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Landslide Election / Real Life

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Landslide Elections are not at all uncommon in Real Life; the examples can go on and on. Since these are so much more common in Real Life than in fiction, only truly exceptional real-life examples should be listed- it will vary depending on the electoral system in question, but ideally, shoot for a threshold of victory with at least 70% of the vote.note 


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    The Election Was Just for Show 
The election was held in a state where the elections are just for show, serving to confirm that 'the people' support the incumbent despot or despots.

  • Seen in many generally authoritarian and totalitarian regimes, whether old or still existing, which still have elections.
    • A prime example is North Korea, which has elections every five years (four years at the local level), always with only one person on the ballot chosen by the ruling party. There are technically options to vote against the chosen candidates but doing so is hardly confidential and will almost certainly land whoever does it in deep trouble. The system existed in the Soviet Union, and other existing dictatorships still use it. Others require that the government approve a list of candidates for election. Naturally, they approve a majority from their party, with a minority of opposition candidates to look good. These of course are obedient stooges if they're smart.
  • After Napoleon Bonaparte's coup of 18 Brumaire, the newly formed Consulate had a Senate Conservateur to vote on his decrees. The vote for making Napoleon Emperor was in the high 90% range. Napoleon maintained an incredible control on the mass media of the day so his Cult of Personality was already in full swing.
  • One of the most famous (and most over-the-top) examples was the 2002 Presidential referendum in Iraq, which boasted 100% voter turnout, and in which every single voter marked "Yes" to allowing Saddam Hussein to continue as Iraq's leader for seven more years.
  • In 1927, Charles D.B. King put Hussein's rigged election to shame, when he claimed to receive 234,000 votes in the Liberian presidential election. The number of registered voters was less than 15,000. With a margin of victory at least 1460%, the Guinness Book of World Records gives it the title of World's Most Fraudulent Election. At the time, the True Whig Party was a virtual dictatorship, never losing an election from 1878 to 1980, when a coup toppled the government.
  • Many people suspect this to be the cause of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's massive victory in the Iranian presidential election of 2009. There have been allegations of widespread fraud and intimidation against voters opposed to him.
  • Venezuela's Constitutional Assembly Election of 2017. Not only did this election see an insanely low turnout and see all its seats stacked with government loyalists, but there have been reports that the number of votes cast in the election are even lower than the officially reported figures. The creation and election of this assembly has been widely condemned as a blatant and shameless consolidation of power by the government against the will of the Venezuelan public.
    • The 2018 presidential election was little better. To start, the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) alliance that successfully and fairly took control of the National Assembly in 2015 was barred from competing in the election. And yet, despite this, the vast majority of polls showed incumbent Nicolás Maduro still losing to his most popular opponent still allowed to run in the election. And what was the (likely dubious) result? The lowest turnout to date for a presidential election and Maduro (supposedly) winning 67.8% to his closest opponents' 20.9% and 10.8%. If correct, this result overperformed even the most generous outlier poll by 12% and his closest opponents were overestimated by about 5% each. Naturally, nobody but Maduro's similarly authoritarian and/or socialist allies considered this result legitimate, and this led to National Assembly leader Juan Guaidó countering by declaring himself Interim President using powers delegated in the Venezuela Constitution to the leader of the National Assembly, triggering a presidential crisis in a last ditch effort to topple Maduro from his (now widely recognized as illegitimate) position.
  • In the 2013 Azerbaijani elections, a smartphone app showed that Ilham Aliyev won with 72.76% while the nearest opposing candidate, Jamil Hasanli, tallied just 7.4%. Problem was, the app was released a day early and nobody had voted yet...
  • In the November 1933 German elections the single N.S.D.A.P. list won 92.11% of the vote (of course, it helps that they had already banned all other political parties).
  • The 1969 Act of Free Choice, which was the vote for whether West Papua should be independent of part of Indonesia, consisted in the choosing by Indonesian General Sarwo Edhi Wibowo by 1,025 voters out of the 800,000 inhabitants, who then publicly and unanimously voted for being attached to Indonesia.
  • In modern Russia, Vladimir Putin's election landslides are criticized for being shams. While candidates other than Putin are allowed on the ballot, the election authority often disqualifies any credible challengers, leaving only fringe candidates, and state media, which Putin dominates, coddles him and ramps up positive coverage around elections.

    The Candidate Is Too Radical 
A party normally in strong contention nominates a more radical or philosophically principled candidate, whose proposals are too far out of the mainstream to garner much public support. He is then thoroughly clobbered by a more pragmatic opponent. Sometimes, however, this defeat is instrumental in securing a victory in some future election; the idealist candidate 'rallies the troops' and gets them excited about politics again.

  • In the 1964 U.S. presidential election, the Republican Party nominated outspoken conservative Barry M. Goldwater for president, instead of easygoing moderate Nelson Rockefeller. Goldwater won only six states out of fifty.note , and President Lyndon Johnson won 61% of the popular vote, still the highest popular percentage won in a contested election.

    It probably helped that Lyndon Johnson had recently signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which "outlawed unequal application of voter registration requirements and racial segregation in schools, at the workplace and by facilities that served the general public", gaining much favor even among moderate Republicans. Goldwater had voted against the Act because he genuinely believed it wasn't within the remit of the federal government. This didn't stop his opponents from grouping him with people who used "states' rights" as a cover for racism. As if that wasn't enough, Goldwater didn't do himself any favors by alienating moderate Republicans in his acceptance speech (some of whom went on to support LBJ with the snarky slogan "Even Johnson is better than Goldwater!"), and his tendency to speak off the cuff and make statements like "I sometimes think this country would be better off if we sawed off the Eastern Seaboard and let it float out to sea" and suggesting that the USA should "lob one [nuclear bomb] into the men's room at the Kremlin" allowed Johnson to successfully paint him as a dangerous loony who would start a third world war with the famous "Daisy" ad, and incredibly effective parodies of Goldwater's campaign slogan, "In your heart, you know he's right", which was twisted into "In your guts, you know he's nuts", "In your heart, you know he might" and "In your heart, you know he's too far right".

    It also helped that Johnson had been president for less than a year after John F. Kennedy was killed, and the electorate mostly wasn't ready to elect a new man when they hadn't even broken in the current one. However, a certain celebrity gave a speech on Goldwater's behalf that kick-started his own political career.
  • In the UK, Labour's campaign in 1983 was infamously poor. Sixty-nine-year-old Michael Foot — a solid Labour man, but generally perceived as an out-of-touch Oxford don — had narrowly beaten the popular Denis Healey to become leader of the party in 1980, and attempted to appease the left wing of the party by promising in the election manifesto to dismantle the UK's nuclear arsenal, leave the EEC (after campaigning to stay in it during the 1975 referendum), and renationalize several heavy industries. Labour MP Gerald Kaufman later described the manifesto as "the longest suicide note in history".

    It should be noted that for the duration of the previous parliament, Conservative PM Margaret Thatcher had been unpopular and Labour enjoyed a massive poll lead up until The Falklands War. But Labour had barely recovered from the 1981 split, when some members of Labour's right wing left and went on to found the Social Democratic Party. In the elections Labour won 27.6% of the vote, while an alliance between the Social Democrats and Liberals won 25.4%. In terms of absolute numbers the SDP-Liberal Alliance came within 700,000 votes of Labour's total, but the UK's first-past-the-post electoral system ensured that the party only had one-tenth as many seats, because SDP candidates tended to come a close second in the polls.
  • France in 2002: Far-right politician Jean-Marie Le Pen managed to get the second place in the first run of the presidential election, behind the incumbent conservative president Jacques Chirac, but ahead of Prime Minister Lionel Jospin (he fell to third place due to massive abstention, vote-splitting on the left among various parties, and being perceived as "soft on crime"). The runoff was therefore a contest between a moderate conservative and consummate politician frequently accused of corruption scandals and a far-right nationalist accused of xenophobia. As a result, nearly every non-far-right voter decided to vote for Chirac, who got re-elected with 82% of the votes.

    Still, some French voters weren't happy about the choice offered. This was famously epitomized by a pre-election poster of Chirac with the caption "vote for the crook, not the fascist" («Votez pour l'escroc, pas pour le facho» in French.)
    • History repeated itself with Le Pen's daughter, Marine, in the 2017 election. She advanced to the second round after various other candidates fell short — Socialist candidate Benoît Hamon was hamstrung by incumbent François Hollande's unpopularity and proved to be a generally poor campaigner, Republican candidate François Fillon was the early favorite until a scandal wrecked his chances, and Indomitable France candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon had a late surge in support, but ultimately not enough to make it to the run-off. Le Pen was resoundingly defeated by the much more moderate independent candidate Emmanuel Macron in the second round by a nearly 2-to-1 margin (Macron got 66.1%, Le Pen got 33.9%). While she managed to make her party somewhat more respectable since her father retired, her anti-Muslim and anti-European Union rhetoric ultimately drove a lot of supporters from the other main parties to Macron.
  • The same thing happened in Romania in 2000: as a result of the then-ruling right-wing coalition collapsing and popular disillusionment, the choice came down to either Ion Iliescu, who had already served as president (1989–96) after Ceaușescu was overthrown and remains (to say the least) very controversial over his involvement in the Mineriads, and Corneliu Vadim Tudor, an infamous far-right politician known for nationalism, xenophobia, irredentism (his party is the only one that still advocates reunification with Moldova), and populist anti-Semitic, anti-Roma, and anti-Hungarian rhetoric. Predictably, Iliescu defeated Tudor by a 66.8%–33.2% majority, although the election was notable for having a very low turnout.
  • In the US, Herbert Hoover won his first election in 1928 via an overwhelming margin against Democratic candidate Al Smith, winning all but eight states and taking even more electoral votes than his two predecessors did in their own landslide elections. Smith wasn't a bad candidate per se but had two major problems. First, many of his policies (including ending Prohibition and extending suffrage to younger voters) were a little too far ahead of their time, and secondly he was a Catholic at a time when anti-Catholic sentiment in the U.S. was so prevalent that many voters genuinely thought Smith would hand control of the country over to the Vatican if he were elected.
  • Going into the 2000 Canadian election, many felt that Jean Chrétien's two-term Liberal government had a serious chance of being unseated by the new Canadian Alliance, which was looking to establish itself as the successor to the dying Progressive Conservatives as the party of the right. However, the Alliance sabotaged its chances in part by replacing Preston Manning (the leader of its precursor, the Reform Party) with Stockwell Day, whose arch-conservative views — including being a vocal proponent of Young-Earth Creationism and just as vocally denouncing same-sex marriage and adoption — did not go over well at all with the electorate. The Alliance actually gained six seats over the previous election, but mostly at the expense of the Progressive Conservatives and Bloc Québécois, with the Liberals winning an even more decisive majority than in the previous election in 1997.
  • A variation happened to the Labour Party in the 1935 UK general election. After Ramsay MacDonald jumped ship to form the National Government prior to the 1931 election, and subsequent leader Arthur Henderson lasted only a few months before being forced to resign after suffering a thumping defeat in his own constituency and failing to be re-elected, the party chose George Lansbury, a then-72-year-old strict Christian pacifist, as its leader. Lansbury's views would have been out of step with most of the population no matter when he was elected, but when faced with the rise of Nazism and Fascism on the continent his views crossed the line from being perhaps eccentric to appearing flat-out delusional. With the party's internal polls showing that they were likely to lose almost all their remaining MPs in the forthcoming election if Lansbury remained in power, his shadow cabinet mutinied on him, leading to his resignation, and interim leader Clement Attlee performing a minor miracle in actually managing to significantly increase Labour's vote and seat count, even if the end result was another colossal defeat, with barely a third the number of seats of the National Government.
  • While the American Democratic presidential candidate in 1868, Horatio Seymour was actually pretty moderate for his era, and one of the few Democrats who would have had a prayer of defeating the enormously popular Ulysses S. Grant in that year's election, that couldn't be said about his running mate, Francis P. Blair Jr., who spent the campaign making some of the most outrageously racist speeches in the history of American politics. Unfortunately, in those days the running mate was actually the campaign's leader, as actively campaigning for the presidency was considered ungentlemanly until the back end of the 19th century, meaning that by the time the party leaders actually took the hint that having Seymour actively campaign couldn't come across any worse than what Blair was doing, their campaign was already in ruins. Combined with the fact that all former Confederate officials and military officers were banned from voting, and the election took place in the brief gap between African Americans getting the vote and the Jim Crow era, and it was no surprise that Seymour ended up with barely a third of the electoral votes that Grant got (and yet it was still considered a fairly creditable performance given the circumstances).
  • After three terms governing the Canadian province of Manitoba — he won progressively bigger shares of the popular vote and seat allotment in 1988, 1990, and 1995 — Progressive Conservative premier Gary Filmon ill-advisedly said he'd govern from further to the right if he won a fourth term in 1999. Most voters didn't believe he could invest $500 million back into education and health, cut as much worth from their taxes, and still maintain a balanced budget. The New Democrats under Opposition Leader Gary Doer won the majority government instead.
  • New Jersey’s Eleventh Congressional district had for a long time been representated by the moderate Rodney Frelinghuysen, a member of a famous political dynasty in the state. In 2016, Donald Trump only narrowly won the district and for the 2018 midterms, the 73-year-old Frelinghuysen decided to call it quits. Democrats quickly coalesced around Navy veteran and lawyer Mikie Sherrill, but Republicans had a more difficult time trying to find a successor. Eventually they settled on state assemblyman Jay Webber. Unfortunately for the GOP, it turns out they were running a candidate more suited for Alabama than New Jersey; Webber was a staunch social conservative who opposed abortion and LGBT rights, which are overwhelmingly popular even in the redder areas of the Garden State. Sherrill blew out Webber in the house race, winning by a whopping 15 points.

    The Opponent Is Too Popular 
One candidate is so strong and so popular (sometimes because of a war effort) that the opposition has no chance whatsoever, even though said opposition would probably win against a generic candidate. Often, the main opposition will decline to run against the candidate, or even support it, leaving minor parties to try (and fail) to win.

  • Irish politics does this quite often; there's sometimes wide-ranging support for presidential candidates which leaves the election unopposed. The last time this happened was in 2004, where Mary McAleese ran with full backing from Fianna Fail (her old party) and Fine Gael.
    • This can happen in almost any republic with a Parliamentary system (i.e., where the President is head of state — basically an elected constitutional monarch — the American system is different).
  • George Washington was both elected and re-elected unanimously as the first president of the United States, in 1789 (Congress hadn't yet convened, so it took until the beginning of the next year to hold the election) and 1792; and James Monroe was almost-unanimously re-elected as the fifth president in 1820. Both ran unopposed for president (though, in Washington's case, the vice-presidential election was contested the second time around, with George Clinton running against incumbent John Adams and losing 50–77). Washington was the only president in US history to be elected unanimously; and William Plumer, the one elector who voted against Monroe the second time, only did so because he believed Washington should retain that singular honor.note  Washington himself could have run for more than two terms, and probably have won as many elections as he liked –- it wasn't like the commanding general of the army that won America its independence was ever going to lose –- but he specifically chose not to, for fear that he would turn the presidency into a de facto monarchy. His precedent stood for almost a century and a half: although supporters of Ulysses S. Grant tried to renominate him for a third time in 1880, he declined; and although Theodore Roosevelt ran for a third term in 1912, he lost: it wasn't until 1940 that a president — Teddy's cousin Franklin D. Roosevelt — successfully ran for, and was elected to, a third term. FDR then won a fourth term in 1944 but died a few months later. In 1947, Congress passed the Twenty-Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, and the states ratified it in 1951: this amendment prohibited all future presidents from running for more than two complete terms.note 
  • The 1864 American presidential election contest between Abraham Lincoln and Democratic candidate George B. McClellan was never really going to be a fair fight considering how the Democratic vote at the time was concentrated in the southern states ... which weren't actually part of the country at the time, with The American Civil War being fought to bring them back. Lincoln had recently turned the tide of the conflict thanks to the timely installation of new commanding general (and future two-time landslide winner) Ulysses S. Grant; McClellan's main claim to fame was having previously proved hopelessly incompetent in Grant's role earlier in the war, and his policy of wanting to continue the war was actually at odds with the rest of the Democratic Party, whose positions were regarded as either naïve — in the case of the "Peace Democrat" faction, who wanted to bring the war to an end and let the Confederate states rejoin, slavery intact — or outright treasonous — in the case of the "Copperhead" faction, who thought it best just to let the Confederacy become its own nation and try to re-establish a peaceful relationship with them — by the rest of the nation. Not surprisingly, Lincoln completely crushed McClellan, who only won three states, namely New Jersey (his home state), Delaware (by just six hundred votes) and Kentucky (which had attempted to secede and join the Confederacy but eventually stopped short of doing so).
  • American president Calvin Coolidge's run for a full term of his own after succeeding the deceased Warren Harding ended up with him winning nearly as big of a landslide as Harding did four years prior, largely due to his popularity and the booming economy. This was all the more impressive considering that the liberal faction of the partynote  split off and nominated Robert LaFollette as a third-party candidate. However, the loss of votes due to LaFollette's candidacy was more than made up for by the utter fiasco that was the Democratic nomination that year, which took place over the course of a month, saw the front-runners practically falling over themselves to gain the support of the Ku Klux Klan, and after well over a dozen candidates withdrew due to lack of interest and/or support over the 103 ballots taken, the party settled on John W. Davis, who got the nomination mostly because hardly anyone had heard of him, meaning he had no enemies in the party. Coolidge easily thrashed both Davis and LaFollette in the election, with the Democrats earning their lowest-ever popular vote in the post-Civil War era.
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt won US elections in 1932, 1936, 1940, and 1944: all political landslides because, let's face it, Roosevelt was and still is very popular. In 1932, Roosevelt's predecessor Herbert Hoover had the misfortune of having had the Great Depression (1) happen on his watch and (2) start within a year of his inauguration, meaning that (3) he had had most of his term to fix it, but (4) nothing he did seemed to make anything any better, with the predictable result that (5) everyone but the most doctrinaire Republican turned to his opponent to fix things. In 1936, the Great Depression was still in full swing and FDR ran on a 'we got you Social Security, now let me do the rest' campaign, and simply crushed Alf Landon, who only managed to win two small, then-usually-Republican states, Maine and Vermont. Even Landon's home state, Kansas, voted against him. Notably, a magazine named The Literary Digest actually predicted a Landon landslide after conducting a straw poll;note  it ceased publication shortly after the election. This also ended Maine's status as a "bellwether state" in presidential politics (the saying went, "As Maine goes, so goes the nation"; Maine's September gubernatorial elections had usually predicted which party would win the November presidential election since 1832), leading FDR's campaign manager James Farley to quip "As Maine goes, so goes Vermont." In 1940, Roosevelt did want to leave office but a certain war was going on (which the US had not yet entered, but which Roosevelt (1) figured it couldn't avoid entering and (2) had actually nudged America into entering by enacting pro-British policies in Europe and imposing sanctions on Japan) and he felt the nation needed an experienced President, so he ran again and won since the economy was managing something of a recovery by that point, though his opponent, Wendell Willkie, gave him his closest race yet. And in 1944, there was still the slight matter of that little war going on; FDR actually knew during the campaign that his health was declining and suspected he might die during his fourth term,note  but he felt he couldn't just stop now, and the people agreed. Indeed, many scholars believe that Thomas Dewey's 1944 campaign was better than his 1948 campaign, and in fact, he did the best in both the popular and electoral vote out of all of Roosevelt's opponents, but his major problem was running against Roosevelt, and during wartime to boot.
  • Richard Nixon's 1972 re-election was primarily because many, many Americans still supported The Vietnam War and his election team engaged in some of the dirtiest politics known to man. It's suggested that Nixon was an idiot (or, more accurately, paranoid, see his page for more info) for breaking into the Watergate because he was so popular he could've won this election without the dirty tricks. The only state to vote against him, Massachusetts, famously produced "Don't blame me, I'm from Massachusetts" bumper stickers during the height of the Watergate scandal.
    • A strong case could be made for the Republicans' dirty tricks actually being responsible for the Democratic disaster described below. Republican skulduggery was at least partially responsible for ending the campaigns of Hubert Humphrey and Ed Muskie, either of whom may have fared better against Nixon in the general election.
    • There was also an almost perfect storm of catastrophe for the Democratic candidate, George McGovern. He didn't clinch the nomination until the convention because the second-place finisher Hubert Humphrey contested the California primary results.note  The fight to win the nomination itself consumed so much attention that his campaign team didn't pick a VP candidate until the convention's second day. They had more than half a dozen people turn the slot down (and one Jimmy Carter actually leading a last-minute "Anybody but McGovern" push while campaigning to become McGovern's running mate) before they essentially picked Thomas Eagleton at random. The balloting for President and Vice President took so long that by the time McGovern delivered his acceptance speech, the only U.S. media market where it was still Prime Time was Guam. And, finally, it was revealed that Eagleton had a history of mental health problems, involving institutionalization and electric shock therapy, and McGovern had to dump him, by which time the only replacement he could get was Sargent Shriver, a man whose extensive record of public service did not include any prior elected office. Basically, the last good day of the campaign for McGovern was the California primary. It was all downhill from there. (You can read an excellent—if biasednote —account of McGovern's campaign in Hunter S. Thompson's seminal Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72.)
  • Ronald Reagan's 1984 re-election yielded him 525 out of 538 electoral votes, the most taken by any US presidential candidate ever, and as a percentage of the Electoral College has not been equaled or surpassed by any president since and only three previously (George Washington in both of his elections, and James Monroe and Franklin Roosevelt in their second elections). He won about 59% of the popular vote and every state except Minnesota, and even then only lost that state by a little over 3,000 votes.note  After winning, he famously declared it to be "Morning in America." In this case, Reagan took credit for an economic recovery following another economic crisis. Real gross domestic product (GDP) showed steady increases and unemployment was decreasing. The voters probably hoped for more growth in voting for him.
  • Across the pond from the United States, the United Kingdom's general election in 1931 is a good example of this. Shortly before the election, the former Labour Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald had formed a National Government, which was composed of the Conservative Party, just over half of the Liberal Party and a handful of rogue but largely popular Labour MPs. It was created with the goal of leading the UK through the Great Depression, and when the country went to the polls in 1931, its candidates won 556 of 615 seats in the Commons and an overall majority of 497. The Conservative Party alone won 473 seats (a majority of 331), and 55% of the vote — the only time a single party has won more than half the popular vote under universal suffrage. Labour, the only real opposition party, suffered the worst election defeat for a major party in history too, losing over 80% (225) of the seats it held at dissolution; had it not been for a three-way split in the Liberal Party (between the National Government faction, the main Liberal group, and a third faction led by David Lloyd George) Labour would have achieved the rare dishonour of going all the way from ruling government to third-party status. Incredibly, only two years earlier, the Conservative leader and former Prime Minister (now de facto Deputy, or even arguably Co-, PM under Macdonald), Stanley Baldwin, had led his party into an election that saw more than a third of his parliamentary party wiped out. Four years later it was re-elected, this time with Baldwin becoming PM, and won the second largest majority in history despite losing 100 seats. It wasn't until 1945, when the National Government had disintegrated to the point where it was almost exclusively made up of the by-then-unpopular Conservative Party, that it lost power.
  • The UK's general election of 2001, with the results being mostly a repeat of 1997. Just 3–4% of the seats in Parliament changed parties — Labour making a net loss of six seats, the Conservatives a net gain of one and the Liberal Democrats a net gain of six — and only 59.4% of eligible voters bothered to vote. It was accurately called the "quiet landslide".
  • "Hurricane" Hazel McCallion, mayor of Mississauga, Ontario, squeaked into office in 1978 by narrowly defeating Ron Searle, and stayed there until retiring in 2014 (by then, she was 93 years old!). She was so popular that for the last few elections she didn't even bother campaigning, instead taking a vacation during that time; she was generally elected with 80–90% of the vote. To date no real competitor has ever come up.
    • Fun fact? Hazel was only the third mayor of Mississauga since its consolidation in 1974.
    • Famous for working 12–14-hour days into her 90s, having an almost perfect memory for stuff that happened decades ago, and pulling out the occasional snarky quip. Gets hit by a pickup truck at the age of 82, back to work in a few days, when asked about the accident says "I'm fine. The truck had to go in for repairs."
  • A similar case with U.S. Senator Ted Stevens, who won his first election (in 1970) by a comfortable margin, and then proceeded to win every election with over 60% of the vote, most of them with over 70%. This was attributed partly due to the state's conservative bent and partly due to Stevens being extremely effective at bringing in "pork";note  he wouldn't be dethroned until 2008 (and only then because he had just been convicted of federal corruption charges, later vacated due to prosecutorial misconduct), and died in a plane crash less than 2 years after.
  • Singapore, all the way. The People's Action Party (PAP) remains the most trusted party in the nation's whole history and continues to win an extreme majority of seats in their parliament.
  • Interestingly averted in France in 1965: this was the first direct presidential election in postwar France, and Charles de Gaulle was expected to win handily, seeing as he was the war hero and architect of the Fifth Republic. His opponent was future president François Mitterrand, running on behalf of the CIR, a temporary coalition of all the major non-Communist left-wing parties. De Gaulle was so confident in his victory he only announced his candidacy a month before the vote and didn't campaign actively. Mitterrand surprised everyone and did way better than was expected, grabbing just enough votes to prevent a first-round victory for de Gaulle (44% to 31%, six points below the required amount) and securing 45% of the votes in the second, considerably narrowing de Gaulle's victory margin to 55%. The lack of a Landslide Election is now considered one of the first signs of de Gaulle's later decline and loss of power.
  • Some German Presidents (Theodor Heuss in his second election, Richard von Weizsäcker in both of them, especially the latter). They got more than 80% of the electors.
  • George H. W. Bush's 1988 U.S. election had him running as the Vice President of the very popular Ronald Reagan. Combine this with the good economy, a stable international stage, and an opponent in the boring and unremarkable Michael Dukakis, and it's not hard to figure out who wins. Bush won about 53% of the popular vote, won 40 states, and 426 electoral votes. The campaign famously exploited various mistakes by Dukakis which made many voters distrust the man.
    • Despite Reagan's relative popularity, the Democrats could well have won the 1988 election. Dukakis enjoyed a lead as high as 17% during the summer; had he not made unforced errors (the tank ride, the debate gaffe) and been more combative in general he might have won.
  • In the 1848 French presidential election, Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte got 74% of the vote because the royalists thought he would restore order, his progressive economic views won over workers,note  and the farmers knew he was the Bonaparte's nephew.note 
  • Similarly, in 1968 De Gaulle dissolved the National Assembly and called snap legislative elections, in the aftermath of the May 1968 revolt. The right-wing parties managed to win 396 out of 487 total seats.
  • The 2014 Nevada election for Governor. The popular incumbent, Brian Sandoval, faced zero effective opposition in the Republican primary, while on the Democratic side, basically everybody with any sort of name recognition sat out the election; the result was a clown-car primary where "None of the Above" got the most votes;note  in the end, Sandoval would go on to crush Democratic nominee Bob Goodman, winning 70.5% of the vote.
  • Nearly all of the elections that Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau took part in fall into this category, as his charisma and ability to win over both English and French-speaking voters, along with his following in the footsteps of the already popular Lester Pearson, proved too much for his opponents to overcome. In the one election that he actually lost (in 1979) his Liberals still defeated the Conservatives led by Joe Clark in the popular vote, and then steamrollered Clark the following year when his government was topped by a vote of no-confidence.
  • Charlie Baker of Massachusetts was first elected in 2014 during a Republican wave year. Unfortunately, he had to defend his seat again in 2018, when a massive anti-Donald Trump wave crested over the country, and certainly he was bound to lose in a state that the president lost by 26 points, right? Nope, because the moderate Baker was actually the most popular governor in the country, and not only did he win, he did so by an absolute landslide 33% margin.

    The Party Is Divided 
The main opposition party disintegrates due to internal dissension and a general lack of organisation and purpose. One party will win all the major elections until a viable replacement for the opposition can be found.

  • The American Federalist Party collapsed shortly after their fifth consecutive loss in 1816; James Monroe won the 1820 presidential election essentially without opposition, winning 231 of 232 electoral votes. Eventually, the Federalists were replaced by the Whigs, who themselves collapsed a few decades later and were replaced by the modern Republicans.
  • In Canada, when the Progressive Conservatives wound up so hated they got reduced to only two seats in 1993 and died off. The Liberals had little trouble holding power for the rest of The '90s. At one point, their official opposition was the Bloc Québécois, a party whose main goal is to have Québec secede from Canada.
    • Not unexpected. Canada slipped into a recession in late 1989 alongside most of the world ... only that Canada had already spent the mid-1980s in a financial crisis. Unemployment in Canada had risen to unprecedented levels and the governing Progressive Conservatives were accused of failing to do anything about it. While the United States' economy had started recovering by 1993, in Canada the recession lasted to 1995.
    • Another thing which didn't help the PCs' case was the infamous face ad, which, to many people, appeared to be mocking Chrétien for his Bell's palsy. It didn't go over very well with the voters.
  • In Australia in 1949, there was a split in the Australian Labor Party, and the splinter group formed the Democratic Labor Party. The Liberal Party won the election and remained in government until 1972.
  • In the 1919 French legislative election, the Bloc National won 433 seats out of 613 because of the Red Scare and the fact the left, then dominated by the SFIO (French Section of the Workers' International), failed to respond to accusations of being Bolsheviks properly and to reach an agreement with the Socialists and ended up isolating the Radicals, basically opening themselves up to a much worse onslaught from the right.

    The Ruling Party Screwed Things Up 
The party which has been governing for the past few years has been doing a spectacularly cruddy job, or at least many people believe that they have. In an election that most people think is long-overdue, the electorate decides to "Throw the Bums Out" in a big way.

  • For fifty years after The American Civil War, the Republican Party dominated federal policy, which was characterized by high tariffs, temperance, and westward expansion. Between 1861 and 1913, only one Democrat (Grover Cleveland) was elected President of the United States.note  And the second time around (he got elected in two non-consecutive opportunities) was because President Benjamin Harrison almost went to war with almost the entire world.
  • The Canadian federal election of 1984 saw a crushing defeat of the Liberals, who had been in power for every year but one since 1963, by the Progressive Conservatives, who accused the Liberals of corruption, incompetence, and spendthrift irresponsibility at a time Canada was in a recession. Evidently, the voters agreed. This is the last time a Canadian party received an absolute majority of the vote.
    • The Liberals would get their revenge in 1993. Brian Mulroney, the winner of the 1984 election, wound up so hated that the PCs themselves got curb stomped. Due to yet another recession which hit Canada particularly badly and an attack ad that appeared to mock Jean Chrétien's facial paralysis, the PCs' vote share dropped by 27% and the party reduced from 156 seats in the House of Commons to two, eventually resulting in the end of the PC party as they merged with the Canadian Reform Alliance Party in 2003 under a new name (the Conservative Party). It was one of the worst defeats of a sitting government in the Western world.
  • The New Zealand general election of 1990 saw the National Party win 67 of the 97 seats in Parliament and kick the Labour Party out of government over its sweeping neoliberal reforms ("Rogernomics"; the Fan Nickname cites then–Finance minister Roger Douglas) of the past six years.
    • And then when the new National government decided to continue the reforms ("Ruthanasia", after that Finance minister, Ruth Richardson), New Zealanders lost trust in the two-party system and ended up 'screaming' in a 1992 indicative referendum on the voting system — 85% voted to ditch the existing First-Past-the-Post voting system, and 70% nominated the Mixed-Member Proportional system as its replacement.
  • After 18 years in government, in the 1997 British general election, the Conservatives received a massive 'don't let the door hit your arse on the way out' notice.
    • Other landslide victories for an incoming government can also be found in 1886, 1906 and 1924. In 1886 the Conservatives hammered the Liberals badly; in 1906 the Liberals got their revenge when they crushed the Conservatives (their worst-ever election defeat). Finally, in 1924, the Conservatives returned to power at the expense of the Liberals once again.
    • Also, an interesting note, if the Tories in 1997 had lost just 10 more seats, it would have been the worst result achieved by a ruling party in 165 years. John Major very narrowly avoided his name being recorded forever in British political history for all the wrong reasons.
    • The 1918 election was marked by severe discontent with the Liberals, affected by the unpopularity of World War I and their handling of The Irish Question, leading to a split in the party: David Lloyd George's Liberals lost around 150 seats (he remained PM because of an agreement with the Tories) while Herbert Henry Asquith's faction lost all but 36 seats.
  • The 1945 UK general election probably fits here. Many saw Winston Churchill as a great wartime leader,note  but voters were sceptical of his ability to govern in peacetime; not least because his policies were really no different from those of Conservative governments of the 1930s that had delivered high unemployment and economic depression.note  Labour's promise of measures to tackle unemployment, viz. the creation of a welfare state and the construction of decent housing ("a land fit for heroes"), proved enormously popular.
  • The 1975 election in Australia was triggered in very controversial circumstances. An unpopular Labor government had to deal with the right-wing parties taking control of the Senate and blocking the budget. Governor General Sir John Kerr broke with protocol by firing Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, installing opposition leader Malcolm Fraser in his place and calling an election. Massive demonstrations sprung up in Australia in protest of the ousting of an elected government and as a result, when the election was held a month later ... Fraser won the largest landslide in Australian history. Labor's error in judgment had been to assume that voters were so angry they would easily return them to power. But the 'silent majority' of Australian voters had turned against Labor, fed up with economic problems and numerous scandals that had happened in the past three years.
    • When governments lose office in Australia, they tend to lose on a big seat swing. See the ALP in 2013, 1996 and 1949 and the Coalition in 2007 and 1983. Moreover, the narrowness of Gough Whitlam's victory in 1972 was largely because a big swing to the ALP had already taken place in 1969.
  • The French legislative election in 1993. By this time, President Mitterrand had been in power for twelve years but his Socialist Party had been weakened by a recession, a split with the centrist UDF party, various scandals, defeats in local elections and a rivalry between Lionel Jospin and Laurent Fabius for succeeding Mitterrand (who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer). The Socialists were completely steamrollered, with their vote share dropping from 34% to 17% in the first round and their number of seats reduced from 260 to 53. Among the Socialists who lost their seats were Jospin, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and François Hollande.
    • The Socialists actually received the most votes of any party on the second round. But the other two major parties, the RPR and UDF, had a pact not to run their candidates against each other in the second round. The RPR and UDF took 55% of the vote between them; the Socialists took 31%.
    • However, the government of Prime Minister Alain Juppé became so unpopular in its own right that when snap legislative elections were called in 1997, the Socialists made a remarkable comeback, gaining 255 seats (only 5 less than they had held before the 1993 wipeout) and, along with its "Plural Left" allies, 45% and 47% of the vote in the first and second rounds, a sizable lead over the government. While they lost the next elections in 2002 and 2007, both were nowhere near as landslide-like, so the Socialists managed another one in 2012, where they won 280 seats and a total of 57% of the vote alongside allied parties, their best result since being established as a party.
  • Special mention goes to the 2009 Japanese general election, where the incumbent Liberal Democrats were utterly crushed by the opposition Democrats. It merits mention that until this point, the LDP had ruled Japan for an almost straight 54 years, except for an 11-month period from 1993 to 1994.
  • And of course, the US presidential election of 1932. The Great Depression was going on, millions of Americans were out of work, and Herbert Hoover had failed to stop it. He received a massive 'don't let the door hit your ass on the way out' notice. The election saw a national swing of 35.17% to the Democratic Party and marked the first of four landslide victories for Franklin D. Roosevelt. Just to rub it in, during the election campaign a man wrote him a letter saying "vote for Roosevelt and make it unanimous".
    • Voters held a grudge against Republicans for the next three cycles, where they saw heavy losses in Congress. In 1932 they lost a near-record 101 seats in the House, and by 1936 saw their share of seats in the House and Senate fall to 20% and 18% respectively.
  • The US 1980 presidential election saw President Jimmy Carter going into the election with the Iran hostage crisis, an unpopular treaty that would return the Panama Canal to Panama, a worsening economy at home, inflation, high interest rates and high unemployment all on his watch. He proceeded to get his ass kicked, as his opponent Ronald Reagan won the popular vote by a nearly 10-point margin and received over 90% of the electoral vote.
  • The 2011 Irish general election resulted in ruling party Fianna Fáil being knocked down from 77 T Ds (of 166) to 20 after a really deep recession had shattered confidence in the economy and the party. In Dublin, they dropped from 17 seats to just one seat.
    • And bear in mind that since the country's first election, Fianna Fáil had won elections fourteen out of twenty-six times on its own and another five times as part of a coalition. That's right, they pissed people off who'd been voting for them for nearly a century (the first election was in 1927). And their previous voting percentage was 41.6% — after the election, it was 17%. Yeah, the Irish people were pissed.
  • Within Quebec, the 2011 federal election proved to be this for the NDP. While the governing Conservatives won a healthy but hardly spectacular (in normal circumstances) majority in Canada as a whole,note  the race in Quebec was really between the sovereigntist (read: nationalist/separatist) Bloc Quebecois and the soft-federalist New Democratic Party (both parties are leftish and vaguely social-democratic; what distinguishes them in Quebec is their position on sovereignty). Before the election, the Bloc had previously had 47 of 75 seats from Quebec (two-thirds). After the election, the Bloc had four of 75—the remaining 43 all went to the New Democrats. The NDP also took seven of fourteen Liberal seats in Quebec, and five of ten Conservative ones, for a total of 59 seats—just under 80%. Yeah, it was that kind of election.
    • One Quebec riding, Berthier-Maskinongé, was deemed so pro-Bloc that the NDP only run a token candidate in it. The candidate was a 24-year-old pub manager with almost no political experience and who did not even live in the riding. She did not campaign and cast an early absentee ballot so she could spend election day on vacation in Las Vegas (she had bought the airplane tickets before the election was called and did not see a reason to change her plans). When she actually won the seat, everyone was dumbfounded and the NDP leadership publicly promised that they would make sure that she took her new duties seriously...which she did so well she was re-elected in 2015 based on her genuine popularity with the people of Berthier-Maskinongé.note 
  • Perhaps the most internationally famous example is the first multi-racial parliamentary election in South Africa in 1994, in which around 80% of the population was entitled to vote for the first time ever (and another 11% for the first time on the same terms as white people), with the end of apartheid, and every election post-apartheid since. The African National Congress — the party led by Nelson Mandela — won 252 of 400 seats and 62.65% of the popular vote and the National Party, which had governed for 46 years without interruption, retained only 82 of the 232 seats it was notionally defending with 21 of 103 incumbent National legislators losing their seats. Unsurprisingly, there was very little opposition to the ANC from the major parties, and the outcome of the election was a foregone conclusion from the start of the campaign. The ANC has consistently won over 60% of the vote at every election since, winning larger majorities in 1999 and 2004, and only losing seats for the first time in 2009 (but still finishing with more seats than the party had in '94) before losing a few more in 2014. The Democratic Alliance, the closest thing South Africa has to a serious opposition party, won 22% of the vote in its best and most recent result.
  • The 2011 Southern Sudanese independence referendum was a variant of this. Ninety-nine percent of the voters went for independence, and really, considering what the northern state had been doing to the South,note  you can't blame 'em.
  • Spanish politics tends to work like this, with power alternating between the Socialist Party (PSOE) and the People's Party not because the opposition party has a particularly good candidate, but because voters are so fed up with the party in power. The Socialists, who had won four straight elections since 1982, were finally defeated in 1996 because of corruption scandals as well as a crisis which had put lots of people out of work, though a Scare Campaign successfully erased the PP's lead in opinion polls and delivered a narrow victory with less than 500.000 votes instead. The People's Party took power and was re-elected in 2000, but lost the election of 2004 just a few days after the March 11 bombings in Madrid due to its insistence in blaming the attack on the Basque terrorist group ETA instead of Al Qaeda, a move that was interpreted by many as an intention to mislead for a political gain. The Socialists regained power and were re-elected in 2008 ... and lost the next election in 2011 quite miserably because of another economic crisis which put millions out of work.
    • Until 2015, when general upset with both PP's austerity measures and corruption scandals and PSOE's corruption scandals destroyed that, leaving a parliament divided among PP, PSOE, and two new parties: Podemos (left-wing) and Ciudadanos (center to right-wing). In the resulting mess there was no way to invest a Prime Minister and elections were slated to June 2016, where even if the PP got more seats at the parliament the mess continued with no way to form government and yet another round of elections in December 2016 (a year after the everything started) looming in the horizon, with early polls suggesting a similar result. Things changed in October when Mariano Rajoy was invested Prime Minister again thanks to PSOE's absention after their Secretary-General Pedro Sánchez resigned.note 
  • The Saar referendum in 1935, where the Saar, an industrial coal-producing nation of Germany which had been run by the French since the Treaty of Versailles, decided its future. This was the only time the Nazi Party was ever given something close to a democratic endorsement: 90% of Saarlanders voted to return to Germany (and in this case, it was more to do with loyalty to Germany than necessarily Hitler).
  • In 2012, in the Australian state of Queensland, the Australian Labor Party was reduced from 51 seats (out of 87) to only seven. The Liberal National Party won 78 seats, and Katter's Australian Party won two. It got worse for the Labor Party when one LNP member defected to the KAP, and predicted more would follow, raising the possibility of KAP replacing Labor as the official state opposition.
    • And just three years later, Campbell Newman's LNP was dumped and Labor was back in power, with some seats registering swings of over 20%.
  • The Hungarian election of 2010. The Socialist Party was thrown out of government because of its handling of the economic crisis. Fidesz, the opposition, got 53% of the votes in the PR list and won outright in 119/176 of the single member constituencies (which requires a majority on a 50% turnout). Fidesz managed to get a supermajority of 68% of the seats, but some have pointed out that had the Hungarian system been purely first-past-the-post, Fidesz would have got over 90% of the seats.
  • Ironically for such an ill-regarded President, Warren Harding's election in 1920 was a landslide by all means: campaigning on a "return to normalcy" after the unpopular U.S. intervention in World War I, the post-war recession, the bungling of the League of Nations treaty, and just the plain hatred of Woodrow Wilson at the time, Harding carried over 400 electoral votes and 60.3% of the popular vote.
  • In 2003, Democratic California governor Gray Davis was recalled with 55% of the vote, due in part to his perceived botched handling of the California energy crisis. Tripling vehicle license fees probably didn't help his cause either. In a state as heavily Democratic as California, that takes a special kind of skill.
  • In 1997, an alliance of small right-wing parties called the Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS) took power in Poland, in coalition with the liberal Freedom Union (UW). The government became hugely unpopular, and four years later was completely wiped out: the two parties won 9% of the vote between them, and lost all their seats, while the opposition Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) won 41% of the vote and 216 seats, the largest number of seats a Polish party has ever managed.
    • Ironically, the SLD was itself wiped out four years later, going from 41% to 11%.
  • After doing better and better in each of his first four elections as Conservative leader, everything finally went wrong for Stephen Harper in the 2015 Canadian election. His decision to call a three-month-long electoral campaign, evidently in the hope of whittling away the popularity of NDP leader Tom Mulcair (which had soared off the back of public resentment at some of the more overtly right-wing policies implemented by Harper's government) ended up backfiring massively when the Liberal Party blindsided both the Conservatives and NDP. The lengthy campaign may have wrecked the NDP's chances, but it also gave Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, the son of the late PM Pierre Trudeau, enough of opportunities to show that he had inherited his father's charisma and political nous. This, combined with the economy slumping during the campaign and backlash at perceived anti-immigration and anti-Islamic rhetoric employed by the Conservatives, doomed any chance Harper had of being re-elected, and the Liberals went from being a distant third to actually winning a slightly bigger majority than Harper did four years prior.
  • The 2008 United States presidential election, in which Democratic candidate Barack Obama defeated Republican candidate John McCain in the largest popular-vote victory in twenty years. The economic meltdown in September 2008, combined with general anger over the Bush administration's handling of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars meant that any Republican was at a disadvantage from the start. Indeed, many said that the Democratic primary (which was very close between him and Hillary Rodham Clinton) was the real race because of George W. Bush and by extension, the GOP's unpopularity.
  • One of the most prominent examples of How the Mighty Have Fallen in American politics (at least in the 2010s) is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. First elected in 2009, then riding handily to re-election as a very popular Republican Governor in an otherwise Democratic state in 2013 due to his reputation as a warrior against corruption (among other things), many believed he was a serious contender for the Republican nomination in 2016. However, his fortunes quickly took a nosedive in the Bridgegate scandal, where people in his government closed down lanes on the George Washington Bridge between Fort Lee and New York City, something widely believed to have been done as retribution against Fort Lee's mayor's refusal to endorse Chris Christie. With this scandal tanking his chances to earn the presidential nomination or even a position in Donald Trump's cabinet despite supporting him loyally, his last few years as New Jersey governor were marked with a seeming apathy for actually governing the state, most epitomized with the time he was infamously caught on a state beach that was closed to the public due to a state government shutdown. This all led to Chris Christie leaving office as the least popular governor in the entire country, and the attempted Republican successor Kim Guadagno, Christie’s own lieutenant governor, stood no chance, losing to Democrat Phil Murphy 56–42.
  • The 2018 Ontario provincial election proved to be an incredible, record-setting disaster for the Ontario Liberal Party. The Liberals went into the election having led the province for 15 years in a row, most of which was served with a majority government, but ultimately walked away from the election with only seven seats, costing them official party status as a result, with the Progressive Conservatives walking away with a majority government of their own and the New Democrats comfortably taking the role as the opposition party. The Liberals had suffered several major scandals over the course of those 15 years (including one that resulted in the resignation of then-Premier Dalton McGuinty in 2013), but despite being wildly unpopular, had come out on top due to several high-profile blunders on the part of the PCs during their campaigns that caused their popularity to drop significantly by the time the polls closednote  and the NDP failing to capitalize on the growing discontent towards the other two major parties, resulting in most voters deciding to go with the devil they knew. While eventual Premier Doug Ford was a highly controversial figure,note  he successfully galvanized the PCs and ultimately led them to a decisive victory. Suffice to say, this was the worst result in the Liberals' 161-year history up to that point — a result that they saw coming, as Premier Kathleen Wynne conceded the election nearly a week before election night.
  • The 2018 Mexican election: after losing faith in the big parties, the people decided to support eternal candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador. His initial lead was so big that the parties discussed including a second round to stop him from getting the presidency. Yet, when the election came, he got 53% of the votes winning every state except for Guanajuato.note  Not only did he get more than twice as many votes as the first runner-up (22%), he managed to get an outright majority, which no president had done for more than thirty years. And he did it in a four-way race.note 
  • US midterm elections have served this role since the presidency of Bill Clinton, as they usually result in the party out of power being more energized to turn out to the polls to restrict the power of the president. The only exception since was the 2002 midterms, where George W. Bush was still riding extremely high from his initial handling of 9/11. Also, the only other time the president's party gained any seats was in 1998, mainly as backlash to the impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton, though the seats gained were still nowhere near enough to take back control of congress. Some more notorious examples more:
    • The U.S. midterm elections of 1994 were viewed as a referendum on Bill Clinton; particularly after a failed attempt at a health care bill derisively mocked as "Hillarycare" due to Hillary Rodham Clinton's spearheading the bill and botched foreign policy initiatives in Bosnia and Haiti; while the Republicans ran under a program known as the "Contract with America."note  By the time the votes were counted; the Republicans had picked up eight seatsnote  to give them a majority for just the second time (after the 1981–87 period where many of the Republican gains were newcomers elected off the Reagan coattails) since 1954; with two additional seat pickups coming when Democratic Senators Richard Shelby of Alabama and Ben Nighthorse Campbell of Colorado switched parties. The House of Representatives saw a swing of 54 seats for the Republicans (including the GOP finishing with a majority of House seats in the South for the first time since Reconstruction), resulting in the first House majority for the GOP in 40 yearsnote  and for good measure even picking up 10 gubernatorial races; including New York (which saw state legislator George Pataki defeat incumbent Gov. Mario Cuomo) and Texas (where Texas Rangers owner George W. Bush beat incumbent Ann Richardsnote ). The results even affected Clinton's presidency, as he ended up moving more to the center, signing Republican-backed legislation on issues such as balancing the budget and welfare reform.
    • The 2018 U.S. midterm elections were widely seen as a referendum on Donald Trump, with many voters angry about how the Republicans, controlling both houses of Congress as well as the White House, seemed to abdicate their constitutional role as a check on the executive branch. They also attempted to pass an extremely unpopular bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which had become more popular among Americans after Barack Obama left office. Given how unpopular the President was, many analysts thought that it was only a matter of how many seats the Democrats would gain in the House, not whether they would win control at all. While Republicans held the Senate as most analysts predicted, the Democrats picked up 41 seats for 235 House seats in total, a number not seen since Watergate. The magnitude of these gains wasn't fully realized until the days after the election, when heavily Democratic California finished counting votes.

      However, not only did the GOP hold the Senate, but they actually increased their majority from 51 to 53 seats. This was mainly because of how favorable the map was for Republicans, this batch of senators was last up in 2012 when Obama won re-election, they never had to experience a “red wave” midterm in Obama’s presidency and thus had virtually all of the surviving red-state Democratic Senators. Three senators from highly red states, Indiana’s Joe Donnelly, Missouri’s Claire McCaskill, and North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp all were defeated by large margins. Montana’s Jon Tester and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin were able to hold on in states who were more populist-oriented than Indiana or Missouri and did not have the influx of oil workers that transformed North Dakota’s political profile — although only barely (in fact, both won by smaller margins than the former three lost). Another senator, Bill Nelson of Florida, also narrowly lost his election, despite being in a swing state: this was largely a result of the fact that his opponent was Rick Scott, the state governor whose popularity has increased significantly at the end of his term and spent nearly 100 million dollars of his own personal money on the election. That said, Republicans did lose two competitive races in Nevada and Arizona (the latter which hadn't elected a Democratic senator for 30 years), cutting into their Senate gains.
  • In Alberta, the Progressive Conservative Party had royally screwed things up by 2015, especially with the shenanigans of Alison Redford, and the New Democratic Party won 52 out of 87 seats (62%) in the Alberta Legislature. The NDP then proceeded to institute a carbon tax which hit individuals more than industry and align themselves with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (whose name was mud in Alberta), amongst other things. Then, in 2019, the United Conservative Party won 63 seats, which is over 72%. Besides getting walloped, the NDP got another humiliation—the first party in Alberta history to have been in power for only one term, while all others have held power for more than a decade—winning landslide victories most of the time.
  • Amusingly, Alberta had the only solely NDP government in Canada from 2016 to 2019 (after the 2017 British Columbia general election, the NDP assumed government in coalition with the Green Party). In 2016, the then-other NDP government (in Manitoba) was nuked by the Progressive Conservatives — who also won Manitoba's first popular-vote majority since 1915 (and tied with the Liberals' win that year for winning 40 seatsnote ). The proximate cause of the NDP faceplant was dissatisfaction with what people saw as unrestrained deficit spending and having raised the provincial sales tax by a percentage point in 2013 without a public referendum, as they had promised. A 2014 revolt against then-Premier Greg Selinger by five cabinet ministers couldn't have helped.
  • Another Canadian example: the 1987 New Brunswick election had the 39-member-strong Conservative government fall to the Liberals ... who won just over 60% of the popular vote and all 58 seats in the province. Former Premier Richard Hatfield had been popular and won four terms, but he was beset by scandals in his fifth term including abuse of the provincial government's plane and accusations of illegal drug use.

    The Voters Take a Third Option 
A major party winds up getting split between two factions, allowing another party to come up the middle and win easily. May or may not overlap with the party disintegration variant, above.

  • The US presidential election of 1912 (very sorry) had the Republicans split between the conservative wing, led by William Howard Taft, and the liberal wing, led by Theodore Roosevelt. After losing the Republican primary, Roosevelt founded his own party called the Progressive Party. The resulting split of Republican voters allowed Democrat Woodrow Wilson to come up the middle and win 40 states and 435 electoral votes. Taft may have lost to Wilson regardless, as he was unpopular and widely regarded as ineffectual, but in turn Roosevelt might have easily won had Taft been out of the equation.
  • The UK election in 1983 (already mentioned above) also counts as this; looking beyond the unpopular leader, Labour, and the Left in general, were undergoing a lot of factionalisation at the time. Several members of Labour's moderate wing broke off to form the Social Democratic Party, which formed an alliance with the older Liberal Party (and later merged to form the Liberal Democrats). Though the Conservatives won fewer votes in 1983 than in 1979, Labour lost far more votes to the SDP-Liberal Alliance.
  • As pointed out above, Jospin flunked out in the first round of French presidential elections in 2002 because too many of his supporters split and voted for other left-wing parties instead of supporting him.

    The Candidate Just Didn't Click 
No particular problem or political issue caused it, there's just a huge gap of charisma, oratory, and ability to connect with voters separating the candidates.

  • Again from the 1984 US presidential election, President Ronald Reagan absolutely crushed Walter Mondale. President Reagan probably would have won no matter what, but Mondale's nasal speaking voice, hesitant phrasing, and inability to "spin" his message, particularly when contrasted with the ultra-smooth skills of "The Great Communicator", turned an ordinary defeat into a Landslide Election.
    • Also not helping Mondale was the fact he was Jimmy Carter's Vice President considering the conditions that led to Reagan's beatdown of Carter in 1980.
    • Or that Mondale often got eclipsed by his much more popular VP pick, Geraldine Ferraro, in his own campaign materials. Several women's groups famously wore buttons reading "Ferraro and What's His Name."
    • Additionally, Mondale had barely won the nomination, as it took the final set of primaries in states such as California and New Jersey before he emerged with the nomination over then little-known Colorado Senator Gary Hart and civil-rights activist Jesse Jackson.
    • An example of failure to spin: he publicly admitted that whoever became president was probably going to have to raise taxes, and while he was being honest about this responsibility, he emphasized that he couldn't expect Reagan to be so honest. The voters interpreted this as "Mondale promises to raise taxes!" Reagan did end up raising taxes in the end, for what that's worth.
    • Mondale himself, in hindsight, considers Reagan's quip of "I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience", which even got Mondale cracking up, after Mondale had pointed out Reagan's advanced age, to be the point when he realized he had lost the election.
  • The 2008 US presidential election has been described as this, especially internationally (the US is further to the right than most of the world). Whilst John McCain wasn't necessarily boring or uncharismatic per se, Barack Obama, with his famous posters, simple slogan and spotless grin, ran perhaps the most dynamic election campaign in US politics since World War II, and McCain couldn't compete. Whatever side of the aisle your sympathies lie on, Obama 2008 was one of the most impressively constructed campaigns ever and is still studied by campaign theorists not just in the two US parties but across the world.
    • The McCain campaign tried to create a game change by nominating Sarah Palin for VP. This backfired into a repeat of Geraldine Ferraro, when Sarah Palin turned out to be much more popular with the Republican base than McCain himself. Her short political career, her having only recently been elected Governor of Alaska after holding a job as mayor, undercut McCain's primary attack on Obama for lacking experience.
    • There was also the problem of Palin making repeated public gaffes and demonstrating an utter lack of even basic knowledge on matters of foreign policy, beginning with an interview with American journalist Katie Couric. Palin claimed she had foreign policy experience because she could see Russia from her home state (of Alaska), and when asked to name newspapers she read, Palin went into an Ad Hominem attack on Couric instead of answering.
  • Same with Canada in 1984, where John Turner's older age, lack of charisma and archaic language (he called unemployment relief programs "make-work programs", not helping his case with young voters) proved no match for Mulroney.
  • The 2011 Scottish Parliament election saw the highly charismatic Alex Salmond's SNP (Scottish National Party) win a surprise outright majority, hoovering up seats from Labour, the Liberal Democrats, and (to a lesser extent) the Conservatives. This was astounding for two reasons. Firstly, it had been assumed that it was impossible for any party to win a majority under the proportional voting system. And secondly, Labour had been leading the polls by double digits as late as two months before the vote. At the point where when polls began to show Salmond's party leading (and they underestimated it) pollsters scrambled to work out why their surveys were throwing up such bizarre results and what was wrong with their weighting formulas. The Conservatives had long been unpopular in Scotland, and the Liberal Democrats had lost support after forming a coalition with them at Westminster. The main reasons for Labour's defeat was their dull-as-ditch-water leader Iain Gray (aka: "who?") and the fact they campaigned against the Westminster government instead of the SNP (surely voting for secessionists was a better way to flip them off?). The SNP trounced the three other parties, forced them into humiliating leadership elections, and allowed Salmond to hold a referendum on his long-held aim to have Scotland secede from the United Kingdom. Which led to...
  • In the United Kingdom General Election 2015, the Scottish National Party took 56 out of 59 constituencies in Scotland, virtually annihilating Labour and the Liberal Democrats north of the border. The Lib Dems had lost support UK-wide after forming the coalition with the Conservatives: voters thought they broke their promises and held little influence. But Labour floundered in Scotland too. The 2014 independence referendum had encouraged many left-wing voters to back independence, made the SNP more popular and energised than before, and left Scottish Labour in disarray. The result? Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies. The SNP, who had never won more than 11 seats before, became the third party in the House of Commons.
  • The Canadian Liberals faced this problem doubly in 2011. On the right, Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Conservative Party) wasn't actually that great of a communicator—instead, he ran an extremely tight ship, which combined with the excellent work of the spin doctors to produce an incredibly coherent Tory message, as well as successfully persuading many voters that the scandal which saw Harper's minority government thrown out of power for contempt of parliament was a load of fuss over nothing, and just the Liberals being opportunistic. On the left, Jack Layton was well-known for his affability—and had public sympathy thanks to his well-known health problems (he would die of cancer four months after the election)—and when you compare Layton to the pedantic, professorial style of Michael Ignatieff ... well, it's hardly a contest. Any chance Ignatieff might have had was wrecked by his atrocious performance in the pre-election debate, particularly when Layton called him out on his poor parliamentary attendance record, and Ignatieff was only able to respond with an angry, condescending rant that left him with almost a literal 0% Approval Rating among prospective voters afterwards. No wonder the Liberals were pushed down to third literally for the first time ever.
  • The 2003 Ontario election wound up being this after the Conservatives issued a press statement calling Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty an "evil reptilian kitten-eater from another planet". It made them look nuts, and things pretty much snowballed from there.
  • The 2002 Irish General Election saw a Fianna Fáil-led government under the popular Bertie Ahern face off against a potential coalition of Fine Gael under Michael Noonan and Labour under Ruairi Quinn. With the economy in good state, the opposition would probably have lost anyway, but Noonan and Quinn made things worse by being unable to agree to a pre-election pact, meaning they fought the election as two separate parties rather than a potential government-in-waiting. Noonan's total lack of charisma did little to help and the result was a near meltdown for Fine Gael, which lost over 40% of its seats.
  • The incumbent British Conservative government in 1964 had suffered some difficulties such as the Profumo Affair, but the lacking charisma of their leader Alec Douglas-Home was what really sealed their fate. The Labour Party under Harold Wilson (a man for the TV age) won power for the first time in 13 years. To be accurate, Wilson only won a narrow majority, which proved so difficult to manage that he called another election in 1966, where he won a real landslide victory.
  • Both of Bill Clinton's U.S. presidential election victories. In 1992, he was up against incumbent George H. W. Bush. During the town hall televised debate, Bush was asked (by a member of the audience) how the national debt and the recession personally affected his life. As he got out of his chair, he famously glanced at his watch, thus giving the impression that he really did not want to be there. To make matters worse for Bush, Clinton then proceeded to give a very good answer that made him seem in touch with ordinary Americans. Clinton won a decisive victory on election day. Then, four years later, his Republican opponent was the equally uninspiring Bob Dole, whom Clinton also defeated by a comfortable margin.
    • Both Clinton victories, but especially the 1992 campaign, were helped by much of the more conservative vote being split between Bush (who had already been hammered in the GOP primaries by commentator Pat Buchanan; whose campaign attacked Bush for breaking his "Read My Lips, No New Taxes" pledge) and independent candidate Ross Perot (who finished with 19% of the popular vote; the most successful non-major party finish since 1912).
  • The 2013 New York City mayoral election saw the charismatic Progressive Democrat Bill de Blasio running an energetic, populist campaign which mobilized voters to give him nearly three-fourths of the vote against his dull, unremarkable opponent Joe Lhota (whose statement that he'd allow kittens to be run over if it meant the subway could have good service obviously didn't help).
    • It happened again four years later; de Blasio's vote was down a not-inconsiderable amount over his initial election, but his re-election was assured by the shambolic Republican nomination process. The initial Republican favorite was Paul Massey, who raised so much money in the primaries that all his opponents soon dropped out, apart from inexperienced state assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, whose staying in the race was largely seen as a token gesture. And then Massey spent all his funds so fast that he bankrupted his campaign before the primary debates took place, ruining any credibility he had and forcing him to drop out. This left Malliotakis as the nominee by default, and between her lack of experience and her nomination being seen as a Consolation Award, de Blasio handily defeated her in the election.
  • The 1872 U.S. presidential election saw Ulysses S. Grant easily romp to victory over the frail, sickly Horace Greeley; Grant won 31 states and over 80% of the electoral vote — just to add insult to injury, Greeley would die a little after the election, but before the Electoral College met, and thus received zero electoral votes.note  It didn't help that Greeley wasn't actually from the Democratic Party – which was in such poor shape it couldn't even field its own candidate — but rather from a dissident wing of the Republican Party, meaning that his policies ended up being so similar to those of Grant that he couldn't effectively differentiate himself from his rival.
    • This extended to the candidates' running mates too. Before the election, Grant ditched his corrupt, massively unpopular Vice President, Schuyler Colfax, and replaced him with Henry Wilson, a widely liked and respected senator. Greeley's running-mate was Benjamin Gratz Brown, who not only was generally ineffectual in his prior role as Governor of Missouri, but had such a massive drinking problem that he frequently gave speeches drunk, forgot his own party's policies, and even tried slicing up and buttering a watermelon at a campaign picnic. For this reason, more than a few historians have deemed Greeley and Brown to be the worst-ever Presidential ticket from a major party.
  • The 2004 US Senate election in Illinois. Barack Obama had been leading his initial challenger Jack Ryan (no, not he) in the polls, but then Ryan dropped out after a sex scandal and was replaced with Alan Keyes, a Maryland resident (cue accusations of carpetbagging) known for using extremist right-wing rhetoric. Obama won the election with 70% of the vote.
  • Canadian Progressive Conservative Kim Campbell is known for three facts: being the first (and, so far, only) Canadian female prime minister,note  the crushing defeat of the Progressive Conservatives in the 1993 elections, and being the only Canadian Prime Minister so far from British Columbia. She just came off as too aloof and dry when compared to Preston Manning, the leader of the somewhat more right-wing (and more western-focused) Reform Party, and a poor attack ad released by the PCs concerning Jean Chrétien did not help matters.note  The results were so disastrous that only two Progressive Conservative MPs were elected across the entire country; Kim Campbell was not one of them. This was not enough to preserve official party status in the House of Commons and is the reason why, 10 years after the election, the Conservative Party was forced to merge with the Reform Party (which by then changed it's name to the Canadian Conservative-Reform Alliance Partynote ). Because the Progressive Conservatives were the only real opposition to the Liberals in a two-party system, and because of vote-splitting between the PCs and Reform/Alliance, the lack of a conservative opponent gave the Liberals free reign to rule nearly unchallenged for the next ten years.
  • The 1997 UK General Election (mentioned above) was also decided by charisma and well-run campaigns. Tony Blair possessed charisma. Combined with Peter Mandelson's spin efforts, this helped him in mobilising support for Labour via a campaign that targeted the youth but ran on the idea of optimism for Britain's future. ("New Labour for a New Britain", anybody?) Conservative John Major, meanwhile, while not an especially bad prime minister (although disrepute had fallen over the cabinet), simply came off as too dry and boring in comparison. The Tory campaign was also mismanaged, with half of the campaigns blasting Blair for "adopting Tory policies" (to be fair, Blair had formally made it so that Labour was far less opposed to the private sector), and the other half blasting Blair for being too socialist. In the end, the Tories lost over half of the seats they won in 1992 (which itself was a relatively thin majority compared to the 100-seat majorities that Margaret Thatcher's Tories held in the 1980s), and Labour took 418 seats. Adding salt into the wound, the Tories didn't win a single seat outside of England.
  • Lester Pearson may be one of Canada's better-regarded Prime Ministers, but his career as Liberal Party leader (he replaced former PM Louis Saint-Laurent after the latter surprisingly lost the 1957 federal election) got off to a less-than-auspicious start when in his first speech as leader in 1958, he called Prime Minister John Diefenbaker — who had been in office for just under a year, with a minority government and a generally mixed reaction to his handling of a recession — to resign and hand over leadership of the country to him. Not only was this statement inherently absurd, Diefenbaker retaliated by reading from a statement which showed that the previous Liberal government knew full well that the recession was coming and did nothing to prepare the country for it. Realizing that he could easily crush this novice opposition leader, Diefenbaker called an election days later, and the Conservatives ended up winning over three-quarters of all the seats in Parliament. Still, Pearson learned from the experience and, five years later, steered the Liberals to victory.
  • Both of Dwight D. Eisenhower's American presidential victories were landslides. In 1952, Eisenhower beat Democrat Adlai Stevenson in a ten-point victory and Electoral College landslide. His victory was partially the result of Eisenhower being a popular World War II hero and partially due to fatigue after 20 years of Democratic control of the White House. In his 1956 rematch against Stevenson, he won by an even larger margin, winning the popular vote by a 15% margin and winning over 85% percent of the Electoral vote. What made his latter victory impressive was that he won despite the Republican Party remaining in the minority in both the House and the Senate.
  • After Pierre Trudeau came perilously close to being defeated by Conservative leader Robert Stanfield in the 1972 Canadian election, and then was forced to call another election off the back of skyrocketing inflation two years later, many predicted a Tory landslide. Instead, a combination of gaffes and bad luck produced a Liberal landslide. For one thing, Stanfield ran on a platform of imposing 90 days worth of price and wage freezes, which alienated the right (who saw it as unacceptable government interference) and the left (who felt it was a temporary measure that wouldn't have fixed anything) alike. And for another, a photo op that saw Stanfield, who had never been very charismatic to begin with, playing catch with a football ended in disaster when he comically fumbled and dropped the ball, the photo of which made the headlines the next day. Combined with support for the two main third parties collapsing — the New Democratic Party after their leader, David Lewis, indicated he would back Stanfield over Trudeau in the event of another hung parliament, and the Social Credit Party after their leader, Réal Caouette, suffered a crippling injury that left him unable to campaign — and Trudeau won almost as big of a landslide as his first election in 1968.

    The Candidate Had a Shady History 
One candidate self-sabotages, be it from personal baggage, scandal, criminal proceedings, or a huge gaffe, handing victory to the opposition.

  • In 1991, Louisiana voters also found themselves in a mess after incumbent governor Buddy Roemer placed third in the first round (largely due to a faltering government and a poorly handled party switch), and the final decision came down to Edwin Edwards, a three-term governor (who lost the previous election to Roemer) constantly accused of corruption but minority-friendly, and David Duke, a far-right Nazi-sympathizing former Grand Wizard of the KKK. The outcome proved rather predictable: almost everybody closed ranks behind Edwards (he was endorsed locally by his former rivals Roemer and David Treen, and nationally by George H. W. Bush) and he went on to crush Duke by a 61%–39% landslide. As in France later, bumper stickers expressing the importance of supporting Edwards appeared, two of the most popular being "Vote for the crook. It's important." and "Vote for the lizard, not the wizard".

    Duke won over half the white vote...note note  and, incredibly, eight percent of the black vote!

    In what can be considered a scarily accurate prediction, the now-defunct Shreveport Journal considered Edwards' career over after his loss to Roemer in 1987 and said that the only way he could win again was if he ran against Hitler. Edwards also got into the act, snarking to a journalist that the only thing he had to do to win was "stay alive".note 
  • In the 1998 Tennessee state senate elections, Democratic candidate Charlotte Burks won 30,072 votes while her Republican opponent, Byron "Low Tax" Looper, won just 1,494 votes. This was caused by the fact that Burks was the widow of Tommy Burks, the long-serving, popular, and recently deceased previous senator ... whom Looper had just been charged with murdering, a crime for which he was eventually convicted two years later. On top of that, all votes for Charlotte Burks' were write-in ones, as an obscure Tennessee law meant that all the candidates had to be registered 30 days before the election and could not be replaced if they died. Even the state Republicans ran a campaign urging their voters not to support Looper after his arrest. On a positive note considering her husband's murder, Burks was re-elected three times before her eventual retirement in 2015, and in her first term one of her first actions was adding a law to allow candidate substitutions if they had died to prevent future occurrences of this scenario.
  • The 2010 US Senate elections had a few:
    • In South Carolina, Republican incumbent Jim DeMint was expected to win easily given South Carolina's status as a solid red state, and midterm elections, in this case in the middle of Barack Obama's first term, are usually favorable to the party not holding the presidency. The Democratic primary was won by Alvin Greene, an unemployed military veteran who has never held public office. The primary victory was a surprise as Greene had not campaigned in any way, nor did he explain how he came up with the $10,400 filing fee to run in the primary. To say Greene came with baggage would be an understatement: he had been arrested a year earlier for showing pornographic images to an 18-year-old female while trespassing in a University of South Carolina computer lab. Greene agreed to a few television interviews and gave short, nonsensical responses, such as claiming he would create jobs by manufacturing toys of himself. According to the FEC, Greene's campaign received a grand total of $0 in campaign contributions. DeMint easily won 61%–28% on election day.
    • The special Delaware contest between Chris Coons and Christine O'Donnell was to fill Vice President Joe Biden's former seat. O'Donnell, a perennial candidate who had never held prior office, was handicapped early on by video clips of her making, ahem, provocative statements condemning masturbation and premarital sex, doubting evolution, and, most notoriously, that she had dabbled in witchcraft in her youth. Saturday Night Live had a field day, mocking her weekly during the election. O'Donnell responded to the rumors by running one of the most bizarre campaign commercials in memory, beginning with her looking directly to the camera and stating, deadpan, "I'm not a witch." O'Donnell was also utterly destroyed debating Coons, giving indecisive answers, not being able to name a Supreme Court decision, and seeming unaware that the US Constitution specified a separation between church and state. Allegations also came up that O'Donnell was illegally using campaign contributions to pay for rent and personal expenses. Despite the election taking place during a Republican wave (polls suggested a generic Republican could've won), and O'Donnell completely dominating the media narrative, Coons easily won 57%–40% on election day.
  • The 2012 senate elections had a few notable ones:
    • Missouri Senate race, where long-time Second District Representative Todd Akin ran against incumbent Claire McCaskill, was ultimately decided by one major gaffe by Todd Akin. In talking about Abortion, he claimed (using a very poor choice of words) that "...If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down...". This quickly went memetic for all the wrong reasons and ensured McCaskill's re-election 54.8%–39.1% in a state that Mitt Romney would easily win. McCaskill would later admit she deliberately tried to ensure he was her opponent, banking on his propensity for controversial statements to do him in. Naturally, the seat went red the next time it was up in 2018.
    • To a lesser extent, this happened in Indiana, when state treasurer Richard Mourdock, who ousted longtime senator Richard Lugar in the primary, was to face congressman Joe Donnelly. Mourdock, despite his polarizing nature, was expected to easily win in this heavily Republican state. Then Mourdock infamously said that pregnancy was a “gift from God” even if it resulted in rape. This turned Mourdock’s fortunes around quite badly, and Donnelly won by six points (like McCaskill, he lost the next time his seat was up).
  • While the 2018 midterms were a big landslide in general for Democrats, an especially big one happened in the 3rd District of Illinois. Dan Lipinski was always expected to win re-election quite easily. But by a 47% margin? His opponent must be a trainwreck, right? Yep, because it was neo-Nazi Holocaust denier Arthur Jones.

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