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Presidential Election Facts

With more than two centuries’ worth of U.S. presidential elections, the historical ledger is filled with an array of facts. For example, when Donald Trump was named the 45th president, he was really only the 44th president because Grover Cleveland is counted twice. And with Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution stating that a citizen has to be at least 35 years old to become president, John F. Kennedy came the closest to that limit by earning election at age 43. Learn about the only bachelor to be elected president, the four candidates to have won the popular vote and lost the election and more.

The 2000 and 2016 elections were not the only times a candidate won the popular vote but lost the election. It has happened five times in our nation’s history:

  • In 1824 Andrew Jackson won the popular vote but got less than 50 percent of the electoral votes. John Quincy Adams became the next president when he was picked by the House of Representatives.
  • In 1876 Samuel Tilden won the popular vote but lost the election when Rutherford B. Hayes got 185 electoral votes to Tilden’s 184.
  • In 1888 Grover Cleveland won the popular vote but lost the election when Benjamin Harrison got 233 electoral votes to Cleveland’s 168.
  • In 2000 Al Gore won the popular vote but lost the election to George Bush. In the most highly contested election in modern history, the U.S. Supreme Court stopped the Florida recount of ballots, giving Bush the state’s 25 electoral votes for a total of 271 to Gore’s 255.
  • In 2016 Hillary Clinton won 48.2 percent of the total popular vote to Donald Trump's 46.1 percent, but lost the election to Trump. Trump won 306 electoral votes to Clinton's 232.

Grover Cleveland was elected president (1884) then lost his re-election campaign (1888) and came back again to win the presidency for a second time. (1892)

Donald Trump is the nation’s 45th president but in reality there have only been 44 presidents. Grover Cleveland is counted twice as our 22nd and 24th president because he was elected for two nonconsecutive terms.

Only 13 U.S. Presidents have been elected to office for two terms and served those two terms. The longest-serving President was Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was elected to office for four terms prior to the Twenty-second Amendment.

Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution has only three requirements for a president. (1) Must be at least 35 years old, (2) have lived in the United States at least 14 years, and (3) be a natural-born citizen.

READ MORE: How the First 10 U.S. Presidents Helped Shape the Role of the Nation's Top Office

John F. Kennedy is the youngest elected U.S. President at 43. He is also the first Catholic President. Ronald Reagan is the oldest elected U.S. President at 73 (second term).

The only President and Vice President to never be elected to the office was Gerald Ford. He became vice president when Spiro Agnew resigned and became president when Nixon resigned.

The tallest U.S. President was Abraham Lincoln at 6’4.″ The shortest U.S. President was James Madison at 5’4.″

Percent-wise, the 1992 election had the biggest turnout since 1972 with 61.3 percent off the voting age population heading to the polls.

James Buchanan is the only bachelor to be elected president.

Eight presidents have died in office:

  • William Henry Harrison (pneumonia)
  • Zachary Taylor (gastroenteritis)
  • Abraham Lincoln (assassin)
  • James Garfield (assassin)
  • William McKinley (assassin)
  • Warren Harding (heart attack)
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt (cerebral hemorrhage)
  • John F. Kennedy (assassin)

Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump are the only divorced men to be elected president.

James Monroe received every electoral vote but one in the 1820 election. A New Hampshire delegate wanted George Washington to be the only president elected unanimously.

The U.S. Marine band has played at every presidential inauguration since 1801.

President John Tyler is believed to be the first to use “Hail to the Chief” as the official Presidential honors.

President Bill Clinton was born William Jefferson Blythe but took his stepfather’s last name when his mother remarried. He formally changed his name to William Jefferson Clinton when he was 15.

Victoria Woodhull became the first woman to run for President in 1872.

Hillary Clinton became the first woman to be nominated for president by a major party ticket in 2016.

Jeanette Rankin of Montana became the first woman elected to Congress in 1916.

John Mercer Langston became the first elected black politician in the United States in 1855 when he was elected Town Clerk in Brownhelm, Ohio.

President Barack Obama was the first African-American President.

Twelve of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were 35 years old or younger.

Martin Van Buren was the first natural-born American to become president in 1837. Each of the seven previous presidents were born as British subjects. 

Article II, Section 1, of the Constitution states; Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:

“I do solemnly swear [or affirm] that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

How Does the Presidential Election Work?

When Americans vote for President and Vice President of the United States, they are actually voting for presidential electors in the Electoral College. According to the Constitution, each state is assigned a number of electors equal to the combined total of the state’s Senate and House of Representatives delegations. Today, there are 538 electors. The number of electors per state ranges from three (District of Columbia) to 55 (California). To be elected President of the United States, a candidate needs a majority of 270 electoral votes.


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