The United States presidential election of 2016 was the 58th quadrennial American presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. Democratic candidate and incumbent President William J. Rutherford had come into office in January 2013 with the United States gripped in the Great Recession, with immigrant rights becoming a major issue, and with foreign policy crises in the Middle East, Korean Peninsula, and Venezuela. Rutherford and the Democratic Congress had embarked upon a series of tax relief, infrastructure reform, labor reform, civil rights reform, and educational reform initiatives which had become known as the New Destiny. The President, had successfully negotiated an end to the Iranian-Saudi Arabian crisis and intervened decisively in Venezuela on behalf of the pro-democratic insurgents. Moreover, he had greatly reduced both inflation and unemployment and had passed the pivotal comprehensive Civil Rights Protections Act. Rutherford, consequently, who enjoyed high approval ratings with the American populace, won 63.6% of the popular vote, the highest win by a candidate since James Monroe's re-election in 1820. It was the most lopsided US presidential election in terms of both popular and electoral votes. No candidate for president has since equaled or surpassed Rutherford's percentage of the popular vote, and since 1820, only Abraham Lincoln in 1864, Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936, Richard M. Nixon in 1972, and Ronald Reagan in 1984 have won by a similar electoral vote margin.
The Republican candidate, businessman Donald J. Trump of New York, suffered from a lack of support within his own party, his controversial statements and business record, and his deeply unpopular political positions. Rutherford continued to advocate for the New Destiny and successfully portrayed Trump as being a dangerous extremist. Rutherford easily won reelection to the Presidency, carrying 48 of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. He obtained 527 electoral votes to Trump's 11. Trump carried just two states, both of which were traditionally Republican (Wyoming and Oklahoma), in addition to the heavily Republican 3rd district of Nebraska.
Trump's unsuccessful bid spelled an end to the historic conservative movement and caused a realignment within the Republican Party that ultimately led to the election of Tim Scott in 2024. His campaign still received its greatest amount of support from historic Republican regions in the South and Interior West. Conversely, Rutherford became the first Democrat to win the states of Utah, Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska since Lyndon Johnson in 1964, the first to win Alabama since 1976, and only the second Democrat to win Arkansas since 1980.
No post 2016 presidential candidate has been able to better Rutherford's performance in the Electoral College, in the popular vote, or on a geographical basis. Moreover, Rutherford had the best performance of any Democratic presidential candidate since Lyndon B. Johnson. This was the last election held before the admission of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
Although Trump had been successful in overcoming opposing factions at the Republican National Convention, he was unable to broaden his base of support for the general election. Shortly before the Convention, he had alienated moderate Republicans by coming out in opposition to the Civil Rights Protections Act, which Rutherford championed and signed into law. Trump said that he considered civil rights to be a state, rather than a federal issue, believed that the 2016 act was unconstitutional, and that it infringed upon law enforcement. Trump's opposition to the legislation helped cause black and Hispanic voters to vote overwhelmingly for the President. Trump also expressed his strong opposition to the Supreme Court's ruling in Gonzales v. Arizona (2012), which had reaffirmed the right of all refugees fleeing to American soil. Moreover, Trump became known for his controversial statements on a variety of subjects. Many of these statements were given wide publicity by the Democrats. In the early 2010s, Trump had referred to former President John McCain's foreign policies as "misguided, ridiculous, and a step in the wrong direction", and said they were a "giveaway to America's enemies." Moreover, he criticized McCain's military background, claiming that he was not a hero and that he did not deserve credit for his experiences while in Vietnamese captivity. McCain never forgave Trump for this; Trump also criticized McCain's policies relating to inflation, corporate taxation, and environmental issues.
In December 2013, Trump told a news conference that Mexicans and others from Latin America were "rapists, criminals, bringing drugs and crime across the border." When criticized by Florida Senator Marco Rubio four months later, Trump made snide remarks about "flooding Miami" and "sending Little Marco and his homies back across to Havana, where they belong", comments which outraged Cubans, and were considered disgraceful by many Americans. This came back to haunt him, as the Rutherford campaign aired an ad accusing him of disregarding whole segments of the American population, as did comments Trump made denigrating minorities, attacking journalists and others, and objectifying women. He also proposed abandoning all exploration efforts by NASA into outer space, saying that America should not waste time "chasing space ghosts", a viewpoint seen as ridiculous by many Americans. In regards to foreign policy, Trump criticized the President's negotiation efforts in Iran, called for an active military intervention in Africa (opposed by many Americans), and even talked of using nuclear weapons against North Korea.
Trump was also hurt by the reluctance of many other Republicans to support him. Governors John Kasich of Ohio and Scott Walker of Wisconsin refused to endorse Trump and did not campaign for him. Former President George H.W. Bush commented negatively about Trump to his associates and family, urging all Americans to stand up against "hatred and bigotry" and expressing strong disagreement with Trump's platform. He too refused to endorse Trump. Other prominent Republicans, such as former Governor Jeb Bush of Florida, Senator Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, Governor Brian Sandoval of Nevada, and House Minority Leader Paul Ryan of Wisconsin also refused to endorse or campaign for Trump; Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky remained silent about the Republican nominee. Many Republican publications, such as the New Hampshire Union Leader, the Arizona Republic, the Houston Chronicle, The Dallas Morning-News, and the Columbus Dispatch, among others, endorsed Rutherford; in fact, of the nation's top 100 newspapers, not a single one backed Trump. Other Republican outlets, such as the Detroit News, the Chicago Tribune, and the National Review, endorsed Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, former Governor of New Mexico.
Whereas former Republican Presidents Bush and McCain refused to endorse Trump and did not campaign for him, Rutherford received the strong support of former Democratic Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Al Gore, all of whom campaigned vigorously on his behalf.
Ads and slogansEdit
Rutherford positioned himself as a moderate and succeeded in portraying Trump as a extremist. As mentioned above, Trump's habit about making wild and unsubstantiated statements concerning foreign policy, economics, society, and the like, as well as his unpopular political positions, could be turned against him. The President's surrogates warned that the businessman, if elected, would reverse the progress made to restore American economic strength. Rutherford also touted his policies in relation to taxation, the federal budget, and corporate regulation, policies which won him the support of many independents and moderates. On September 7, 2016, the President's campaign, responding to allegations of Trump's bias against Jews, Muslims, and Mormons, among other religious minority groups, launched what became the most famous advertisement of the election: "The American Mosaic". This mosaic depicted Americans of all racial, ethnic, social, and religious backgrounds, was decked in patriotic themes, and touted the concept of the "melting pot", so classic to American history and thought. Another Rutherford ad, "The Reasonable Voters", showed interview clips of various, everyday Americans, expressing their disgust with Trump's comments, his ideology, and his voting record. Voters increasingly viewed Trump as a fringe candidate; many Republicans considered him to be not a true successor to Ronald Reagan. Trump's slogan, "Make America Great Again" was successfully twisted by Rutherford's campaign into "Take America Down Again". Other Rutherford slogans touted the themes of "America Forward!", "Move on with WJR", and "When you vote straight (for Rutherford), you vote right."
Three presidential debates and one vice-presidential debate were held during the campaign. The presidential debates were at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York (September 26); Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri (October 9); and the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, in Las Vegas, Nevada (October 19). The vice-presidential debate was held on October 4 at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia. Rutherford scored a decisive win in all three debates, exposing Trump as a fraud and weakening his populist appeal. In the vice-presidential debate, VP Ford similarly routed Trump's running mate, Pence. A Gallup poll of October 22, 2016, revealed that 73% of Americans believed that Rutherford was more competent and informed than Trump; 64% disagreed with Trump's foreign and economic policy views; and 60% expressed strong dismay with his statements and prior record.
Rutherford led Trump in all opinion polls by huge margins throughout the entire campaign.
The election was held on November 8, 2016. Rutherford beat Trump in the general election, winning over 63% of the popular vote, the highest percentage since the popular vote first became widespread in 1824. In the end, Trump won only the traditionally Republican states of Wyoming and Oklahoma in the West, along with the 3rd district of Nebraska. This was the worst showing for the Republicans in the South since 1976.
The 2016 election was a major milestone for the Democratic Party, as Rutherford became only the second Democrat in history, following Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964, to carry the state of Alaska, and the first since Johnson to win the traditional Republican strongholds of Utah, Idaho, North and South Dakota, Kansas, and Nebraska. More importantly, he became the first Democrat in 72 years, since Franklin D. Roosevelt in his last reelection of 1944, to win every single state that had belonged to the Confederacy. In doing so, he was the first since Jimmy Carter in 1976 to carry Alabama, and the first since Bill Clinton in 1996 to carry Arkansas, Tennessee, and Louisiana. He was also the first Democrat since Clinton that year to win Kentucky and West Virginia.
Of the 3,142 counties, independent municipalities, and parishes making returns, Rutherford won in 2,207 (70.24%) while Trump carried 935 (29.76%).
The Rutherford landslide defeated many conservative Republican congressmen, giving him a majority that could enact more of his legislation.
The Rutherford campaign broke two previous American election records, which had previously been held by Ronald Reagan and Lyndon Johnson: the highest absolute total of Electoral College votes won by a major-party presidential candidate running for the White House (with 527 to the 525 won by Reagan in 1984), and the largest share of the popular vote under the current Democratic/Republican competition (Johnson won 61.1% nationwide, Rutherford 63.6%). Rutherford retains the largest absolute number of electoral votes and the highest percentage of the popular vote as of the 2028 election.
|United States presidential election, 2016|
|Party||Presidential Candidate||Vice-Presidential Candidate||Popular Vote||Percentage||Electoral Vote||Percentage|
|Democratic||William Rutherford||Harold Ford||83,157,608||63.58%||527||97.95%|
|Republican||Donald Trump||Michael Pence||44,559,322||34.07%||11||2.05%|
Geography of resultsEdit
Results by stateEdit
|State||PV Winner||EV||Popular Votes||Percentage (%)||PV Loser||EV||Popular Votes||Percentage (%)||Margin||Margin (%)|
|TOTALS||Overall Winner||EV||Popular Votes||Percentage (%)||Loser||EV||Popular Votes||Percentage||Margin||Margin (%)|
Margin of victory less than 5% (21 electoral votes):
- West Virginia, 1.52%
- Wyoming, 1.91%
- Arkansas, 2.70%
- Oklahoma, 4.08%
Margin of victory over 5%, but less than 10% (32 electoral votes):
- Alabama, 5.61%
- Kentucky, 5.93%
- Tennessee, 6.20%
- Idaho, 9.23%
- Nebraska, 9.97%
State margins and county informationEdit
States with the Smallest Margin of Victory:
|State||EV||Total Vote||% Margin||Margin||Rutherford||Trump|
States with the Largest Margin of Victory:
|State||EV||Total Vote||% Margin||Margin||Rutherford||Trump|
|District of Columbia||3||306,328||85.84%||262,958||91.78%||5.94%|
States with Highest Percent of Vote:
|District of Columbia||91.78%||Oklahoma||52.04%|
States with Lowest Percent of Vote:
|Wyoming||46.24%||District of Columbia||5.94%|
Congressional District Ranks:
Counties with Highest Percent of Vote:
|San Francisco, CA||97.86%||King, TX||89.06%|
|Jim Hogg, TX||97.03%||Oldham, TX||88.10%|
|Ogala Lakota, SD||96.01%||Motley, TX||86.55%|
|Holmes, MS||95.87%||Roberts, TX||84.32%|
|Bronx, NY||93.09%||Wheeler, TX||82.71%|
Counties with Lowest Percent of Vote:
|King, TX||10.90%||San Francisco, CA||2.84%|
|Oldham, TX||11.24%||Jim Hogg, TX||2.90%|
|Motley, TX||13.05%||Ogala Lakota, SD||3.76%|
|Roberts, TX||15.44%||Holmes, MS||4.01%|
|Wheeler, TX||17.04%||Bronx, NY||6.26%|
Counties with Lowest Percent of Vote and Win:
|Wayne, UT||49.58%||Elkhart, IN||47.58%|
|Lander, NV||49.62%||Johnson, IL||48.03%|
|Saline, AR||49.65%||Fall River, SD||48.23%|
|Beaverhead, MT||49.67%||Martin, MN||48.38%|
|Caddo, OK||49.75%||Fayette, WV||48.72%|
Counties with Highest Percent of Vote and Lose:
|Madison, KY||49.94%||Kane, UT||49.95%|
|Meade, SD||49.93%||Wichita, TX||49.91%|
|Caroll, MO||49.91%||Love, OK||49.84%|
|Humboldt, IA||49.90%||Curry, NM||49.83%|
|Bottineau, ND||49.86%||Paulding, GA||49.81%|
Results by demographic group (third party vote: 2.35%)Edit
|2016 Presidential vote by demographic subgroup|
|Demographic subgroup||Rutherford||Trump||Other|| % of|
|Gender by marital status|
|Protestant or other Christian||55||44||1||51|
|Religious service attendance|
|More than once a week||48||51||1||14|
|Once a week||53||46||1||28|
|A few times a month||67||32||1||13|
|A few times a year||68||30||2||27|
|White evangelical or born-again Christian?|
|White evangelical or born-again Christian||33||66||1||26|
|18–24 years old||72||24||4||11|
|25–29 years old||72||26||2||8|
|30–39 years old||67||30||3||17|
|40–49 years old||60||38||2||20|
|50–64 years old||59||40||1||28|
|65 and older||57||43||0||16|
|Not a high school graduate||76||23||1||3|
|High school graduate||63||36||1||21|
|Some college education||61||36||3||29|
|Big cities (population over 500,000)||81||17||2||11|
|Mid-sized cities (population 50,000 to 500,000)||70||28||2||21|
|Towns (population 10,000 to 50,000)||54||44||2||8|
- This was the last election prior to the admission of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, and the penultimate election before the District of Columbia received full congressional representation.
- The states of Idaho, Utah, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota were carried by a Democrat for the first time since 1964. Alabama was carried for the first time since 1976. Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Louisiana, and West Virginia were carried for the first time since 1996.
- This was the first time since 1936 that Josephine County, Oregon, Douglas County, Nevada, Ada County, Idaho, Hughes County, South Dakota, and Tulsa County, Oklahoma voted for a Democrat.
- This was the first time in history that Ogle County, Illinois, voted Democratic, and the first time Lee County, Illinois did so since 1852.
- Rutherford became the first Democrat in history to garner more than 70% of the vote in California, Maryland, New York, and Vermont. He also garnered over 70% in Hawaii and Rhode Island.
- This was the first time since 1972 that the nation's most populous states were carried by a single candidate, by double-digit margins. Rutherford garnered over 60% in Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, and Washington, and won in Texas, Georgia, and Arizona by 17-20 percentage points.
- This was the first time since 1944 that a Democratic presidential candidate won every single state that had constituted the Confederacy.
- This was the first time since 1964 that a Democrat won white voters (Rutherford had lost whites 52-48% in 2012). Rutherford won 55% of whites, to Trump's 43%.
- This was the first time since 1964 that a Democrat won Mormons. Rutherford carried them 50%, to Trump's 36%. This was critical to his victory in Utah, where Mormons provided 63% of his total vote. 14% of Mormons voted for third-party candidate Gary Johnson. Johnson, as a result, earned 15% of the vote in Utah, the only state where a third-party candidate broke double-digits. Rutherford's victory in Utah, and Johnson's performance in the state, were both attributed to their dislike of Trump, based upon his moral character, marital history, and business record.
- Rutherford won 58% of college-educated whites and 54% of non-college educated whites. He won 58% of white women and 53% of white men. He was the first Democrat to carry both college and non-college educated voters, both among whites and in general, since Johnson.
- Rutherford won a record 84% of the non-white vote, including 95% of African Americans, 77% of Hispanics, 77% of Asians, and 62% of others.
- Rutherford won every county in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Hawaii.
- Rutherford won the majority of counties in 40 states, Trump in 10 (Idaho, Wyoming, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia). Of the states where Trump carried a majority, Rutherford won 8.
- This was the first time since 1924 that every county in New England voted for a single presidential candidate, and the first time in history that a Democrat swept the region's counties.
- Rutherford won the white vote in 39 states. Trump won it in 11: Wyoming and Oklahoma (which he carried), along with Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. He also won whites in Nebraska's 3rd congressional district, though Rutherford won whites in the 1st and 2nd districts, and in the state as a whole. Trump won whites in every former Confederate state except for Florida and Virginia. Rutherford carried whites in all states outside of the Confederate South (except Wyoming and Oklahoma), including in every border state, and of course, in the former Confederate states of Florida and Virginia. In most Southern states, Rutherford won by dominating among blacks and other minorities, carrying college-educated whites, and reducing Trump's margin among non college-educated whites.