Distribution of electoral college votes in the 1876 US presidential election

The 1876 United States presidential election is remembered as being one of the closest and contentious elections in US history. It was contested between the Republican Party's Rutherford B. Hayes and the Democratic Party's Samuel J. Tilden. Hayes was eventually named as the nineteenth President of the United States, winning by just one electoral vote. Tilden won 51 percent of the popular vote, and this makes him the only presidential candidate to ever win a majority of popular votes, but not be named president, and this was the second of five times where the person with the most votes was not named president.


After the first round of counting, both candidates carried 17 states each, with four states too close to call. At this point, Tilden had 184 electoral votes (one short of a majority) to Hayes' 165. With both parties claiming victory in the final four states, and no official decision being made, an informal deal was agreed upon by both parties. This deal was the Compromise of 1877, and it gave the remaining twenty electoral votes to Hayes in return for the withdrawal of Federal troops from the south; thus establishing Democratic political dominance in the south, and ending the period of Reconstruction following the civil war.

Suppression of the black vote

Over the next few decades, the Democratic Party was able to use this dominance in the former-Confederate states to establish obstacles for poor-white and black voters when registering to vote. Following the civil war, black voters outnumbered white voters in at least five southern states, and these voters tended to vote Republican (the party of Lincoln, who is regarded as the figure most responsible for breaking down the institution of slavery). White dominance was achieved by introducing measures such as literacy tests and poll taxes, which disproportionately affected black voters, disenfranchising a significant number of them from participating in US politics. Although many of these practices were overturned through the civil rights era in the 1950s and 1960s, voter suppression continues to this day through the gerrymandering of district lines, as well as ID requirements and controversial computer systems that disproportionately affect ethnic-minorities during the voting process.

Share of electoral college* and popular votes** in the 23rd US presidential election in 1876

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United States

Survey time period


Supplementary notes

*Actual number of electoral votes:
Rutherford B. Hayes - 185
Samuel J. Tilden - 184

**Actual number of popular votes:
Rutherford B. Hayes - 4,034,311
Samuel J. Tilden - 4,288,546

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