Contrary to popular belief, Americans are probably okay with giving a party a third term in the White House

* In 1960, Nixon lost to John Kennedy by less than two-tenths of 1 percent of the popular vote. In fact, given the highly creative vote counting methods in Illinois and (even more so) in Texas, and the fact that some of Alabama’s votes went to a slate of un-pledged electors, it’s not at all clear that JFK won the popular vote at all. In several states — Illinois, New Jersey, Minnesota, Hawaii, the spread was barely 1 percent or less.

* In 1968, Nixon beat Hubert Humphrey by seven-tenths of 1 percent of the popular vote; some pollsters argued that, had the election happened a day or two later, Humphrey might well have won. Further, history strongly suggests, may well have been shaped by the Nixon campaign’s role in sabotaging a Vietnam peace accord. (See, for example, “Chasing Shadows: The Nixon Tapes, the Chennault Affair, and the Origins of Watergate” by Ken Hughes, which argues that Nixon operative Anna Chennault convinced the South Vietnamese government that it would do better to wait for a Nixon Presidency before agreeing to terms.)

* In 2000 — well, perhaps we need not revisit the campaign in which Al Gore won half a million more votes than George W. Bush, and in which a one-vote Supreme Court majority sanctioned a Bush victory in Florida by 537 votes out of some six million cast. (If you look more broadly, the center-left candidates — Gore and Ralph Nader — out-polled the center-right candidates — Bush and Pat Buchanan — by some three million votes.)

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