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10 Nastiest US Presidential Elections
Posted April 18, 2008 at 12:00pm by Chronicler

Here are what I consider the ten nastiest U.S. presidential elections. They are listed in chronological order and not ranked.

1800 - Accusations of character faults by both sides; Alexander Hamilton's letter against Adams. Jefferson pays newspapermen to publish untrue accusations against Adams.

1828 - The nasty replay of 1824. Jackson brought all kinds of charges against JQA, including railing against the installation of a billiard table in the White House. JQA supporters hit at Jackson for his irregular marriage and treatment of soldiers under his command.

1872 - The only race in US history in which the VP candidates were both preferable to the presidential nominees. Democrats raise the Credit Mobilier scandal but forget to mention that Democratic politicians were also involved. Republicans ridicule Greeley mercilessly.

1876 - Nasty campaign involving two of the best candidates in our history. Republican National Chairman calls on spoils system employees to give money to the Hayes campaign or lose their jobs. Democratic machines in the South achieve new heights in vote stealing. Democratic Governor of Oregon certifies a losing Presidential Elector to get Tilden over 50% of the electoral vote. It takes the Electoral Commission to seat the winner of the election.

1884 - Democrats charge Blaine with involvement in the Credit Mobilier scandal again, even though he was exonerated of all charges 11 years earlier. Republicans charge Cleveland with having children out of wedlock. Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion.

1916 - Pathetic Woodrow Wilson re-election campaign against one of the best candidates for President in our history. Wilson's slogan was "He kept us out of the war," even though that had not been his foreign policy. He then portrayed Hughes as a tool for the Kaiser of Germany.

1972 - The Committee to Re-Elect the President (CRP, though usually abbreviated CREEP) undertakes underhanded techniques to sabotage the Democratic contenders in the primaries.

1988 - Lee Atwater's Willie Horton television ad takes the wind out of Dukakis's sails in his race against GHWB even though Dukakis's tank ride already sufficed for that.

2000 - Extremely nasty from the beginning. In the primaries, Bush and Gore ran underhanded smear campaigns against Bill Bradley and John McCain. Then in the fall, the candidates behaved a little better until Florida went awry.

2004 - The swift boat campaign defies the testimony of witnesses to undermine John Kerry at a time when it was really not necessary to win the race.

Note: I am not including 1928 and 1960 in my list. They are almost always included in such lists, mostly due to anti-Catholic activities. In 1928, Hoover repudiated religious bigotry early in the campaign - had he not been running against a Catholic, he would have been the focus of anti-religious smears. The 1960 election had some similarities, though Nixon was not as clear in 1960 as Hoover was in 1928.

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