Losing U.S. Presidential Candidates

Try to name the candidates who got at least 10% of the vote, but still lost.
Republican
Democratic
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Quiz by Quizmaster
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Last updated: November 26, 2020
First submittedNovember 6, 2012
Times taken40,857
Rating4.49
6:00
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Year
Candidate
2020
Donald Trump
2016
Hillary Clinton
2012
Mitt Romney
2008
John McCain
2004
John Kerry
2000
Al Gore
1996
Bob Dole
1992
George H.W. Bush
1992
Ross Perot
1988
Michael Dukakis
1984
Walter Mondale
1980
Jimmy Carter
1976
Gerald Ford
1972
George McGovern
1968
Hubert Humphrey
1968
George Wallace
1964
Barry Goldwater
1960
Richard Nixon
1956
Adlai Stevenson
1952
Adlai Stevenson
1948
Thomas Dewey
1944
Thomas Dewey
1940
Wendell Willkie
Year
Candidate
1936
Alf Landon
1932
Herbert Hoover
1928
Al Smith
1924
John Davis
1924
Robert La Follette, Sr.
1920
James Cox
1916
Charles Evans Hughes
1912
Theodore Roosevelt
1912
William Taft
1908
William Jennings Bryan
1904
Alton B. Parker
1900
William Jennings Bryan
1896
William Jennings Bryan
1892
Benjamin Harrison
1888
Grover Cleveland
1884
James Blaine
1880
Winfield Hancock
1876
Samuel Tilden
1872
Horace Greeley
1868
Horatio Seymour
1864
George McClellan
1860
John Breckinridge
1860
Stephen Douglas
Year
Candidate
1860
John Bell
1856
John Fremont
1856
Millard Fillmore
1852
Winfield Scott
1848
Lewis Cass
1848
Martin Van Buren
1844
Henry Clay
1840
Martin Van Buren
1836
William Henry Harrison
1832
Henry Clay
1828
John Quincy Adams
1824
Henry Clay
1824
William Crawford
1824
Andrew Jackson
1820
Uncontested
1816
Rufus King
1812
DeWitt Clinton
1808
Charles Pinckney
1804
Charles Pinckney
1800
John Adams
1796
Thomas Jefferson
1792
Uncontested
1789
Uncontested
+14
Level ∞
Nov 26, 2020
We are now actively doing our part to make the world a better place by discouraging partisan political discussion. Going forward, comments about current politics may be deleted and could result in bans.
+3
Level 85
Nov 7, 2012
Completing the top entry of this quiz has given me a certain sense of closure on the 2012 election. Good luck to us all in the next four years.
+2
Level 85
Nov 11, 2016
Four years later and back for another round. We survived the last 4 years, so I suppose we'll make it out alive this time around too. See you in 4 more years!
+10
Level 62
Apr 26, 2017
4 Years Later and... wait lemme get my time machine.
+5
Level 82
Nov 28, 2020
Here we are in 2024 all over again.
+3
Level 17
Nov 7, 2012
How did only 98% of people get romney?
+8
Level 81
Jan 6, 2013
He's just that forgettable.

I got most back to 1960, and the first few, plus most that ran unsuccessfully for a 2nd term or had an unsuccessful 1st bid before they won. I also got Al Smith just on a complete guess, whoever that is, when I was typing in random common names.

+2
Level 53
Jul 13, 2014
Same for me; I have only been voting since the 90's; so after that I started with other presidents, knowing that some would have lost their first bid, and after that, it was Smith, Parker, etc- common last names (which is also a fun quiz on here too).
+2
Level 30
Feb 15, 2017
Al Smith was the first Catholic nominated by one of the major parties. Obviously not the first winner (Kennedy).
+2
Level 81
Aug 25, 2019
Learned more about Smith a couple days ago watching a documentary on the Gilded Age.
+1
Level 72
Nov 11, 2016
Do you remember the name of the losing candidate of last year's elections in Japan? In China? Germany?
+9
Level 74
Feb 17, 2017
No I don't. Because no one really cares about Japanese elections, nor should they. USA USA USA
+3
Level 54
Feb 23, 2018
Japan has upwards of 127 million residents. I suspect they do a bit of caring about who leads their country.
+3
Level 48
Nov 3, 2019
@Aesthus im pretty sure hes just messing around by the way he typed "USA USA USA" but again it is all about the USA USA USA
+9
Level 60
Feb 1, 2020
There aren't many elections in China.
+6
Level 70
Nov 26, 2020
Sure there are. There just aren't a lot of candidates.
+1
Level 74
Dec 23, 2020
Germany: Schulz, Steinmeier, Steinbrück, Schröder, Stoiber (S seems to be unlucky) and everyone back to 1949. France: Le Pen jr., Sarkozy, Royal, Le Pen sr. UK: Corbyn, Corbyn, Milliband, Brown. It's good to know at least some of these names, and I'd like to get better at it. Japan: no idea, China: I don't think there's a losing candidate there.
+3
Level 56
Aug 17, 2017
In a century from now, the likes of Dewey (lost in a big upset), Clinton (most successful First Lady ever in her own right), Goldwater (conservative hero) and McGovern (liberal hero) will all be vastly more remember than Romney, McCain and Kerry I suspect.
+7
Level 64
Nov 2, 2017
Clinton will only be remembered as "Bill's wife". Her only success has been riding the coattails of her husband. She is already irrelevant while McCain, Romney, and Kerry are still making things happen
+9
Level 55
Nov 6, 2017
Mrs. Clinton over Eleanor Roosevelt? I think you probably forgot her. Happens to me too.
+4
Level 54
Feb 23, 2018
Clinton? Most successful first lady ever? She's the one who was cheated on while in office. Kind of an interesting choice there, bud.
+4
Level 65
Dec 23, 2020
That has no bearing on her accomplishments as First Lady, which were significant by the standards of the role. FDR died while he was president. That doesn't mean he wasn't a good one.
+3
Level 84
Dec 23, 2020
Clinton's more likely to be remembered as the first woman who got the closest to being elected President.
+8
Level 81
Jan 6, 2013
Henry Clay, most accomplished loser in presidential history. I remember learning about him in 10th grade history.
+2
Level 45
Mar 27, 2013
You mean loser who didn't end up winning eventually I expect...Henry Clay is an accomplished political figure, but he doesn't rank above John Adams or Thomas Jefferson I would think. As for Adams, I believe that at the time he ran for President he was, and still stands as, the most accomplished person ever to be elected President for the 1st time. He had been the driving force at the Continental Congress in declaring Independence, had gone to Paris and then to Amsterdam to negotiate alliances and was a signatory and negotiator of the Treaty of Paris that ended the Revolutionary War, served as the 1st US Ambassador to Great Britain, and was then of course the first Vice President. With all of that to his credit, I would put Adams still to this day as the most qualified man ever elected President. Both he, Jefferson, and some others on the list who were Presidents before or after they lost, are also more accomplished than Clay.
+3
Level 81
Jun 1, 2013
yes, I meant that Clay was a loser in that he repeatedly ran and lost and never actually won. He was much better at losing presidential races than almost anyone unless you want to count people like Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, or Lyndon LaRouche.. but they were never serious contenders.

Of course Clay's accomplishments didn't even come close to matching Adams' or Jefferson's or Roosevelt's, who all later won.

+2
Level 83
Nov 26, 2020
Harold Stassen (Republican governor of Minnesota) ran for president in in 1952, 1964, 1968, 1976, 1980, 1984, 1988, and 1992.
+1
Level 82
Nov 30, 2020
Interesting. I had to google Stassen.

The first thing I noticed was that he died on March 4, the date of presidential inauguration until FDR's second term.

He was the youngest ever governor of Minnesota, but after 4 years of that job his political success evaporated.

He lived to 94, dying in 2001 and as noted tried for the presidency the last time at 85.

+1
Level 81
Dec 24, 2020
Stassen falls into the "not a serious contender" category. Like Charles R. Doty.
+2
Level 81
Jun 1, 2013
William Jennings Bryan was another one who was always running and losing. I remember learning about him, as well. He's tied with Clay here for most appearances. Though Clay's career of losing elections was longer than Bryan's. He was at it for 20+ years.
+2
Level 72
Jun 23, 2015
Based on what I learned in history class, the biggest injustice to the office of the president was the fact that neither Henry Clay nor William Jennings Bryan held office. Both would have been more competent than the presidents that we had during that time. Perhaps we wouldn't have had a depression in the mid 1800s had Clay been there. Maybe we would have actually had a competent president at the turn of the century instead of a revolving door of one-term buffoons if Bryan took office. Who knows.
+2
Level 89
Nov 22, 2015
William Jennings Bryan

John Scopes monkey trial

(look up)

+2
Level 83
Jul 13, 2016
Why the picture of Dewey, just out of curiosity?
+3
Level 71
Aug 6, 2016
When the Republicans nominated him in 1944 Eleanor Roosevelt famously said that he looked like the little man on the top of the wedding cake. And the Chicago Tribune prematurely declared him the winner in 1948, which might cement his role in history as the man who finished second. The Trib still hasn't gotten over it: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/politics/chi-chicagodays-deweydefeats-story-story.html. It probably never will.
+3
Level 78
Nov 11, 2016
Several copies of Newsweek's "Madam President" issue were sold before sales were stopped and the remaining ones recalled. The President Trump issue will be shipped next week. Oops. http://nypost.com/2016/11/09/national-recall-after-newsweek-misfires-with-clinton-cover/
+1
Level 55
Nov 6, 2017
Tallulah Bankhead called him "the man on the wedding cake."
+2
Level 82
Nov 30, 2020
Voters couldn't decide whether he looked like Clark Gable or a silent movie villain waiting to tie the nation to railroad tracks.
+2
Level 66
Oct 30, 2016
In 1848 Martin Van Buren won 10.1% of the popular vote as the Free Soil candidate
+2
Level ∞
Nov 9, 2016
Added that. Thanks.
+10
Level 74
Nov 10, 2016
Everyone seems to know about DeWitt Clinton in 1812 now. Is this the luckiest Jetpunk type-in ever?
+2
Level 73
Nov 10, 2016
Hugh Johnson, Times person of the year 1933, gives him a good run for his money.
+1
Level 72
Dec 28, 2020
We should erect him a statue
+1
Level 46
Nov 11, 2016
Interesting to see the 2012 comments at the last election. Just finished US election and Donald Trump is president. Will be interesting to say the least.
+2
Level 73
Nov 11, 2016
Typing Harrison only got me one answer. Just William not Benjamin
+6
Level ∞
Nov 12, 2016
It gave me both. I blame gremlins.
+5
Level 62
Sep 3, 2017
Oh those Gremlins! (Laugh Track)
+1
Level 88
Dec 2, 2020
Typing "Harison" with one R gets just William, and not Benjamin. Same thing happens on the US Presidents quiz.
+2
Level ∞
Dec 2, 2020
This has been fixed.
+3
Level 78
Nov 11, 2016
Shouldn't Strom Thurmond be on this list? He ran in 1948 as a Dixiecrat and won 39 electoral votes.
+2
Level 30
Feb 23, 2017
However, I don't think he won the necessary popular vote % to appear on here. I agree with you, and would include him, considering that the electoral vote is how the President is decided. Thurmond was infinitely closer to the Presidency in the end than someone like Perot who won literally millions of votes, but no electors to show for it.
+2
Level 34
Nov 11, 2016
I thought that Aaron Burr tied with Thomas Jefferson in the election of 1800.
+1
Level 30
Feb 15, 2017
Same. I also tried to enter his name.
+1
Level 88
Dec 2, 2020
Not quite. Elections worked a little differently back then. Of the 16 states in the 1800 election, only 6 (KY, MD, NC, RI, TN, VA) used a system that could be considered a popular vote, but even then the ability to vote was tied to property ownership, and varied from state to state.

Whether by popular vote or not, each State chose electors who would basically vote by party. This resulted in the Electoral College that year being made up of 73 Democratic-Republicans vs 65 Federalists.

The rules at the time (pre 12th Amendment) for choosing who was President vs Vice President from the winning party came down to the 2 votes that each Elector cast. Each Elector from the Federalist party that year cast one vote for Adams and all but one cast their second vote for Pinckney, the final vote going to John Jay. If the Federalists had won, this would have resulted in Adams as President with Pinckney as VP.

+1
Level 88
Dec 2, 2020
The D/R party was supposed to have employed a similar strategy, with one Elector not voting for Burr, but for whatever reason that didn't happen. This caused the tie in the Electoral College that needed to be resolved by multiple rounds of voting in the House of Representatives. So although that decision did end up being Jefferson over Burr, they were both on the winning side of the Presidential Election.
+1
Level 60
Nov 20, 2020
He did. Before 1804, electors cast two ballots of equal weight and they had to vote for two different candidates. The Democratic-Republicans tried to organize it such that Jefferson would get one more vote than Burr, which would make Jefferson the president and Burr the vice president. They were successful in defeating the other party, incumbent President Adams's Federalist Party, but they screwed up their math and Jefferson and Burr ended up getting an equal number of votes.

This caused a run-off election in the House of Representatives. Burr openly campaigned which was not done in those days. I believe it went to the 36th ballot before Jefferson finally won, largely because Alexander Hamilton convinced several of his Federalist colleagues to vote for Jefferson.

This caused some tension between Burr and Hamilton.

+3
Level 63
Nov 11, 2016
Poor old Eugene Debs never made 10%
+2
Level 53
Apr 26, 2017
I guessed him as well haha
+2
Level 62
Nov 12, 2016
I managed to be the one dummy who didn't get DeWitt Clinton...
+1
Level 52
Nov 14, 2016
Good quiz!
+6
Level 64
Jan 7, 2017
Press F to pay respects to Horace Greely, the only candidate to have died during an election process.
+1
Level 48
Aug 25, 2017
F
+1
Level 72
Dec 12, 2019
F What about Edward and Robert Kennedy? Didn't they die during primaries?
+1
Level 30
Feb 15, 2017
Interestingly enough, Strom Thurmond earned about 2% of the vote in 1948, yet still won the electoral vote in 4 Southern States. Rules of the quiz didn't admit him, and rightfully so, but I tried him anyway, to no avail.
+3
Level 65
Apr 3, 2017
aaron burr?
+2
Level 53
Apr 26, 2017
poor william jennings bryan and henry clay..
+1
Level 60
Oct 16, 2017
Presidential "one-term wonders" sure helped on this one. But why, oh why couldn't I come up with Dewey?! I could see the newspaper pic of Truman, with the bold headline over his head, "________ Defeats Truman". But I couldn't fill in the blank! (And no, the pic at the top of the quiz didn't help. More's the pity.)
+2
Level 35
Apr 13, 2018
Clinton, Ford, Douglas, Hughes and many more (if you pay) don't have to lose: change history and make them win here!
+1
Level 73
Apr 15, 2018
Everything back to 1944, then not much - mainly just the presidents who had failed runs for office before winning or lost office.
+1
Level 8
Apr 27, 2018
I did not do well on this quiz got the latest ones and that’s all,
+1
Level 81
Oct 22, 2019
I wasn't aware that ALF ran for president in the 30s before doing his sitcom.
+1
Level 58
Apr 13, 2020
Please accept "follette" for Bob La Follette. Thanks!
+1
Level 63
May 15, 2020
would love to see this quiz combined with the US Presidents and their Vice Presidents. What a grand historical quiz that would be!
+1
Level 50
Nov 26, 2020
47/58
+6
Level 66
Nov 27, 2020
Popcorn for anyone who came to see the inevitable cesspool of a comment section 🍿
+6
Level 84
Nov 27, 2020
Not gonna be much of a cesspool left when the comments get deleted.
+6
Level ∞
Nov 29, 2020
Yep! We are going to be much stricter about this moving forward. I really do think that the partisan political discourse which infects most of the internet is making the world a worse place. I will be doing my part to help make it better.
+2
Level 83
Nov 30, 2020
Thank you, thank you. I actually avoided this quiz for the last week or so because I like to read the comments, yet inevitably they descend into they typical mudslinging you see everywhere else (full disclosure: I'm guilty of throwing a few barbs of my own in the past). So I just stayed away but happy to see this moderation update.

I'm sure you've heard this a bunch of times, but Jetpunk could really use a commenting system that allows you to be notified when someone responds to one of your comments. Not the ones that require you to be on Facebook or something else, but would be nice.

+6
Level ∞
Nov 30, 2020
You are right. It's a common suggestion, and it would be easy to implement. But we don't plan on doing so. In our opinion, back and forth conversation (usually in the form of an argument) does not contribute to a positive atmosphere. It also would make moderation more difficult, since we manually moderate everything. On Reddit, most subreddits above a certain size are toxic and enforce ideological conformity. Meanwhile, many newspaper have actually removed their comment sections. Managing comment sections is not an easy problem. Our solution works for us. We don't plan on making discussion via commenting a larger part of our site.

Consider your JetPunk comment a gift you leave the world. If someone smiles or learns something, it's nice, even if you never see it happen.

+1
Level 66
Nov 27, 2020
You forgot Kanye!
+1
Level 82
Nov 27, 2020
17/58 were also president.
+1
Level 44
Nov 28, 2020
the only reason "DeWitt Clinton" has so many is cause people type in Clinton
+1
Level 62
Dec 1, 2020
Anyone who watched Hamilton: Ummm Burr?
+1
Level 32
Dec 23, 2020
Burr ran as Jefferson's VP
+1
Level 67
Dec 24, 2020
Inaccurate. Burr ran as a Democratic-Republican against fellow party member Thomas Jefferson and Federalist incumbent John Adams. Because Burr lost to Jefferson in the congressional vote, he became vice president due to the process for selecting the vice president at the time, which ruled that the second place candidate would fill the office.
+1
Level 34
Dec 2, 2020
Could be clarified to be the "General Election" since the 2020 candidate has not yet been chosen by the electoral college
+1
Level 44
Dec 11, 2020
will be on monday tho
+1
Level 50
Dec 6, 2020
54/58!
+1
Level 49
Dec 23, 2020
Came to the comments expecting debate and anti-Trump and anti-Biden sentiment, didn't expect absolutely no debate whatsoever! If you deleted the comments of some users who are very vocal about their opinions, thank you Quizmaster!
+2
Level 81
Dec 26, 2020
why would you come looking for something that you don't want to see or read? You know you can just skip to the next quiz, right? It's not obligatory to read all the comments.
+2
Level 62
Dec 23, 2020
Please take a point off my score, I have no idea who or what Dewitt Clinton is or was!
+1
Level 47
Dec 24, 2020
Aaron Burr?