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The United States presidential election of 1986 was a contest between the Democratic national ticket of Pennsylvania Governor D.Wire Newman and Massachusetts Senator Roland Pierce and the Republican national ticket of Texas Senator Joseph Furman and Illinois Governor Jim Hohner. On Tuesday November 4th 1986, Newman won a narrow victory in both the electoral and popular vote.
Following the stroke of President Reagan in August 1985, it was clear that he would never be able to return to full duties, and under the 25th Amendment the Vice- President became the nations first Acting President. Many from both Parties began to support a grassroots campaign for a “special election” to be held in November 1986. Senate Majority Leader Joe Furman backed the election and following a ruling by the Supreme Court on November 18th and then a vote of Congress two days later it was agreed for a “special election” to be held on November 4th 1986.Agreement by both the Republican and Democratic parties, and under the strict guidelines proposed by the Supreme Court and Congress.
On Thursday December 12th Senate Majority Leader Joseph Furman declared his candidacy, after standing down as the Head of RNC election committee. The only other challenger was the Governor of Illinois Jim Hohner. Two men had looked at running where Georgia Senator Max Lobell, and the junior Senator from California Arnold Vinick but both decided against it. Furman looked on course for an easy victory on the way to the nomination. On Monday February Tenth 1986 he won the Iowa Caucus beating 68.3% to Hohner’s 31.7%. Eight Days later Hohner gave a better performance gaining 47.9% to Furman’s 52.1%. Furman won further victories in South Carolina, and Michigan, although Hohner won Nevada, and his native Illinois to keep the race alive. Then on Saturday March 15th California Governor Owen Lassiter announced he was entering the race. His campaign caught fire and won and impressive string on victories in North Carolina, Florida, and Ohio. Hohner dropped out of the race but refused to endorse either Furman or Lassiter. Furman bounced back to win in Texas, and from there the two candidates engaged in an increasingly bitter nip-and-tuck contest for delegates. By the time the Republican Convention opened in July 1986 the race for the nomination was still too close to call. Furman defeated Lassiter by a narrow margin on the first ballot at the 1986 Republican National Convention in New Orleans, and chose Governor Jim Hohner of Illinois as his running mate.
The surprise winner of the 1986 Democratic presidential nomination was DW Newman, the Governor of Pennsylvania. When the primaries began Newman was relatively unknown at a national level, and many political pundits regarded a number of better-known candidates, such as Senator Harvey Jackson of Oregon, Governor Peter Hamlinn of Florida, Mike Schafford, Governor of New York , and Martin Dale, Senator from New Jersey as the favorites for the nomination. However, in the wake of the Reagan Scandal, Newman realized that his status as a Washington "outsider", and moderate reformer could give him an advantage over his better-known "establishment" rivals. Newman built a formidable grassroots organization in the early states primaries and to eliminate his better-known rivals one-by-one. By early June 1986 he had captured more than enough delegates to win the Democratic nomination. At the 1986 Democratic National Convention Newman easily won the nomination on the first ballot; he then chose Massachusetts Senator Roland Pierce as his running mate.
Coming out of the conventions Newman held an average eight point lead in most of the polls, but going into September Furman had started to reduce it, before the campaign was hit by a string of disasters. The first was when campaign Manager Jimmy Holbuck resigned over the direction of the Furman campaign, and the fact that Furman was trying to micro-manage the entire campaign himself. On Sunday September 21st the two candidates meet in a highly moderated TV debate, the result was a lacklustre draw. But the main event of the campaign came two days later when Furman was caught on a microphone as he left an event in Louisville, Kentucky describing his opponent as a “tall freak” in reference to his height of 6’7. Newman hit back by listing his freakish behaviour including “his wife, Children and house” which brought up questions in regards to Furmans bachelorhood and his modest house in Texas. The race started to become a bitter and negative one, with questions regarding Furmans age, and that after the Reagan affair could the country risk another aged Commander-in-chief, whilst Furman saying in the dangerous world with the changes in the Soviet Union, America couldn’t risk a President who “needed training wheels”. After these bitter attacks, Furman refused to appear in the two scheduled TV debates for October, although the vice-presidential candidates of Hohner and Pierce did debate on Sunday October 12th at the Munro Hotel in Washington DC. Again like main debate three weeks before, the result was conceded a draw. Following these exchanges, and despite the mood from Furman that he had no chance of winning, he left much of the campaign to Hohner and new Campaign Manager Colt Merchant. Many where turned off by Newman’s attacks on Furman, and despite the many errors and mistakes, the gap in the polls started to close, and by Election Day on November 4th the race was judged a dead heat
Results The election turned out to be one of the closest in American history in both terms of the Electoral College and the popular vote. With the exceptions of Florida, Georgia and Alabama, Furman carried the rest of the Southern states and also secured wins in Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan. Newman balanced Furman by sweeping the Pacific Coast states of Washington, Oregon, and California, and carried Hawaii, as well. He also won Iowa and the bellwether sate of Missouri. Although a surprise came when Furman won three north-eastern states, Maine, New Hampshire and by just 1,329 votes Vermont. By early morning, Newman had won a total of 249 electoral votes, while Furman was just nine behind on 240. Just two states remained in play, Illinois with 24 electoral votes and Pennsylvania with 25 electoral votes, Newman needed to carry only one of the two, but Furman needed both. At 3.25 am EST, NBC called Illinois for Furman by a margin of 1.36%, some 62,758 votes. Furman now lead the Electoral College by 264 to 240, with just one state left Pennsylvania. The joy in the Furman camp did not last long, when at 3.43 NBC , followed two minutes later by CBS called Pennsylvania for Newman,Newman carried the state by 1.42%, 63,923 votes and was declared the winner and President elect of the United States. In a surprise move, Furman flew to Alabama from Texas to concede the race in person, and helped to reconcile the two men after the bitter election campaign.
Election Stats · The electoral vote was the closest since 1916; Newman took 20 states along with DC 274 electoral votes, while Furman won 30 states and 264 electoral votes. · Newman won the popular vote by just 315,170 votes, a mere 0.34% making it the closest election in terms of the popular vote since Kennedy’s win over Nixon in 1960, when the margin was 0. 01%. · The 30 states Furman won were and remain the most states ever carried by a losing candidate. Ford in 1976, Eisenhower in 1998 and Vinick in 2006 all carried 27 states. · Furman also became the first candidate since Nixon in 1960 to win the state of Ohio and lose the election. Eisenhower and Vinick would also achieve the same feat in 1998 and 2006. ·Also, this was the first time since 1964 that the following states voted Democratic, California, Connecticut,Iowa, New Jersey, and Oregon. ·This was also the first time a Democrat won the White House without winning the state of Texas. Josiah Bartlet would go onto win twice without it in 1998 and 2002. ·Newman is one of only six Democrats to gain a majority of the popular vote since the Civil War, with the others being Samuel Tilden, Franklin Roosevelt Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, and Josiah Bartlet.