October 29, 2008

Sweep! Landslide! Victory! In Other Words, a Presidential Win

Wisconsin State Journal, Nov. 7, 1956. (Newseum collection)
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Wisconsin State Journal, Nov. 7, 1956. (Newseum collection)

The Independence Examiner, Nov. 3, 1948. (Newseum collection)
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The Independence Examiner, Nov. 3, 1948. (Newseum collection)

The Baltimore Sun, Nov. 9, 1988. (Newseum collection)
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The Baltimore Sun, Nov. 9, 1988. (Newseum collection)

San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 4, 1908. (Newseum collection)
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San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 4, 1908. (Newseum collection)

The Austin Statesman, Nov. 4, 1964. (Newseum collection)
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The Austin Statesman, Nov. 4, 1964. (Newseum collection)

Chester County Times, Nov. 7, 1860. (Newseum collection)
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Chester County Times, Nov. 7, 1860. (Newseum collection)

The Charlotte News, Nov. 6, 1940. (Newseum collection)
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The Charlotte News, Nov. 6, 1940. (Newseum collection)

Red Wing Morning Republican, Nov. 6, 1912. (Newseum collection)
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Red Wing Morning Republican, Nov. 6, 1912. (Newseum collection)

The Helena Daily Herald, Nov. 8, 1872. (Newseum collection)
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The Helena Daily Herald, Nov. 8, 1872. (Newseum collection)

The Washington Post, Nov. 7, 1968. (Newseum collection)
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The Washington Post, Nov. 7, 1968. (Newseum collection)

Many have been landslides; others have been nail-biters. But whatever the outcome, the presidential election generates a winner every four years.

From Dwight D. Eisenhower’s "Smashing Landslide Victory" to Harry S. Truman’s "Startling Victory," newspaper front pages have been there to report Election Day results.

Sometimes it was a win. "Carter Wins" was The Atlanta Journal headline in 1976 about President-elect Jimmy Carter. It was "A Solid Win" in 1988 for George H.W. Bush. In 1992, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette banner headline declared of native son Bill Clinton, "Clinton Wins."

Other times, success resulted from something more than a win: a "Great Popular Vote" (William Howard Taft in 1908), a "Tremendous Victory" (Theodore Roosevelt in 1904) and a "Tremendous Surge of Ballots" (Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952).

Occasionally, saying it was a "win" just wasn’t enough. "Lyndon’s Popular Vote Margin Near 15 Million," The Austin (Texas) Statesman reported about Johnson in 1964. Warren G. Harding was "Elected by Overwhelming Pluralities," said The Star and Sentinel of Gettysburg, Pa.

The win often came in a sweep. "A Clean Sweep!" proclaimed the Chester County (Pa.) Times when Abraham Lincoln was elected in 1860. "Roosevelt Sweeps the Nation," The New York Times said in a banner headline in 1936 about Franklin D. Roosevelt. Four years later, "Roosevelt Sweeps 39 States," The Charlotte (N.C.) News said.

And often the win was a landslide. "Great Landslide for Gov. Woodrow Wilson," the Red Wing (Minn.) Morning Republican declared in 1912. "Coolidge Wins by a Landslide," the Baltimore American said in 1924 about Calvin Coolidge, who succeeded to the presidency after the death of Warren G. Harding. "Landslide for Reagan," the Los Angeles Times blared in 1980 about Ronald Reagan’s sweeping victory.

And when "win" and "victory" didn’t seem to capture the moment, headline writers used other words. "Glory Hallilujah!" The Helena (Mont.) Daily Herald proclaimed over Ulysses S. Grant’s "Triumph" in 1872.

But for every winner, there was a loser. In 1904, the New York Tribune printed a one-sentence "I congratulate you" telegram to Theodore Roosevelt from opponent Alton Parker. In 1940, a secondary headline about Republican challenger Wendell Willkie reported that "Willkie Accepts Defeat Gracefully." "Ford Vows His Support in Conceding," The Atlanta Journal said of President Gerald R. Ford in 1976.

At the bottom of the 1968 Washington Post that declared Richard Nixon’s win was a declaration by challenger Hubert H. Humphrey, "I Have Done My Best."

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