A Look Back at Close Elections in U.S. History

Jacob Coleman, OwlFeed News Reporter

As 2020 comes to an end we have seen the conclusion of another historic presidential election. Democratic nominee Joe Biden has won this year’s election in a competitive race, but it is important to remember the many close elections that have come before. 

In this article, we will take a look at past elections to see which ones had the American people on the edge of their seats. 

We’ll start with the 1824 election where John Adams and Andrew Jackson competed for the title of the President of the United States. In total there were four candidates running against Adams for president at the time: Andrew Jackson, John C. Calhoun, William Crawford and Henry Clay. 

As the race went on, Calhoun decided to drop out of the race, leaving the other candidates to fight it out. When the elections came to an end, both Adams and Jackson were the top candidates, however, neither had reached the number of electoral votes required, so under the 12th Amendment, it went to the House of Representatives to decide. 

After deliberation and the votes were cast, John Adams won by only one vote.

Next, the 2000 election between Al Gore and George W. Bush is considered one of the closest races in American history. Gore won the popular vote and as the states submitted their votes the electoral count began getting closer and closer. So close that the decision to who would be the President of the United States was given to the Supreme Court. 

According to History.com, “The Gallup tracking poll showed nine lead changes during the fall campaign, with Bush holding a slight lead in the final week of the campaign, and Gore gaining a swing in momentum on Election Day.”

A recount was held in Florida, which became the most important state for this election. In the end, Florida went to Bush and it was declared that George W. Bush was the new President of the United States.

It’s important to reflect on these elections as they are important to our history. A close race means more than just a competitive election. No, it shows how the people of the country feel at that time. 

In 2020 it seems the country is quite divided and it shows how close the election was. History.com says, “Kwame Anthony Appiah, a professor of philosophy at Princeton University, said this kind of division has been rare in the U.S. While the country has faced many periods of intense disagreement and strife, he said, what’s unusual is the current tendency of some Americans to argue that others don’t belong in the country at all.” 

Photo Credit:Ted Eytan via JTA

We live in a country where we can believe whatever we want. We have multiple political parties and each one has many supporters. It is okay to have different ideas and opinions, but we as people should never be divided. 

While researching I noticed how many of the states have changed political views. States like California, which was a red state in the 1988 election according to 270towin.com. It really shows how over time the country has changed and more importantly the people of the United States have changed. 

Our political ideology shouldn’t divide us. These close elections show our division as people and that shouldn’t be what molds us as people. 

We must come together no matter who our president is. Remember we the people have the power to choose who’s in power. We must unite for a better future and break this imaginary divide.