1988 United States presidential election

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1988 United States presidential election
Flag of the United States (Pantone).svg
  1984 November 8, 1988 1992  

All 538 electoral votes of the Electoral College
270 electoral votes needed to win
Turnout50.2% [1] Decrease2.svg 3.1 pp
  1988 Bush.jpg 1988 Dukakis.jpg
Nominee George H. W. Bush Michael Dukakis
Party Republican Democratic
Home state Texas Massachusetts
Running mate Dan Quayle Lloyd Bentsen
Electoral vote426111 [2]
States carried4010 + DC
Popular vote48,886,59741,809,074
Percentage53.4%45.6%

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1988 United States presidential election
Presidential election results map. Red denotes states won by Bush/Quayle, blue denotes those won by Dukakis/Bentsen, light blue is the electoral vote for Bentsen/Dukakis by a West Virginia faithless elector. Numbers indicate electoral votes allotted to the winner of each state.

President before election

Ronald Reagan
Republican

Elected President

George H. W. Bush
Republican

Ronald Reagan, the incumbent president in 1988, whose term expired on January 20, 1989 Ronald Reagan presidential portrait crop.jpg
Ronald Reagan, the incumbent president in 1988, whose term expired on January 20, 1989

The 1988 United States presidential election was the 51st quadrennial United States presidential election. It was held on Tuesday, November 8, 1988. Incumbent Vice President George H. W. Bush, the Republican nominee, defeated Democratic Governor Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts. The 1988 election is the only election since 1948 in which either major party won a third straight presidential election.

United States presidential election type of election in the United States

The election of the president and the vice president of the United States is an indirect election in which citizens of the United States who are registered to vote in one of the 50 U.S. states or in Washington, D.C. cast ballots not directly for those offices, but instead for members of the U.S. Electoral College, known as electors. These electors then in turn cast direct votes, known as electoral votes, for president, and for vice president. The candidate who receives an absolute majority of electoral votes is then elected to that office. If no candidate receives an absolute majority of the votes for President, the House of Representatives chooses the winner; if no one receives an absolute majority of the votes for Vice President, then the Senate chooses the winner.

Vice President of the United States Second highest executive office in United States

The vice president of the United States is the second-highest officer in the executive branch of the U.S. federal government, after the president of the United States, and ranks first in the presidential line of succession. The vice president is also an officer in the legislative branch, as president of the Senate. In this capacity, the vice president is empowered to preside over Senate deliberations, but may not vote except to cast a tie-breaking vote. The vice president also presides over joint sessions of Congress.

George H. W. Bush 41st president of the United States

George Herbert Walker Bush was an American politician and businessman who served as the 41st president of the United States from 1989 to 1993 and the 43rd vice president from 1981 to 1989. A member of the Republican Party, Bush also served in the U.S. House of Representatives, as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and as Director of Central Intelligence. Later in life, he was known publicly as George H. W. Bush to distinguish him from his eldest son George W. Bush, who served as the nation's 43rd president from 2001 to 2009.

Contents

Incumbent President Ronald Reagan was ineligible to seek a third term, due to term limits established by the 22nd Amendment to the United States Constitution. Bush entered the 1988 Republican primaries as the front-runner. He defeated Senator Bob Dole and televangelist Pat Robertson to win the nomination, and selected Senator Dan Quayle of Indiana as his running mate. Dukakis won the 1988 Democratic primaries after Democratic leaders such as Gary Hart and Ted Kennedy withdrew or declined to run. He selected Senator Lloyd Bentsen of Texas – who had defeated Bush in a U.S. Senate race 18 years earlier – as his running mate.

President of the United States Head of state and of government of the United States

The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government of the United States of America. The president directs the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces.

Ronald Reagan 40th president of the United States and conservative spokesman

Ronald Wilson Reagan was an American politician who served as the 40th president of the United States from 1981 to 1989 and became the highly influential voice of modern conservatism. Prior to his presidency, he was a Hollywood actor and union leader before serving as the 33rd governor of California from 1967 to 1975.

Twenty-second Amendment to the United States Constitution Constitutional amendment limiting U.S. presidents to 2.5 terms

The Twenty-second Amendment to the United States Constitution sets a limit on the number of times an individual is eligible for election to the office of President of the United States, and also sets additional eligibility conditions for presidents who succeed to the unexpired terms of their predecessors.

Running an aggressive campaign, Bush concentrated on the economy and continuing Reagan's policies. He attacked Dukakis as an elitist "Massachusetts liberal", and Dukakis appeared to fail to respond effectively to Bush's criticism. Despite Dukakis's initial lead, Bush pulled ahead in opinion polling conducted in September and won by a substantial margin in both the popular and electoral vote. No candidate since 1988 has managed to equal or surpass Bush's share of the electoral or popular vote. Dukakis won 45.6% of the popular vote and carried ten states and Washington, D.C. Bush became the first sitting vice president to be elected president since Martin Van Buren in 1836.

Massachusetts liberal is a phrase in American politics which is generally used as a pejorative political epithet by Republicans against Democrats who are from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It was most significantly used in the 1988 presidential race by Vice President George H.W. Bush against Governor Michael Dukakis, and again in the 2004 race by then-President George W. Bush against Senator John Kerry. The Democratic candidates lost both races. In the Republican 2012 presidential primary election Newt Gingrich used the phrase "Massachusetts moderate," based on the liberal pejorative, repeatedly against Mitt Romney, the former Governor of Massachusetts, whose main residence was a mansion in the state. Romney went on to win the nomination, but lost the presidential election.

Washington, D.C. Capital of the United States

Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington or D.C., is the capital of the United States. Founded after the American Revolution as the seat of government of the newly independent country, Washington was named after George Washington, the first president of the United States and a Founding Father. As the seat of the United States federal government and several international organizations, Washington is an important world political capital. The city, located on the Potomac River bordering Maryland and Virginia, is one of the most visited cities in the world, with more than 20 million tourists annually.

Martin Van Buren Eighth president of the United States

Martin Van Buren was an American statesman who served as the eighth president of the United States from 1837 to 1841. He was the first president born after the independence of the United States from the British Empire. A founder of the Democratic Party, he previously served as the ninth governor of New York, the tenth United States secretary of state, and the eighth vice president of the United States. He won the 1836 presidential election with the endorsement of popular outgoing President Andrew Jackson and the organizational strength of the Democratic Party. He lost his 1840 reelection bid to Whig Party nominee William Henry Harrison, due in part to the poor economic conditions of the Panic of 1837. Later in his life, Van Buren emerged as an elder statesman and important anti-slavery leader, who led the Free Soil Party ticket in the 1848 presidential election.

Republican Party nomination

Republican candidates

Bob Dole American politician

Robert Joseph Dole is a retired American politician, statesman, and attorney who represented Kansas in the U.S House of Representatives from 1961 to 1969 and in the U.S. Senate from 1969 to 1996, serving as the Republican Leader of the United States Senate from 1985 until 1996. He was the Republican presidential nominee in the 1996 presidential election and the party's vice presidential nominee in the 1976 presidential election.

Kansas U.S. state in the United States

Kansas is a U.S. state in the Midwestern United States. Its capital is Topeka and its largest city is Wichita, with its most populated county being Johnson County. Kansas is bordered by Nebraska on the north; Missouri on the east; Oklahoma on the south; and Colorado on the west. Kansas is named after the Kansas River, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native Americans who lived along its banks. The tribe's name is often said to mean "people of the (south) wind" although this was probably not the term's original meaning. For thousands of years, what is now Kansas was home to numerous and diverse Native American tribes. Tribes in the eastern part of the state generally lived in villages along the river valleys. Tribes in the western part of the state were semi-nomadic and hunted large herds of bison.

Pat Robertson American media mogul, former Southern Baptist minister and presidential candidate

Marion Gordon "Pat" Robertson is an American media mogul, televangelist, political commentator, former Republican presidential candidate, and former Southern Baptist minister. Robertson advocates a conservative Christian ideology and is known for his past activities in Republican party politics. He is associated with the Charismatic Movement within Protestant evangelicalism. He serves as chancellor and CEO of Regent University and chairman of the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN). He appears daily on The 700 Club, CBN’s flagship television program.

Republican Party Ticket, 1988
George H. W. Bush Dan Quayle
for Presidentfor Vice President
1988 Bush.jpg
Dan Quayle crop.jpg
43rd
Vice President of the United States
(1981–1989)
U.S. Senator
from Indiana
(1981–1989)
Campaign
Bushquayle1988.gif

Vice President George H. W. Bush pledged to continue President Ronald Reagan's policies, but also vowed a "kinder and gentler nation" in an attempt to win over some more moderate voters. The duties delegated to him during Reagan's second term (mostly because of the President's advanced age, Reagan turning 78 just after he left office) gave him an unusually high level of experience for a vice president.

Bush unexpectedly came in third in the Iowa caucus, which he had won in 1980, behind Dole and Robertson. Dole was also leading in the polls of the New Hampshire primary, and the Bush camp responded by running television commercials portraying Dole as a tax raiser, while Governor John H. Sununu campaigned for Bush. Dole did nothing to counter these ads and Bush won, thereby gaining crucial momentum, which he called "Big Mo". [13]

New Hampshire primary

The New Hampshire primary is the first in a series of nationwide party primary elections and the second party contest held in the United States every four years as part of the process of choosing the delegates to the Democratic and Republican national conventions which choose the party nominees for the presidential elections to be held the subsequent November. Although only a few delegates are chosen in the New Hampshire primary, its real importance comes from the massive media coverage it receives. Spurred by the events of the 1968 election, reforms that began with the 1972 election elevated the two states' importance to the overall election, and began to receive as much media attention as all other state contests combined. Examples of this extraordinary coverage have been seen on the campuses of Dartmouth College and Saint Anselm College, as the colleges have held multiple national debates and have attracted media outlets like NPR, Fox News, CNN, NBC, and ABC. The publicity and momentum can be enormous from a decisive win by a frontrunner, or better-than-expected result in the New Hampshire primary. The upset or weak showing by a front-runner changes the calculus of national politics in a matter of hours, as happened in 1952 (D), 1968 (D), 1980 (R), and 2008 (D).

John H. Sununu American politician

John Henry Sununu is an American politician who served as the 75th Governor of New Hampshire (1983–89) and later White House Chief of Staff under President George H. W. Bush. He is the father of John E. Sununu, the former United States Senator from New Hampshire, and Christopher Sununu, the current governor of New Hampshire. Sununu was the chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party from 2009 to 2011.

Once the multiple-state primaries such as Super Tuesday began, Bush's organizational strength and fund raising lead were impossible for the other candidates to match, and the nomination was his. The Republican Party convention was held in New Orleans, Louisiana. Bush was nominated unanimously. Bush selected U.S. Senator Dan Quayle of Indiana as his running mate.

In his acceptance speech, Bush made the pledge "Read my lips: No new taxes", a comment that would come to haunt him constantly as the economy collapsed in early to mid 1990, which contributed to his loss in the 1992 election.

Democratic Party nomination

The candidates seeking the Democratic party nomination were:

Democratic Party Ticket, 1988
Michael Dukakis Lloyd Bentsen
for Presidentfor Vice President
1988 Dukakis.jpg
Lloyd Bentsen crop.jpg
65th and 67th
Governor of Massachusetts
(1975–1979, 1983–1991)
U.S. Senator
from Texas
(1971–1993)
Campaign
Dukakisbentsen1988.gif

In the 1984 presidential election the Democrats had nominated Walter Mondale, a traditional New Deal-type[ clarification needed ] liberal as their candidate. When Mondale was defeated in a landslide, party leaders became eager to find a new approach to get away from the 1980 and 1984 debacles. After Bush's image was affected by his involvement on the Iran-Contra scandal much more than Reagan's, and after the Democrats won back control of the U.S. Senate in the 1986 congressional elections following an economic downturn, the party's leaders felt optimistic about having a closer race with the GOP in 1988, although probabilities of winning the presidency were still marginal given the climate of prosperity.

One goal of the party was to find a new, fresh candidate who could move beyond the traditional New Deal-Great Society ideas of the past and offer a new image of the Democrats to the public. To this end party leaders tried to recruit the New York Governor, Mario Cuomo, to be a candidate. Cuomo had impressed many Democrats with his keynote speech at the 1984 Democratic Convention, and they believed he would be a strong candidate. [25] After Cuomo chose not to run, the Democratic frontrunner for most of 1987 was former Colorado Senator Gary Hart. [26] He had made a strong showing in the 1984 presidential primaries and, after Mondale's defeat, had positioned himself as the moderate centrist many Democrats felt their party would need to win. [27]

But questions and rumors about extramarital affairs and past debts dogged Hart's campaign. [28] Hart had told New York Times reporters who questioned him about these rumors that, if they followed him around, they would "be bored". In a separate investigation, the Miami Herald had received an anonymous tip from a friend of Donna Rice that Rice was involved with Hart. After his affair emerged, the Herald reporters found Hart's quote in a pre-print of The New York Times magazine. [29] After the Herald's findings were publicized, many other media outlets picked up the story and Hart's ratings in the polls plummeted. On May 8, 1987, a week after the Rice story broke, Hart dropped out of the race. [28] His campaign chair, Representative Patricia Schroeder, tested the waters for about four months after Hart's withdrawal, but decided in September 1987 that she would not run. [30] In December 1987, Hart surprised many pundits by resuming his campaign, [31] but the allegations of adultery had delivered a fatal blow to his candidacy, and he did poorly in the primaries before dropping out again. [32]

Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts had been considered a potential candidate, but he ruled himself out of the race in the fall of 1985. Two other politicians mentioned as possible candidates, both from Arkansas, did not join the race: Senator Dale Bumpers and Governor and future President Bill Clinton.

Joe Biden's campaign also ended in controversy after he was accused of plagiarizing a speech by Neil Kinnock, then-leader of the British Labour Party. [33] The Dukakis campaign secretly released a video in which Biden was filmed repeating a Kinnock stump speech with only minor modifications. [34] This ultimately led him to drop out of the race. Dukakis later revealed that his campaign was responsible for leaking the tape, and two members of his staff resigned. The Delaware Supreme Court's Board on Professional Responsibility would later clear Biden of the law school plagiarism charges. [35]

Al Gore, a Senator from Tennessee, also chose to run for the nomination. Turning 40 in 1988, he would have been the youngest man to contest the Presidency on a major party ticket since William Jennings Bryan in 1896, and the youngest president ever if elected, younger than John F. Kennedy at election age and Theodore Roosevelt at age of assumption of office. He eventually became the 45th Vice President of the United States under Bill Clinton, then the Democratic presidential nominee in 2000. Gore was later defeated by George W. Bush, George H.W.'s son, in 2000.

Primaries

After Hart withdrew from the race, no clear frontrunner emerged before the primaries and caucuses began. The Iowa caucus was won by Dick Gephardt, who had been sagging heavily in the polls until, three weeks before the vote, he began campaigning as a populist and his numbers surged. Illinois Senator Paul M. Simon finished a surprising second, and Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis finished third. In the New Hampshire primary, Dukakis came in first, Gephardt fell to second, and Simon came in third. In an effort to weaken Gephardt's candidacy, both Dukakis and Gore ran negative television ads against Gephardt. The ads convinced the United Auto Workers, which had endorsed Gephardt, to withdraw their endorsement; this crippled Gephardt, as he relied heavily on the support of labor unions.

In the Super Tuesday races, Dukakis won six primaries, to Gore's five, Jesse Jackson five and Gephardt one, with Gore and Jackson splitting the Southern states. The next week, Simon won Illinois with Jackson finishing second. 1988 remains the race with the most candidates winning primaries since the McGovern reforms of 1971.[ clarification needed ] Jackson captured 6.9 million votes and won 11 contests: seven primaries (Alabama, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Puerto Rico and Virginia) and four caucuses (Delaware, Michigan, South Carolina and Vermont). He also scored March victories in Alaska's caucuses and Texas's local conventions, despite losing the Texas primary. Briefly, after he won 55% of the vote in the Michigan Democratic caucus, he had more pledged delegates than all the other candidates.

Jackson's campaign suffered a significant setback less than two weeks later when he was defeated in the Wisconsin primary by Dukakis. Dukakis's win in New York and then in Pennsylvania effectively ended Jackson's hopes for the nomination.

Democratic Convention

The Democratic Party Convention was held in Atlanta, Georgia from July 18–21. Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton placed Dukakis's name in nomination, but the nominating speech lasted for so long that some delegates began booing to get him to finish, and he received great cheering when he said, "In closing...". [36]

Texas State Treasurer Ann Richards, who was elected the state governor two years later, gave a speech attacking George Bush, including the line "Poor George, he can't help it, he was born with a silver foot in his mouth."

With only Jackson remaining as an active candidate to oppose Dukakis, the tally for president was:

Balloting
Presidential ballotVice Presidential ballot
Michael S. Dukakis 2,876.25 Lloyd M. Bentsen 4,162
Jesse L. Jackson 1,218.5
Richard H. Stallings 3
Joe Biden 2
Richard A. Gephardt 2
Gary W. Hart 1
Lloyd M. Bentsen 1

Jackson's supporters said that since their candidate had finished in second place, he was entitled to the vice-presidential spot. Dukakis disagreed, and instead selected Senator Lloyd Bentsen from Texas. Bentsen's selection led many in the media to dub the ticket the "Boston-Austin" axis, and to compare it to the pairing of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1960 presidential campaign. Like Dukakis and Bentsen, Kennedy and Johnson were from Massachusetts and Texas respectively.

Other nominations

Libertarian Party

Former Representative Ron Paul ran on the Libertarian ticket. He returned to the House of Representatives in 1997 as a Republican. Ron paul.jpg
Former Representative Ron Paul ran on the Libertarian ticket. He returned to the House of Representatives in 1997 as a Republican.

Ron Paul and Andre Marrou formed the ticket for the Libertarian Party. Their campaign called for the adoption of a global policy on military nonintervention, advocated an end to the federal government's involvement with education, and criticized Reagan's "bailout" of the Soviet Union. Paul was a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, first elected as a Republican from Texas in an April 1976 special election. He protested the War on Drugs in a letter to Drug Czar William Bennett.[ when? ]

New Alliance Party

Lenora Fulani ran for the New Alliance Party, and focused on issues concerning unemployment, healthcare, and homelessness. The party had full ballot access, meaning Fulani and her running mate, Joyce Dattner, were the first women to receive ballot access in all 50 states. [37] Fulani was the first African American to do so.

Socialist Party

Willa Kenoyer and Ron Ehrenreich ran for the Socialist Party, advocating a decentralist government approach with policies determined by the needs of the workers.

Populist Party

David E. Duke stood for the Populist Party. A former leader of the Louisiana Ku Klux Klan, he advocated a mixture of White nationalist and separatist policies with more traditionally conservative positions, such as opposition to most immigration from Latin America and to affirmative action.

General election

Campaign

During the election, the Bush campaign sought to portray Governor Dukakis as an unreasonable "Massachusetts liberal." Dukakis was attacked for such positions as opposing mandatory recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in schools, and being a "card-carrying member of the ACLU" (a statement Dukakis made himself early in the primary campaign). Dukakis responded by saying that he was a "proud liberal" and that the phrase should not be a bad word in America. Bush, a graduate of Yale University, derided Dukakis for having "foreign-policy views born in Harvard Yard's boutique." [38] New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd asked "Wasn't this a case of the pot calling the kettle elite?" Bush said that, unlike Harvard, Yale's reputation was "so diffuse, there isn't a symbol, I don't think, in the Yale situation, any symbolism in it.... Harvard boutique to me has the connotation of liberalism and elitism," and said Harvard in his remark was intended to represent "a philosophical enclave" and not a statement about class. [39] Columnist Russell Baker opined that "Voters inclined to loathe and fear elite Ivy League schools rarely make fine distinctions between Yale and Harvard. All they know is that both are full of rich, fancy, stuck-up and possibly dangerous intellectuals who never sit down to supper in their undershirt no matter how hot the weather gets." [40]

Michael Dukakis on tank Michael Dukakis in tank.jpg
Michael Dukakis on tank

Governor Dukakis attempted to quell criticism that he was ignorant on military matters by staging a photo op in which he rode in an M1 Abrams tank outside a General Dynamics plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan. [41] The move ended up being regarded as a major public relations blunder, with many mocking Dukakis's appearance as he waved to the crowd from the tank. Footage of Dukakis was used by the Bush campaign as evidence he would not make a good commander-in-chief, and the incident remains a commonly cited example of backfired public relations outings. [42] [43]

Michael Dukakis at a campaign rally at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion on the eve of the 1988 election Dukakis1988rally.jpg
Michael Dukakis at a campaign rally at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion on the eve of the 1988 election

One reason for Bush's choice of running mate, Senator Dan Quayle, was to appeal to a younger generation of Americans identified with the "Reagan Revolution". Quayle's looks were praised by Senator John McCain: "I can't believe a guy that handsome wouldn't have some impact." [44] Quayle was not a seasoned politician, however, and made a number of embarrassing statements. The Dukakis team attacked Quayle's credentials, saying he was "dangerously inexperienced to be first-in-line to the presidency." [45]

During the Vice Presidential debate, Quayle attempted to dispel such allegations by comparing his experience with that of former Senator John F. Kennedy, who had also been a young political rookie when running for the presidency (Kennedy had served fourteen years in Congress to Quayle's twelve). Quayle said, "I have as much experience in the Congress as Jack Kennedy did when he sought the presidency." "Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy," Dukakis's running mate, Lloyd Bentsen, responded. "Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy." [46]

Quayle responded, "That was really uncalled for, Senator," to which Bentsen said, "You are the one that was making the comparison, Senator, and I'm one who knew him well. And frankly I think you are so far apart in the objectives you choose for your country that I did not think the comparison was well-taken."

Quayle's reaction to Bentsen's comment was played and replayed by the Democrats in subsequent television ads as an announcer intoned, "Quayle: just a heartbeat away." Despite much press about the Kennedy comments, this did not reduce the Bush-Quayle lead in the polls. Quayle had sought to use the debate to criticize Dukakis as too liberal rather than go point for point with the more seasoned Bentsen. Bentsen's attempts to defend Dukakis received little recognition, with greater attention on the Kennedy comparison.

During the course of the campaign, Dukakis fired his deputy field director Donna Brazile after she spread rumors that Bush had an affair with his assistant Jennifer Fitzgerald. [47] The relationship of George H.W. Bush and Jennifer Fitzgerald would be briefly rehashed during the 1992 campaign. [48] [49]

Dukakis was badly damaged by the Republicans' campaign commercials, including "Boston Harbor", [50] which attacked the governor's failure to clean up environmental pollution in the harbor, and especially by two racially-charged commercials ("Revolving Door" and "Weekend Passes"/aka "Willie Horton" [51] ) that portrayed him as "soft on crime". Dukakis was a strong supporter of Massachusetts's prison furlough program, which had begun before he was governor. As governor, Dukakis had vetoed a 1976 plan to bar inmates convicted of first-degree murder from the furlough program. In 1986, the program had resulted in the release of convicted murderer Willie Horton, an African American man who committed a rape and assault in Maryland while out on furlough.

A number of false rumors about Dukakis were reported in the media, including the claim by Idaho Republican Senator Steve Symms that Dukakis's wife Kitty had burned an American flag to protest the Vietnam War, [52] as well as the claim that Dukakis himself had been treated for a mental illness. [53] Bush's campaign manager Lee Atwater was accused of having floated these rumors. [54]

Voters were split as to who won the first presidential debate. [55] Bush improved in the second debate. Before the second debate, Dukakis had been suffering from the flu and spent much of the day in bed. His performance was generally seen as poor and played to his reputation of being intellectually cold. Reporter Bernard Shaw opened the debate by asking Dukakis whether he would support the death penalty if Kitty Dukakis were raped and murdered; Dukakis said "no" and discussed the statistical ineffectiveness of capital punishment. Some commentators thought the question itself was unfair, in that it injected an overly emotional element into the discussion of a policy issue, but many observers felt Dukakis's answer lacked the normal emotions one would expect of a person talking about a loved one's rape and murder. [56] Tom Brokaw of NBC reported on his October 14 newscast, "The consensus tonight is that Vice President George Bush won last night's debate and made it all the harder for Governor Michael Dukakis to catch and pass him in the 25 days remaining. In all of the Friday morning quarterbacking, there was common agreement that Dukakis failed to seize the debate and make it his night." [57]

Debates

There were two presidential debates and one vice presidential debate during the 1988 general election. [58]

Debates among candidates for the 1988 U.S. presidential election
No.DateHostLocationPanelistsModeratorParticipantsViewership

(Millions)

P1Sunday, September 25, 1988 Wake Forest University Winston-Salem, North Carolina John Mashek

Peter Jennings

Anne Groer

Jim Lehrer Vice President George H. W. Bush

Governor Michael Dukakis

65.1 [58]
VPWednesday, October 5, 1988 Omaha Civic Auditorium Omaha, Nebraska Tom Brokaw

Jon Margolis

Brit Hume

Judy Woodruff Senator Dan Quayle

Senator Lloyd Bentsen

46.9 [58]
P2Thursday, October 13, 1988 University of California, Los Angeles Los Angeles, California Andrea Mitchell

Ann Compton

Margaret Warner

Bernard Shaw Vice President George H. W. Bush

Governor Michael Dukakis

67.3 [58]

Polling

Poll sourceDate(s)
administered
Sample
size
Margin of
error
George
Bush (R)
Michael
Dukakis (D)
OtherUndecided
NBC News/Wall Street Journal October 23–26, 19881,285 LV± 46%51%42%
NBC News/Wall Street Journal October 14–16, 19881,378 LV± 3%55%38%
Gallup September 14–19, 19881,020 RV± 3%47%42%
ABC News/Washington Post September 14–19, 19881,271 LV± 3%50%46%
Gallup July 21–22, 1988948 RV± 4%38%55%
New York Times/CBS News July 8–10, 19881,001 RV± %41%47%
Gallup June 24–26, 19881,056 RV± 3%41%46%
New York Times/CBS News May 9–12, 19881,056 RV± %39%49%

Results

Chief Justice William Rehnquist administering the oath of office to President George H. W. Bush on January 20, 1989 at the United States Capitol George H. W. Bush inauguration.jpg
Chief Justice William Rehnquist administering the oath of office to President George H. W. Bush on January 20, 1989 at the United States Capitol
Election results by county.
George H.W. Bush
Michael Dukakis 1988prescountymap2.PNG
Election results by county.

In the November 8 election, Bush won a majority of the popular vote and a lopsided majority (40) of states in the Electoral College. [59]

Bush performed very strongly among suburban voters, perhaps owing to his campaign themes of law and order, punctuated by his criticisms of the Massachusetts furlough program, as well as his "read my lips, no new taxes" pledge.[ citation needed ] This was a boon in several swing states. In Illinois, Bush won 69% in DuPage County and 63% in Lake County, suburban areas which adjoin Chicago's Cook County. In Pennsylvania, he swept the group of suburban counties that surround Philadelphia, including Bucks, Delaware, Chester, and Montgomery. Bush also won most of the counties in Maryland. New Jersey, known at the time for its many suburban voters and its moderate Republicanism, went easily for Bush.

In contrast to the suburbs, Bush's percentage of votes in rural counties was significantly below the support they gave Reagan in 1980 and 1984. In Illinois, Bush lost a number of downstate counties that previously went for Reagan. He lost the state of Iowa by a surprisingly wide margin, losing counties all across the state even in traditionally Republican areas. The rural state of West Virginia remained narrowly in the Democratic column. Bush also performed weaker in the northern counties of Missouri, narrowly winning that state. In three typically solid Republican states, Kansas, South Dakota, and Montana, the vote was much closer than usual. The farm states had fared poorly since the recession of the mid-to-late 1970s and early 1980s, and Dukakis was the beneficiary of these agricultural problems.[ citation needed ] Probably as a result of this, 1988 is the only election since 1916 when Blaine County, Montana supported a losing presidential candidate, [60] the only occasion since 1948 when Sargent County, North Dakota did not support the winning candidate, [61] and the last occasion as of 2016 when neighbouring Marshall County, South Dakota did not predict the winner. [62]

Bush's greatest area of strength was in the South, where he won most states by wide margins. He also performed very well in the Northeast, winning Maine (where he had a residence), New Hampshire (at the time a Republican stronghold), Vermont (at the time a bastion of liberal and moderate Republicanism), and Connecticut (where his father Prescott Bush had been a senator). Bush lost New York by a margin of just over 4%. He also won Delaware, a swing state at the time. Despite the presence of Lloyd Bentsen on the Democratic ticket (and other Texans getting prominent roles at the Democratic convention), Bush won Texas by 12 points. He lost the Pacific northwestern states but kept California in the Republican column for the sixth straight time, however the margin was rather narrow as he won it by 3.57% a sign of the state moving more to the left. This was, to date, the last presidential election in which a Republican candidate won California.

Bush carried certain states that have not voted for a Republican since, such as Vermont, all of Maine, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Illinois, and California, while Michigan and Pennsylvania would not vote Republican again until 2016, as did Maine's 2nd congressional district. Meanwhile, New Mexico wouldn't vote Republican again until 2004, and Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Tennessee wouldn't vote Republican again until 2000. This election was the last time that a Republican was elected president without winning West Virginia. Neither his victory percentage (53.4%) nor his total electoral votes (426) have been surpassed in any subsequent presidential election. Barack Obama came closest in the former with 52.9% in 2008, and Bill Clinton closest in the latter with 379 electoral votes in 1996. Bush was the last candidate to receive an absolute majority of the popular vote until his son George W. Bush's 2004 election. This was the last election to date in which a Republican presidential nominee won a majority of Northern electoral votes, and was also the first election since 1960 when the state of Wisconsin backed the losing candidate as well.[ citation needed ] This was also the last election until 2016 in which Wisconsin did not vote the same as Illinois.[ citation needed ]This is the first time a Republican won presidential election without carrying Iowa (the only other time being the 2000 election), the second time a Republican was elected without carrying Oregon (the first was in the 1868 election) and the last time a Republican carried any of the contiguous states on the West Coast. The two most closely contested states were Washington, where Dukakis won by less than 2% of the vote, and Illinois, which Bush won by slightly more than 2%.

Bush's campaign was also the last time to date that a Republican presidential campaign won a majority or plurality among women voters. [63]

Statistics

Electoral Results
Presidential candidatePartyHome statePopular voteElectoral
vote
Running mate
CountPercentageVice-presidential candidateHome stateElectoral vote
George Herbert Walker Bush Republican Texas 48,886,59753.37%426 James Danforth Quayle Indiana 426
Michael Stanley Dukakis Democratic Massachusetts 41,809,47645.65%111 Lloyd Millard Bentsen, Jr. Texas111
Lloyd Millard Bentsen, Jr. Democratic Texas(a)(a)1 Michael S. Dukakis Massachusetts 1
Ronald Ernest Paul Libertarian Texas431,7500.47%0 Andre Verne Marrou Alaska 0
Lenora Branch Fulani New Alliance Pennsylvania 217,2210.24%0(b)0
Other249,6420.27%Other
Total91,594,686100%538538
Needed to win270270

Source (popular vote): "Electoral College Box Scores 1789–1996". National Archives and Records Administration . Retrieved August 7, 2005., Leip, David. "1988 Presidential Election Results". Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections. Retrieved August 7, 2005.

Source (electoral vote): "Electoral College Box Scores 1789–1996". National Archives and Records Administration . Retrieved August 7, 2005.
(a) West Virginia faithless elector Margarette Leach voted for Bentsen as president and Dukakis as vice president in order to make a statement against the U.S. Electoral College.
(b)Fulani's running mate varied from state to state. [64] Among the six vice presidential candidates were Joyce Dattner, Harold Moore, [65] and Wynonia Burke. [66]

Popular vote
Bush
53.37%
Dukakis
45.65%
Paul
0.47%
Others
0.51%
Electoral vote
Bush
79.18%
Dukakis
20.63%
Bentsen
0.19%
ElectoralCollege1988-Large.png

Results by state

Source: [67]

States/districts won by Bush/Quayle
States/districts won by Dukakis/Bentsen
George H.W. Bush
Republican
Michael Dukakis
Democratic
Ron Paul
Libertarian
Lenora Fulani
New Alliance
MarginState Total
Stateelectoral
votes
#%electoral
votes
#%electoral
votes
#%electoral
votes
#%electoral
votes
#%#
Alabama 9815,57659.179549,50639.868,4600.613,3110.24266,07019.301,378,476AL
Alaska 3119,25159.59372,58436.275,4842.741,0240.5146,66723.32200,116AK
Arizona 7702,54159.957454,02938.7413,3511.141,6620.14248,51221.211,171,873AZ
Arkansas 6466,57856.376349,23742.193,2970.402,1610.26117,34114.18827,738AR
California 475,054,91751.13474,702,23347.5670,1050.7131,1800.32352,6843.579,887,064CA
Colorado 8728,17753.068621,45345.2815,4821.132,5390.19106,7247.781,372,394CO
Connecticut 8750,24151.988676,58446.8714,0710.972,4910.1773,6575.101,443,394CT
Delaware 3139,63955.883108,64743.481,1620.474430.1830,99212.40249,891DE
D.C. 327,59014.30159,40782.6535540.292,9011.50−131,817−68.34192,877DC
Florida 212,618,88560.87211,656,70138.5119,7960.466,6550.15962,18422.364,302,313FL
Georgia 121,081,33159.7512714,79239.508,4350.475,0990.28366,53920.251,809,672GA
Hawaii 4158,62544.75192,36454.2741,9990.561,0030.28−33,739−9.52354,461HI
Idaho 4253,88162.084147,27236.015,3131.302,5020.61106,60926.07408,968ID
Illinois 242,310,93950.69242,215,94048.6014,9440.3310,2760.2394,9992.084,559,120IL
Indiana 121,297,76359.8412860,64339.6910,2150.47437,12020.162,168,621IN
Iowa 8545,35544.50670,55754.7182,4940.205400.04−125,202−10.221,225,614IA
Kansas 7554,04955.797422,63642.5612,5531.263,8060.38131,41313.23993,044KS
Kentucky 9734,28155.529580,36843.882,1180.161,2560.09153,91311.641,322,517KY
Louisiana 10883,70254.2710734,28144.064,1150.252,3550.14166,24210.211,628,202LA
Maine 4307,13155.344243,56943.882,7000.491,4050.2563,56211.45555,035ME
Maryland 10876,16751.1110826,30448.206,7480.395,1150.3049,8632.911,714,358MD
Massachusetts 131,194,64445.381,401,40653.231324,2510.929,5610.36−206,762−7.852,632,805MA
Michigan 201,965,48653.57201,675,78345.6718,3360.502,5130.07289,7037.903,669,163MI
Minnesota 10962,33745.901,109,47152.91105,1090.241,7340.08−147,134−7.022,096,790MN
Mississippi 7557,89059.897363,92139.073,3290.362,1550.23193,96920.82931,527MS
Missouri 111,084,95351.83111,001,61947.856,6560.3283,3343.982,093,228MO
Montana 4190,41252.074168,93646.205,0471.381,2790.3521,4765.87365,674MT
Nebraska 5398,44760.155259,64639.202,5360.381,7430.26138,80120.96662,372NE
Nevada 4206,04058.864132,73837.923,5201.018350.2473,30220.94350,067NV
New Hampshire 4281,53762.494163,69636.334,5021.007900.18117,84126.16450,525NH
New Jersey 161,743,19256.24161,320,35242.608,4210.275,1390.17422,84013.643,099,553NJ
New Mexico 5270,34151.865244,49746.903,2680.632,2370.4325,8444.96521,287NM
New York 363,081,87147.523,347,88251.623612,1090.1915,8450.24−266,011−4.106,485,683NY
North Carolina 131,237,25857.9713890,16741.711,2630.065,6820.27347,09116.262,134,370NC
North Dakota 3166,55956.033127,73942.971,3150.443960.1338,82013.06297,261ND
Ohio 232,416,54955.00231,939,62944.1511,9890.2712,0170.27476,92010.854,393,699OH
Oklahoma 8678,36757.938483,42341.286,2610.532,9850.25194,94416.651,171,036OK
Oregon 7560,12646.61616,20651.28714,8111.236,4870.54−56,080−4.671,201,694OR
Pennsylvania 252,300,08750.70252,194,94448.3912,0510.274,3790.10105,1432.324,536,251PA
Rhode Island 4177,76143.93225,12355.6448250.202800.07−47,362−11.71404,620RI
South Carolina 8606,44361.508370,55437.584,9350.504,0770.41235,88923.92986,009SC
South Dakota 3165,41552.853145,56046.511,0600.347300.2319,8556.34312,991SD
Tennessee 11947,23357.8911679,79441.552,0410.121,3340.08267,43916.341,636,250TN
Texas 293,036,82955.95292,352,74843.3530,3550.567,2080.13684,08112.605,427,410TX
Utah 5428,44266.225207,34332.057,4731.164550.07221,09934.17647,008UT
Vermont 3124,33151.103115,77547.581,0030.412050.088,5563.52243,333VT
Virginia 121,309,16259.7412859,79939.238,3360.3814,3120.65449,36320.502,191,609VA
Washington 10903,83548.46933,51650.051017,2400.923,5200.19−29,681−1.591,865,253WA
West Virginia 6310,06547.46341,01652.2052,2300.34−30,951−4.74653,311WV
Wisconsin 111,047,49947.801,126,79451.41115,1570.241,9530.09−79,295−3.622,191,608WI
Wyoming 3106,86760.53367,11338.012,0261.155450.3139,75422.52176,551WY
TOTALS:53848,886,59753.3742641,809,47645.65111431,7500.47217,2210.247,077,1217.7391,594,686US

Close states

States with margin of victory less than 5% (195 electoral votes):

  1. Washington, 1.59%
  2. Illinois, 2.09%
  3. Pennsylvania, 2.31%
  4. Maryland, 2.91%
  5. Vermont, 3.52%
  6. California, 3.57%
  7. Wisconsin, 3.61%
  8. Missouri, 3.98%
  9. New York, 4.10%
  10. Oregon, 4.67%
  11. West Virginia, 4.74%
  12. New Mexico, 4.96%

States with margin of victory between 5% and 10% (70 electoral votes):

  1. Connecticut, 5.11%
  2. Montana, 5.87%
  3. South Dakota, 6.34%
  4. Minnesota, 7.01%
  5. Colorado, 7.78%
  6. Massachusetts, 7.85%
  7. Michigan, 7.90% (tipping point state)
  8. Hawaii, 9.52%

Voter demographics

The 1988 presidential vote by demographic subgroup
Demographic subgroupDukakisBush% of
total vote
Total vote4653100
Ideology
Liberals 821820
Moderates 514945
Conservatives 198133
Party
Democrats 831737
Republicans 89235
Independents 435726
Gender
Men425848
Women495152
Race
White 406085
Black 891110
Hispanic 70303
Age
18–29 years old475320
30–44 years old465435
45–59 years old425822
60 and older495122
Family income
Under $12,500633712
$12,500–25,000435720
$25,000–35,000435720
$35,000–50,000435720
$50,000–100,000396119
Over $100,00033675
Region
East 495125
Midwest 475328
South 415928
West 475319
Union households
Union 574325

Source: CBS News and The New York Times exit poll from the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research (11,645 surveyed) [68]

See also

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This article lists those who were potential candidates for the Republican nomination for Vice President of the United States in the 1988 election. Incumbent Vice President George H.W. Bush won the 1988 Republican nomination for President of the United States, and chose Indiana Senator Dan Quayle as his running mate. The selection of Quayle surprised many of Bush's closest advisers, who had expected Bush to pick a more well-known running mate. However, Bush adviser Roger Ailes helped convince Bush that Quayle would be able to effectively attack the Democratic presidential nominee, Michael Dukakis. Bush also liked Quayle's youth and felt that Quayle would make for a loyal vice president. The Bush-Quayle ticket ultimately defeated the Dukakis-Bentsen ticket in the 1988 election.

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Further reading