Incumbents have run in 32 of the 57 presidential elections in US history through 2012. The incumbents have won 21 times and lost 10 times.
The Constitution did not originally contain presidential term limits. The 22nd Amendment, ratified in 1951, restricted presidents to a maximum of two terms. Four-time president Franklin D. Roosevelt (1932, 1936, 1940, 1944) was the only candidate to be elected more than twice.
Presidential elections take place on Election Day - the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. However, the President does not take office until noon on January 20 of the following year.
The presidential campaigns for the nominees of the Constitution, Democratic, Green, Libertarian, and Republican parties spent a combined $917,051,125 in the 2012 election.
A presidential candidate has won the election despite losing the popular vote four times in US history: 1824, 1876, 1888, and 2000. In 1824, John Quincy Adams lost both the popular and the electoral vote, but the House of Representatives decided the outcome of the election because his opponent failed to secure a majority of electoral votes.
Gerald Ford was the only person to serve as both President and Vice President without being elected to either office.
There have been 538 electoral votes in each presidential election since 1960. A candidate must win a majority of those votes (270) to win the election.
Democrats first used the donkey as a party symbol when Andrew Jackson ran for president in 1828. Thomas Nast, a famous political cartoonist, later popularized the symbol in an 1870 Harper's Weekly political cartoon featuring the Democratic donkey kicking an elephant, which became the symbol of the Republican Party. Before the 2012 election campaign began, the Democratic Party released a new symbol - a blue "D" inside a circle.
The Republican Party has been known as the "G.O.P." which today is a reference to "Grand Old Party"; but in 1875, when the term was first used, G.O.P. referenced "Gallant Old Party."
Throughout US history many political parties have come and gone, including the Federalist Party and the Whig party. In 1912 President Theodore Roosevelt left the Republican Party, formed the Progressive Party (Bull Moose Party), ran as a Progressive, and lost.
In the election of 1800, Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr both received 73 electoral votes. Since neither candidate had a majority, the election was turned over to the House of Representatives. Alexander Hamilton intervened in support of Jefferson to break a deadlock in the House of Representatives. This action contributed to the famous duel between Burr and Hamilton that took place four years later, in which Hamilton was killed.
The shortest presidency in the history of the office was served by William Henry Harrison, who died of pneumonia on Apr. 4, 1841, just 31 days into his term.
Grover Cleveland was elected as the 22nd and 24th President of the United States, making him the only President to serve two nonconsecutive terms.
14 Vice Presidents have become President; 5 were elected, and 8 succeeded Presidents that died in office. Gerald Ford, who became president when Nixon resigned, was the only person to serve as both President and Vice President without being elected to either office.
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