnson and William Smith, each won a share of the electoral vote. Because no one candidate won a majority of the electoral vote for vice president, the Senate held a contingent election to select the vice president. In the only contingent election that the Senate has ever held, Johnson defeated Granger.
^The 1840 Democratic National Convention denied renomination to Vice President Richard Mentor Johnson, and the Democrats failed to officially nominate a vice presidential candidate in 1840. Nonetheless, 48 of the 60 presidential electors who cast their presidential vote for Van Buren cast their vice presidential vote for Johnson. Most of the remaining Van Buren electors cast their vice presidential vote for Littleton Waller Tazewell.
^ abAfter the collapse of the Whig Party in the mid-1850s, the Republican Party and the American Party (the political organization of the Know Nothing movement) emerged as the major challengers to the Democratic Party. By 1856, neither the Republican Party nor the American Party had truly supplanted the Whig Party as the second major political party in the United States. Nonetheless, the American Party is frequently described as a third party. In 1856, the American Party, along with a rump convention of Whigs, nominated a presidential ticket led by former President Millard Fillmore. After the 1856 election, the Republican Party firmly established itself as one of the two major parties alongside the Democratic Party, while the American Party collapsed.
^Greeley had served in the House of Representatives from December 1848 to March 1849. He was primarily known for his role as editor of the New-York Tribune.
^Greeley died after election day but before the Electoral College cast its votes, and thus did not receive any electoral votes. Greeley would have won 66 electoral votes (18.8% of the 352 electoral votes available) had he been alive when the Electoral College cast its votes. Most of the electoral votes that he would have received had he lived instead went to Democrat Thomas A. Hendricks.
^ abIn 1896, after Bryan won the Democratic presidential nomination, he was also nominated by the Populist Party, a major third party. The Populist vice presidential nominee was Thomas E. Watson. Bryan's running mate on the Democratic ticket, Arthur Sewall, won 149 electoral votes for vice president, while Watson won 27 electoral votes for vice president.
^ abAfter Taft defeated Theodore Roosevelt for the presidential nomination at the 1912 Republican National Convention, supporters of Roosevelt established the Progressive Party, a third party dedicated to progressive ideals. In the 1912 election, Democratic nominee Woodrow Wilson won a plurality of the popular vote and a majority of the electoral vote. Roosevelt won the second highest share of electoral votes and popular votes, while Taft finished in third place in both categories. Roosevelt is the only third-party candidate ever to win the second-most popular votes in a presidential election.
^Sherman died on October 30, 1912, and Taft did not name another running mate before the 1912 election was held. After the election, the Republican National Committee designated Nicholas Murray Butler as Taft's running mate for the purposes of the electoral vote, and Butler received eight electoral votes.
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