176 members of the Electoral College
89 electoral votes needed to win
|Turnout||36.8% 13.0 pp|
Presidential election results map. Green denotes states won by Madison, burnt orange denotes states won by Pinckney, and light green denotes states won by Clinton. Numbers indicate the number of electoral votes cast by each state.
The 1808 United States presidential election was the sixth quadrennial presidential election, held from Friday, November 4, to Wednesday, December 7, 1808. The Democratic-Republican candidate James Madison defeated Federalist candidate Charles Cotesworth Pinckney decisively.
Madison had served as Secretary of State since President Thomas Jefferson took office in 1801. Jefferson, who had declined to run for a third term, threw his strong support behind Madison, a fellow Virginian. Sitting Vice President George Clinton and former Ambassador James Monroe both challenged Madison for leadership of the party, but Madison won his party's nomination and Clinton was re-nominated as vice president. The Federalists chose to re-nominate Pinckney, a former ambassador who had served as the party's 1804 nominee, again alongside Rufus King.
Despite the unpopularity of the Embargo Act of 1807, Madison won the vast majority of electoral votes outside of the Federalist stronghold of New England. Clinton received six electoral votes for president from his home state of New York. This election was the first of two instances in American history in which a new president was selected but the incumbent vice president won re-election, the other being in 1828.
|James Madison||George Clinton|
|for President||for Vice President|
U.S. Secretary of State
Vice President of the United States
Senator Stephen R. Bradley, who had chaired the congressional nominating caucus during the 1804 presidential election, made a call for the 1808 caucus to the 146 Democratic-Republican members of the United States Congress and Federalist allies. The caucus was attended by 89 to 94 members of Congress.
The caucus was held in January 1808. With the support of outgoing President Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State James Madison won the presidential nomination over opposing candidates James Monroe and Vice President George Clinton. The caucus voted to give the vice presidential nomination to Clinton over his main opponent John Langdon, although Clinton's supporters believed Clinton would receive the Federalist Party's presidential nomination. The Federalists instead nominated Charles Cotesworth Pinckney that September. A committee of fifteen members was selected to manage Madison's campaign.
Seventeen Democratic-Republicans in Congress opposed Madison's selection and the caucus system whose authority to select presidential and vice-presidential candidates was disputed. Clinton also opposed the caucus system. Monroe was nominated by a group of Virginia Democratic-Republicans, and although he did not actively try to defeat Madison, he also refused to withdraw from the race. Clinton was also supported by a group of New York Democratic-Republicans for president even as he remained the party's official vice presidential candidate.
|Presidential Ballot||Total||Vice Presidential Ballot||Total|
|James Madison||83||George Clinton||79|
|James Monroe||3||John Langdon||5|
|George Clinton||3||Henry Dearborn||3|
|John Quincy Adams||1|
|Charles C. Pinckney||Rufus King|
|for President||for Vice President|
|Former U.S. Minister
|Former U.S. Minister|
to Great Britain
The Federalist caucus met in September 1808 and re-nominated the party's 1804 ticket, which consisted of General Charles Cotesworth Pinckney of South Carolina and former Senator Rufus King of New York.
The election was marked by opposition to Jefferson's Embargo Act of 1807, a halt to trade with Europe that disproportionately hurt New England merchants and was perceived as favoring France over Britain. Nonetheless, Jefferson was still very popular with Americans generally and Pinckney was soundly defeated by Madison, though not as badly as in 1804. Pinckney received few electoral votes outside of New England.
Pinckney retained the electoral votes of the two states that he carried in 1804 (Connecticut and Delaware), and he also picked up New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and three electoral districts in North Carolina besides the two electoral districts in Maryland that he carried earlier. Except for the North Carolina districts, all of the improvement was in New England.
Monroe won a portion of the popular vote in Virginia and North Carolina, while the New York legislature split its electoral votes between Madison and Clinton.
|Presidential candidate||Party||Home state||Popular vote(a), (b)||Electoral
|Count||Percentage||Vice-presidential candidate||Home state||Electoral vote(c)|
|James Madison||Democratic-Republican||Virginia||124,732||64.7%||122||George Clinton (incumbent)||New York||113|
|John Langdon||New Hampshire||9|
|Charles Cotesworth Pinckney||Federalist||South Carolina||62,431||32.4%||47||Rufus King||New York||47|
|George Clinton||Democratic-Republican||New York||—||—||6||James Madison||Virginia||3|
|Needed to win||88||88|
Source (Popular Vote): United States Presidential Elections, 1788-1860: The Official Results by County and State
Source (Popular Vote): A New Nation Votes: American Election Returns 1787-1825
Source (Electoral Vote): "Electoral College Box Scores 1789–1996". National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved July 30, 2005.
(a) Only 10 of the 17 states chose electors by popular vote.
(b) Those states that did choose electors by popular vote had widely varying restrictions on suffrage via property requirements.
(c) One Elector from Kentucky did not vote.
The popular vote totals used are the elector from each party with the highest total of votes. The vote totals of North Carolina and Tennessee appear to be incomplete.
|Charles C. Pinckney
|New Hampshire||12,793||47.60%||14,085||52.40%||No ballots||-1,292||-4.80%|||
|New Jersey||18,670||55.97%||14,687||44.03%||No ballots||3,983||11.94%|||
|Rhode Island||2,692||46.70%||3,072||53.30%||No ballots||-380||-6.60%|||
States where the margin of victory was under 5%:
States where the margin of victory was under 10%:
|Method of choosing electors||State(s)|
|Each Elector appointed by state legislature|
|Each Elector chosen by voters statewide|
State is divided into two electoral districts and half the electors are chosen from each district.
|State is divided into electoral districts, with one Elector chosen per district by the voters of that district|