Has there ever been a US president who was not on the ballots of every single state, for the election that they won?

I'm having a hard time finding historical ballot information to check myself, and no luck with internet searches for other peoples' work.

  • 4
    One example is Lincoln in 1860. Wikipedia article gives three other examples, but it doesn't cite a source, so I can't be sure that this list is complete. Mar 19, 2019 at 3:31
  • @defaultlocale Oh sweet, thank you. I'll see if I can find sources to validate Truman, Cleveland, and Johnson.
    – Jason C
    Mar 19, 2019 at 3:39
  • 2
    I take it this question is in reference to 2 US states passing laws that will keep presidential candidates (I.e. Trump) off the ballot unless he releases his tax returns. The argument is that this will ensure the candidate is not a criminal with the secret assumption that the citizens of that state cannot make up their own minds without the help of those who are smarter. Mar 20, 2019 at 15:59
  • @FrankCedeno It originated in that, yeah, but that sparked an interesting conversation about history (and a lot of fascinating research into state presidential ballot access laws), and then this question came out of that conversation.
    – Jason C
    Mar 20, 2019 at 19:59

1 Answer 1


The last time that this happened was in 1964, when Lyndon B. Johnson was elected President without appearing on the ballot in Alabama. Due to infighting in the Democratic primary, the state refused to back electors pledged to Johnson as the national nominee, instead backing unpledged electors who backed Johnson's opponent, George Wallace. This was part of a larger campaign by Wallace, according to reporting from the time:

Without mentioning Gov. George C. Wallace of Alabama by name, Mr. Meyer makes it clear in his article that he is talking about the Governor's efforts to create a block of unpledged electors from Alabama, Mississippi and possibly‐Louisiana and other states. Mr. Wallace's plan is to withhold votes and so prevent a majority, throwing the Presidential election into the House of Representatives.

In the primary on May 5, Alabama Democrats nominated Mr. Wallace's 10 Electoral College candidates.

The Governor said yesterday in Cleveland, at the National Governors Conference, that unpledged elector slates would be on the ballot in November in more than a dozen states.

Alabama Democrats also refused to place Harry Truman on their state's ballot in 1948, dramatically storming out of the national convention and backing J. Strom Thurman. Alabama was the only state which didn't have Truman on the ballot whatsoever - in the other states in which he was allowed to run, Thurman appeared on the ballot alongside Truman.

Mr. Thurmond led South Carolina's delegation out of the 1948 Democratic National Convention at Philadelphia when he was Governor of the state. He later won South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana as the States’ Rights, or Dixiecrat, Presidential candidate against former President Harry S. Truman.

In 1892, Grover Cleveland didn't appear on the ballot in five states, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, North Dakota & Wyoming. Instead, these states either ran a Democratic-Populist Fusion ticket supporting James Weaver, or didn't list the Democrats at all.

Before this, ballots were issued at the state level rather than federally, so there were quite a few occasions where the victor didn't appear on the ballot. According to Smart Politics:

For example, in 1832, the Whig Party failed in their attempt to send the presidential election to the House of Representatives by backing regional nominees against Martin Van Buren, in the hopes the Democrat would not receive a majority of Electoral College votes.

Whig William Harrison carried Delaware, Kentucky, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, and Vermont, Daniel Webster carried Massachusetts, and the party’s southern candidate, Hugh White, carried Georgia and Tennessee.

In 1856, the newly formed Republican Party did not find its nominee, John Frémont, on the ballot in a dozen southern states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.

In each of those states, the choice was between Democrat James Buchanan and American Party nominee and former president Millard Fillmore.

In 1860, each of the four candidates receiving Electoral College votes did not compete in at least one state: Republican Abraham Lincoln in nine southern states (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas), Democrat Stephen Douglas in one (Texas), Southern Democrat John Breckinridge in three (New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island), and Constitutional Union nominee John Bell in four (Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island).

In addition, in Colorado's first election after becoming the 38th state in 1876, no candidates appeared on the ballot; there wasn't one. Instead, the state's three electors were chosen by the Colorado General Assembly, which picked three electors pledged to Rutherford B. Hayes, who went on to win the Presidency by one vote. A similar scenario occurred in 1868 in Florida; the state's three electoral votes were allocated by the state legislature to Ulysses S. Grant.

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