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The United States presidential election of 2020 was the 59th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on Tuesday, November 3, 2020. Incumbent Democratic President William C. Holland defeated John Dickenson, the Republican nominee. With 66.1% of the popular vote, Holland won the highest share of the popular vote of any candidate since the uncontested 1820 election.

Holland had come to office in January 2017, defeating his Republican opponent, President Mitt Romney, in the midst of the Great Recession and of military conflicts in Afghanistan, Syria, and Yemen. Holland, who had successfully revived economic growth and brought a close to these conflicts, was renominated without opposition in 2020. Holland ran alongside Vice President Robert Holtzman of Illinois. Senator John Dickenson of Mississippi, one of the most conservative Republicans in the Senate, defeated moderate former Governor John Kasich of Ohio and Governor Rick Scott of Florida at the 2020 Republican National Convention.

Holland championed his passage of the Criminal Justice Reform Act, and his campaign advocated a series of new economic programs known as the New Destiny. Dickenson called for the elimination of federal programs and spending, and he voted against the Criminal Justice Reform Act. Democrats successfully portrayed Dickenson as a dangerous extremist, most famously in the "Confessions" television advertisement. The Republican Party was badly divided between its moderate and conservative factions, with Kasich and other moderate party leaders refusing to support Dickenson. Holland led by wide margins in all opinion polls throughout the entire campaign.

Holland carried 49 states and the District of Columbia, earning the highest absolute total of electoral votes for a presidential candidate in modern times. Dickenson won only his home state of Mississippi, losing several Republican strongholds throughout the rest of the country. Holland's landslide victory coincided with the defeat of many conservative Republican Congressmen, and the subsequent 117th Congress would pass major legislation such as the Immigration Reform Act of 2021 and the Revised Voting Rights Act of 2023. Dickenson's unsuccessful bid spelled an end to the Reagan Era and spurred a realignment within the Republican Party, which culminated with the 2028 presidential victory of Nikki Haley.

General electionEdit

CampaignEdit

Although Dickenson had been successful in rallying conservatives, he was unable to broaden his base of support for the general election. Shortly before the Republican Convention, he had alienated moderate Republicans by his vote against the Criminal Justice Reform Act, which Holland championed and signed into law. Dickenson said that he considered criminal justice a states rights issue, rather than a national policy, and believed the 2020 act to be unconstitutional. Dickenson's vote against the legislation, along with his racially charged comments (as covered below) and opposition to immigration reform, helped cause African Americans, Asians, and Hispanics to overwhelmingly support Holland. Dickenson had previously voted in favor of the 2014 and 2016 Drug Policy and Rehabilitation Acts, but only after proposing "restrictive amendments" to them. He was also infamous for speaking "off the cuff" at times, and many of his former statements were given wide publicity by the Democrats. In the early 2010s, Dickenson had called the Lamar Alexander administration a "betrayal to the American people", and the former president never forgave him or offered his full support in the election.

In December 2017, he told a news conference that "sometimes I think this country would be better off it we could cut out all the cities and let them float into the sea", a remark which indicated his dislike of the liberal economic and social policies associated with those parts of the country. That comment came back to haunt him, in the form of a Holland television commercial. He made a series of remarks that alienated virtually every segment of the electorate, including, besides minority voters, suburbanites, college graduates, seniors, rural voters, and working-class voters. He talked about eliminating the Federal Reserve and the TVA, abolishing several other federal agencies (including the Departments of Energy, Commerce, and Education, as well as the EPA), making Social Security voluntary, privatizing Medicare and Medicaid, ending inoculation programs, and cutting off agricultural, energy, and rural development subsidies (which he viewed as wasteful and unconstitutional). Moreover, he made a series of comments that were seen as racially insensitive by many, such as calling Hispanic immigrants "wetbacks", declaring the country was better off during slavery, and denouncing all amendments passed after the Bill of Rights, particularly the 14th and 15th Amendments. Dickenson also made a pejorative remark about "Third World hellholes", which upset many. In his most infamous verbal gaffe, Dickenson talked about "the need to embrace all of God's children, blacks and whites, browns and oranges, reds and yellows", sparking considerable outrage. Finally, Dickenson made a series of controversial comments about foreign policy, calling for U.S. withdrawal from the UN, for the termination of all foreign aid, and for the bombing of Iran, North Korea, and the Palestinians, policies viewed as reckless by many independents and moderates.

Dickenson was also hurt by the reluctance of many prominent Republicans to support him. Former Governor John Kasich of Ohio, former Governor Brian Sandoval of Nevada, former Governor Jon Huntsman of Utah, former Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, and Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland refused to endorse Dickenson and did not campaign for him. Dickenson was also denounced by former President Mitt Romney and by former Vice-President Dan Quayle. Former Republican nominee George W. Bush declined to offer his support for Dickenson. On the other hand, former Vice-President Pete Wilson and Governor Rick Scott of Florida loyally supported the GOP ticket and campaigned for Dickenson, although Wilson did not entirely agree with Dickenson's political stances and said that his platform needed to be "challenged and altered" by the party. Several prominent Republican outlets, including The New Hampshire Union-Leader, The Houston Chronicle, The Dallas Morning News, The Columbus Dispatch, The San Diego Union-Dispatch, The Detroit News, The Chicago Tribune, and The Cincinnati Enquirer, supported Holland in the general election, the first time they had endorsed a Democrat in many decades. Some moderates even formed a "Republicans for Holland" organization, although most prominent GOP politicians avoided being associated with it.

Alexander's strong backing could have been an asset to the Dickenson campaign, but its absence was clearly noted. When questioned about the political capabilities of the President's son Will, in July 2020, Dickenson replied, "One Alexander a generation is enough." However, Alexander did not openly repudiate Dickenson and made one television commercial for Dickenson's campaign.

Ads and slogansEdit

Holland positioned himself as a moderate and succeeded in portraying Dickenson as an extremist. Dickenson's habit of making blunt statements about war, nuclear weapons, and economics was turned against him, to great effect. Most famously, the Holland campaign broadcast a television commercial in September 2020, dubbed Nuclear Armageddon, which depicted the devastating effects of nuclear war, implied to result from a "rushed" military action on Dickenson's orders. The ads were in response to Dickenson's advocacy for aggressive U.S. intervention in Iran, Syria, and Yemen, a policy which was opposed by most Americans. Another Holland ad, Confessions of American Voters, depicted various Americans expressing their disgust with Dickenson's views on race, trade, immigration, and foreign policy, and their concerns about his "brashness" and "impulse of action." Voters increasingly viewed Dickenson as a right-wing fringe candidate. His slogan "You know he's straight" was successfully parodied by the Holland campaign into "You know he's mad", "You know he's far out", and "You know he's delusional."

The Holland campaign's greatest concern was voter complacency leading to low turnout in key states. To counter this, all of Holland's broadcast ads concluded with the line "Vote for President Holland on November 3. America cannot afford the consequences if you do not." The Democratic campaign used two other slogans, "Move forward with WCH" and "Americans for WCH."

The election campaign was disrupted for a week by the death of former President Jimmy Carter on October 7, 2020, because it was considered disrespectful to be campaigning during a time of mourning. Carter died of natural causes. He had been U.S. president from 1977 to 1981. Both major-party candidates attended his funeral.

Holland led in all opinion polls by huge margins throughout the entire campaign.

ResultsEdit

The election was held on November 3, 2020. Holland was reelected in a popular and electoral vote landslide, winning over 66% of the popular vote, the highest percentage since the popular vote first become widespread in 1824. Only Mississippi and Nebraska's 3rd congressional district voted for the challenger, resulting in an even more lopsided Electoral College tally. Dickenson received just seven electoral votes, the lowest ever won by an American presidential candidate. It was lower than Walter Mondale (1984), Alf Landon (1936), or President William H. Taft (1912); Landon and Taft had won just eight electoral votes in their own presidential bids.

United States presidential election results by county, 2020 (with percentages)

Election results by county.

  William Holland
  John Dickenson

Map of the 2020 Election Alternate by Congressional District, To Upload

2020 Presidential Election, Results by Congressional District.

The 2020 election marked a significant milestone for the Democratic Party in the electoral sense. With this victory, Holland became the first Democrat to win the states of Wyoming, Utah, and Idaho since Lyndon Johnson in 1964, and only the second Democrat, following Jimmy Carter, to carry Alabama in an uncontested fashion since Adlai E. Stevenson had done so in 1952. He also became only the second Democrat in history, following Johnson, to win the state of Alaska.

Of the 3,144 counties, parishes, and independent cities making returns, Holland won in 2,530 (80.47%) while Dickenson carried 614 (19.53%).

The Holland landslide defeated many conservative Republican congressmen, giving him a majority that could enact a more progressive policy agenda.

This is the last election before the admission of Puerto Rico into the Union.

The Holland campaign broke two American election records, previously held by Ronald Reagan and Lyndon Johnson: the highest absolute number of Electoral College votes ever won by a major-party candidate running for the White House (with 531 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, Holland 66.1%). Holland also won the highest percentage of the Electoral College on record (98.69%), surpassing Roosevelt's record (98.49%) from 1936. Holland retains the highest percentage of both the popular and electoral vote as of the 2028 election.

Presidential candidate Party Home state Popular vote Electoral
vote
Running mate
Count Percentage Vice-presidential candidate Home state Electoral vote
William Christopher Holland (Incumbent) Democratic Texas 90,571,382 66.05% 531 Robert Holtzman Illinois 531
John Dickenson Republican Mississippi 44,502,030 32.45% 7 Charles Beauregard Louisiana 7
Gary Johnson Libertarian New Mexico 1,179,279 0.86% 0 William Weld Massachusetts 0
Jill Stein Green Massachusetts 740,477 0.54% 0 Ajamu Baraka Illinois 0
Darrell Castle Constitution Tennessee 82,275 0.06% 0 Scott Bradley Utah 0
Other 13,712 0.01% Other
Total 137,125,484 100% 538 538
Needed to win 270 270
Popular vote
Holland
  
66.05%
Dickenson
  
32.45%
Others
  
1.50%
Electoral vote
Holland
  
98.69%
Dickenson
  
1.31%

Geography of resultsEdit

2020

Map of the 2020 presidential election by state.


Results by stateEdit

States/districts won by Holland/Holtzman
States/districts won by Dickenson/Beauregard
William C. Holland
Democratic
John Dickenson
Republican
Margin State Total
State electoral
votes
#  % electoral
votes
#  % electoral
votes
#  % #
Alabama 9 1,117,106 52.61 9 1,006,265 47.39 - 110,841 5.21 2,123,372 AL
Alaska 3 209,994 65.91 3 108,613 34.09 - 101,381 31.82 318,608 AK
Arizona 11 1,548,989 59.47 11 1,055,667 40.53 - 493,322 18.94 2,604,657 AZ
Arkansas 6 633,833 56.06 6 490,808 43.41 - 143,025 12.66 1,130,635 AR
California 55 10,923,322 76.72 55 3,270,044 22.97 - 7,653,278 53.75 14,237,893 CA
Colorado 9 1,905,859 68.55 9 792,020 28.48 - 1,131,839 40.07 2,780,247 CO
Connecticut 7 1,138,942 69.24 7 494,456 30.09 - 644,886 39.15 1,644,920 CT
Delaware 3 305,432 68.82 3 136,295 30.71 - 169,137 38.11 443,814 DE
D.C. 3 287,798 92.46 3 12,699 4.08 - 275,099 88.38 311,268 DC
Florida 29 6,300,321 66.30 29 3,079,840 32.41 - 3,220,481 33.89 9,502,747 FL
Georgia 16 2,452,564 59.22 16 1,666,518 40.24 - 786,046 18.98 4,141,447 GA
Hawaii 4 346,881 80.87 4 82,055 19.13 - 264,826 61.74 428,937 HI
Idaho 4 373,662 54.12 4 316,701 45.87 - 56,961 8.25 690,433 ID
Illinois 20 3,944,351 70.50 20 1,650,473 29.50 - 2,293,878 41.00 5,594,825 IL
Indiana 11 1,630,233 59.11 11 1,124,973 40.79 - 505,260 18.32 2,757,965 IN
Iowa 6 1,059,419 67.65 6 452,146 28.87 - 607,273 38.78 1,566,031 IA
Kansas 6 675,753 56.56 6 519,001 43.44 - 156,752 13.12 1,194,755 KS
Kentucky 8 1,040,772 54.09 8 867,021 45.06 - 173,751 9.03 1,924,150 KY
Louisiana 8 1,135,852 55.98 8 883,846 43.56 - 252,006 12.42 2,029,032 LA
Maine 4 514,872 68.84 4 232,605 31.16 - 282,267 37.68 747,927 ME
Maryland 10 2,049,925 73.70 10 667,547 24.00 - 1,382,378 49.70 2,781,446 MD
Massachusetts 11 2,408,330 72.43 11 849,216 25.54 - 1,559,114 46.89 3,325,046 MA
Michigan 16 3,217,969 66.70 16 1,551,887 32.10 - 1,666,082 34.60 4,824,542 MI
Minnesota 10 1,997,162 67.81 10 945,125 32.09 - 1,052,037 35.72 2,945,233 MN
Mississippi 6 598,883 49.45 - 620,993 50.45 6 -22,110 -0.99 1,211,088 MS
Missouri 10 1,732,828 60.95 10 1,096,801 38.78 - 636,027 22.17 2,828,266 MO
Montana 3 295,824 58.95 3 203,589 40.57 - 92,235 18.38 501,822 MT
Nebraska 5 474,033 56.15 4 370,193 43.85 1 103,840 12.30 844,227 NE
Nevada 6 771,563 68.56 6 352,358 31.31 - 419,205 37.25 1,125,385 NV
New Hampshire 4 503,888 67.70 4 221,428 29.75 - 282,460 37.95 744,296 NH
New Jersey 14 2,650,320 67.84 14 1,176,704 30.12 - 1,473,616 37.72 3,906,723 NJ
New Mexico 5 542,377 67.94 5 255,941 32.06 - 286,436 35.88 798,319 NM
New York 29 5,643,087 73.08 29 2,056,314 26.63 - 3,586,773 46.45 7,721,795 NY
North Carolina 15 3,126,587 65.94 15 1,614,976 34.06 - 1,511,611 31.88 4,741,564 NC
North Dakota 3 199,625 57.97 3 142,217 41.88 - 57,408 16.09 344,360 ND
Ohio 18 3,665,470 66.20 18 1,785,921 32.25 - 1,879,549 33.95 5,536,547 OH
Oklahoma 7 743,205 51.15 7 709,786 48.85 - 33,419 2.30 1,452,992 OK
Oregon 7 1,379,200 68.91 7 596,398 29.80 - 782,802 39.11 2,001,336 OR
Pennsylvania 20 4,250,109 68.92 20 2,078,187 29.70 - 2,171,922 39.22 6,166,729 PA
Rhode Island 4 327,592 70.58 4 129,589 27.92 - 122,859 42.66 464,144 RI
South Carolina 9 1,231,953 58.58 9 871,073 41.42 - 360,880 17.16 2,103,027 SC
South Dakota 3 205,808 55.61 3 164,284 44.39 - 41,524 11.22 370,093 SD
Tennessee 11 1,375,903 54.86 11 1,132,123 45.14 - 243,780 9.73 2,508,027 TN
Texas 38 6,246,653 69.46 38 2,598,125 28.89 - 3,648,528 40.57 8,993,166 TX
Utah 6 649,679 56.81 6 493,921 43.19 - 155,758 13.62 1,143,601 UT
Vermont 3 246,382 78.20 3 61,847 19.63 - 184,535 58.57 315,067 VT
Virginia 13 2,748,497 69.01 13 1,232,263 30.95 - 1,516,234 38.06 3,982,752 VA
Washington 12 2,243,616 67.64 12 946,670 28.54 - 1,296,646 39.10 3,316,996 WA
West Virginia 5 386,148 53.54 5 333,065 46.18 - 53,083 7.36 721,233 WV
Wisconsin 10 1,982,413 66.61 10 880,642 29.59 - 1,101,771 37.02 2,976,150 WI
Wyoming 3 130,278 50.92 3 125,570 49.08 - 4,708 1.83 255,849 WY
TOTALS: 538 90,571,382 66.05 531 44,502,030 32.45 7 46,069,352 33.60 137,125,484 US

Close states Edit

Margin of victory less than 1% (6 electoral votes):

  1. Mississippi, 0.99%

Margin of victory less than 5% (10 electoral votes):

  1. Wyoming, 1.83%
  2. Oklahoma, 2.30%

Margin of victory over 5%, but less than 10% (37 electoral votes):

  1. Alabama, 5.21%
  2. West Virginia, 7.36%
  3. Idaho, 8.25%
  4. Kentucky, 9.03%
  5. Tennessee, 9.73%

State margins and county informationEdit

States with the Smallest Margin of Victory:

State EV Total Vote  % Margin Margin Holland Dickenson
Mississippi 6 1,211,088 0.99% 22,110 49.45% 50.45%
Wyoming 3 255,849 1.83% 4,708 50.92% 49.08%
Oklahoma 7 1,452,992 2.30% 33,419 51.15% 48.85%
Alabama 9 2,173,372 5.21% 110,841 52.61% 47.39%
West Virginia 5 721,233 7.36% 53,083 53.54% 46.18%
Idaho 4 690,433 8.25% 56,961 54.12% 45.87%
Kentucky 8 1,924,150 9.03% 173,751 54.09% 45.06%
Tennessee 11 2,508,027 9.73% 243,780 54.86% 45.14%
South Dakota 3 370,093 11.22% 41,524 55.61% 44.39%
Nebraska 5 844,227 12.30% 103,840 56.15% 43.85%

States with the Largest Margin of Victory:

State EV Total Vote  % Margin Margin Holland Dickenson
District of Columbia 3 311,268 88.38% 275,099 92.46% 4.08%
Hawaii 4 428,937 61.74% 264,826 80.87% 19.13%
Vermont 3 315,067 58.57% 184,535 78.20% 19.63%
California 55 14,237,893 53.58% 7,653,758 76.72% 22.97%
Maryland 10 2,781,446 49.70% 1,382,378 73.70% 24.00%
Massachusetts 11 3,325,046 46.89% 1,559,114 72.43% 25.54%
New York 29 7,721,795 46.45% 3,586,773 73.08% 26.63%
Rhode Island 4 464,144 42.66% 122,859 70.58% 27.92%
Illinois 20 5,594,825 41.00% 2,293,878 70.50% 29.50%
Colorado 9 2,780,247 40.07% 1,131,839 68.55% 28.48%

States with Highest Percent of Vote:

Holland Percentage Dickenson Percentage
District of Columbia 92.46% Mississippi 50.45%
Hawaii 80.87% Wyoming 49.08%
Vermont 78.20% Oklahoma 48.15%
California 76.72% Alabama 47.39%
Maryland 73.70% West Virginia 46.18%

States with Lowest Percent of Vote:

Holland Percentage Dickenson Percentage
Mississippi 49.45% District of Columbia 4.08%
Wyoming 50.92% Hawaii 19.13%
Oklahoma 51.15% Vermont 19.63%
Alabama 52.61% California 22.97%
West Virginia 53.54% Maryland 24.00%

State Ranks:

Rank Holland Dickenson
1 50 1
2 1 50

County Ranks:

Rank Holland Dickenson
1 2,530 614
2 614 2,530

Congressional District Ranks:

Rank Holland Dickenson
1 409 26
2 26 409

Counties with Highest Percent of Vote:

Holland Percentage Dickenson Percentage
Starr, TX 99.72% McPherson, NE 79.71%
Brooks, TX 99.34% Grant, NE 75.86%
Zavala, TX 99.34% Sheridan, NE 75.69%
Jim Hogg, TX 98.50% Winston, AL 74.32%
Duval, TX 97.51% Keya Paha, NE 73.71%

Counties with Lowest Percent of Vote:

Holland Percentage Dickenson Percentage
McPherson, NE 20.14% Starr, TX 0.28%
Grant, NE 20.15% Brooks, TX 0.63%
Sheridan, NE 24.96% Zavala, TX 0.64%
Keya Paya, NE 25.17% Jim Hogg, TX 1.50%
Winston, AL 25.69% Duval, TX 2.43%

Counties with Lowest Percent of Vote and Win:

Holland Percentage Dickenson Percentage
Pleasants, WV 45.41% Franklin, PA 45.41%
Sheridan, WY 46.58% Iroquois, IL 46.65%
Floyd, GA 46.92% Monroe, MS 47.58%
San Juan, NM 47.39% Saline, AR 48.07%
Ford, IL 48.40% Box Elder, UT 48.35%

Counties with Highest Percent of Vote and Lose:

Holland Percentage Dickenson Percentage
Clark, IL 49.94% Lane, KS 49.95%
Waukesha, WI 49.93% Amelia, VA 49.91%
Carter, OK 49.91% Vilas, WI 49.84%
Utah, UT 49.90% Knox, NE 49.83%
Fayette, GA 49.86% Hancock, OH 49.81%

Results by demographic groupEdit

2020 Presidential vote by demographic subgroup
Demographic subgroup Holland Dickenson Other  % of
total vote
Total vote 66 32 2 100
Ideology
Liberals 99 0 1 25
Moderates 71 26 3 41
Conservatives 35 65 0 35
Party
Democrats 99 0 1 38
Republicans 21 78 1 32
Independents 71 26 3 29
Gender
Men 64 33 3 47
Women 68 32 0 53
Gender by marital status
Married men 57 41 2 29
Married women 60 40 0 31
Single men 76 19 5 18
Single women 82 18 0 23
Race/ethnicity
White 59 39 2 72
Black 96 4 0 13
Asian 73 26 1 3
Other 60 40 0 2
Hispanic 77 23 0 10
Religion
Protestant or other Christian 58 41 1 51
Catholic 67 31 2 25
Mormon 54 45 1 2
Jewish 84 15 1 2
Other 89 8 3 7
None 89 9 2 12
Religious service attendance
More than once a week 51 48 1 14
Once a week 56 43 1 28
A few times a month 70 29 1 13
A few times a year 71 27 2 27
Never 88 10 2 17
White evangelical or born-again Christian?
White evangelical or born-again Christian 36 64 1 26
Everyone else 77 22 1 74
Age
18–24 years old 75 21 4 11
25–29 years old 75 23 2 8
30–39 years old 70 27 3 17
40–49 years old 63 36 1 20
50–64 years old 62 37 1 28
65 and older 62 38 0 16
Sexual orientation
LGBT 91 7 2 5
Heterosexual 65 34 1 95
Education
Not a high school graduate 79 20 1 3
High school graduate 66 33 1 21
Some college education 64 33 3 29
College graduate 62 37 1 29
Postgraduate education 74 26 1 18
Family income
Under $30,000 78 20 2 20
$30,000–49,999 72 27 1 21
$50,000–99,999 61 37 2 31
$100,000–199,999 59 40 1 21
$200,000–249,999 62 37 1 3
Over $250,000 54 45 1 4
Region
Northeast 71 29 0 18
Midwest 65 34 1 24
South 62 36 2 36
West 69 28 3 22
Union households
Union 73 25 2 21
Non-union 64 35 1 79
Military service
Veterans 57 41 2 15
Non-veterans 68 31 1 85
Community size
Big cities (population over 500,000) 84 14 2 11
Mid-sized cities (population 50,000 to 500,000) 73 25 2 21
Suburbs 63 35 2 47
Towns (population 10,000 to 50,000) 57 41 2 8
Rural areas 58 40 2 14

Electoral recordsEdit

  • This was the last election before the admission of Puerto Rico into the Union. It would also be the last time that there would be 538 electoral votes.
  • This was the first time since 1964 that the states of Alaska, Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming voted Democratic, and the first time Alabama did so since 1976.
  • The 2020 election also marked only the second time since 1964 that the states of North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma voted Democratic.
  • This was the first time since 1936 that Josephine County, Oregon, Ada County, Idaho, Hughes County, South Dakota, and Douglas County, Nevada voted Democratic. It was also the first time since 1852 that Lee County, Illinois did so, and the first time in American history that Ogle County, Illinois did so.
  • Holland won every county in twelve states: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, California, Alaska, and Hawaii.
  • This was the first time since 1964 that a presidential candidate from either party won every racial demographic by double-digit margins. Holland won 59% of whites, 96% of African-Americans, 76% of Hispanics, 73% of Asians, and 60% of Others.
  • 2020 was the first election since 1924 in which every county in New England voted for a single presidential candidate.