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Video Game / The Campaign Trail

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Do you have what it takes to win a Presidential Election?

The Campaign Trail is an interactive simulator of various select American elections, from 1844 to 2020.

The player must select one of the main presidential candidates for their chosen election, and a corresponding vice president. They are then presented with a series of choices on relevant issues for that election, as well as in more modern elections which states to campaign in.The campaign map shows the rough percentage vote each state is likely to have for each candidate on election day, which changes depending on the choices the player makes. Each state has different stances on five core values that broadly define how that election's issues are categorised - so, for instance, in 1860 most Southern states are forcibly pro-slavery while northern states have a variety of anti-slavery opinions. Hence, every state will react differently to the player's choices, making winning many of them a difficult prospect.

There are only 25 to be made, at the end of which the votes are counted up according to the American electoral system, with whoever wins enough Electoral Votes becoming president. (Nobody getting over the line due to a strong third-party performance or an actual tie is a different story entirely.)

The result is chaotic and comedic political carnage as a new player stumbles their way through one terrible, inconsistent choice after another, eventually getting a feel for what works in each time and becoming able to strategize effectively.

You can play the original here. There is also an active modding community, whose additions (ranging from alternate history to various international elections) can be played either here or here.

The Campaign Trail contains examples of:

  • Achilles' Heel: Several candidates who seemingly cannot lose tend to be brought short on one particular issue. For Jimmy Carter, it's his honesty compelling him to speak too openly in his Playboy interview - there's even an option for him to refuse to back down on some of his more explicitly political statements on the same basis.
  • Ad Hominem: One of the most common strategies throughout almost the entire game. Save for a few elections like 1844, personal attacks can usually gain ground for at least one side. George Wallace unsurprisingly provides probably the most blatant example of this, in being able to attack Nixon for being a "Californian interloper". George H. W. Bush's campaign practically revolves around this. Subverted in the 1976 campaign; going against Gerald Ford as Jimmy Carter makes you sound petty and negative, while going after Carter as Ford not only alienates you from a public that likes Carter, but also backfires due to the looming issue of the Nixon pardon.
  • Adminisphere: Implied to be the Johnson Administration by anyone who chooses to continually rail against its bureaucrats - most likely to be Wallace.
  • Advertising Campaigns: They make their first appearance in 1896 with McKinley able to fund nationwide distribution and manipulate the media, and Bryan is able to make a speech in New York City resulting in nationwide press coverage. Grow more and more prominent towards the present day; a failure as Obama or Romney to respond to the other's campaign will result in them being buried under shady ads. George H. W. Bush can put this to especially good use, with his "Willie Horton" furloughs ad.
  • Affectionate Nickname: "The Great Commoner" for Bryan.
  • Agree to Disagree: Commonly used, especially when controversial topics like abortion come up, as a way to give a non-committal, uncontroversial answer.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: You'll probably have to sacrifice your pride if you want to maintain reasonable odds of winning, like going to prominent political figures for their support, or repairing breaches within your party to stand united against the opposition.
  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: George W. Bush's DUI in Maine, which comes up near the end of the 2000 election. Whether he chooses to acknowledge it was idiocy is a different matter entirely.
  • All There in the Manual: Each campaign contains several pieces of Further Reading at the end, and you're probably going to need them if you're not already familiar with the campaign's context.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: George H. W. Bush and even debate moderator Bernard Shaw needle Dukakis with plenty of these, which he is unable to answer satisfactorily.
  • Asshole Victim: If J.F.K. or McKinley are sufficiently tricksy about how they come by the presidency, or if Wallace does what Wallace does, we’re sure you're not going to feel particularly troubled knowing their future fate.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • Depending on your interpretation, this can be almost always. Yes, you won it all and made it to the presidency, but who and what did you have to sacrifice to do it? How much will you actually be able to do for people, how many promises can you deliver on, and who did you have to abandon along the way? Conversely, if you lost the game due to principled stands, you may have stayed true to who you are, but you'll not be able to do much with that - likely returning to a Senatorship or Governorship, or even lower down the rungs.
    • Abraham Lincoln winning in 1860 is this: the victory message outright tells you "don't celebrate just yet" and that South Carolina is planning a secession convention.
  • Blatant Lies: There are many, many examples, most prominent amongst them being Nixon strenuously denying that he sunk the Paris peace negotiations. Really, it's all part and parcel of the business.
  • Butt-Monkey: Stephen A. Douglas in 1860. His philosophy of Popular Sovereignty is a total failure and his only arguments consist of saying that others' policies are in line with his ideas, the party has split in half under his leadership, nobody wants to vote for him and there's practically no hope of outright victory - scratch that, there IS no way to straight-up win with Douglas. His last choice of the campaign can be to admit his campaign is hopeless and try (and, of course, fail) to prevent the natural consequences of the win he's just delivered to the Republicans.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: If your arguments get too obscure, you can come off as this. Michael Dukakis is especially good at puzzling observers with everything from his arcane legal interpretations to confusing advertisements.
  • Crapsack World:
    • If the Republicans don't win the election in 1860, whoever becomes president in a contingent election will most likely enshrine slavery into law via a constitutional amendment.
    • In a "milder" example, George Wallace managing to deadlock the Electoral College might lead to the end of desegregation if one of the two parties attempts to kowtow to his demands.
  • The Computer Is a Lying Bastard: The polls do not always form a reliable picture of your actual standing, such as that in 2016 and 2020, they will consistently overestimate the standing of the Democratic candidate by several percentage points. This however is Truth in Television as Donald Trump significantly overperformed his poll results in both elections. Likewise, several decisions that are ultimately optimal will be treated as gaffes or worse by your advisors.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: If you make a couple of crucial missteps, or really play anything but perfectly on the harder difficulties, the game fast turns into this.
  • Dark Horse Victory: Mostly averted, as the "Winner-Take-All" nature of the electoral college means that it is incredibly difficult for third-party candidates to win electoral votes (let alone becoming president). The only third-party candidates playable are 2000's Ralph Nader and 1968's George Wallace, who both acknowledge that they can't win the presidency and whose primary goals are getting 5% of the popular vote and deadlocking the electoral college respectively.
  • Deal with the Devil: The Northern Democrats can end up cooperating with their Southern firebreathing slaver counterparts so as to try and block a Lincoln Republican presidency.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Obviously. For example, promising to grant blacks voting rights while campaigning as Abraham Lincoln is a quick way to sink your campaign.
    • One advice in a mod set on the 1836 election, explains this trope plain and simple: Supporting Abolition in the 21st century: the reasonable conclusion from learning history. Supporting Abolition in the 19th century: you are an unelectable radical.
    • The concept of politicians actively campaigning, let alone traveling across the country, is scandalous for the first century of American history, and elements of the taboo remain in place into the early 20th century. Candidates will have to balance the benefit of going out to speak to the public and influence matters directly against the backlash for engaging in such "unseemly" behavior.
  • Determinator: Richard Nixon. His historic loss in 1960 isn't enough to stop him, as he's back in 1968. Similarly, Nelson Rockefeller also emerges as a Vice Presidential candidate in both these years. Most impressively, Strom Thurmond runs as an independent in 1948 if Truman doesn't remove the civil rights plank, then can reappear in Wallace's independent campaign twenty years later.
  • Downer Ending: The game itself will sometimes call attention to these. A frequent case is electoral deadlock, where the results on election night are insufficient to decide a presidential candidate; this almost always throws the election to the whim of segregationists, or even worse, slavers in the 1860 election.
  • The Dragon: The opposition's Vice President.
  • Dummied Out: The source code contains plans for scrapped alternate scenarios where the user can play as 2012 Republican candidates Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Ron Paul (the latter as an independent, hoping to take down Romney and Obama).
  • Edutainment: The Campaign Trail was developed as an accessory to the American History USA website, which is intended to be a popular educaitonal resource about the history of the United States. As Dan Bryan himself described, the idea behind the game was "Why not create something interactive that can drive traffic to the site and help teach people about history in the process?".
  • Enemy Mine: There are a few elections like this:
    • McKinley can cooperate with Gold Democrat John Palmer to bring down Bryan, and Nader can choose to focus on stopping Bush.
    • 1860 takes the cake: Northern Democrats, Southern Democrats and Constitutional Unionists, despite all hating each other, can all start working together on the sole goal of preventing the Republicans getting elected.
  • Failed Future Forecast: The 2016a scenario was released before the actual election took place and it was made under the widely held assumption at the time that Donald Trump would lose to Hillary Clinton. Because of this, it is very hard to achieve the historical outcome as Trump in this particular scenario.
  • From Bad to Worse: In 1948, there is concern about Soviet expansionism across the world, in 1960 there is considerable worry that they have won in various areas, and in 1968 America is consumed by the Vietnam War. The Cold War is going none too hot.
  • The Hero: Usually averted. Generally speaking, regardless of what the player considers to be a heroic course of action, they'll never be able to win with this; they'll have to make some political compromises.
  • A Hero to His Hometown: Many candidates, especially Vice Presidents, are this. Chris Christie is a notable exception, because while this was once the case, support for him has plummeted after a scandal in New Jersey.
  • Hidden Depths: The public often see more of these in candidates as the campaigns roll on. Depending on first impressions, this may be a good or a bad thing.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • Nixon sabotaging the peace negotiations so as to secure his lead can promptly come back to bite him, if the truth is revealed to the public.
    • Jimmy Carter's promises of honesty and to "never tell a lie" rapidly derail his campaign in his infamous Playboy interview and in backing him into a debate with Ford, and he'll spend the rest of his campaign trying to put the pieces back together again.
  • Hot-Blooded: Various candidates can be this at various times, but Harry Truman probably takes the cake, giving Dewey hell and slamming the 80th "Do-Nothing" Congress at every possible opportunity. (Dewey himself, if he repeats his 1944 tactics, can also retain a reasonable degree of this.)
  • A House Divided: The most obvious example is of course the 1860 election, where North-South divisions in the Democratic Party mean secession is practically inevitable, no matter what. But it's a recurrent theme throughout various eras, as minor parties and candidates split off, like the "States' Rights" Democratic Party offshoot in the 1948 election if Harry Truman doesn't remove the civil rights plank.
  • Karma Houdini: Richard Nixon if his schemes aren't called out; averted if they are. Arguably Gerald Ford if the Nixon pardon isn't enough to end his presidency, and George W. Bush if his concealment of his past drug use and DUI doesn't do the same for him.
  • Kick the Dog: Plenty of actions, particularly taken against candidates losing the race badly, can constitute this, but probably the best example is McKinley's option to run a "45-state" campaign, so as to make the repudiation of Bryan total. Of course, this can backfire badly...
  • The Lancer: Vice Presidential picks are sometimes intended to be this. For instance, Lyndon B. Johnson complements John F. Kennedy nicely; Kennedy attracts liberals in the Northeast and on the West Coast, while Johnson wins the conservatives of the South.
  • Large Ham: George Wallace definitely qualifies. You can tell every choice made for him by the inflammatory language it uses, with many one-liners and zingers. Harry Truman, if he chooses to up the ante with the HUAC, can come off as grandstanding. Finally, the revised 2016 scenario leans hard into Donald Trump's style of speaking.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Nixon trying to sabotage the peace negotiations, then lie about doing so, can be promptly exposed to the world. Generally, going too overboard in abandoning your principles will result in this as the electorate comes after you, such as Bryan bowing to the corrupt Tammany Hall in New York or Carter claiming he was misquoted about LBJ.
  • A Lesson in Defeat: The game itself serves as one. Even if you know a lot about the era you choose, you're probably going to misstep at some point. The only way to learn consistent strategies to beat it is to get defeated in the general election, seeing which decisions brought you the most grief and which states you could've swung to win the whole thing.
  • A Lesson Learned Too Well: Candidates sometimes get the option to try to put past mistakes behind them, but this will not always bring benefits. Disavowing the "true" platform of radicals like George McGovern or Barry Goldwater will hurt you with the faithful, and pigeonhole your politics. Generally, attempting to carry strategy from one election to the next is a bad idea. Losing an election because you leaned too far to one side, and then trying to play for the other wing, is also typically doomed to fail; you're going to need a more nuanced, case-by-case approach to win the critical swing states.
  • Luck-Based Mission: If you're presented with multiple choices with the same text — often involving whether to debate your opponent — you've got one of these. In some years there's also the luck element of which questions come up.
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage: In the 1968 election, candidates can react to the Loving v. Virginia ruling overturning anti-miscegenation statutes, and can oppose it.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Naturally, Nixon. His sabotage of the Paris peace negotiations comes to light for the other candidates in the last days of the election, with Humphrey receiving LBJ's intel from his bugging network, and Wallace catching onto the rumors. If his crime is exposed, he retaliates with further shooting back at the Democrats.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Trying to consolidate your support will backfire if you take positions too far from your core stances; the gain in the traditional enemy base will usually be outweighed by the loss to your own.
  • No Campaign for the Wicked: Averted; you can play as most major candidates in the elections given, including the likes of George Wallace.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: If your policies hew close enough to those of your opponent, you may find yourself having this realisation. What sets apart a liberal Rockefeller Republican like Rockefeller himself or Thomas Dewey from a socially progressive, economically moderate-conservative Democrat? The game sometimes explicitly comments on this - if you argue for minimising busing while retaining its spirit or passing the Equal Rights Amendment as Jimmy Carter, it will be noted that President Gerald Ford and other mainstream politicians share your views.
  • Oh, Crap!: Happens often after making simply terrible political decisions.
  • Only Sane Man: A common self-portrayal by candidates. McKinley can stand behind this, against the radicalism of Bryan. Amusingly, George Wallace and Richard Nixon both try for this in the same year to win over law-and-order voters.
  • Pet the Dog: Courtesy of arguably the game's single worst candidate, George Wallace: "You know, beyond the racial thing I do have other policies. I have worked tirelessly in Alabama on behalf of the poor and downtrodden, and I will do the same as President of the United States."
  • The Rival: Whoever the opposing President is.
  • Shmuck Bait: The game will frequently put options in front of you that seem reasonable, but provoke a livid response. Seemingly benign discussions about Social Security or Medicare will fast leave you labelled as a radical. Your every musing on arcane debates like Darwinism and the Founding Fathers will come under intense scrutiny. And don't even think about beginning an earnest discussion about topics like euthanasia.
  • Scary Black Man: George Wallace can support the death penalty for Black Panthers as traitors.
  • The Scrappy: Douglas, in-universe. A few presidents also occupy this spot for a time - Harry Truman and Gerald Ford are not popular at all at the start of their runs, and George H. W. Bush is seen as tainted by the Iran-Contra scandal as vice-president.
  • Slavery Is a Special Kind of Evil: Averted: slavery is a campaign issue in antebellum runs. However, suggestions of reopening the Atlantic slave trade cannot be embraced, only dismissed or used as evidence the adversaries cannot compromise. However, prior to 1860 taking too hard a stance against the "peculiar institution" will rarely go well.
  • Standardized Leader: Of all people, Gerald Ford ends up as president at the end of the Nixon era. "I'm a normal, approachable, friendly President. I didn't spend my whole life trying to run for the office."
  • The Stoic: As the game doesn't include incidents like Edmond Muskie crying in response to the Canuck letter in 1972, coming off as the stoic one is usually portrayed as a bad thing. Nixon, especially in 1960, struggles with coming off as cold.
  • Tempting Fate: Listening to your advisers as Thomas Dewey and resting on your laurels, on the assumption there's no way Truman can come back unless you hand it to him.
  • Undying Loyalty: It is noted that certain Vice-Presidential candidates like Walter Mondale, Bob Dole and Howard Baker are good, reliable party men - important in a world where political figures can end up at ends with one coming off second best, such as Humphrey's choice to split from the Johnson administration, or candidate Charles Evans Hughes having to contest former President Theodore Roosevelt's talking points.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: With the exception of a couple snakes like Nixon, it can be argued that almost anyone, should they take too radical positions, is this. Opposing the Equal Rights Amendment due to specific concerns you hold is a good example. Even the infamous George Wallace comes off as this at times, saying, "You know, beyond the racial thing I do have other policies. I have worked tirelessly in Alabama on behalf of the poor and downtrodden, and I will do the same as President of the United States." He really is trying to do what he believes is the best thing for at least the whites of the Deep's just absolutely terrible how he goes about it.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: If you go against what your core base expects of you, this usually results.

Tropes about The New Campaign Trail, Campaign Trail Showcase and their various mods

  • Achievement Mockery : If you decide to complete George Wallace's scenario in 1968 (which is essentialy impossible without the Bigshot cheat), you receive an achievement alongside a parody of the "Portal 2 song", mocking you for electing an absolute racist segregationist who will probably plunge America into a Second Civil War.
  • Achievement System:
    • Added in a late 2022 update. Most involving Self-Imposed Challenges, such as winning in 1988 as Dukakis despite riding the tank and pledging to raise taxes, or winning in 2016 without Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
    • Achievements were also added to the Showcase website in September 2023, with the achievements now exclusively focusing on the mods.
  • Actor Allusion: Unsurprisingly, Arnold Schwarzenegger in both 2003 California Recall and 2016 Arnold Amendment makes a large number of references to his previous movie roles and can even use his role in Kindergarten Cop as evidence he has experience in law enforcement.
  • Actual Pacifist: Jane Fonda in 1972d is firmly anti-war, and thus disdains violence of any kind. Igniting more violence infuriates her, and being indirectly responsible for the senseless killing of a random woman drives her to tears.
  • Ad Hominem: Common in many mods, but exaggerated in 1828. The mudslinging between Adams and Jackson is absurd, with such petty attacks as Adams attacking Jackson's spelling and Jackson attacking Adams for buying a billiards table. The mudslinging eventually leads to tragedy, as Jackson's wife dies as a result of stress brought on by the media circus, creating the bitter rivalry between Jackson's Democratic party and Adams' National Republican and later Whig party.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The real 2003 California Recall election actually consisted of two votes where the voters could choose whether to recall Davis or not and who would replace him as governor (seeing Arnold running against lieutenant governor Cruz Bustamante and fellow Republican Tom McClintock). For the sake of simplicity however, the 2003 California Recall mod just covers the recall vote and just assumes in the ending that Schwarzenegger gets the replacement vote just as he did in real life.
  • Adaptational Jerkass: LBJ in 1964 TNO Redux can be much more abrasive towards JFK, whereas his counterpart in the mod doesn't seem to hold any ill will towards him and tries his best to continue his support of civil rights. This doesn't stop when he's dead, and getting a landslide victory has LBJ driving out to Arlington and pissing on Kennedy's grave. This also extends to Bobby Kennedy, with their cordial relationship in TNO instead being turned into the one of mutual hate and distrust just like how it was OTL.
    • The 2004 W. mod depicts George H. W. Bush as a borderline abusive father who was greatly irritated by his son being president, to the point that no matter if or how he wins, even if you win all 50 states, he will still be disappointed in him in the ending. In real life, even with the inevitable rifts, Bush Sr. was overall supportive of his son's presidency.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Joseph McCarthy, architect of the Red Scare, spends most of 1952 Red as an unlikable background character going on a self-righteous crusade to rid the USA of communism like he did in real life. It doesn't get any better when he becomes the Republican presidential nominee in 1956 Red, using the same red-baiting tactics he used earlier in the series to gain the edge over John McCormack. That being said, the demise of President McCarthy in "The Record" ending is portrayed horrifically in detail with McCarthy ending up jaundiced and with an enlarged liver as a result of his alcohol and substance abuse. Confined to a hospital bed and in deteriorating condition, the president slowly loses his mind as the days go on. He's even seen apologizing to someone for his past deeds and muttering about how much he loves his new adopted baby.
  • Alternate History: A common subject with mods, usually revolving around a candidate winning an election that they lost in real life, such as a Gore v McCain 2004 mod, or a 1992 Dukakis v Buchanan mod. Special mention goes to Viva Kennedy, a series where JFK didn't get assassinated and proceeded to run for re-election.
  • Ambiguous Innocence: Benjamin Butler in the "18th Brumaire of Benjamin Butler" secret ending claims that Clement Vallandigham and the Copperheads are the main conspirators in Lincoln's assassination, which he uses to justify their arrests. Given Butler's own ambition and ruthlessness however, it's also incredibly likely that Butler is the one who had Lincoln killed given how quickly he takes advantage of the president's death. Thaddeus Stevens doesn't believe a word of what he says.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: 1864's Benjamin Butler is said in the VP selection screen to have a reputation for corruption, antisemitism, authoritarian tendencies... and the unwavering admiration of soldiers throughout the Union.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • The 1972d scenario literally starts with George Wallace being murdered on Nixon's orders. Needless to say, attempting to turn Wallace into a "revolutionary martyr" who was unjustly murdered by the corrupt Nixon will result in the CPUSA advisor calling out Hall for such a stupid decision.
    • LBJ can end up siccing the IRS on George Wallace in 1968 Romney, forcing him to drop out of the race and practically capturing the entire Deep South for himself.
    • The "Perpetual Republic" ending for 1864 has the entire Deep South subjected to "Mad Jim" Garfield's martial law, with the same wanton cruelty they inflicted upon the millions of slaves now being thrusted onto them a ten-fold.
    Indeed, those most brutally punished were those who had once dared to hold their fellow man in bondage – what terror they had inflicted upon the negro was now made their suffering by many more orders of magnitude.
    • One of the very first people murdered in the "18th Brumaire of Benjamin Butler" ending to 1864 is the infamous Boss Tweed, cursing out Colonel Hecker as a "Dutch fucking louse" while the colonel reads out the many crimes he had committed as leader of Tammany Hall.
    • Corrupt Tammany Hall Democrat and Confederate sympathizer Fernando Wood ends up getting humiliated in both of Butler's secret endings. In "the Perpetual Republic" ending, he is the Democrats' last presidential candidate and is defeated in a landslide so decisive that it causes the once great Democracy to essentially dissolve. In "The 18th Brumaire of Benjamin Butler" ending, he tries to confront Butler once he starts arresting his fellow Copperheads and ends up being threatened by Butler himself. With nothing to say, flamboyant trickster of New York ends up being carried away to prison (weeping all the while) along with his Dirty Coward brother Benjamin Wood.
    • In 1963 Korea, Park Chung-hee's attempted Military Coup can be foiled very early on, whether by being discovered before the coup can begin, or even walking over a landmine, preventing him from doing near-fatal damage to South Korea's democracy. The red-baiting tactics that are used against Park in the election could also make him count as this, should he lose.
  • Back from the Dead: Pressing the "No" option enough times in the 2019 NK scenario will lead to the Eternal President of North Korea Kim Ill-Sung himself coming back from the dead to take power in North Korea once again.
"I resurrected myself so that True Korea might live on. And so, it will."
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: Morris Childs in 1972d is revealed to be a mole with working with the FBI to bring down the CPUSA, and one of the things he's done is giving the FBI advice on how to castrate Hall's prized horses. Spreading word about this to the media results in the FBI's public image being absolutely tarnished.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • The 1972d scenario is set up to look like an ordinary mod about a Nixon vs Connally race, but reveals that you are actually playing as CPUSA leader Gus Hall in an atmosphere where Nixon has successfully set things up so that a man who once served as a conservative republican is now the nominee for the democrats, leading to widespread political alienation. In a gameplay sense, it serves as this as well: you are not even seriously running for president, but instead aiming to gain a popular vote share high enough to legitimize communism and the left in America.
    • In a similar vein to the 1972d scenario, the 1844c: The Widow's Son scenario looks to be a simple rework of the initial 1844 scenario between Polk and Clay, only for it to be revealed that you're actually playing as Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Even more interesting is the gameplay: initially you start off running for president as Smith did in real life, only for things to go wrong in a similar vein to how they did in real life, costing Smith his dictatorial power over Nauvoo. The mod turns from a presidential election campaign to a choose your own adventure game where you as Smith are trying to avoid dying in a multitude of violent ways.
    • The Midnight '64 scenario has a much grittier and realistic tone than the vanilla 1964 scenario, but it is more than just a Darker and Edgier 1964. Midway through the scenario, the Warren Commission reaches the conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald had inside help from the executive branch, leading to LBJ's support in the polls taking an absolute nosedive while Barry Goldwater's previously hopeless campaign suddenly gains a lot of support. Depending on what happens, LBJ can also resign and give poor speaker McCormack the burden of being president.
    • Most of the supplementary material prior to the release of 1956 Red had Vice President William Knowland as the presumptive Republican nominee given Stassen's popularity, with an in-universe 1956 DNC (ending in dark horse John McCormack receiving the nomination) receiving the most focus and attention. Come the 1956 release however, it's revealed that William Knowland ended up losing the nomination because of Joe McCarthy and Roy M. Cohn releasing some damning information about extramarital affairs he and his wife had with the liberal Moody Family. In the end, McCarthy clinches the RNC nomination as Knowland's delegates flock to him and the mod gives you the choice to play as either the infamous demagogue himself (with Roy Cohn at his side) or as McCormack.
    • The 2013 New Jersey scenario is set up to look like an ordinary mod about the real world 2013 New Jersey gubernatorial election, with incumbent Republican Governor Chris Christie versus Democratic State Senator Barbara Buono. The candidate selection reveals that you are in fact playing as none other than Tony Soprano, who enlists the aid of various characters from the show during his gubernatorial campaign. This leads to an earlier Bridgegate scandal and later Tony putting a hit on Donald Trump!
  • Bilingual Bonus: An image of Carl Schurz in the 1864’s Perpetual Republic ending is labeled with the caption Damnatio Memorae, roughly translating to "condemnation of memory" in Latin. The fact that Schurz is said beforehand to have been turned in by his old friend Hecker tells us all we need to know about his fate.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • Winning in 1971 South Korea as Kim Dae-Jung by a sizable margin (without it being a landslide) results in Park Chung-hee denouncing the results of the election as illegitimate, claiming that Kim and the NDP had rigged it in their favor. The ending text states that while Korea's democracy may now face an upcoming ordeal, the fact that the people elected Kim in the first place shows that they're now tired of Park's anti-democratic attitude and will back Kim against the former general anytime.
    • The "Great Italia" ending in 1498 Florence outright says that Savonarola and his movement eventually faded away, but that its morals had stuck with Italy. Eventually, the Kingdom of Sardinia would end up outright destroying Rome and imprisoning the Pope in the Risorgimento. The new Italian Empire is thus born in the ruins of the Vatican, with Firenze as its capital.
    • Similarly, "The Tragic Melody" ending follows an elderly Beniveni composing a tragedy about Savonarola before reflecting on how his messaged lived on despite the fall of the Florentine Republic. He then locks away the tragedy in a chest, with the creator saying that it will be remain locked away until a time could come when it could be understood and appreciated.
    • Somehow managing to get an electoral deadlock in 1864 is this. The Republicans having large congressional majorities pretty much guarantees that Lincoln will stay as president anyway, but the fact that McClellan got so close causes massive unrest across the Union (with in particular New York poised to have a repeat of the 1863 Draft Riots) and leads to the Democratic Party seeing it as a vindication of their negotiated peace that they demand. This setback means little to President Lincoln however, and with the election out of the way he's able to focus completely on ending the civil war once and for all.
    Richmond will be next—you are sure of it.
    • Most codas of 1864 don't really end on happy notes, with most of Lincoln's successors bring unable to effectively continue his legacy and ending up botching the Reconstruction of the south.
      • Both of Daniel Dickinson's codas have him presiding over a moderate Reconstruction in line with Lincoln's wishes, only for him to die two years later of a hernia and send the US into a Succession Crisis (ending in the obscure president pro tempore Lafayette Sabine Foster becoming interim president before a special election is held). If Lincoln kept Seward as Secretary Of State, then Seward will run for president in the special election under the National Union and succeed Dickinson-but with a crumbling National Union Party leaving him in a precarious situation. If Lincoln let Seward resign, the National Union quickly crumbles apart after Dickinson's death and Ulysses S. Grant ends up being elected in 1868 (with the implication that his presidency will go about as well as it did IRL).
      • Schulyer Colfax's coda as well. His two-term presidency has him pursue an aggressive Reconstruction which succeeds in elevating the voting power of the black man, empowering the Freedmen's Bureau and putting down the Ku Klux Klan to preserve those rights. While his contributions will seal the Republican Party's commitment to equal rights for decades to come, the party will still undergo Motive Decay from aligning too closely with business interests and Reconstruction itself will end shortly after he leaves office.
      • Benjamin Butler's codas (excluding the secret ones that are not achievable on the normal difficulty) are also this. If Lincoln refused to have Butler intervene in the New York riots, Butler ends up having a one-term presidency due to his brutish personality and refusal to compromise on his principles alienating most of his allies in the Republican Party. In the end, he's replaced by Salmon Chase in the 1868 RNC and will be forever remembered as a man ahead of his time who was simply not cut out for the presidency. If Lincoln had Butler take charge of the Wide Awakes and did let Butler brutally put down the New York riots, Butler is quickly impeached and imprisoned for his blatant tyranny while a special election leads to William Seward becoming president and proving to be a much better successor to Lincoln’s legacy than Butler ever was.
    • The "Dynast" ending of 1972 Romney, earned by stabilizing the economy (without selling out to the foreign allies) and successfully withdrawing from Vietnam while still losing the election. Despite George Romney losing in a landslide after his Humiliation Conga of a presidency, a young Donald Rumsfeld offers him Utah's open senate seat thanks to most Utahns having a good opinion of the Mormon president. Romney, having nothing to lose and wanting to desperately redeem himself, takes up the offer and enjoys a long twenty-year career in the Senate before passing away in 1995. At his state funeral, all of his presidential successors (including Muskie) note Romney's positive reputation as the conscience of the Republican Party and everyone in attendance agrees that George was a brilliant senator and fine president. The picture of Mitt with George also implies that, after his father's death, he would run for George's old senate seat.
    • The "Coming Home" ending for 1972 Romney, earned by successfully withdrawing from Vietnam while selling out American industries to foreign allies to stabilize the economy. Though South Vietnam's survival may have saved Romney's presidency, it does not the second term any easier. Romney's second term is characterized by the phenomenon of "Stagflation", with simultaneous stagnation and inflation causing unemployment and outright recession. After a historic defeat in the 1974 midterms, George McGovern ends up easily coasting to victory in the 1976 election with his promises of national renewal and a bold economic agenda.
    • Winning in 1972 Romney without taking into account the long term impacts of your actions to fix the economy and leave Vietnam (eg. selling out American industries to foreign allies and withdrawing the troops too early) gets the "Stand Up For America!" ending. Romney spends his second term trying to fix the economy... only for him to accidentally cause a recession instead. The disaffected people soon rally around a vengeful George Wallace and propel him to victory in the 1976 election. Leonard Hall and Romney are distraught, as this means that all of their achievements are rendered All for Nothing.
    • The "50 Years Later, a Changed America Grapples With Its Darkest Days" ending in 1972: Peace With Honor. Richard Nixon gets barely re-elected in the face of a strong challenge from Shirley Chisholm, and his disastrous second term is filled with leaks, congressional investigations into the Watergate break-in, the resignation of his vice president (even if Agnew was forced off the ticket and replaced with somebody else), family discord, a growing list of indictments against his key aides and multiple failures in foreign policy. This sends the already paranoid and erratic president into a deep depression that ultimately culminates in him taking his own life. His death and the subsequent investigation cause an uncomfortable revelation about the toll of public office on high-ranking officials and the poor state of American mental health care. An elected Ted Kennedy would later establish the National Mental Health Service, a landmark program that seeks to help those grappling with mental illness, in Nixon's honor. Awareness about Mental Health is widespread and modern-day American politics is implied to be much more empathic in the alternate 2023 as a result. Still, the 50th anniversary of Nixon's death shows that America is traumatized forever and the ending itself ends with a sobbing Julie Nixon wishing she had been there for her father.
  • Boomerang Bigot: Roy M. Cohn in 1956 is a member of the Democratic Party, is of Jewish descent and is a closeted gay man. This doesn't stop Roy from calling the Dems a "coward party", have an affiliate release radio ads slandering McCormack as "the Jews' favorite congressman" and help Joe McCarthy in his crusade to get rid of the homosexuals (who Joe claims are "susceptible to Soviet influence") working at the state departments.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Poor poor Barry Goldwater, already losing in a landslide in the real 1964 election, in the canon outcome of the 1964 Viva Kennedy mod he's again destroyed in a similar landslide by JFK, only winning the plains and even failing to flip the south like he did in real life. The only mod where Goldwater has a good chance of winning without drastically moderating on his beliefs is the 1964 three way mod, where he's opposed by segregationist George Wallace and Peace candidate Eugene McCarthy, splitting the Democratic vote. And the only mod where Goldwater winning is the canon outcome is Midnight 1964, where LBJ is subtly implicated in the JFK assassination by the Warren Report. Even then, Goldwater only manages to win by a slim margin and Midnight 1965 shows that his presidency eventually becomes a complete disaster. Said disaster leads to radicals like Rockwell and his Traditional American party gaining more popularity.
    • The Whig Party in general. In the 1836 mod they're running a split ticket in an attempt to split the electoral college, which wouldn't win them the presidency anyway, in 1844 they're running unpopular multiple time election loser Henry Clay, in 1852 the party's basically moribund and on its way to the grave. The only election where this isn't the case is the 1848 election, where immensely popular general Zachary Taylor faces a divided Democratic party, though knowing how this turns out in real life (with Taylor dying and the hated John Tyler obstructing the Whig agenda) brings back the butt monkey status.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Done with the advisor feedbacks sometimes, with them mentioning things like what year it actually is (with the appropriate views) compared to now, or the advisors outright insulting you the player.
  • Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Many mods allow you to break significant milestones long before they occurred in real life:
    • There are several mods that allow you to win with a black vice president long before the victory of Biden and Kamala Harris in 2020, including 1976 Reagan (a scenario where Ronald Reagan successfully pulls off a primary challenge to president Gerald Ford), 1984, the original 1988 scenario, and, most incredibly, two scenarios in the 19th century, with Blanche Bruce of Mississippi being selectable as a running mate for both Rutherford B. Hayes and James Garfield in the original 1876 and 1880 respectively, leading to an African American Vice President a century early should you win.
    • The 1988b scenario sees the player challenging George Bush as African American activist Jesse Jackson, should he win America will have a black man in the white house two decades earlier than happened in real life.
    • Women are selectable as running mates in several scenarios, the earliest example being Clare Boothe Luce as a running mate for Goldwater in 1964d. Walter Mondale can run a Twofer Token Minority in Diane Feinstein in 1984, who is a Jewish woman, as can George McGovern in 1972 with Shirley Chisholm, a black woman.
    • 2008b sees Hillary Clinton defeat Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination, leading to America's first female president should you win while playing as her.
    • Tony Soprano in 2013NJ's secret ending (achieved by divorcing Carmela and winning the election) becomes the Democratic nominee in the 2024 US presidential election after serving as the governor of New Jersey. Despite 17 straight years of Democratic rule under Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, Tony is able to win the election in an upset (helped by Trump's assassination never causing right-wing populism to ever take off in the GOP) and become the first Italian-American president of the United States.
    • Deconstructed for Jane Byrne, the city's first female mayor, in 1983 Chicago. She won the election with promises of equality to Black Chicago and an end to the Daley political machine….but proceeded to disregard them once she started aligning herself with the racist machine. By the end of her tenure, she has become hated by the city she once governed and Black Chicago is now itching to be rid of her.
  • Celebrity Resemblance: A decidedly not Played for Laughs example occurs in 1972d when a bunch of hardhats mistake a random woman on a subway for Jane Fonda (who had become the running mate for the communist Gus Hall at the point) and proceed to viciously assault her. The news of this story brings poor Jane to tears, and has a decidedly negative impact on the CPUSA's popularity.
  • The Chains of Commanding: Robert Habeck's Patience mechanic in Germany 2021 showcases his ability to cope with the burden that comes with being the leader of the Greens as well as his ability to present himself as a capable and orderly Chancellor candidate. His patience is put under strain every time Habeck has to act aggressively in his campaign, compromise his left-wing stances and engage with social media.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • Speaker McCormack briefly appears early on in Midnight 1964 to do an introduction to a joint session of Congress following Kennedy’s assassination. He plays a much larger role following an LBJ resignation, where he has to simultaneously as serve interim president and make sure that the Democrats win the 1964 election despite the turmoil.
    • Similarly, Midnight 1964 alludes to George Lincoln Rockwell in a few of the advisor responses which mention an obscure far-right politician (one of them mentioning his distinct smoking pipe) from Virginia protesting both LBJ and Goldwater's actions. He only becomes important in 1965 Midnight, which allows the player to play as him trying to win the Virginia gubernatorial election while in the midst of a failing Goldwater presidency.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Christian Weston Chandler has a tenuous grasp on reality, as always, picking his own father or even a fictional character out as his running mate. His question responses are suitably nonsensical, using Sonichu comics as campaign material, or talking to the media about a troll hacking his Playstation account.
    • George McGovern, if the historical route is followed to the letter, makes several inexplicable decisions, dropping his running mate after strongly standing by him, and even comparing Richard Nixon to Hitler.
    • Many advisor responses frame the player character as one of these if they make bad choices.
  • Companion Cube: Patrick Star in 2008Spongebob attempted to get a literal rock as his running mate. In the end, Patrick instead got the charismatic Dwayne Johnson (still commonly known as "The Rock" at this point) to be his running mate despite his displeasure. Depending on what Patrick does, he can also kickstart a "Pet Rock" market that will lead to him becoming a billionaire.
  • Contempt Crossfire: In 1864, the dueling forces of Horace Greeley's New York Tribune and the Democratic establishment of New York (supported by the infamous Boss Tweed and his Tammany Hall organization) are both opposed to Lincoln's re-election. This leaves New York as the second-most hostile state to Lincoln outside of Kentucky, not helped by Lincoln's controversial handling of the earlier 1863 Draft Riots. Potential running mates Daniel Dickinson and Schluyer Colfax can help overcome this by appealing to the War Democrats in New York and Greeley's Tribune respectively. Benjamin Butler, if Lincoln allows him to behave as tyrannically as possible, effectively deals with both in violent fashion. Butler storms into the Tribune's Office and has Greeley arrested, while the New York government and Tammany Hall are effectively overthrown by the Wide Awakes in their process of brutally crushing any dissent.
  • Crazy Enough to Work: Choosing to support civil rights as Barry Goldwater in Midnight 1964 causes the entirety of your support in the Deep South to vanish. While the move may seem absolutely idiotic (which Goldwater's advisors tell him is), Johnson getting implicated by the Warren Comission and the later scandals he gets into actually gives Goldwater a huge boost in the polls. Play your cards right, and Goldwater can actually win the presidency while mending fences with the Rockefeller Republicans.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: If Al Gore wins the Democratic Party nomination for a rematch against Bush in W., the party colors on the election map will switch the other way around (with Bush states as blue and Gore states as red), alluding to the period when the party color identification didn't become standardized until after the first Bush-Gore election in 2000. Thus, it can come across as confusing at first to the player if they don't pay enough attention.
  • Dark Horse Victory: If the player is skilled enough, they can perform admirably as a third-party candidate. This usually deadlocks this election, throwing it to the House Of Representatives, but there are some cases where the player can actually win outright (usually on an easier difficulty).
    • 1948 Red actually has two examples of this in both President Henry A. Wallace and Richard Russell Jr., who start off at a significant disadvantage compared to a Harold Stassen that is leading in the polls by a wide margin.
      • Henry A. Wallace is somehow doing even worse than how Harry Truman was doing in the historical 1948 scenario, only polling well in Texas and West Virginia due to the failure of Operation Downfall, numerous allegations about him being a communist (or at least sympathetic to the ideology), the Dixiecrat splinter being much stronger thanks to his support for civil rights and Wallace's general unpopularity. Much like Harry Truman however, Wallace embarks on a barnstorming tour around the country (using a campaign train known as the "Wallace Express") and regains a large amount of support from Roosevelt's New Deal Coalition thanks to his bold campaigning. In spite of an October surprise from CPUSA leader Earl Browder being forced into testifying about Wallace's supposed connections to the Soviet Union, Wallace can end up narrowly winning a second term and proving all the pollsters wrong.
      • Richard Russell Jr. is doing better than Strom Thurmond ever was in the 1948 election thanks to Wallace's naked support for civil rights, but Wallace's sudden rise in the polls only complicates things for Russell and the Dixiecrats. Yet if Russell plays his cards right by consolidating his support in the Deep South (and potentially even Virginia if Harry Byrd was picked as running mate) and keeping the race close enough, this can actually lead to the election being deadlocked. In the aftermath of a deadlock, Harold Stassen ends up making a deal with Russell to become president.
    • Vice President William Knowland of 1956 Red initially seems to be the strong front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, with Tom Dewey and Joe McCarthy's primary challenges being little more than vanity affairs more than anything. Tom1923 later unearthed a teaser that showed Knowland as the presidential candidate, cementing Knowland's position... at least until it's revealed that McCarthy and his advisor Roy M. Cohn leaked information about Knowland's extramarital affairs to the Evening Star, who proceeded to publish a shocking article that completely destroys Knowland's credibility and with it his chances of nomination. Unwilling to draft a moderate Republican, Knowland and Taft's conservative delegates end up voting for McCarthy and the infamous demagogue reviled by majority of the country ends up receiving the presidential nomination.
    • George Lincoln Rockwell starts out in 1965 Midnight as little more than the largely unknown leader of a fringe white supremacist group, but he can end up riding the wave of public discontent with President Goldwater (gaining crucial support from the segregationists in the process) to win Virginia's gubernatorial election in a squeaker. His election marks the first time a third-party candidate has won a gubernatorial race for the first time since 1942, with Rockwell officially becoming the first non-Democrat governor of Virginia since 1881.
    • George Wallace can end up deadlocking the election in 1968VK just like in the historical 1968 scenario, leaving both parties reeling and now at the whim of the segregationists.
    • A rather interesting example in a 1972d victory where Gus Hall gets over 5% of the popular vote. While Nixon easily gets the electoral victory as expected, the openly communist Hall and his CPUSA get a large number of votes in major cities while multiple Democratic electors defect to Hall in protest of John Connally. The over 5% of the popular vote also means that the CPUSA will also get funding from the Federal Government for future presidential elections. With the New and Old Left now united under a single party, the Soviets now willing to send much more support to CPUSA, both Democrats and Republicans alike rendered speechless by the election's results and Hall hearing the sounds of protestors surrounding the Stock Exchange upon disembarking his train, it becomes clear that the CPUSA is the true victor of the 1972 election.
    "As you hold your hat, you cannot help but feel that the times are a-changin’."
    • Much like in real life, this can be Invoked on the part of Richard Nixon and his cronies in 1972: Peace With Honor when they clear the DNC of any candidates who are polling well by "ratfucking" the party. This basically ensures that the poor soul who manages to come out on top in the primaries will be in for a beating in the general election...if McGovern is picked anyway. Shirley Chisholm and Henry "Scoop" Jackson actually have a fairly good chance of beating Nixon thanks to the president's missteps, and Chisholm being picked in particular spells doom for Nixon whether he wins or loses (resulting in either a disaster of a second term that ultimately culminates in him taking his life, a group of New Left terrorists kidnapping him and kick-starting an American Years Of Lead or him being swiftly arrested and put on trial only to be assassinated).
    • Ross Perot in 1992 initially starts with a strong lead in the polls, but a series of campaign setbacks and controversies leaves him at a significant disadvantage compared to Clinton or Bush. Yet despite all this, Perot can end up deadlocking the election or winning outright. This shocks nearly everyone and is described as changing the course of American history forever.
    • Jesse Ventura in the 1998 Gubernatorial race runs against two established politicians under the Reform Party, with political pundits noting his chance of victory to be slim. Yet just like in real life, being aggressive in campaigning, running many unconventional television ads and having a strong showing in the debates can lead to Ventura winning the governorship in a squeaker. He becomes the first member of the Reform Party to win a statewide office.
    • Martin O'Malley in the 2016 Democratic Primaries starts sandwiched between Hillary and Bernie, with a poor showing in the Iowa Caucus resulting in most of his supporters and his own staff recognizing his chances as bleak. Martin is straight-up asked if he wants to continue through the campaign, and it's hard to blame him if he chooses to drop out. Through a few smart campaign decisions however (like exploiting the ballot deadlines in the territories to essentially win their delegates by default and choosing to fight for Native American rights), O'Malley can end up depriving Hillary of the 2,382 delegates needed to get nomination, deadlocking the primaries and putting him in a strong position to act as kingmaker. The Sequel to the 2016 Democratic Primaries already has O'Malley as the Democratic Candidate, with the description implying that he somehow managed to clinch the nomination. It's revealed later on to be part of a deal his campaign cut with Clinton and the DNC, to deny Sanders a victory while still having a strong, widely beloved and mostly scandal-free presidential candidate to fight against the controversial Trump.
    • Donald Trump in 2016 4-Way Redux starts out as a vengeful third-party candidate after losing the Republican nomination to an establishment-backed Marco Rubio, having to undergo an uphill battle against the Democrats, the establishment Republicans, and Sanders' progressive supporters in the first ever four-way presidential race in American history. Yet through aligning himself with the smaller third parties for easy ballot access, running a strong attack campaign, shoring up Tea Party conservative support, and possibly even striking a deal with the Russian government in exchange for their help in sabotaging the Clinton and Rubio campaigns, Trump can ride the anti-establishment wave of discontent to triumph over all of his opponents and emerge as the 45th President of the United States.
    "Donald Trump, a vengeful third party candidate, after the tape, after relentless attacks, never holding public office, running one of the most attack campaigns in recent memory, violating every norm, will become the next President of the United States, and comfortably, too."
    • Bernie Sanders' third-party campaign in 2016 4-Way Redux is shown to be less optimized and much more weaker than the Trump campaign, which is not helped by Bernie lacking the option to cause foreign interference in the election like Trump has. But by relying on the national unions to boost turnout, consolidating progressive support, taking a risky gamble with picking Marcy Kaptur (who is guaranteed leave your campaign if you frustrate her or are doing poorly in polling.) as your VP and having really good RNG, Bernie can become the 45th President of the United States. The most left-wing president in the country's history in fact.
  • Deal with the Devil: In Germany 2021, making a coalition with the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany can be a way to secure the chancellorship for a CDU/CSU candidate, but successfully doing so will throw Germany into chaos, with the the Union and FDP parliamentaries defecting en masse in protest, the regional CDU/CSU chapters either denouncing the ruling coalition or having their partnerships with other parties collapsing, and violent protests erupting across the whole country.
  • Decapitated Army: Major General Park Chung-Hee dying in the middle of 1963Korea causes his entire military coup against the Korean government to collapse and the mutineering soldiers previously under his command to surrender, since Park was the one organizing the power-grab in the first place.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: In Germany 2021, upon securing the chancellorship candidacy, both Laschet and Söder can congratulate each other for the fair competition in the acceptance speech, allowing their respective rival to be hired as an advisor afterwards.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance:
    • Coming out in support of cutting ties with Taiwan and cooperating closely with a rapidly developing China as Kim Dae-jung in 1971 South Korea has the advisor remind you that Taiwan is still very much a close ally to South Korea and that China's rapid development is absolutely non-existent, with the country suffering a recession in the aftermath of the brutal Cultural Revolution.
      To sum up, your argument is completely insane. Park began mocking you on the campaign trail, saying you are not only a communist but also a moron..."
    • Played for Laughs in Sumner '68. Sumner is a civil rights crusader... and pretty dang old-fashioned on every other issue. He refers to law-and-order as "reconstruction", is shocked at a war being waged in the Orient, sees the Mormons as nothing but anti-Christian heretics who practice Polygamy and doesn't see the Russians as natural enemies with America.
  • Deus ex Machina: Winning the power struggle in 1498 Florence to gain most of the Florentine public's support will result in Savonarola being suddenly saved from execution by a group of his followers and the Signori being massacred by an angry mob. Savonarola then proceeds to proclaim Firenze as "The New Jerusalem" and solidify his power over Firenze. The content of the Distant Finale that comes after depends on who was picked as Savonarola's running mate and how much support he has from the Florentine people.
  • Different World, Different Movies: If the player in W. fuels enough chauvinistic sentiment to launch a war against Iran, the Revenge of the Sith will turn into an explicit attack against the Bush administration, with George Lucas (who in Real Life never acknowledged that any American president influenced Palpatine's depiction other than Richard Nixon) outright stating that the movie is about Bush while presenting the final cut to the Cannes Film Festival.
  • Double-Meaning Title: The "Red" series of mods are named as such due to the continuing Red Scare present in each mod that gets progressively worse (canonically ending with Senator Joe McCarthy himself becoming president and the Soviet Union's much better position in the world following Operation Downfall allowing them to give the U.S. a much harder time in the Cold War.
  • Do Well, But Not Perfect: "Winning" in 1498 Florence is dictated by how much of the popular vote (representing Florentine support) Savonarola wins. That being said, winning 52% or lower and 58% or higher of the popular vote mostly results in objectively worse endings for Savonarola and Florence.
  • Easter Egg: In the mod loader there's an option for a "1993" mod, selecting it launches a version of Doom, complete with a custom page theme.
  • Eagle Squadron: 1864 has the German "Forty-Eighters", veterans of the failed 1848 revolutions who have now settled in the US. The highest-ranking among them are General Carl Schurz and his friend Colonel Friedrich Hecker, who now aid the Union army in combatting the Confederacy. Schurz and Hecker return to Germany in the "Perpetual Republic" ending and, with the support of President Benjamin Butler, overthrow the German monarchies. That being said, Schurz ends up being disillusioned with Butler's dictatorial American Republic and muses to Hecker that those are not the values they fought for as Forty-Eighters. Hecker turns in Schurz immediately, and (like most of the dissenters to Butler's rule) has his memory completely erased from the face of the Earth.
  • Egocentric Team Naming:
    • A late December 2023 update to the 1828 mod saw Andrew Jackson's "Democratic" and President John Quincy Adams' "National Republican" party affiliations changed instead to "Jacksonian" and "Adams' Men" (shared by Adams' VPs of course). Truth in Television as these were what the major parties were known by at the time, and the previous names were actually coined after the 1828 election.
    • The "Muskie Malaise" ending of 1972 Romney reveals that the Republicans who have previously aligned themselves with the policies of President Romney have come to be known as the "Romneyites". Surprisingly, Spiro Agnew is a nominal member of the faction despite being far more conservative in practice.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: "Hanoi Jane" is one for Jane Fonda in 1972d, which she gained after being photographed sitting on a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun during her infamous 1972 visit to Hanoi. And as Hall's running mate, the nickname will be used a few more times by their many, many opponents. It's only following a Hall-Fonda ticket that wins 5% or over of the popular vote that the nickname starts to fall away.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • In 1956 Red, even Roy M. Cohn thinks segregation is unethical and can only let out a short "yikes" when McCarthy denounces "intermixing" as an affront to Middle America. Downplayed in that he's mostly concerned that it will strangle the McCarthy campaign's already thin margins in the North, and later doesn't object to McCarthy denouncing the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
    • Played for Laughs in 2013 NJ, where even ruthless mobsters Tony Soprano and Silvio Dante think that Donald Trump and Jared Kushner are bad news to the point that Silvio calls Kushner a "shady fuck".
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Things go incredibly downhill for Joseph Smith after he flees Nauvoo in 1844c: The Widow's Son. One wrong answer can lead to Joseph getting arrested and taken to Carthage jail (where he will inevitably meet his end no matter what), killed by bandits, succumbing to the elements or even getting mauled to death by an honest-to-god wolf.
  • Expy Coexistence:
    • Kelpy G in 2008Spongebob is mentioned to be a blatant rip-off of the actual Kenny G (even if the description states that Kelpy makes better music), and Kenny himself later tries to sue Kelpy for copyright infringement.
    • Patrick Star can end up picking up many of Donald Trump's populist rhetoric from 2016, including an attack on the "fake news media". Donald Trump himself is said to be enthralled with Patrick's bashing of the elites, and decides to do a few campaign events with him.
  • First-Person Smartass: Patrick Bateman in his 2000 election mod is this. The regular advisor screen is replaced with Bateman doing an internal monlogue, with the choices being mudane to make the monologues stand out more. For example, he really has a negative opinion on everyone but him and Donald Trump, even if you choose an option to make him praise Bill Clinton, he'll monologue about how much he hates him.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • There are a few moments in 1968 Romney which foreshadow Vice President Claude Kirk's future woes with the Romney administration.
      • Choosing to ignore the revelation about the Goldwater-Romney letters has the feedback say that Kirk really wants to attack Romney on his silence if he wasn’t glued to his side as veep.
      • Going dovish on Vietnam results in Kirk almost agreeing with McNamara that Romney’s policy is absolute garbage, only for him to be talked down by Leonard Hall.
      • Choosing to attend a civil rights rally with Brooke and other Black Republicans has the feedback note that Kirk is incredibly uncomfortable with attending the event at all. 1972 Romney has his differences with Brooke reach a boiling point, with both of them trading blows at each other despite being in the same cabinet.
    • The banner of Sumner'68 (with a Deliberately Monochrome Sumner facing off against George Wallace) occasionally turns into one where Wallace's face is instead replaced with Andrew Johnson's. While this initially looks like a nod to how Wallace is continuing Johnson's Villainous Legacy of a "white man's world" that disenfranchises the blacks and deprives them of their rights, it's later revealed that Johnson is actually possessing George Wallace and plans to use him to bring back slavery.
  • Four-Star Badass: George Dewey, the highest ranked admiral in American history, he commanded the Battle of Mailla Bay in the Spanish-American War, a battle in which the American fleet took *one* casualty. It's this status that allows him to provide a strong challenge to the popular William McKinley.
  • Fourth-Wall Observer : Hillary Clinton in the Cross of Globalism 2024 campaign. If you somehow manage to carry all 50 States AND D.C. as Tucker, there will be a mention of the President foaming at the mouth due to something called the ,,Bigshot Cheat'' , which the player will definitly know a ,,bit" of stuff about.
  • Gentleman Snarker: Eschewing opportunism altogether as Söder in Germany 2021 not only allows him to rebrand himself as a honest, upstanding candidate, but also gives him more spotlight to charm the voters with his usual witticisms.
    "If you know the Lord of the Rings saga, where would the AfD be? They’d feel right at home in Mordor. That’s where they’d belong."
    "Endangered species are exempt from hunting season until they have recovered, that’s why I won’t mention the SPD."
    "All of life is a big compromise, starting with marriage, ending with politics."
    "You know what the best thing about Berlin is? The way back to Bavaria."
  • Greater-Scope Villain: In a few of the campaigns, you may be competing to win the election but are trying to guide the country through a much greater threat.
    • 1498 Florence's map and "vote" mechanics play up the infamous Medici family as your main adversaries, but they prove to be more Disk-One Final Boss material due to Lorenzo The Magnificent dying and being replaced by his failure of a son Piero. In contrast, Pope Alexander VI aka Rodrigo Borgia is the spiritual antithesis (and potentially other side of the coin} to Savonarola and remains your most dangerous and persistent threat. Fittingly enough, it's Alexander VI and the Borgias who topple Savonarola's new republic in some of the bad endings instead of the Medicis.
    • Great Britain (and to a lesser extent Revolutionary France) cast a dark shadow over the early American Republic in 1792, alternate history 1793, 1796, and especially 1812.
    • The threat of War with Mexico dominates both versions of 1836 and 1844.
    • In 1860 both playable candidates have to deal with slave-owning radicals in control of the South. In 1864 this is even more of a problem since they have already risen up and the Union has fought for three bloody years against the Confederacy in a Civil War.
    • Imperial Germany in both incarnations of 1916 (but especially the alternate historical Roosevelt one). In the historical path, it is an obvious threat to US Neutrality and sovereign rights but has not pushed the envelope... quite yet. In the alternate history, however, all bets are off and Roosevelt has taken the nation into WWI and how both sides deal with a Reich trying to destroy the Union is key.
    • The alternate history campaign of 1920 is sidetracked by Vladimir Lenin and the Bolsheviks trying to stage a world revolution and how both sides deal with the threat of them upturning the world order and hard won peace. They still linger on the fringes in the alternate history of 1924, but to a much lesser degree.
    • Nazi Germany looms large in 1924b, 1940, 1944, 1964 and 1972 TNO (Hall).
    • In the Cold War the Soviet Union usually fills this role to one degree or another, with North Korea and North Vietnam sometimes playing a more direct role in scenarios overlapping with the Korean War and Vietnam War. The Soviet Union in 1972d sticks out the most, as they are the ones funding Hall's campaign to legitimize communism in the USA while staying mostly out of the race itself.
    • Every mod taking place in South Korea will have to deal with the shadow of its evil twin North Korea looming. 1963 South Korea is about Big Bad and potential Villain Protagonist President Evil Park Chung-hee's journey to taking power over Korea, but his opponent, Yun Posun, uses previous connections Park and his brother had with the Communist party to slander him as an ally of the North Koreans. Relatively de-emphasized in 1971 South Korea, which focuses primarily on Park Chung-hee's struggle with Kim Dae-jung for the future of Korea, but even there North Korea remains a constant sticking point.
    • Played for Laughs in Sumner '68, where it turns out that a time-displaced Charles Sumner's opponent, George Wallace, is actually possessed by Andrew Johnson, trying to destroy America from beyond the grave and planning to bring back slavery.
    • Donald Trump's win in 2024 and his dictatorial actions that came after are the reason why the Bad Future of 2028 Swift: Years of Lead happened in the first place. Taylor has to deal with the ongoing culture war that Trump actively worsened, his abuse of the constitution leading to many Democrats wanting to change or at least introduce an amendment to it, and the fact that the former president still has a lot of fanatical supporters left behind.
  • Godwin's Law: Like in real life, McGovern in his 1972 scenario can frivolously compare Nixon to Hitler. The only advisor feedback to that is "What were you thinking?".
  • Golden Ending: As many mods have multiple endings, there are a few that are clearly the best ending possible for America (or whatever other country the mod is taking place in) and the playable candidate.
    • Most endings of 36 – 64 AD: The Apostle to the Gentiles usually end in Paul getting martyred for his preaching, with the epilogue telling of the great persecutions that will happen under Nero. Exactly one ending however has one of Paul's fellow believers managing to bribe the guard to let him out. Thanking God for the miracle, a grateful Paul boards a ship to Spain to continue spreading His word to the ends of the Earth.
    "You look at the horizon, where the sea meets the sky, and smile. You are free, and you are on a mission."
    • 1498 Florence has two of these and depend on the "running mate" Savonarola chose.
      • "The Moment Forever!" ending. Savonarola and Cardinal Rovere manage to stage a fundamentalist revolution in Rome, with Alexander VI performing a Last Villain Stand at the Castel Sant Angelo with his Swiss Guards before getting killed. With the corrupt Borgias and their loyalists now routed from the Eternal City, Savonarola is easily voted in as the new pope.
      • "The Modern Utopia" ending is also just as triumphant as it sounds. Through the help of Soderini and the Grand Council, Savonarola would turn Firenze into a defining example of upright moralism intermixed with a booming economy. In the far future, Firenze now stands as the cultural envy of the world and a city of law-abiders, artisans and clergy. Savonarola himself is immortalized through a towering statue of him along the River Arno, watching over the city with a benevolent gaze.
    • Picking Hamlin as your running mate in 1864 initially seems like a bad idea, since Hamlin has no particular sway with either the War Democrats or the Radical Republicans when Lincoln desperately needs them in his electoral coalition. However, Hamlin's coda is actually the most optimistic among them all. With good political acumen thanks to his time in the Senate and the support of Lincoln's cabinet, President Hamlin is able to preside over a radical Reconstruction where he pushes for full racial equality and strict standards for the re-admission of the southern states. In the end, the south emerges as a bustling hub of industry much like the north thanks to the Republican Party. While it may take years for the Republican reforms to create a "new birth of freedom" that Lincoln envisioned and corruption will still be a part of the reconstruction despite Hamlin's best efforts, President Hamlin will ultimately create a truly equal America where the blacks are finally on equal footing with the whites and retire in 1868 as a well-liked and popular president.
    • Managing to successfully impeach Andrew Johnson in 1868 while on the Very Easy or Cakewalk difficulties leads to Benjamin Wade, leader of the Radical Republicans, becoming president and Horatio Seymour being routed in the 1868 election by a wide margin. Wade then proceeds to violently crack down on the Klan and guarantee that the Freedmen in the south will be protected from racial violence, transforming the south into a land where all men are truly created equal.
    But for now, we rejoice, rejoice and breathe in the battle cry of freedom! It is truly most wonderful that this beautiful vision has become true...
    • In 1972 Romney, achieving a victory while successfully managing the economy and Vietnam (by protecting American industries and delaying troop withdrawal) leads to the "Happy Days" ending. George Romney's legacy as one of America's best presidents ever is secured, he's saved the global economy, ended Vietnam, and through aggressive federal action, finally put an end to segregation and its legacy. In 1997, an old Romney travels once more to the capital for one last purpose: to watch his son Mitt be sworn in as the next president of the United States.
    • In 1972 Peace With Honor, there are multiple endings of this sort.
      • The golden ending for Nixon himself is the Danbury Correctional Institute ending. After admitting to his dirty tricks but still winning the 1972 election in a 50-state landslide, Nixon sends Gordon Liddy to prison for the treasonous actions he committed, coming out the other end more popular than ever.
      • The most optimistic ending for the country as a whole is actually an ending where Nixon loses. If Nixon admits to his dirty tricks then losing to Humphrey, Nixon averts the American people's growing distrust in government which he really accelerated through Watergate, leading to him and Humphrey both going down in the history books as examples of politicians who the American people could come to trust.
  • Half-Breed Discrimination: Elijah Abel, the leader of the Mormon Church in Cincinnati and a possible running mate for Joseph Smith in 1844c: The Widow's Son is said to be seen as a "lesser caste of man" in all 26 states thanks to being one-eighth African.
  • Head Desk: If you come out in favor of abortion as Bush in 2004, Karl Rove does this.
    "Upon hearing this, Karl Rove started banging his head against the wall."
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: One potential advisor response if you support civil rights as George Wallace in 1968VK.
    "Finally a Wallace I can get behind. Too bad the Klan is already on their way to burn down your house."
  • Heel–Face Turn:
    • George Wallace can pull off a variation of this in multiple mods, usually tanking his campaign, but in the 1972 mod where he wins the primary, Wallace can totally condemn his old stances on race and go on to defeat Nixon in a massive upset, even being described in the ending as "the left's tentative champion".
    • Barry Goldwater can end up supporting Civil Rights and turning his back on the Deep South in Midnight 1964. While it initially seems like political suicide (since Goldwater losing the south's support basically handicaps him), the revelation about Johnson's possible role in the Kennedy assassination causes his poll numbers to go up tremendously and actually give him a fighting chance in the election.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Several, depending on your view. But perhaps one of the most notable is Barry Goldwater. While Goldwater is a right-wing conservative hardliner and a hawk among Republicans with all the accompanying negative baggage that entails, he is personally opposed to segregation and racism (to the point of voting for most civil rights laws), is personal friends with civil rights champions and liberal stalwarts like JFK, and in terms of personal integrity and life is almost beyond reproach. Which makes things difficult when so much of the base he relies on for electoral performance includes Dixiecrats, fervent segregationists, outright racists, conspiracy nutjobs, and the Ku Klux Klan. The disconnect is one of his major weaknesses and something his opponents (especially LBJ in the historical 1964 election) capitalize on.
  • Hot-Blooded: George Wallace, Lyndon B. Johnson, Pat Buchanan, and of course Donald Trump. Their question answers are suitably aggressive, with Johnson's answers in Viva Kennedy 1968 being notable, as they're so heated it can make it difficult to tell which answer is the correct one, at least the other candidates have answers where they tone it back somewhat, but Johnson seems unable to take his foot off the gas.
    • James A. Reed in 1924b, whose populist railing against president Wood's government is the only thing that gives him a chance. If he does well, he can compete with Wood in the south and west, but most likely his hot blooded extremist nature and segregationist beliefs will restrict his influence to the Deep South.
  • How the Mighty Have Fallen:
    • Most mods that feature President Lyndon B. Johnson in his post-presidency years have him on a downward health spiral after leaving office and mostly content to keep a low profile. When a group of CPUSA supporters and college students protest outside his ranch in 1972d, the old man is nowhere to be found... but a student with a zoom-lens camera manages to picture an LBJ that is described as looking old and decrepit.
    • There's an underlying sense that the 72-year old Ted Kennedy in W. is way past his prime, especially when compared to his youthful self in 1972: Peace With Honor. He's in poor health, a lot less mobile than he used to be and way more decrepit-looking than Bush. The only reason why he serves as Dubya's strongest opponent is because of his first term being a complete failure that ends with Bush firing large swathes of his cabinet. If Bush has a successful first term (minus the cabinet firings), Kennedy becomes significantly easier to deal with provided you know how to successfully deal with his campaign's attacks.
  • Hypocrite: Played for Laughs in 2013 NJ, where Tony Soprano makes a mean-spirited joke aimed at Chris Christie's weight despite being a big man (that even Silvio admits "eats sausage and beef by the carload") himself. One of the options is even for Tony to acknowledge his hypocrisy and apologize to Christie.
  • Implied Death Threat: Commenting that "we all know what happened to JFK" towards Obama as McCain in 2008. Saying this makes your poll numbers take a MASSIVE hit.
    "Did you just... threaten Obama's life? Ted Kennedy, your lifelong friend, will no longer speak to you. You've broken a cardinal rule of politics, and now the entire nation is united in anger at you. Idiot."
    • One of the potential answers in the "Midnight 1964" mod when LBJ - upon learning that Robert F. Kennedy (brother of slain predecessor John and the Attorney General Johnson inherited) is threatening a primary challenge ends with " the time I'm through with him, he won't be the only Kennedy in the ground."
  • Impromptu Tracheotomy: Unlike in real life, William H. Seward does not survive the repeated stabs to the throat he receives in 1864's "The Perpetual Republic" ending and dies soon after. Being a sworn enemy of Benjamin Butler, his absence means that Butler is given a freer hand to put his dictatorial plans into action.
  • Inadequate Inheritor:
    • Much like in real life, Andrew Johnson in his 1864 coda is shown to be a horrible successor to President Lincoln. A drunkard and a racist, Johnson's Southern convictions and desire to continue Lincoln's moderate policies lead to him re-admitting the former rebel states... ultimately leading to the return of Confederates across the south and reconstruction being rendered an unfortunate failure. The first-ever president of the United States to be impeached, Johnson is forever remembered as one of the worst presidents in American history and it will take a century before the damage he did to equality in America can be undone.
    • Unsurprisingly, George B. Cox is unable to wield the power Butler once did as president of the Perpetual Republic due to all sectors of society that had once supported Butler immediately realizing the true sham nature of the American Republic. He's unable to quell the growing rage of the increasingly radicalized workers under Alice Roosevelt, stop the Muckrakers from exposing government corruption and the Republic is ultimately overthrown in a socialist revolution following his death at the hands of Leon Czogolsz.
    • Scoop Jackson in his eponymous 1964 mod lacks the charisma or popularity of his predecessor John F. Kennedy, and he absolutely knows it. One of the advisor feedback even spells it out for him.
    Wide-eyed and trembling, your focus on calling for help looks weak and unprepared. The scrutiny you faced as a Senator or Vice President pales compared to your new job. Good luck Mr. President.
    • While RFK in the "Camelot Returns" ending for 1964 Scoop! initially lives up to his brother's legacy by pushing for National Healthcare, a Civil Rights Acts beyond what even John had wanted and expanded unemployment insurance, his poor handling of the Vietnam War (considered the first-ever war America has lost) causes a massive right-wing backlash that leaves Bobby a lame-duck president following the close 1968 election and will ultimately lead to Reagan winning the presidency.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: The young Tom Hayden (should he be chosen as running mate) and the much older Gus Hall in 1972d form a genuine friendship over the course of the scenario, and Gus gives Hayden some heartfelt advice at the end about his future.
  • In-Series Nickname:
    • Benjamin Butler in 1864 is known disparagingly as "Beast Butler" for the cruelty he showed in his pacification of New Orleans. This includes censoring the media, persecuting foreigners, issuing an order that allowed his troops to treat the city's women harshly if they dissented and even executing someone just for tearing down a Union flag.
    • Edward Sadlowski in the 1972d scenario is known to his supporters as "Oil-Can Eddie" due to him standing up for union workers and America's working-class.
  • Irony: The Death Swap achievement for the 2000 scenario involves winning as Al Gore despite losing the popular vote, a complete opposite of the 2000 election where Al Gore lost the election while winning the popular vote.
  • It Will Never Catch On: As a Green candidate in Germany 2021, you can choose to campaign on providing additional military aid to Ukraine and encouraging the development and regulation of AI in arts and science, both of which are regarded as very odd issues to focus on in the 2021 political environment. Choosing both options as Habeck unlocks an achievement ("Ahead of time"), which calls both stances "prophetic".
  • Joke Character: In a sense with the VP or even candidate picks, such as being able to pick David Duke as your VP as Buchanan in the Dukakis v Buchanan 1992 mod. You can still pull off a win, but it is incredibly difficult.
    • Though he seems to be a good choice at first, John Edwards in the Trump 2008 mod is a horrible choice, as the fact that he cheated on his cancer-ridden wife is revealed not long into the campaign, sinking the campaign even before the leak of Trump's Access Hollywood tape, which only serves to make things even worse. If you still somehow manage to win Edwards is explicitly dropped as VP afterwards and replaced by Obama.
    • You can pick Sonichu to be your running mate in the Chris Chan 2012 mod. The description on the pick says it best...but this immediately crosses over into Lethal Joke Character when you send him to the VP debates where he becomes real and zaps Biden, terrifying the entire country and flipping the map in your favor. Seriously.
    "no. No. NO! We are not FUCKING doing this. I can handle the fucking attraction signs, your stupidity, and those stupid fucking comics but I WILL NOT LET YOU GO UP TO THE RNC AND POINT AT A BLANK SPOT IN THE ROOM AND GO *hmm Y-yah Sonichu hm electric hedgehog power!* THEY WILL FUCKING THINK YOU'RE CRAZY AND BE CONVINCED TO GO UP AND VOTE AGAINST YOU."
    • Keith Ellison in 2016 4-Way Redux initially appears to be a solid choice as Bernie's VP, being a reasonably experienced and well-liked progressive with seemingly no strong argument against him. Until the Anti-Defamation League uncovers the various anti-Israel statements he has made and his own past support of the Nation Of Islam, painting him as an antisemite. Then the media finds about the 2006 allegations made about Ellison having an abusive affair with an environmental activist while being married. While Bernie can have these claims investigated (finding out in the process that they are false), these back-to-back scandals still make his poll numbers sink and the VP debates are always guaranteed to end badly for Ellison due to said scandals.
    • Jill Stein isn't even part of the initial VP selection screen for Bernie, and with good reason. The Green Party she's a part of is treated with suspicion by the progressive Democrats who Bernie needs on his side, and Jill herself is controversial for her pseudoscientific beliefs and close ties to Russia. Whereas Cornel West (who has less overt ties to the Green Party) has at least his oratorical and debating skills to make up for the controversial statements he made, Stein irrevocably hurts the campaign with them and does absolutely nothing to expand your base. Even if the Bernie/Stein ticket somehow manages to get into a contingent election, no Democrat aside from Bernie is willing to support Jill Stein as vice president and this basically gives the vice presidential position to either the Republicans or Democrats.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: LBJ in 1968 Romney, once he's seized the Democratic nomination by force upon Brooke’s nomination as VP, grows increasingly desperate to win the election and has his surrogates sabotage the Romney campaign's efforts in any way possible. By the end, he's very much willing to sicc the IRS on Wallace to get him to drop out of the race or spread false rumors about Brooke's marriage to sink Romney's campaign prior to election day.
  • Les Collaborateurs: Gus Hall in 1972d is a clearcut example, who is quite literally leading a Soviet front organization in the US, albeit one whose seniority, loyalty, and distance from Moscow allows him broad leeway in determining policy. In the 1916 Bryan V. Roosevelt mod, William Jennings Bryan is running against Theodore Roosevelt on a peace policy to end American involvement in World War I, and Roosevelt can slam him as someone collaborating with America's enemies. Bryan can prove these attacks correct if he attempts to meet with German agents near the end of the campaign, which will always backfire and lead the Democrats to a crushing defeat at Roosevelt's hands.
    • In the 1924b scenario which follows from the 1916 scenario, James Reed, the Democratic nominee, is brutally far behind popular incumbent Leonard Wood. The intended only way to win is to organize a meeting with Henry Ford, who will then get Reed in touch with Joseph Goebbels himself, allowing Reed to use the Nazi propaganda machine to drag Wood down enough to steal a victory, with the end screen even saying Reed plans to do Hitler's bidding in America. This suggests a rather grim outcome for the future of the United States.
  • Lethal Joke Character: Some VP choices that seem utterly disastrous can actually open up new routes to victory, though usually not as strong as simply choosing a normal running mate.
    • Helen Douglas in 1952 Red is a woman in the 1950s who already has some strong accusations of being communist, so of course her being chosen as running mate leads to a southern walkout and the Democratic ticket only polling well in Sid McMath's home state of Arkansas. Careful campaigning and leaning into her strengths can lead to a shocking victory, a unique ending and an achievement (on the Showcase website only).
    • Stephen Colbert in 2008 Trump initially seems like a bad choice for running mate regardless of his natural charisma, with DNC Chair Howard Dean and even Colbert himself doubting the ticket's viability. Yet using Colbert's presence to boost Trump's outsider credentials, while also lobbing counter-attacks at the McCain campaign and having Colbert take a gamble by doing his persona at the debate, can end up leading to a victory (or an outright landslide in some cases) and the election of the first TV Host Duo to the White House.
  • Lonely Piano Piece: The background music that plays if Lincoln loses to McClellan in 1864 is a short snippet of sorrowful piano music. The background music for "The Perpetual Republic" ending is also overlaid upon somber piano music that starts with a mournful rendition of Moonlight Sonata, which is fitting for what Butler does to America.
  • Mask of Sanity: Much like in the film and novel, Patrick Bateman from his titular 2000Bateman likes to project the image of a stable young man to the rest of the world even as he fantasizes about killing Ralph Nader or Bill Clinton. It's even noted by the media that Bateman has an "out-of-touch" demeanor.
  • Martial Pacifist:
    • George Dewey, in the 1900 mod that bears his name. The highest ranked admiral in American history, Dewey's fame and good name allows him to run for president, where he presents himself as heavily opposed to William McKinley's imperialist ventures, with his past position allowing him to criticize from an angle of experience.
    • James Gavin in 1968Romney is a former lieutenant general who served with honor in World War 2 and also a prominent critic of the Vietnam War, advocating a peaceful resolution to the conflict. Romney can potentially pick him as his Vice-Presidential candidate to counter Hubert Humphrey’s own popularity with the anti-war crowd, and his War Hero status guarantees that none of the conservatives will be upset at Romney taking a much more dovish stance on the Vietnam War. Gavin reappears in 1972 Romney as the Secretary Of Defense, finally getting his wish for an end to the disastrous Vietnam War. Whether or not it ends well depends on how President Romney chooses to withdraw the troops.
  • Mercy Rewarded: O'Malley choosing to fight for Native American rights by opposing the Dakota pipeline in the 2016 Democratic Primaries results in most Native American activist organizations throwing their support behind him, winning him majority of Alaska and South Dakota's delegates. This brings him one step closer to a deadlock in the convention, the best possible outcome for O'Malley.
  • Military Coup:
    • "The 18th Brumaire of Benjamin Butler" ending in 1864 has Butler seizing power in the aftermath of Abraham Lincoln's assassination, gathering his loyal soldiers to arrest the Copperheads and laying out his plans of using the turmoil to become president. Thaddeus Stevens even lampshades this by snarking if Butler wants to be the new Napoléon Bonaparte.
    • Park Chung-hee in 1971SouthKorea was formerly a high-ranking general who came to power as President following his 1961 coup against the previous government. Despite being popular for South Korea's rapid industrialization, Park has constantly been trying to undermine democracy in the republic since then and can resort to numerous dirty tactics in the mod itself to make sure he wins the election. Getting a very close win as Park will result in him suggesting to Kim Jong-pil that "special measures" are needed to retain power, which will inevitably lead to Park creating the highly authoritarian Yushin constitution and ending South Korean democracy entirely.
      • The 1963SouthKorea mod allows the player to play through the aforementioned 1961 coup and the aftermath, including some answers that could lead to it being thwarted before it even begins. Park's attempts to create a dictatorship are frustrated when protests force him to hold an election, and the red-baiting tactics that his opponent then uses against him are suggested by the mod-maker to be a Start of Darkness, leading directly to his tactics in the 1971 election.
    • Getting majority of the popular vote in 1498Florence but with Paolo Vitelli as your running mate will result in the Montone company being invited back to Florence to become the Florentine Army, only for them to quickly overthrow Savonarola and turn Firenze into Italy's first mercenary state.
    • Heavily implied to have happened offscreen in the 1972: Peace With Honor ending where Scoop Jackson wins the presidency, with a sickly Scoop escalating the Cold War while John K. Singlaub looms over him. Since Jiang Qing (leader of the hardline "Gang Of Four" and architect of the infamous Cultural Revolution) is mentioned to have succeeded Mao as chairman, this doesn't really bode well for both America and the rest of the world.
  • Mind Screw:
    • The 2000N mod, which is a satire on the "End of History" theory. The opening description about the election is generic, and both candidates are centrists in their respective parties. All VP choices end with the description that "Much like you, he checks all the boxes of the post-Clinton [party]. He’s X, centrist, and very, very normal." It's actually set in a universe where people's beliefs are what control reality, and this can be exploited by Specter and Nunn to various ends.
    • Tom1923's Sumner'68 seems at first glance to be a redo of the memetic 1868 Sumner mod, however, it quickly becomes apparent this is not the case. The mod is actually about the Charles Sumner of that original mod being brought forward in time to 1968 to compete in the election against George Wallace. The effects of the time travel begin to negatively affect Sumner's mind, his vocabulary deteriorates, he sees the ghost of Andrew Johnson possessing Wallace and one especially trippy question has all of the answers provided being strange gifs (including one of an elephant running with sneakers drawn on) along with some more abstract imagery.
  • Minus World: Occasionally, a mod newly-added to the loader (like 1993 Post Communist USA and 2028 Swift) won't load the mod at all thanks to a bug with the coding. It instead loads a bizarre version of a 2020 mod made by Snoo that was previously taken off the loader. Hilariously, the Donald Trump of this mod lacks the Large Ham answers he has in both the vanilla 2016 and 2020 scenarios.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: For a very stretched meaning of "mistreatment", not allowing Roy Cohn to use various dirty tactics against McCormack in 1956 Red will frustrate Roy to the point that he will betray McCarthy and serve as a whistleblower to his shady deeds. The resulting ending is even named "Betrayal", and is framed as Roy delivering a "The Reason You Suck" Speech at Joe after ruining his former friend's reputation.
    Roy: But we both know that's not true anymore, don't we Joe? We both know you stopped thinking for yourself a long time ago. Hell, who am I kidding? I'm not better at playing the game, you weren't ever even a player.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    "You've won... the nation is despondent and already riots are spreading like wildfire across the country. Almost every voter who only voted for you as a protest vote is kicking themselves right now. Obama has been reportedly screaming at the White House TV and all you can do is laugh. As you give your victory speech on YouTube, millions ponder what hellish future awaits them. Congratulations Chris, the USA is yours to shape. May God have mercy on us all."
    • Implied by the pale expression Nixon has in a 1972d ending where the CPUSA wins 5% of the vote. Not only had his dirty tactics to ensure an electoral landslide inadvertently resulted in his communist arch-enemies becoming more popular, but that Gus Hall himself had gained federal funding for his party by winning 5% of the popular vote.
    • Both Beniveni and Soderini attempt to flee San Marco near the end of 1498 Florence when things start going to hell for Savonarola. They are soon caught by the friars and will be shamed by Savonarola for their betrayal, either fleeing San Marco in tears or being locked in the cells of San Marco despite their calls for forgiveness. This is Subverted for Vitelli and his Montone company when they try to mutiny, who aren't ashamed at all with their treachery and leave San Marco undefended against the angry mob outside.
    • Harold Stassen in 1956 Red's "The New Republican Party" ending (achieved by winning as a Segregation-supporting Joe McCarthy ) solemnly regrets his part in the Red Scare he had helped perpetuate, as it only led to Joe McCarthy becoming popular enough to narrowly clinch the presidency and undo the progress he had made on civil rights.
    • If Soapy Williams narrowly loses to McCarthy in 1956 Red, he realizes that he had forever degraded the progressive cause by striking up a deal with Fullbright and his segregationists, and all it has won him is a place in American history books as the man who came up short against Joe McCarthy. Deeply regretful, he trails off to the nearest church and prays profusely for the remainder of the Election night.
    • In Germany 2021, if you form a coalition with the near-universally hated Alternative for Germany as Laschet, the ending slide states that, as a Catholic, he can't help but feel the need to confess for the chaos that he caused.
  • Nepotism: In the 2012 Chris Chan scenario, he can choose his own father as his running mate. His description reads as follows : ,, DO YOU REALIZE? DO YOU REALIZE SOMETHING? LET ME TELL YOU...IF THE DEMOCRATS WIN THIS ELECTION CAUSE OF THE STUFF YOU PUT UP ON THE DAMN INTERNET, THEY WILL CONDEMN OUR HOUSE AND WE WOULD HAVE TO MOVE OUT OF IT? SO YOU BETTER WIN THIS DAMN STUFF TONIGHT! Well, since your dad is your running mate you better change where you officially live to get those E(lectoral) V(ote)s."
  • Never Live It Down: Several, but perhaps the most crucial is Barry Goldwater's decision to vote down the 1964 Civil Rights Act because it will essentially define his entire campaign except in 1964 Midnight, if he choses a particularly risky move. He personally opposed segregation and voted yay on multiple civil rights acts, voting against the 1964 Act because he viewed it as giving the Federal Government too much power. The result largely nuked his capacity to get elected as he found the Deep South and hardcore racists flock to his banner even as everybody else flees. Having any hope of victory relies on him managing this.
  • The Nicknamer: Like in real life, George W. Bush in W. is very fond of referring to the people around him by nicknames. Examples include Turd Blossom (Karl Rove), Pootie-Poot (Vladimir Putin), Vice (Dick Cheney), and so on.
  • Noble Top Enforcer: Gus Hall in 1972d is a communist agent working with the Soviet Union to bring down the USA and is willing to use violent/underhanded methods to achieve this. All of Hall’s possible running mates on the other hand (excluding maybe Bobby Seale and Angela Davis) are much more well-intentioned, with some like Ron Kovic and Jane Fonda only cooperating with him out of necessity and a distaste for Democratic candidate John Conally who they (correctly) perceive as a lackey of Nixon.
  • Nominal Hero: Zachary Taylor in the eponymous Viva Taylor mod is running as the presidential candidate of the Free Soil Party to halt the expansion of slavery and runs against Jefferson Davis and Alexander Stephens as a candidate against slave power...but is only doing to so to secure a second term for himself and it's pointed out numerous that Taylor himself owns 300 slaves, the most slaves owned by any US president.
  • Odd Friendship: The ending slide for Paul Wellstone defeating George W. Bush in W with one ongoing war depicts an unusually close relationship between President Wellstone (a left-wing academic and anti-war activist from the Sixties) and David Petraeus (a long-serving US Army general) as they together develop a new United States counterinsurgency doctrine that would shift its focus to low-intensity conflicts and psychological warfare.
  • Opportunistic Bastard: Markus Söder in Germany 2021 is notable for his opportunist and idiosyncratic policies, basing himself firmly on the right-wing vector of politics while also incorporating lockdown and environmental policies during his governorship of Bavaria. The Opportunism mechanic plays a huge role in his Chancellor run, though nothing prevents from playing him as an ideologically consistent and ingenuous candidate of his party base.
  • Our Presidents Are Different: Some playable mods work in an ability to influence the presidency of an incumbent candidate.
    • Richard Nixon in 1972: Peace With Honor is obviously a President Corrupt. Already the Trope Codifier in real life, Nixon can become even worse under player guidance, including kidnapping, bombings, and worse. His paranoia is represented strongly, especially if the paths are taken that lead to the worst possible outcome for Nixon. The strongest example being a Ted Kennedy nomination at the DNC, which leads to Nixon having a full on Villainous Breakdown.
    • In his 1972 mod, George Romney can come off as a President Buffoon. Already well known for gaffes, Romney's presidency hits some major snags, including in Vietnam, if not handled correctly, within his administration, with Secretary of State Richard Nixon implied to be sabotaging the administration's public relations, conflicts between Vice President Kirk and Attorney General Brooke, and the beginnings of an 1929-level economic crash. Romney's responses are written like a man hopelessly scrambling to take control of a collapsing situation, even if he succeeds, the endings can often show that his efforts aren't quite as successful as he thought (and often lead to his hand-picked successor losing to a much more popular candidate).
    One consistency has rung throughout his Administration - failure.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil:
    • Using the bigshot cheat and winning as LBJ in the Midnight 1964 mod is shown in-universe as him using a "White List" and a "Black List" to essentially do a reverse-Jim Crow, where anyone related to The Klan, far-right radical groups or just segregationists in general is turned away from the polls by the CIA. Since Goldwater's supporters are made up of these people, this results in a landslide election for LBJ and nearly majority of voters in the Deep South being African-American (supplemented with an image of Martin Luther King Jr. voting for LBJ).
    • Similarly to LBJ, using the bigshot cheat while playing as Barry Goldwater is shown in-universe as Goldwater flying over the Kremlin and dropping an honest-to-god tactical warhead on Leonid Brezhnev. Despite this blatant violation of the Geneva convention, the ensuing election is a landslide that vindicates Goldwater's extremism.
  • Pragmatic Hero:
    • Kim Dae-jung in 1971 South Korea can get the NDP to stoke the flames of regional conflict between Jeolla and Gyeonsang, install a wiretap at the DRP headquarters to find evidence of election fraud and spread false rumors about Park's family, all in a bid to win the presidential election and put a stop to Park's dictatorial ambitions.
    • Harold Washington in 1983 Chicago is given the option during the mayoral election itself to rebuke Jesse Jackson, turn his back on the movement and pander to the white reformers so that he can boost his campaign's support and guarantee a victory that would finally give a voice to the often-ignored Black Chicago.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: The Soviet Union in 1972d is very much capable of rigging the American elections as shown by the secret bigshot ending, but begrudgingly resort to playing the long game by funding the CPUSA and advising Hall so that they can legitimize Communism in an increasingly more divided USA. This makes sense because the bigshot ending of 1972d is quickly undone and the electoral votes are thrown out.
  • Rage Breaking Point: The "Dark Scholz" achievement for Germany 2021 requires a normally stoic and dignified Olaf Scholz to take a relentlessly aggressive stance against both of the opposing candidates, to challenge both Laschet and Baerbock at once when the debate time arrives and, in a fit of anger, call them both dimwits incapable of ruling a country. This, predictably, tanks the popularity of the SPD to the point that the party is reduced to the political fringes after the election.
  • "Ray of Hope" Ending: The "18th Brumaire of Benjamin Butler" ending has Butler using the assassination of Lincoln (and possibly even Hamlin and Seward's) as pretense to coup the government, arresting most of the Copperheads in the House and having Colonel Hecker crack down on Tammany Hall. He then declares to Thaddeus Stevens his radical plans to transform the Union (near-identical to what he does in the Perpetual Republic ending) and to Colfax his plan to seize the presidency. Unlike "The Perpetual Republic" ending however, it's shown that William Tecumseh Sherman is well aware of Butler's dictatorial ambitions and he decides to plan a counter-coup to save the country from the Beast's wretched grasp.
    Sherman: Seems to me like Spoons Butler wants to be the new Caesar. I say we don't let him. What do you think?
    Hazen: I'm in agreement.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Armin Laschet's Statesmanship mechanic in Germany 2021 relies on his ability to project an image of a positive, comptenent figure who is able to use his experience and his authority to lead Germany through the times of uncertainty, while avoiding clumsy politicking and public gaffes.
  • R-Rated Opening: Should the player choose to play as LBJ in the Midnight 1964 mod, the very first question has LBJ suffering flashbacks to the assassination of Kennedy in graphic detail that end with a blood-soaked Jackie Kennedy tearfully listening to Johnson's Oath of Office. This establishes the mod's bleak tone (especially in comparison to the vanilla 1964 scenario), that is not helped by the black and white scheme.
  • Private Military Contractors: Paolo Vitelli and his Montone company in 1498 Florence serve as paid muscle for the Florentine state, and are the closest thing it has to an army. Vitelli himself is not particularly concerned with the inner workings of Florence, and just wants to make florins as much as possible from Savonarola. If picked as running mate, Vitelli and his condottieri will attempt to stage a mutiny against Savonarola once an angry mob is at the gates of San Marco. If Savonarola managed to survive his attempted execution, the Montone company will be invited back to become Florence's official standing army. Vitelli then proceeds to stage a coup against Savonarola, creating the first ever mercenary state in Italy with himself as its overlord. The other ending where Savonarola manages to survive results in the Montone company helping the friar in carving out a powerful empire... only for the last sentence to imply that Vitelli turns on him anyway.
  • Secret Police: 1971 Korea features the Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA), who President Park has basically turned into this trope. Playing as Park will allow one to solicit their services for dirty tricks against the opposition, while playing as Kim and the opposition will involve trying to pre-empt and thwart them. The prequel mod, 1963 Korea, features the KCIA's foundation during Park's "revolution". They are used throughout the campaign to censor the media, both when playing as Park, and when playing as Yun Posun. The dystopian "Perpetual Republic" ending of 1864 has Benjamin Butler implement a form of this in the unitary American Republic, carved out of the Wide Awakes clubs he had used in his pacification of New York.
  • Schmuck Bait: Plenty of examples of obviously bad decisions exist in multiple mods, a particularly devious example is in 1924b as president Leonard Wood, where growing tensions in Europe bring up concern in the second to last question. Choosing to ignore it as Wood to instead focus on campaigning goes just about how one would expect.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Advisors in the Germany 2021 mod will leave you and won't be available to be hired again if you choose decisions contrary to their political stances. For example, all Covid advisors will immediately resign if you reject any measure to combat the pandemic, while Angela Merkel will refuse to collaborate with a CDU/CSU candidate if his campaign takes a considerable right-wing turn.
  • Short-Lived Leadership:
    • If Lincoln picks Daniel Dickinson as his running mate in 1864, the coda reveals Dickinson dies in 1866 (going by his real life death date, about a year from when Lincoln did), forcing a relatively unknown Lafayette Sabine Foster to take over due to being President pro tempore while a contingent election is being held.
    • If Butler is picked as running mate by Lincoln in 1864 and is allowed to intervene in New York, he only lasts a few months before being impeached, convicted, and jailed for his horrid acts. Unless Lincoln won or lost every state that is.
    • In 1956 Red, the canonical outcome for McCarthy is that he dies less than six months into his term from his rampant alcoholism and the various illnesses it brought him, resulting in Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. having to serve out his tenure.
  • Sincerity Mode: The secret Stephen Hillenburg ending in 2008Spongebob is devoid of the usual snark or comedy that's found in the mod, and is instead a heartfelt tribute to the man himself that ends with a touching "Thank You Steve" from the mod team.
  • The Sociopath: Patrick Bateman, naturally. Even the media starts to note the young man's really odd personality and general coldness towards other people.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome :
    • If Lincoln allowed 1864's Benjamin Butler to take control of the Wide Awakes and mercilessly crush the riots in New York, a congressional investigation quickly goes underway and Butler is tried and later imprisoned for his brutal acts. No matter how much "The Beast" is feared by many and beloved among the Union's soldiery, he's still a political outsider with zero friends in the Republican Party outside of Lincoln and a few Radicals. Thus, his acts do not go unpunished. It's only in a landslide election where Lincoln won every state (and also the death of William Seward, an avowed enemy of Butler, on the night of Lincoln's assassination) which allows Butler to pull a Karma Houdini and seize the opportunity provided by Lincoln's death.
    • Picking Brooke as your running mate in 1968 Romney is a very dangerous proposition given his liberal views and the fact that he's an African-American (which is too much for the Conservatives to stomach). If you don't act carefully during the RNC, Reaganite delegates realize that you're serious about picking Brooke and make moves to ensure you immediately lose the primary, from there John Tower of Texas is selected as a compromise pick, a southern conservative who couldn't be further from George Romney. Even if you do act carefully, the polls are abysmal after Brooke wins the nomination. Up until President Johnson seizes the nomination from Humphrey, encouraged by the weak Republican ticket, and performs a massacre on protesters outside of the DNC
    • If you decide to use the bigshot cheat in the 1976 Agnew Election Mod, the ending will show that the people are very aware that you rigged the election (Which is technically correct) and storm the White House, with impeachment proceedings speeding through congress.
  • Surprisingly Sudden Death: Park Chung-hee can die rather abruptly during his attempted coup in 1963 South Korea, ranging from getting shot in the back after letting his guard down or stepping on a mine during an attempted Zerg Rush. The same goes for Yun, who can end up being hit by a car (the Prime Minister's car nonetheless!) while trying to evacuate to the US embassy or getting struck by an artillery shell fired at his car.
  • The Stoic: John Quincy Adams in 1828 is a variation, seen as a disconnected intellectual compared to Andrew Jackson's "man of the people" image. Adams can overcome this with the aid of his favorite whiskey, allowing him to act much more lively and even come off as rather likable when he starts attacking a tree root with all his might.
  • The Stoner: Unsurprisingly, the mutant abomination known as SpongeBong HempPants is a really bad pick for VP candidate in 2008Spongebob because of his perpetual highness and tendency to make gaffes. Should Squidward somehow pick him as VP candidate, SpongeBong will make various statements on the campaign trail in support of all drugs to be legalized and will spend majority of the vice presidential debate raving about his favorite drugs and how to find them. The only type of crowd that SpongeBong appeals to are fellow druggies and the social liberals, who won't even vote Republican anyway.
  • Taking Up the Mantle:
    • Many endings in 1498 Florence where Savonarola successfully wins the power struggle has the Savonarolan movement continue under somebody else after his death, to varying results.
    • Mitt Romney in both the "Dynast" and "Happy Days" endings of 1972 Romney ends up being elected to the old positions his father served in. In "Dynast", he becomes Senator for Utah and "Happy Days" has him win the 1996 Election to become the first son president since John Quincy Adams.
    • Ted Kennedy in 1972: Peace With Honor seeks to continue the liberal policies of his slain brothers JFK and RFK, much to Nixon's horror.
    • Ted Kennedy in W. also occupies the same role of continuing his family's legacy funnily enough, but this time it's against a George W. Bush who has fired a large part of his cabinet and whose tenure has been ravaged by scandals. If he manages to live up to his brothers' legacies after winning against Bush is another story though. Without any wars going on, Ted Kennedy manages to preside over a triumphant first term where he implements many of his signature policies and the Republicans sink further into extremism (nominating Ron Paul as their presidential nominee) with seemingly no chance of turning their fortunes around... only for Senator Sanders to warn about the popping of the housing bubble- ending on an ominous Cliffhanger. If there's one war going on, Kennedy slips further and further into the role of a Puppet King as his cabinent starts to take advantage of his failing health to continue the war. If there's two wars ongoing, Kennedy's term is a complete failure as he fails to end the wars and is unable to pass any legislation (including Universal Healthcare, now watered down to an Obamacare-style bill). With the president largely absent from the public eye, a much more aggressive Bush is able to snatch the nomination from Ron Paul with the election looking absolutely lopsided in his favor.
    • Harris Wofford in 1996 - The End Of History previously worked for the Kennedy Administration, serving as JFK's Special Assistant to the President for Civil Rights and being instrumental in the creation of the Peace Corps. During the campaign, Wofford can present himself as more or less a return to the shining idealism that defined JFK's tenure. Whether or not he succeeds in continuing his old boss' legacy after he gets elected president is another matter entirely.
    • Germany 2021:
      • Both Armin Laschet and Markus Söder can claim to be Angela Merkel's successor for their political ends. Associating himself with Merkel is particularly beneficial for Laschet, since it allows him to appear stately
      • Olaf Scholz's "Merkelism" mechanic shows how much he is willing to continue the legacy of Merkel's administration, ranging from either embracing his image as the second coming of Merkel to rejecting "Mutti" altogether.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: It is possible - though tricky to pull off - to have both Angela Merkel and Friedrich Merz available as advisors to a CDU/CSU candidate in Germany 2021, despite their history as rivals for the CDU leadership and irreconcilable political differences. Having them both as advisors at the same time unlocks an achievement.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • Taking a reactionary stance on Civil Rights as Joe McCarthy in 1956 Red frustrates Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. if he's picked as running mate. McCarthy denouncing Rosa Parks' actions and the bus boycotts that happen soon after result in Lodge chewing him and Roy out, but Roy immediately reassures McCarthy that Lodge will just "get over it" and jokes that "what he's gonna do, drop himself from the ticket?". Guess what happens soon afterwards?
    • Vice President William Knowland, as shown by his playable side released to the official discord of the Red series, got easy victories in the Republican primaries and was so assured of his victory that he saw the 1956 RNC in Baltimore as nothing more than a celebratory gesture for his candidacy. Up until Milton Marks walks into Knowland's hotel room to tell him the news of his affair with Ruth Moody going public, completely undoing all of Knowland's work for the past 4 years and ultimately delivering the presidential candidacy to McCarthy.
  • Token Enemy Minority:
    • Andrew Johnson in 1864 is the highest-ranking Southern politician to remain loyal to the Union, and his status as a token "good" southerner can be used by Lincoln to ease the fears of the border states.
    • Secretary of War James Barbour in 1828 is the only high-ranking member of the Adams administration to be a Southerner, with most Southern politicians being either Pro-Jackson or Pro-Calhoun. Adams picking him as his running mate could help him compete with Jackson in the South, but this could also backfire on him and cause the crucial western states to vote for Jackson instead.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: When the returns for the 1936 election start coming in for Landon and it becomes immediately clear that The Literary Digest's prediction of a Republican landslide is very much off, he can only quietly resign himself to the inevitable landslide loss he's about to receive.
    " ...oh dear. Perhaps things aren't as they seemed."
  • Treachery Is a Special Kind of Evil: A plot point in 2013 NJ, owing to the distaste for informants and snitches that the Italian-American Mob have. Tony Soprano's killing of Febby Petrulio (an FBI informant who had gone into the witness protection program) 15 years ago comes up early in the campaign as a potential scandal, but is easy to dismiss and is quickly forgotten after a few days. When Tony receives information near the end of the campaign from Agent Harris that Trump is planning to snitch on Tony and the DiMeo crime family after helping them against Christie, he is decidedly NOT happy and puts out a hit on the billionaire.
  • Uncertain Doom:
    • Hannibal Hamlin and William Seward in the "The 18th Brumaire of Benjamin Butler" ending of 1864 are also victims of the (supposedly) Copperhead plot to behead the Republican government, with Butler claiming that attempts to make contact with them are ongoing. When Thaddeus Stevens later questions Butler if Seward is alive, he can only express doubt at the possibility (which considering his death in the "Perpetual Republic" ending, means that it is indeed true that the chances of him surviving are slim).
    • If Tony Soprano loses the gubernatorial election in 2013 NJ, then the events of the show's season finale Made In America play out but from Tony's perspective... only for the ending to note that the infamous "Man in Members Only jacket" who eyeballs Tony is armed with a pistol before everything cuts to black. Unlike the show, the ending makes clear that the "Members Only" jacket man is a hitman and wants to kill Tony but doesn't confirm if Tony survives the whacking or not.
  • Understatement: The initial selection screen for 1972d mentions that, thanks to being a conservative who wasn’t even supposed to win the Democratic presidential nomination, John Conally has a bit of the trust problem with the Left. Not only is this "trust problem" immediately revealed to be so bad that liberals like Jane Fonda are willing to work with the Soviet-backed CPUSA, but that the political alienation he's created can end up legitimizing communism in the USA.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: Several mods change the gameplay or goal from the usual, including 1972d and 1844c: The Widow's Son. Another example is 1792. Anyone familiar with the 1792 election knows that it was uncontested, with Washington winning every electoral vote. The point of the mod is therefore not to win the presidency, but the goal of the player as James Madison and Thomas Jefferson is instead to win the vice presidency for George Clinton, as he's aligned to their Democratic-Republican faction, while John Adams is associated with Alexander Hamilton's Federalist faction.
  • Unknown Rival: Invoking this is a common strategy when an unknown or insurgent candidate is in the opposing camp. In 1952Red, President Harold Stassen's label of Democratic nominee Sid McMath as "Sid Who?" is a repeated theme. If McMath turns the tables and wins by more than 300 electoral votes, Stassen's tactics are mocked by the news, labelling him "Harold Who?".
  • Unwinnable by Design: Some mod scenarios have no way to emerge victorious as a particular candidate, or at least no way to win above a certain difficulty and without cheats. While this may be obvious for third party candidates (eg. Nader 2000, whose goal isn't to win the election, but to get enough votes to guarantee the Green Party a seat in the 2004 presidential debates and gain federal funding), it is also the case for some major party candidates.
    • While it was initially possible for Alf Landon in the original 1936 to narrowly win on normal with good RNG, the Director's Cut version practically much makes this impossible with the incredible hit in the polls Landon takes at the end- to say nothing of the random assortment of questions you can get each playthrough (courtesy of the Bunnyhop engine) muddying your chances. In the end, the highest possible result Landon can get on normal is a measly 61 EVs.
    • In the historical 1964 scenario, there is no way for Barry Goldwater to win on normal or higher, with a highest possible result of 252 electoral votes on normal and victory is only barely possible on easy. On the easiest difficulty however, he can achieve as many as 436 electoral votes.
    • In the historical 1972 scenario, there is no way to win on normal or higher as George McGovern and the highest electoral vote result ever achieved for him on normal is 228. It is however possible for him to win on lower difficulties, with a highest achieved score of 351 electoral votes on cakewalk.
    • If Lu Palmer fails to get Harold Washington to run in the 1983 Chicago Mayoral Election, Palmer ultimately comes to the conclusion that he must now run to salvage the Black community's movement to finally notch a viable Black candidate. Without any of Washington's experience or popularity, Palmer is always doomed to lose the election (even if he prevented Jesse Jackson from running) and cause the Movement to ultimately fade away.
    • Ross Perot in 1996- End Of History only becomes the GOP candidate because the much stronger Pete Wilson loses his re-election campaign for governor, and winning on normal is incredibly difficult. The highest number of E Vs possible for Perot on normal is 280.
    • Notoriously inverted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic Primaries. Unless you're playing on disaster, the hardest difficulty possible, Hillary will win the nomination easily no matter what you do thanks to a majority of Superdelegates being guaranteed to stay on her side.
  • Version-Exclusive Content:
    • The mod for the 2000 ROC presidential election (which IRL saw the end of the decades-long rule of the Kuominating in Taiwan come to an end) is only available on the showcase website.
    • While the 1963 Korea mod on the Showcase website was at first nearly identical to its NCT counterpart, the mod's creator FlongydOlson later updated the Showcase version to have different images for the candidates and changed the intro music from Han Myung-sook's The Boy in the Yellow Shirt to Shin Joong-hyun's Moon Watching while completely overhauling Park's side of the music player.
  • The Vietnam Vet: Most mods set during the Vietnam War naturally feature them, but 1972d in particular features disabled vet Ron Kovic (of Born on the Fourth of July fame) as a possible running mate. Kovic and his Vietnam Veterans Against the War want the war to finally end, and Gus Hall has to make sure that the CPUSA adopts an immediate end to the war as the main campaign plank to ensure Kovic's loyalty. Kovic's ending song should you get 5% of the popular vote is Goodbye Saigon, a tragic song by Billy Joel about the young men sent to fight in a war they didn’t even start.
Remember Charlie, remember Baker
They left their childhood on every acre
  • Villain Has a Point:
    • "The Perpetual Republic" ending of 1864 has Confederate exile Jubal Early denounce Butler in his Resurrection Address of 1875, and claim that his will was being enforced by a motley coalition of "Germans, Mormons, and Mulattos". He's completely correct about nearly every single constituency large enough to challenge Butler being co-opted by the government, and that each group was part of the broad coalition that kept voting Butler into power time after time.
    • Gus Hall in 1972d is a communist working with the Soviet Union to bring a communist revolution in the USA, but raises a few good points about the American political system which culminates in him pointing out to a reporter that Nixon and his lackeys have caused more violence and taken more lives than the CPUSA has ever done in its whole existence. Said reporter is briefly taken aback by Hall’s words.
    "Look - you hear a lot about so-called "violence" and "terror" spread by communists, but I find it very interesting how we're simply supposed to ignore the violence we see inflicted every day - pushed by the president and his lackeys. The truth is the Vietnam War could have been ended on his first day in office. He could have, at any time, stopped his ruthless attacks on labor and civil rights leaders, or on those kids in Kent State. Let's be honest with ourselves here - if you're concerned about violence, the Communist Party is the least of your worries."
    • Nixon in 1972: Peace With Honor can end up denouncing Scoop Jackson for his hawkish tendencies or Wallace for attempting to present himself as a "changed" man. Even the advisor can't help but agree with him, and the endings where either one wins the general election are generally considered the bleakest in the mod. A Scoop victory has him escalate the Cold War under the guidance of hardline generals, while Wallace literally turns America into an oppressive dictatorship by forcing the Republican Party to disband in his first term.
  • Villain Protagonist: Whichever ones qualify will depend on one's judgement. Perhaps the most clearcut examples of this are KGB asset Gus Hall in 1972d, literal American Nazi and racial agitator George Lincoln Rockwell in 1965 Midnight- Virginia Governor, the increasingly dictatorial Park Cheung-hee in 1963 South Korea and 1971 South Korea, the infamous mob boss Tony Soprano in 2013 NJ Gov, the Kim Dynasty of North Korea in 2019, Chris-chan of Sonichu infamy and the literal ax-murderer Patrick Bateman in 2000Bateman.
  • Villainous Breakdown:
    • For some definition of villain, Richard Nixon can go through this in 1972 should his missteps lead to a Ted Kennedy victory at the DNC, Nixon's worst nightmare, considering his relationship with the Kennedy family. Nixon can resort to frenzied public attacks of Kennedy's personal life, and should he lose, one of the endings is a nightmare where he imagines the Kennedy family (including the deceased JFK) reading his eulogy, causing him to jolt awake in a wild panic. His reaction to Kennedy's nomination says it all.
    "Cocksucker! Call him a womanizer, a drunk, a murderer, nothing is off limits. Don’t go one minute without saying the word 'Chappaquiddick.' It was always going to be the goddamn Kennedys."
    • Trump in 2016 4-Way Redux can end up trying to get Russians to interfere in the election by leaking DNC and RNC emails, resulting in his arrest if he isn't careful. Once he's arrested, he can descend further and further into his conspiracy rhetoric on Twitter instead of trying to salvage the remnants of his campaign.
  • Vote Early, Vote Often:
    • Park Chung-hee in 1971 South Korea can end up trying to stuff the ballot boxes in order to ultimately guarantee his victory against Kim Dae-jung. This immediately bites him in the ass when a ballox box stuffed with fraudelent ballots in Seoul is discovered, and this clear evidence of election fraud causes Park's defeat to be almost inevitable.
    • It's revealed near the end of 1980: The Happy Warrior that the reason why John Conally was able to score such a decisive landslide over Mo Udall was because of voting fraud, with several ballot boxes full of votes for Udall being dumped into various pits. Needless to say, this utterly derails Connally's effective campaign up to this point and can ultimately deliver the victory to the bedridden Humphrey.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Joe Lieberman in W. launches his presiderntial bid against George W. Bush expecting it to be friendly competition between ideas, not personalities. If Bush decides to disregard such etiquette and launch a thrashing campaign to tarnish the reputation of Lieberman among the voters, he will feel himself betrayed and can even break down into tears.
    Lieberman is flustered as you accuse him of wanting to kill the unborn and destroy the sanctity of marriage. "I never said that," he struggles to be heard. He seems on the verge of tears. "I don't understand why you're saying these things. We've worked together. Please..." You give him no aid. The newspapers the next day show him wiping his eyes
  • Wham Line: There are plenty of examples of this, generally existing as the archetypal "October surprise", an often purposeful unearthing of a scandal right before election day, too soon for a politician to properly react.
    • Picking Ted Kennedy as your VP in his alternate VP mod for 1972 is the shot in the arm that gives McGovern a fighting chance at winning the presidency... until the second-to-last question which states that Ted was caught lying about his whereabouts at the Chappaquiddick incident, which heavily tanks your numbers and is guaranteed to make you lose unless you already picked all the correct answers and got all the best RNG answers.
    "For all the talk your campaign has made about being a populist, on Tuesday you'll probably end up being a flopulist."
    • Similarly to the 1972 mod, playing Spiro Agnew in the alternate 1976 mod seems like a breeze at first as you demolish Carter's polling countrywide... Until Agnew's kickbacks catch up to him, creating the same scandal that cost him his career in real life that similarly to how the Chappaquiddick incident tanks McGovern's, instantly wrecks your campaign's polling numbers.
    "Did you really think you could get out of this? Reports are hitting the front pages of every major newspaper, and furious pundits are discussing its implications on every talk show: Spiro Agnew was accepting envelopes stuffed with thousands of dollars almost every week as kickbacks while serving in nearly every major office. The election is tomorrow."
    • Midnight 1964 starts similarly to the historical 1964 mod, however roughly halfway through the campaign, the Warren Commission comes out with its findings on the assassination of JFK and it changes the course of American history forever:
    "This report can not rule out the possibility that Mr. Oswald had help from within the executive administration."
    • In 1964 Draft Lodge, the campaign is already not going well. Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. is performing just slightly better than Goldwater did in the historical 1964 election, but LBJ's campaign is just way too strong. Things only get worse when an ad appears showing the aftermath of the violent 1963 South Vietnamese coup d'etat, which Lodge vocally supported. The election is basically sealed as a Johnson landslide, unless you're playing on the "Competitive" difficulty.
    "Good lord Cabot, this is... I don’t even know how to describe it."
    • In a more happy twist, in the 1864 mod after struggling to both win the Civil War and defeat both the Democrats and a vote splitting group of Radical Republicans Lincoln suddenly receives a telegram from General Sherman that drastically shakes up the election.
    "Atlanta is ours, and fairly won."
    • The beginning of 1864's "The 18th Brumaire of Benjamin Butler" ending has Colonel Friedrich Hecker and a group of Wide Awakes storming the headquarters of Tammany Hall and arresting Boss Tweed, with Hecker himself reading out his many crimes. When Tweed loudly questions if Hecker has lost his mind and what will happen if Lincoln finds out, there is a dramatic pause before Hecker drops a bombshell that reveals exactly why Butler is said to be the Provisional Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces....
    Tweed: Provisional government, have you lost your mind man? When Lincoln-
    Hecker: Lincoln is dead.
  • Why We Are Bummed Communism Fell: There is a mod set in 1993 in an alternate timeline where the United States was the nation that became the communist one-party state in the Cold War, opposed to a liberal Eurasian Union. In the mod, Communism has collapsed, and the United States is going through its first presidential election between former Communist cadre and current social democrat Dick Cheney, and dissident exile Anthony Lake. The fate of communist monuments, the economic shocks that have brutalized the US economy, and the newly growing capitalist class are all campaign issues.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Multiple examples if you pick an especially bad answer. Just to name a few:
    • If you snub the farming community as Walter Mondale or Ronald Reagan in 1984:
    "Farmers all across the midwest pick up their farming tools, and come together to write a message in the dirt fields that reads 'F*** YOU REAGAN/MONDALE'."
    • If you promote the birther conspiracy as Trump in 2008:
    "You echoed a racist, right-wing conspiracy theory about your own running mate. You fucking moron. Obama won't talk to you, let alone campaign for you. Your base is despondent. Go home. You lose."
    • If you praise Nazi Germany and Facist Italy as Huey Long in 1936:
    "Based? Based on what? Quit being an edgelord, you just messed up so badly lmao. Have fun meeting with President Landon while in the Senate LOL."
    • If in the 1916 Bryan v. Roosevelt mod, Bryan reaches out to German agents in an attempt to sink Roosevelt's campaign, the ending really lets him have it:
    "History will not remember you kindly as it will be likely that you will end up lumped in with Benedict Arnold and other traitors of America's past, perhaps in the future someone will uncover Roosevelt's outsized role in this operation and salvage your legacy. However, in the present, the Democratic Party will spend much time distancing itself from you and denouncing your corruption. The road ahead looks bleak, but at least you tried your best. It appears Icarus flew too close to the sun."
    • In the 2008b scenario, if you as Republican nominee Rudy Giuliani select conservative running mate Mike Huckabee and then declare yourself to be pro-choice, the following occurs:
    "Huckabee is outraged, and at a press conference today announced that he was leaving your ticket!"
    • Lastly, if you praise the civil rights bill as Wallace in VK1968:
    "And McGovern wants to escalate Vietnam. And FDR wants to let the economy fix itself. And Reagan wants to pass abortion rights. And Bill Clinton wants to sleep with his wife. And this is the upside down and what the actual fuck George."
  • World War III: Narrowly averted in 2004 W., where if you have a particularly hawkish presidency as Bush, you get the option to launch missile strikes against North Korea. Doing so results in outright war being only narrowly avoided through the intervention of the South Korean president. As this is followed by heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula, Bush at one point proposes dropping a nuke on North Korea, with the only thing stopping him being the intervention of Colin Powell.
  • You Bastard!: Choosing a particularly divisive running mate as VP in the 2024G mod, then claiming that the reason you did that was to get her supporters to the polls, earns you the following response: "No, you chose her because you thought it would be funny to self-sabotage [your candidate], the person behind the screen reading this."
    • Supporting abortion rights as the Christian Democrats in the 1976 Italy mod gets a response that harangues you for your ignorance:
    "Did you just support abortion? As a DC candidate? In the 1970s? Look, I know that you’re probably a young American who doesn’t know anything about Italian politics so let me simplify this for you. Imagine a southern Democrat from the 1890s voting for the goddamn Civil Rights Act. I don't even know why I gave you this option."
  • You Can't Thwart Stage One: Averted in 1963 South Korea. Park Chung-hee's coup can be prevented before it even begins, whether by Park's own poor decisions resulting in his death or Yun executing a desperate gamble with the US to stop him. This prevents the 1963 election itself (which takes up a good chunk of the mod) from happening. Yun can also cut the campaign short by choosing not to pursue a McCarthyist strategy against Park, which immediately cuts to the final results and a narrow (unless you played almost perfectly) Park victory.
  • Your Days Are Numbered:
    • Horace Greeley from 1872 is gravely ill and in poor health, leading to some expressing concerns about him even surviving long enough to become president. Much like how his story ended in real life, he either passes away just as the electors convene or shortly after the electoral votes after finally counted. This throws the election into chaos if Greeley managed to win against Grant.
    • Joseph McCarthy is in really poor shape at the start of 1956 Red due to a multitude of illnesses stemming from his alcohol abuse. Canonically, he ends up getting elected by a very slim margin of victory before dying of bone cancer one year into his term.
    • Hubert Humphrey in 1980: The Happy Warrior managed to beat his cancer (which claimed his life IRL) thanks to a successful operation but is still left in poor health owing to his age and has recurring coughing fits throughout the mod. One especially concerning cough fit sends Humphrey straight into a hospital bed, which almost tanks his campaign if it wasn't for John Conally's rigging of the 1976 election being uncovered.