The U.S. Presidential Also-Rans Quiz
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About This Quiz
The road to the American presidency is littered with hundreds of also-rans — many forgotten, some still fresh in our minds. How much do you know about losing presidential candidates?
The Chicago Tribune famously announced this guy as the winner of the 1948 presidential election … but he didn't win.
"Dewey Defeats Truman" blared the Tribune headline. Except he didn't.
When this candidate won the popular vote but lost the electoral count, an armed mob showed up on Capitol Hill.
For some reason, five states reported two sets of returns in 1876. Tilden had won the popular vote, but a Congressional commission gave the election to Rutherford B. Hayes. Hence the armed mob.
Which of these unsuccessful candidates later became secretary of state?
Kerry lost to George W. Bush in 2004 but Barack Obama made him secretary of state in 2013.
Which candidate's opponent gave out pamphlets that accused him of having "a hideous hermaphroditical character?"
Adams was the subject of some nasty attacks by his VP, Thomas Jefferson, in the 1800 election. Jefferson claimed Adams had "hideous hermaphroditical character, which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman."
What did Adams call Jefferson in return?
"the son of a half-breed Indian squaw"
Here's Adams' full quote: "a mean-spirited, low-lived fellow, the son of a half-breed Indian squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father." Yikes.
"a callow, ill-mannered farmer"
"an execrable piece of low-born filth"
This man also factored heavily in that controversial 1800 election, eventually losing to Jefferson after tying him in electoral votes.
Aaron Burr played second (or third, or fourth) fiddle quite a bit in the early presidential elections.
In 1807, Burr was arrested for treason. Why?
He attempted to start a war with France.
He was conspiring to assassinate Jefferson.
He was trying to start a new country.
The details of the Burr conspiracy are still fuzzy, but it certainly looked like Burr, who had amassed land in the Louisiana Territory, was attempting to gain support for a new country.
This losing candidate's TV ads poked fun at the name of his opponent's running mate.
One of Humphreys' ads basically consisted of maniacal laughter over a screenshot of Spiro Agnew's name. But Agnew (and his running mate Richard Nixon) got the last laugh.
Which candidate ran his fifth losing presidential campaign from prison?
Eugene V. Debs, union leader and five-time Socialist Party of America presidential candidate, was serving time for sedition during the 1920 election. He still received more than 900,000 votes.
Which losing candidate later won a Nobel Peace Prize?
Al Gore, along with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.
Which presidential candidate died as the electoral college votes were being counted?
Horace Greeley died on Nov. 29, 1872 — after he was defeated in the popular vote by Ulysses S. Grant but before the electoral votes were final.
Which presidential candidate's slogan promised that he'd "make your wet dreams come true?"
No, this is not a horrible joke. That was the actual campaign slogan of New York Gov. Alfred Smith in 1928. He was anti-Prohibition and therefore "wet."
This multiple-time also-ran founded the Reform Party.
Ross Perot ran as an independent in 1992 and founded the Reform Party before his run in 1996.
When this guy lost his second-straight presidential election in 1956, he said, "It hurts too much to laugh, but I'm too old to cry."
At least Adlai Stevenson had a little bit of a sense of humor about it?
Who beat Adlai Stevenson twice?
Eisenhower handed defeat to Stevenson in 1952 and 1956.
Which frequent presidential candidate's hopes were finally dashed when he was shot and paralyzed?
Alabama Gov. George Wallace was campaigning for president for the third time when he survived an assassination attempt that left him paralyzed from the waist down.
This candidate won only the District of Columbia and his home state in 1984.
Walter Mondale was trounced by Ronald Reagan in '84.
This former Civil War (Union) general ran for the presidency on a pro-war platform in 1864 — even though his party was anti-war.
George McClellan caused a lot of controversy in his bid to unseat Abraham Lincoln in 1864.
He was on the losing side in the most lopsided presidential election.
In 1804, Thomas Jefferson trounced Charles Pinckney, getting 73 percent of the vote.
Woodrow Wilson won the 1912 election largely because the Republicans didn't nominate this man, who had won the primary.
Teddy Roosevelt (running for a third term as a Republican) won the primary but drama ensued at the convention and he refused to be nominated. So he started the Progressive Party and split the Republican vote, giving Wilson a victory with only 42 percent of the popular vote.
How many sitting presidents have failed to be re-elected?
The unlucky five are: Taft, Hoover, Ford, Carter and George H.W. Bush.
Which candidate ultimately lost the election after his running mate was found to have undergone electroshock therapy for chronic depression?
McGovern's running mate, Sen. Terry Eagleton, had to drop out of the race when he was revealed to have chronic depression.
Al Gore wasn't the first man to lose the presidency after a vote-counting scandal in Florida. Who was the first?
Samuel Tilden lost to Rutherford B. Hayes (inciting the aforementioned armed mob) after a controversial awarding of electoral votes in four states, including Florida.
In 2000, the George W. Bush campaign made robo-calls claiming that this man, his opponent in the Republican primaries, had fathered "an illegitimate black child."
The Bush campaign was roundly criticized for the calls, which were wrong for so many reasons (not the least of which being that they weren't true), but many said that John McCain was still hurt by them.
This incumbent lost a lot of credibility when he said during a debate that "there is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe."
The debate moderator was understandably confused when Ford made this claim.
The running mate for this presidential also-ran famously started his first debate introduction by saying "Who am I? Why am I here?"
Ross Perot picked James Stockdale, a former Navy vice admiral with no political experience, to be his running mate in 1992.
Which 2012 Republican primary candidate couldn't name the three departments he'd get rid of if elected, when he was asked to in a debate?
Texas Gov. Rick Perry remembered two of them but couldn't quite name the third.
Years after three failed presidential bids, he was the losing attorney in the Scopes trial in 1925.
Bryan — who ran for president in 1896, 1900 and 1908 — was a fierce opponent of Darwinism. He died five days after the trial ended.
Which failed presidential candidate "fought" Evander Holyfield in 2015?
Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee, participated in a charity fight with Holyfield.
Who was the first woman to run for president?
Suffragist and free-love advocate Victoria Woodhull was the first, in 1872.
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