1988 United States presidential election (Nixon's The One!)

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1988 United States presidential election

← 1984 November 8, 1988 1992 →

538 members of the Electoral College
270 electoral votes needed to win
Turnout 50.2% Decrease 3.1 pp

 
Nominee William Winter Vernon Romney
Party Democratic Republican
Home state Mississippi Utah
Running mate Joe Brennan Paul Manafort
Electoral vote 334 204
States carried 26 + DC 24
Popular vote 56,898,350 35,106,309
Percentage 50.6% 47.9%

Presidential election results map. Blue denotes states won by Winter/Brennan, red denotes those won by Romney/Manafort. Numbers indicate the number of electoral votes allotted to each state.

President before election

Elliot Richardson
Republican

Elected President

William Winter
Democratic

The 1988 United States presidential election was the 51st quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 8, 1988. The Democratic nominee, former Mississippi Governor William Winter defeated the Republican nominee, incumbent Vice President Vernon Romney of Utah. This was the first election since 1920 where the incumbent party was not elected to a third consecutive term in office.

Incumbent Elliot Richardson was ineligible to seek a third term in office. Romney entered the race as the front-runner and swiftly secured the nomination. Romney selected former Connecticut Governor Paul Manafort as his running mate. Winter, who was a finalist for the Democratic vice presidential nomination in 1984, secured the nomination after defeating Ohio Senator and former astronaut John Glenn and former New Jersey Governor Brendan Byrne. Winter selected U.S. Senator Joe Brennan of Maine as his running-mate.

Romney centered his campaign around the successes of the Richardson administration and made national security and fiscal conservatism his main campaign themes. The Romney campaign also attacked Winter's history of supporting segregation early in his political career, which Winter apologized for and renounced during his first campaign for governor. Winter ran a populist campaign and focused on income inequality and opposition to free trade, as well as expanding and improving the NHI and Social Security.

Winter managed to defeat Romney, sweeping the south and flipping the northeast and the Great Lakes. This outcome was considered by most political commentators as an upset. Despite both candidates being relatively tied in polling, Romney held a slight lead for the entire campaign. Winter's victory has largely been attributed to his strong appeal to southern voters and a strong showing of blue collar voters for Winter nationally.