Home 2016 elections My 0-10 Rankings of U.S. Presidential Elections’ Legitimacy (or Not)

My 0-10 Rankings of U.S. Presidential Elections’ Legitimacy (or Not)


Here’s my subjective ranking of the legitimacy of U.S. presidential elections since 1932 on a scale of 0 (not legitimate at all) to 10 (no question whatsoever about election’s legitimacy). Note that this is not biased, as I give most Republican winners very high legitimacy scores (e.g., Reagan gets two 10s) and JFK gets a very low legitimacy score. As for Trump…well, check out my rankings and see! 🙂

1932: FDR by 7 million votes (23m-16m) in the popular vote, 472-59 EVs. This one gets a 10 — absolutely legitimate landslide for FDR!

1936: Even BIGGER landslide for FDR, 11m in popular vote and 523-8 EVS. Again, a perfect 10

1940: A 5-million vote win for FDR, 449-83 EVS. The only possible issue with “legitimacy” is FDR’s run for a third term, but that was legal back then, so I’d give this one a 9 or 10.

1944: Now this one was more controversial, as FDR ran for a FOURTH term (which, again, was legal/constitutional at the time, although certainly breaking with historical precedent big time). FDR also won by his smallest margin ever (3.5m popular votes, 432-99 EVs). So…I’d give this one a slightly lower legitimacy rating, at 8 or so.

1948: Harry Truman won by just over 2m votes, 303-188 EVs. So…relatively close but still perfectly legitimate. I’d give this one a 9 or 10.

1952 and 1956: Two blowouts for Dwight “I Like Ike” Eisenhower. He gets a 10 for each.

1960: JFK by just 100k votes over Richard Nixon, and with highly likely shenanigans in LBJ’s TX and in Chicago means this one gets low legitimacy. I’d say 2-3; this one was almost certainly corrupted.

1964: Massive landslide by LBJ over Barry “In Your Guts You Know He’s Nuts” Goldwater. This one gets a 10.

1968: Nixon by just 500k over Hubert Humphrey, 301-191 EVs for Nixon. Now, this one was one of the most insane, horrible, tumultuous years in U.S. history. Also, go knows what games Nixon and company were playing re: Vietnam (see Yes, Nixon Scuttled the Vietnam Peace Talks So…this one’s very hard to judge, depending on what Nixon and Company really did. Could go anywhere from very low (1-2?) to decent (7 or so?).

1972: Massive landslide by Nixon over McGovern, but this one will always be tainted by Watergate, which basically delegitimizes Nixon in the eyes of history. So…at the time, maybe Nixon got a 10, but in hindsight, much much lower….maybe a 3 or so.

1976: A very slim victory by Jimmy Carter over Gerald Ford, but no reason to question the legitimacy of the election as far as I’m aware. I’d give this one an 8-9 given how close it was.

1980 and 1984: Both Reagan landslides get a 10 for legitimacy. No doubt about these two.

1988: Absolutely sleazy, racist campaign by George HW Bush, one he never should be forgiven for. However, the results (a 7m vote win for Bush) were totally legitimate, so give this one a 10.

1992 and 1996: Big (5m and 8m vote) victories for Clinton, with no sign that Ross Perot had a disproportionate impact one way or the other. So…10s for both.

2000: Al Gore won the popular vote and almost certainly would have won Florida – and the Electoral College – if the recount had been allowed to proceed. This Bush victory gets close to a ZERO in terms of legitimacy. One of the most disgraceful election results in U.S. history, with a disastrous outcome as well (one of the worst presidencies ever). Utter debacle.

2004: Bush won this one by 3m votes, MUCH closer in the Electoral College (286-251) although only after a disgusting “Swift Boat” campaign against John Kerry. Still, the actual election appears to have been perfectly legitimate. I’d give this one a 7-8 I guess.

2008: Landslide for Barack Obama, give this one a 10 no doubt about it.

2012: Another big victory for Barack Obama, again he gets a 10.

2016: This one gets a huge ZERO, worst election in US history in terms of…well, everything, including legitimacy (or lack thereof in this case). Bottom line: Russia interfered big time, the FBI interfered big time, the media was a f***ing distrace, Trump lost the popular vote by around 2.8 MILLLION, etc, etc. Totally illegitimate.

  • Quizzical

    There was a least a question raised whether something fishy happened to prolong the Iranian hostage crisis prior to the 1980 election.
    But Bill Casey knew how to keep secrets, so we will never know.