Many Presidents have been re-elected. A lesser number of Vice Presidents have been re-elected. Two Vice Presidents were re-elected even though their Presidents were not. Vice President George Clinton (no relation to our recent President) was elected Vice President in 1804, and served during Thomas Jefferson’s second term. He was then elected in 1808 as James Madison’s Vice President. John Calhoun was John Quincy Adams’ Vice President from 1825-1829. In 1828, he ran on the ticket opposing John Quincy Adams’ re-election and, after winning the election, served as Andrew Jackson’s Vice President from 1829-1832.
But throughout our history, few President and Vice President teams have been re-elected. In fact, it has only happened eight times in fifty-four elections. The first was in 1792, when the ticket of George Washington and John Adams was elected for a second term. John Adams went on to be elected President in 1796.
In 1820, President James Monroe and Vice President Daniel Tompkins were elected for a second term. This was no surprise, as the Federalist Party had died out as a national party, and Monroe and Tompkins had no opposition and carried every state. In this election, one New Hampshire elector pledged to Monroe and Tompkins voted for Secretary of State John Quincy Adams instead, not wanting anyone other than George Washington to win unanimous election. So, although Monroe had no opposition, he did not win unanimous election.
In 1912, Woodrow Wilson was elected President and Thomas Marshall was elected Vice President, even though they won only 45% of the popular vote. The majority Republican Party was split between the regular Republican candidate, President William Howard Taft, and the Progressive or “Bull Moose” candidate Theodore Roosevelt. This allowed Wilson and Marshall to win with a plurality of the popular vote in most states, but winning all the electoral votes in those states. In 1916, when Wilson and Marshall ran for re-election, the Republican Party was re-united behind one candidate, and they were not given much chance of winning a second term. In a close race, they managed to win a second term together by emphasizing the fact that the United States had managed to avoid entering World War I. It was during this second term that we entered World War I.
In 1936, President Franklin Roosevelt and Vice President John Nance Garner won a landslide re-election, carrying every state but Maine and Vermont. Four years later, Garner expected Roosevelt’s support for the Presidential nomination, but Roosevelt ran for an unprecedented third term instead and, after a falling out, Garner was dropped from the ticket and retired. Roosevelt ran for a third and fourth term with different Vice Presidential running mates.
In 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower and his Vice President, Richard Nixon, won re-election by an even larger margin of victory than in the first election in 1952. Eisenhower could not do to Nixon what Roosevelt had done to Garner because the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution barred him from running for a third term. Nixon ran for President in his own right in 1960, but lost in a very close finish to John F. Kennedy.
In 1972, Richard Nixon (who had finally won the White House in 1968) and his Vice President, Spiro Agnew, won a record landslide re-election. They carried 49 states, losing only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia. Their enormous success was short-lived however. The next year, Vice President Agnew was forced to resign in the midst of a financial scandal. The following year, President Nixon was also forced to resign, as a result of the Watergate scandal.
In 1984, President Ronald Reagan and Vice President George Bush were re-elected, the second team to win 49 states. They lost only Minnesota and the District of Columbia. In 1980, prior to their first election, George Bush had been Ronald Reagan’s main opponent for the Republican nomination. Upon winning the nomination, Regan offered the second spot on the ticket to the strongest candidate he could find. The two were a close team, working closer together than any President and Vice President up to that time.
Most recently, President William Clinton and Vice President Gore won a second term in 1996. Of course, Gore came very close to winning the White House in the 2000 election, actually winning the popular vote but losing the electoral vote.
Re-electing the team of President and Vice President seems to be a growing trend in recent years. This is partially the result of a change in the Vice Presidency, with the duties and responsibilities of the office growing. Vice Presidents are more often now people of Presidential caliber who use the second place on the ticket as a stepping-stone to the top spot. Earlier in our history, the Vice Presidency was more often a final honor for an aging politician who would then retire. If this trend continues, we will see more instances of the President and Vice President being re-elected rather than the continual change of Presidential running mates.