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United States Presidential Election (2006)

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United States presidential election, 2006

2002 ← Flag of the United States.svg → 2010

November 7, 2006
  Matt Santos Arnold Vinick
Nominee Matthew Santos Arnold Vinick
Party Democratic Party Republican
Home state Texas California
Running mate Leo McGarry[1] Ray Sullivan
Electoral vote 272 266
States carried 23 + DC 27
Popular vote ~ 50,000,000 ~ 50,000,000
Percentage ~50% ~50%


Presidential election results map. Red denotes states won by Vinick/Sullivan, Blue denotes those won by Santos/McGarry. Each number represents the electoral votes a state gave to one candidate.

Previous President
Josiah Bartlet
Democratic Party

The 2006 United States Presidential Election was a contest between Congressman Matthew Santos of Texas, and U.S. Senator Arnold Vinick of California. After one of the closest races in electoral history, Matthew Santos was elected with 272 electoral votes.

Democratic NominationEdit

Main Article: Democratic Presidential Primary Election (2006)

Candidate Current office Home state Current Status
Matt Santos
tMatt Santos
Congressman Texas Nominee
Bob Russel
tBob Russell
Vice President Colorado Defeated at nominating convention
John hoynes
tJohn Hoynes
Former Vice President Texas Defeated at nominating convention
Eric Baker
tEric Baker
Governor Pennsylvania

Draft movement unsuccessful

tRicky Rafferty
Senator Withdrew
Wendell Tripplehorn Senator Withdrew



Under the provisions of the Twenty-second Amendment, two-term incumbent President Josiah Bartlet was disqualified from running. As the primary season began, the three clear frontrunners for the Democrat's presidential nomination were Eric Baker, Bob Russell, and John Hoynes, with Baker leading in the polls in both Iowa and New Hampshire. Baker took himself out of the race in what was supposed to be his announcement speech in November 2005, saying that his reasons involved his family.

With Baker no longer in the running, many saw the race as a two-way battle between Russell and Hoynes, with the former taking the lead due to his incumbency as Vice President and the memories of the sex scandal that had forced Hoynes to resign the Vice Presidency. Bartlet's Deputy Chief of Staff, Josh Lyman, was unsatisfied with this matchup.

Lyman had been courted by both Hoynes and Russell to join their respective campaigns. However, despite previously working for Hoynes when he had been a Senator, their relationship soured dramatically during Hoynes' tenure as Vice President. Lyman doubted whether Russell could win the general election or make a good president even if he did. So he began fishing around for a candidate that he could run against Russell and Hoynes. Eventually, he settled on Democratic Representative Matt Santos of Texas after witnessing Santos' legislative prowess in getting a bipartisan Patients' Bill of Rights passed by the House of Representatives. Despite the fact that the three-term congressman had previously told Lyman that he was retiring from both Congress and politics, he was eventually persuaded to run.

The campaign's start was hardly a good omen for success. Headquartered in a run-down boating supply store, Santos soon found himself dead last in the polls out of a field of seven candidates in both Iowa and New Hampshire, due mainly to his prior opposition to ethanol subsidies and several disparaging remarks that he had made in years past about the Granite State resembling a "Mayflower reunion." Not helping matters in the least was Santos' campaign style, which called for an issues-oriented campaign in a state which has long been known as the "grip-and-grin capital of the world."

Although he lost the Iowa caucus by a wide margin, Santos was able to pull off a moral victory in the New Hampshire primary when he broadcast a live one minute ad in which he promised not to use negative campaigning against his opponents and to always speak for himself in his commercials, instead of trying to distance himself from them as the other candidates had. These promises apparently struck a chord with voters, as Santos managed to take third-place, behind Russell and Hoynes, with 19% of the vote.

His celebration, however, was short-lived, as Senator Ricky Rafferty, a newly-declared candidate, managed to steal both media attention and the "insurgency candidate" image from Santos. Foremost in Rafferty's left-wing campaign was a plan for single-payer universal health care, which was secretly supplied to her by White House Communications Director Toby Ziegler. Although it was never specifically stated on the show, it appears that Senator Rafferty stayed in the race until the South Carolina primary before dropping out. Hoynes won the South Carolina primary, due to his popularity among southerners and moderates.

During the time between the New Hampshire primary and Super Tuesday, Santos had managed to win primaries in Arizona and New Mexico, but he had come in third in most of the others. In fact, his prospects were so bad that his fundraising had dried-up and he would have been forced to mortgage his house in order to continue until the Texas Primary if he did not at least come in second in California.

In the leadup to Super Tuesday, a former staffer for Hoynes revealed that the then-Senator had made improper sexual advances towards her. Hoynes had been leading the polls in California, and had received the endorsement of California Governor Gabriel Tillman. After Hoynes "suspended" his presidential campaign due to the reports of his sexual impropriety, Santos was able to maneuver into receiving the implicit endorsement of Governor Tillman, allowing him to win the California primary in an upset victory.

With the California victory came new-found momentum, allowing Santos to win primaries in many more states, including Florida, Pennsylvania, Texas, Illinois, and New Jersey. Once all the primaries were called, the primary map was split largely along geographical lines. Russell had large parts of the West, Midwest and Northeast. Santos had primarily taken most of the delegate-rich "big states" and a scattering of smaller states. And Hoynes had taken most of the southern states and a handful of others. By the time of the Democratic National Convention, he had won enough delegates to leave Hoynes in the dust and virtually tie with Russell, deadlocking the convention on the first ballot.

The 2006 Democratic National Convention was held in San Diego, California (though scenes from "2162 Votes" show the convention center to be the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California). Prior to the convention, Santos turned down the offer of the Vice Presidential slot from Russell and decided to take his chances for the top job. Pennsylvania Governor Baker, an early favorite who had decided against running in the primaries, turned down Russell's offer of the Vice Presidential nomination and offered himself as a compromise candidate from the floor. Baker stole delegates from all of the other candidates and stretched the balloting to an unprecedented third day. Baker seemed poised to receive the nomination when members of the Russell campaign revealed to the press that Baker had covered up his wife's history of clinical depression. This made delegates question his integrity, causing him to lose his momentum and substantial support on the convention floor.

With the momentum of Baker's insurgency stalled, the convention remained deadlocked. In order to break the stalemate, Santos was ordered by the convention organizer, former White House Chief of Staff Leo McGarry, to step aside in favor of either Baker or Russell. Santos was given a chance to address the convention again and announce his support for one of the two remaining candidates. Instead of withdrawing, however, Santos gave a rousing speech, defending Baker and urging the delegates to choose the candidate who represented their hopes and dreams. This swung the momentum in the balloting back to him and impressed both President Bartlet and Leo McGarry.

Oddly, scenes of the ballots make it clear that the voting system for the primaries in the West Wing universe is "winner takes all", not the proportional system used in actual Democratic primaries in real life.

At the urging of Chief of Staff C.J. Cregg, President Bartlet decided to end the balloting before it damaged the party's image. Due to the president's behind-the-scenes machinations, Santos received the support of a key New York teacher union that had previously spurned him because of his views on teacher tenure. Santos clinched the nomination, eventually receiving 2,751 votes. Santos immediately ruled out choosing Russell as his running mate and Baker declined to perform the role, to spare his wife further press attention. Santos decided to choose Leo McGarry as his Vice Presidential running mate.

Republican NominationEdit

Main Article: Republican Presidential Primary Election (2006)

Candidate Current office Home state Current Status
Arnold Vinick
tArnold Vinick
US Senator California Nominee
Don Butler
tDon Butler
Televangelist Virginia Withdrew
Glen Walken
tGlen Allen Walken
Former President Missouri Withdrew
Mike Reed
tMike Reed
Governor Ohio Withdrew
tDarren Gibson
Congressman Michigan Withdrew
Allard Withdrew
Johnson Withdrew

Early preparations after retaining the House and Senate in the 2004 mid-term elections, and President Bartlet's revelation of his MS, Republicans saw a opportunity to regain the White House. Walken and Reed were considered early front-runners, with Allard and Vinick being candidates with momentum.

Former Governor Robert Ritchie who had lost devastatingly to Bartlet in 2002, had been expected to run but ultimately decided against it and endorsed Vinick. Alabama Senator and 1998 Vice-presidential nominee Robert Bennett had also been expected to enter the race, but also declined. Former Vice Presidential Candidate Jeff Heston was also expected to run but ultimately declined.

Allard came second in Iowa, and lost momentum when Vinick won, New Hampshire, Arizona and Nevada. Governor Mike Reed dropped out after losing New Mexico a place he expected to gain momentum in. Gibson lost his home state, falling to sixth place and withdrew. Johnson withdrew after losing in Iowa, but did not endorse any candidates in the field. Butler won South Carolina and several other southern states on Super Tuesday. Walken won his home state, Missouri, Iowa, North Dakota, Colorado and Minnesota. The winner at the end was Vinick after the Florida Primary. He selected Ray Sullivan as his running mate.

General ElectionEdit

The general election campaign would prove to be a most unconventional affair, even by West Wing standards, with the Republican nominee attempting to run on his Democratic predecessor's legacy, and the Democratic nominee being seen as stronger on defense because of his military service. Vinick initially enjoyed an early lead in the polls, owing to his popularity among moderate voters, but suffered among his base, especially when it was revealed he seldom if ever attended church services. Don Butler seizes upon Vinick's perceived weakness among evangelical voters by attempting to strong-arm him into pledging to appoint only pro-life judges, but is outplayed when Vinick makes a deceptively noncommittal stance on litmus-testing, and Governor Sullivan pays Butler a visit and threatens him against making Vinick's pro-choice views an issue in the campaign.

Santos, meanwhile, falling behind in the polls, makes a somewhat desperate play for moderate votes when his National Guard unit is called up over the weekend and he decides to report for duty. The photo opportunity does earn him some favorable press, but he is soon hit by the Vinick campaign for being soft on illegal immigration. Santos narrowly avoids a sex scandal when he leaves his briefcase behind in hotel room, only to have the Vinick campaign discover it. When documents in the briefcase reveal that Santos has been making regular payments to an unknown woman, Vinick and his aides debate whether to release the information, but ultimately decide to take the high road. Vinick privately returns the briefcase to Santos, but warns him that his secret will not stay buried forever.

A couple "October surprises" make the campaign exceedingly unpredictable, as an emergency at a nuclear plant in California puts Vinick on the spot for pressing for the plant's construction decades earlier. Nuclear technicians avoid a meltdown, but Vinick suffers in the polls, making the election too close to call. Additionally, both campaigns are worried over the Bartlet Administration's decision to deploy troops to Kazakhstan to ward off an invasion by China or Russia.

On Election Night, both campaigns are forced to disregard exit polling, when it is revealed to be deeply flawed. Both candidates receive pleasant surprises when the actual results come in: Vinick is encouraged by wins in Vermont and Maine, while Santos takes South Carolina. Vinick sweeps the rest of the South, and Santos the rest of the Northeast, turning the election on returns from the West, and Santos' and Vinick's home states of Texas and California. Vinick wins California by some 80,000 votes, but loses in Santos' Texas by a decidedly narrower margin. Leo McGarry is discovered dead in his hotel bathroom, prompting the Vinick campaign to consider challenging the results if they don't turn their way. Santos is eventually declared the winner in Nevada, clinching the required 270 electoral votes.

Aftermath Edit

Santos was confirmed as President and inaugurated on January 20, 2007.[2] In a rare move, he picked Senator Vinick from the rival Republican party as his nominee for U.S. Secretary of State.[3]

References Edit

  1. McGarry died before ballots closed on Election Day, and so never took office.
  2. Episode 7x22 "Tomorrow"
  3. Episode 7x20 "The Last Hurrah"
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