Thanks to Rule of Drama, fictional elections often come down to a tiny handful of votes, or even just a single vote. This may result in a Dark Horse Victory or a victory by the candidate commonly reckoned to be the "underdog". Sometimes a crooked machine politician will be unseated, to the shock of everyone.
Then again, sometimes one side just plain gets clobbered. When that happens, you have a landslide election. If it's really one-sided, one might even call it a "Curb Stomp Election". When these type of elections occur, they generally fall under a few basic types:
- The election was held in a state where the elections are just for show, and only serve to confirm that the current despot or despots are supported by "the people".
- In places with functioning multiparty democratic systems...
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- No particular problem or political issue caused it, there's just a huge gap of charisma, oratorical ability, and ability to connect with voters separating the candidates.
- One candidate self-sabotages, be it from personal baggage, scandal, criminal proceedings, or a huge gaffe, handing victory to the opposition.
In fiction, of course, a landslide election averts deciding by one vote, so it is most often used for comedy, rather than for drama. When used for drama, it can serve to illustrate how much the villain has made himself beloved by the public (perhaps thereby proving that Democracy Is Bad), or serve as a cathartic final victory for the good guys, proving that they have triumphed beyond doubt. This is probably a more realistic way to show that the heroes have "won" than having them win by a narrow margin, since an election won by a very narrow margin generally does not give the winner a "mandate" to do what he wants, and one may rest assured that a significant portion of the electorate will probably resent the fact that he took office.
Because this deals with the results of elections, expect spoilers.
Compare Down to the Last Play.
- When we first meet Haruka in Mai-HiME, she's the student council's disciplinary executive which appears to be a means by which she can foist her own ideas about "morals" and "values" onto the rest of the student body. Neither the Student Council President or Vice President (Shizuru and Reito) seemed inclined to stop her. As an omake and subsequent episodes show Haruka originally ran against Shizuru for Student Council President, largely on the same platform that she's enforcing now. She lost by a landslide (817 votes for Shizuru vs. 12 votes for her) since the average student isn't particularly interested in a Moral Guardian hovering over them. Shizuru keeps Haruka around to do the unpleasant tasks for the Student Council so she can keep her hands clean. An early hint that Shizuru is not quite all sweetness and light.
- That's how Medaka Kurokami becomes the student council president in Medaka Box, winning with 98% of votes. Her campaign for reelection was nowhere that easy.
- During Ojamajo Doremi Series 1, there was an episode that involved Nice Guy Masaharu running against Alpha Bitch Tamaki. He was about to back out after delivering a "World of Cardboard" Speech, but Tamaki goaded him into continuing due to her Pride. Only two people voted for Tamaki while everyone else voted for Masaharu.
- Transmetropolitan has a landslide election in the Smiler vs. Beast election, with 48 of the 50 states going to the Smiler.
- In PS238 the class president election between American Eagle and US Patriot Act ends in a landslide election for... Tyler Marlocke, who wasn't even on the ballot. Everyone else in the class voted for him as a write-in candidate because they couldn't stand either of the official candidates.
- In The Smurfs comic book story "King Smurf", the nameless Smurf wins the election by an overwhelming majority, with his opponent Brainy Smurf only getting two votes to prove how unpopular he was with his constant nagging and moralizing.
- Exaggerated in Mortadelo y Filemón story "El candidato". The Superintendent decides to run for president of Spain, and the result is a spectacular failure: his rival, Marcelino Cascajo, is elected with 38 million votes, while the Superintendent only gets one vote — his own.
- Inverted at the end of ¡Elecciones!: turns out that there's a ridiculously big amount of parties in the running, and as a result each of them only gets one vote... except for a single candidate who manages to gather two votes and is subsequently named president.
- In Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race, Mitchell Deacon wins his seat as governor by a landslide, and it's predicted former governor George Cochran will easily win his bid for President.
- In Bruce Has A Problem, there is a five-way race for Mayor of Gotham City, between Commissioner Gordon, current DA Garcetti, a slimy stooge for Gotham's mafia, Quincy Sharpe, a lunatic advocating for a draconian police state, the incumbent Mayor Garcia, who's been widely criticized for running on inertia since several decades before, and Two-Face, a reformed supervillain who can't even vote. The mayoral debate is such an entertaining disaster that Garcetti, Sharpe and Garcia are all indelibly discredited, allowing Gordon an easy win. And even then, Two-Face's so popular even after dropping he still receives a considerable amount of votes.
- In the film version of The Last Hurrah, Frank Skeffington expects to win re-election handily, and we are given little reason at first to suppose that he won't win by a landslide. In the end, the vote is a landslide victory- for Skeffington's opponent, Kevin McCluskey. The change in mood at Skeffington's headquarters as the returns come in is a highlight of the film.
- In I Married a Witch, Wallace Wooley, who has married Jennifer the witch (he thinks she's joking), is a candidate for governor. Jennifer uses her magic to make every voter in the state vote for him. A horrified Wally realizes that she wasn't kidding about being a witch.
Wally: What if she runs me for President?
- A landslide is predicted at the end of Don Quixote, U.S.A., when the narrator has assumed the identity of a Caribbean insurgent, overthrown the dictator, and announced free elections. He refers to Johnson's election and says he'd be happy with sixty percent of the votes; his right-hand man says they'd have to run a crooked election to get less than ninety percent. The actual election results are never shown, but the narrator is still president years later. (Bananas was partly inspired by this book, though obviously with a rather different ending.)
- At the end of Storm of Swords, the third book of A Song of Ice and Fire, the Night's Watch needs to vote for a new Lord Commander. They've spent nine days with about nine or so candidates and none even coming close to the necessary two-thirds of the votes. King Stannis demanded on the tenth day that the Night's Watch would choose a commander, or they wouldn't eat. Earlier that day, Sam convinced the two leading candidates to support Jon Snow, and his friend Edd offered Jon's name for consideration that night. On the tenth night of the voting, a very surprised Jon Snow wins. By a lot.
- In the New Jedi Order novel Destiny's Way, one of the B-plots involves the New Republic Senate trying to pull itself together after the loss of its capital, Coruscant. The first major step is replacing the Chief of State, who was killed in the attack. The initial voting comes out with four candidates of note: Cal Omas (good), Fyor Rodan (bad), Ta'laam Ranth (pragmatic), and Pwoe (really bad; he's noteworthy mostly for having previously declared himself Chief of State, calling the election illegal, and receiving three votes in total). The three main candidates are pretty much even through the first portion of the book, with Ranth quickly falling back and planning to cut a deal with whoever pulls ahead to make a coalition government. Then the Smuggler's Alliance steps in and strategically undercuts Rodan's support, mostly by revealing proof of his supporters' corruption and abuses of power, or blackmailing those supporters with the same. Once Omas jumps ahead of the other two, various individual Senators begin breaking ranks and coming over, hoping for favors once he's in the top seat, and Ranth withdraws in his favor — leading Omas to win by 85% of the vote.
- In 1828: The Arkansas War it's mentioned that no-one ever runs against the Arkansas Confederacy's founder Patrrick Driscol in the elections for the chieftaincy of the Arkansas chiefdom. This bothers Driscol to no end, since he is a fervent democrat and republican who hates everything that smacks of autocracy and at one point he punches out a man who jokingly refers to him as "The Laird of Arkansas".
- The Ruins of an American Party System: In 1932, Floyd Olsen becomes the first Progressive elected as President when he wins 39 out of 48 states, with the remainder being split among the various other candidates. And even this gets outmatched in 1936, when Olson's Vice-President Fiorello LaGuardia wins all but four states.
- Harry Turtledove Timeline-191 series (where the Confederacy won the Civil War) has at least two examples of this. The Socialist party came to power in the US in 1920, but after getting the blame for the Great Depression get curbstomped by the Democratic candidate in 1932. Similarly in the Confederacy, the Freedom Party (stand-in for the Nazi party which never existed in this universe) combine people's frustration with the Whigs, their own Depression issues, a healthy dose of racism, and some violence to overwhelmingly win in 1933.
- Happens in one of the Don Camillo short stories, when Peppone has to face re-election as mayor. It's in fact expected for him to lose this way, as the opposing candidate from the Christian Democracy party is supported by a massive propaganda effort while Peppone doesn't have the same support from the regional section of the Communist party... Then, on the eve of the election, Peppone asks the citizens of his small town to vote according on how well they think he did his job... And he apparently did such a good job that even don Camillo, the town priest, votes for him, allowing him to win with a massive advantage.
- In the Honor Harrington series:
- After the people of the newly liberated system of San Martin learn that the last commander of their pre-occupation Navy was among the people Honor liberated from Hades, Commodore Ramirez pretty much gets drafted into running for President. At which point all but one of the original candidates promptly withdraw. The one candidate to stay in the election did so to keep Ramirez from running unopposed as a matter of principle, and conceded the election after receiving less than 10% of the vote.
- President Eloise Pritchart, who had been tapped to head the interim government of the restored Republic of Haven by Thomas Theisman, won her first election by a thirty-point margin. While less dramatic than the San Martin example above, her margin certainly underscores how beloved she is by her people and essentially puts the kibosh on anyone attempting to question her legitimacy as President.
- The 2002 presidential election on The West Wing was originally predicted to be close, but instead turned into a landslide after President Bartlet eviscerated Governor Richie in the debate.
- The usual aftermath is averted, however: while Bartlet is a compellingly charismatic leader who wins all his personal elections comfortably, his party never manages to profit from it, and he has to govern with a hostile congress throughout his term of office. Disappointed party members accusingly call him "The lonely landslide". Of course, if the Republicans didn't have power throughout the series, it would have undermined their status as the opposition, since audiences tend to root for the underdog.
- The "Election Night Special" sketch on Monty Python's Flying Circus featured a possible example; Silly candidate "Tarquin Fin-tim-lin-bin-whin-bim-lim-bus-stop-F'tang-F'tang-Olé-Biscuitbarrel" defeated Sensible Candidate Alan Jones, 58% to 42% - quite a big swing considering that the Sensible Party previously held the seat. Both men thoroughly crushed the "Slightly Silly" independent, Kevin Phillips-Bong, who received zero votes.
- Blackadder the Third featured a by-election in the rotten borough of "Dunny-on-the-Wold"; Baldrick was elected by 16,472, with zero votes cast in opposition. Not surprisingly, the election was fixed; Blackadder took the place of the only eligible voter (who "accidentally brutally cut his head off while combing his hair") and the returning officer (who "accidentally brutally stabbed himself in the stomach while shaving").
- Mr. Lindermann in the first season of Heroes uses Micah's technopathic ability to manipulate the electronic voting machines and fix Nathan Petrelli's election to Congress into a landslide victory.
- In British drama series The Amazing Mrs Pritchard about an 'ordinary' woman with no political experience who starts a new political party the titular character ends up winning the General Election with 54% of the vote seats and 378 seats with the Conservatives and Labour reduced to less than 270 seats between them.
- An episode of Barney Miller took place on election day. Inspector Luger is a strong proponent of a good friend of his who is running for office, even though the only thing that anybody else can remember about the candidate is that he was accused of being involved with bribery and corruption in the sanitation department (the Inspector's awkward attempts to defend the candidate on the grounds that "they couldn't prove any of that" only seem to confirm the truth of the accusations). Not surprisingly, the candidate loses by a margin of more than 5 to 1.
- On Dan for Mayor by election day Dan is expected to lose by a landslide with the polls showing him at less than 5% support. His main concern at that point is to actually come in second place so he can claim that he was a 'runner-up candidate'. The subversion comes right before the results are made official when the front-runner concedes the election since she has just been offered a position in the federal government. Dan does not want the job anymore but the only other candidate left is Wheelo The Clown.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Implied to be the case in the special election for Bajoran first minister in the third season. Kira notes that Shakaar is effectively running unopposed, with only niche, regional candidates running against him.
- The election of David Palmer in-between Seasons 1 and 2 of 24 saw him with with a 60% share of the popular vote for very much the same reasons that Barack Obama would later win the 2008 election in real-life, namely an excellent campaign together with an uninspired opponent.
- Though the exact results aren't revealed, Allison Taylor is said to have scored a similarly decisive victory prior to Season 7, due to a combination of being the first female nominee for president, and incumbent president Noah Daniels deliberately running a poor campaign due to his disillusionment with the office.
- Seemingly played in one episode of the short-lived sitcom Down Home. Protagonist Kate runs against her ex-boyfriend in a mayoral election. After particularly revolting mud slinging from both sides, the election occurs and the previous mayor comes to Kate to inform her she's won the election two-to-one.
Kate: Wow, I thought that after that debate, people would be too disgusted to vote.
Mayor: Well, when I said "two-to-one"...
Pulls three ballots out of his pocket.
- The Skins election for student president; Naomi is the intelligent, politically inclined, idealistic, injustice hating candidate who thinks she might be able to use the position to make a difference - up against Cook, whose slogan is "vote for me - I don't give a fuck either", and Upper-Class Twit Crispin. Since all the students know that the election is largely a show for something that'll look good on the school's OFSTED report, they buy into Cook's anarchic philosophies instead. The teachers attempt to rig the result by stuffing the ballots for Cook into Harriet's bra, and declaring Naomi the winner. Naomi overheard their whole plan though, and since this is injustice hating Naomi we're talking about she pulls out all the votes in front of everybody and gracefully concedes defeat. And Cook promptly starts a riot.
- By season three of Gotham, Penguin has become such a Villain with Good Publicity that when he runs for Mayor of Gotham, he's able to absolutely crush incumbent Aubry James. Legitimately.
- One episode of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers had a three-way race for class president between Kimberly, Tommy and Bulk. Tommy bowed out to support Kimberly, while Bulk's weak campaign was while he was on that "find out the Power Ranger's identities" kick. Kimberly won, with Bulk only getting one vote as his best friend Skull voted for her instead of him.
- In the Lewis episode "Wild Justice" the leadership election for the head of an Oxford college initially has four candidates; Caroline Hope, a modernist reformer, Joanne Pinnock, a more moderate reformer, Jeremy Swain, a moderate, and Stephen Blackmore, a traditionalist who is shown to have bigoted views. It's initially predicted to be a close race, but after Swain is murdered and Pinnock is forced to withdraw after the death of her son, all of their support goes to Hope, who easily crushes Blackmore in the ensuing vote. It's also indicated that Blackmore would likely have gotten his backside kicked even harder if not for the college's outgoing head covering up a scandal involving his illegally selling alcohol to students.
- The South Park episode "Douche and Turd" featured an election for the position of "school mascot" between the title characters. The whole episode appeared to be a set-up for a Decided by One Vote scenario, with An Aesop about the importance of voting. After Stan is finally persuaded to cast his vote, which he does for the Turd Sandwich, the Giant Douche wins the election, 1410 to 36. To make matters worse, a messenger arrives just after the results are read to tell the characters that outside circumstances had rendered the whole election unnecessary, and neither candidate would take his place as mascot.
- The Simpsons saw Sideshow Bob (a convicted felon) defeat incumbent Mayor "Diamond" Joe Quimby (also a convicted felon) in a shocking landslide, with Bob getting at least 99% of the vote. It subsequently turns out that Bob rigged the election by fraudulently adding votes from dead people onto his list, even the Simpsons' dead cat, Snowball. However, it's implied (and confirmed via Word of God) that Bob would actually have won the election anyway due the voters being fed up with Quimby, whose performance was further sabotaged by the Simpsons unwittingly giving him super-drowsy cough medicine before an all-important debate, but in true Nixon style Bob just had to ensure victory in the dirtiest manner possible.
Bart: If only me, Millhouse and Louis would have voted...
- The episode "E Pluribus Wiggum" also saw Ralph Wiggum win the first Presidential Primary in the United States by a massive landslide. The voters, fed up and angry, deliberately chose to vote for the biggest moron they could find.
- "Lisa's Substitute", where a new class president would be elected was this. Only because two people in the entire class voted, resulting in "one for Martin, two for Martin!"
- In "Last Exit to Springfield", the workers' union votes Homer as president on a charismatic day and later agrees to a strike with a unanimous-sounding "Aye" to a wimpy voice registering a lone "Nay" both times. (The second time, Homer asks who keeps saying that, the crowd focuses on an appropriately scrawny man, and he directs their attention to a muscular fellow in a chair and manages to sway them to, "It was him... get him!")
- An episode of Rocko's Modern Life has Rocko running against Ed Bighead for dogcatcher. Ed bolsters his image with comically large shoulders and launches a giant smear campaign against Rocko, blaming him for everything from the fall of Rome to the sinking of the Titanic. Ed ends up getting 256,724 votes while Rocko gets only two - Rocko himself and Filburt - Heffer breaks down and admits even he couldn't vote against Ed after his campaign.
- An episode of Blinky Bill featured an election for club president that Danny Dingo won by 47 votes to 2, even though there were only six club members.
- On the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero episode "Cobra's Candidate," a mayoral candidate just discovered by his constituents to be working with Cobra loses by a margin of 2 to 2.1 million, with his only two votes suggested to have come from his wife and mother. They turn out be from Tomax and Xamot, who promptly rip up their election stubs out of frustration.
- In the The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 episode "Princess Toadstool for President", Princess Toadstool wins an election over King Koopa with over 6 million votes. Koopa's lone vote was his own, meaning not even his children or his minions voted for him!
- In Gravity Falls Quentin Trembley, the 8th & 1/2 President of the United States, won by a landslide — as in all the other candidates were literally buried by a landslide.
- A similar joke was used in a Rocky and Bullwinkle short, where Bullwinkle is running for club president. He's the first on the clubhouse on voting day when Boris calls to tell him he won by a landslide... because a landslide has buried the clubhouse, making Bullwinkle the only one able to vote. Too bad he voted for Rocky.
- Two examples in Beverly Hills Teens:
- "The Dog Ate My Homework": Larke wins the title of the Midnight Ball Princess 82 votes against one. Leading to a Funny Moment once Bianca realizes not even Wilshire voted for her.
- In "Poll Climbers", Shanelle wins with 95% of the votes once Bianca's scheming is revealed.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In the season 5 episode Crusaders of the Lost Mark, Pipsqueak runs for class president against Diamond Tiara. Diamond's campaign is based on getting a huge statue of herself at the school; she resorts to blackmail and bribery to try to get votes. Pipsqueak's goal is to get new playground equipment to replace what was damaged or destroyed during Twilight's fight with Tirek in the season 4 finale, and runs a fair campaign (with the help of the Crusaders), which leads to him getting every vote but Diamond Tiara's (she votes for herself, naturally). Even Silver Spoon doesn't vote for her.
- Beavis And Butthead were once given an assignment for History class in which they were required to run for class president. The school only gives them one vote (can you blame them?), but they briefly misinterpret the report to mean they lost by one vote.