Alternate History

1988 U.S. Presidential Election (The Gipper Goes Down)

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Vice-President Robert J. "Bob" Dole was nominated, with only symbolic "outsider" challenges from former secretary of state Alexander Haig, evangelical minister Pat Robertson, and multimillionaire former Governor of Delaware Pierre Du Pont. Once he secured the nomination, Dole selected Rep. Jack Kemp of New York as his running mate.

Top-Finishers in the Republican Primaries

  • Robert Dole (nominee)
  • Pat Robertson
  • Pierre DuPont
  • Alexander Haig


With the field wide open, Senators Gary Hart (Colorado), Paul Simon (Illinois), Joe Biden (Delaware), and Albert Gore Jr. (Tennessee) sought the nomination, as did Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, Rep. Richard Gephardt of Missouri, and the Reverend Jesse Jackson. Hart's campaign floundered early, after he was caught cheating on his wife with a 29-year-old model; he was forced to drop out of the race. The most popular Democrat of his day, New York Governor Mario Cuomo, entered the contest late (sensing the vulnerability of the Republican ticket after 8 years of Republican control of the White House) and quickly won the support of the voters. He went on to win the nomination. Dukakis was runner up to Cuomo, but the latter surprisingly selected the young Governor of Arkansas, Bill Clinton, as his running mate, creating an instantly attractive ticket based on the premise of "change."

Top-Finishers in the Democratic Primaries

  • Mario Cuomo (nominee)
  • Michael Dukakis
  • Jesse Jackson
  • Richard Gephardt
  • Albert Gore Jr.

Electoral College Result:

Cuomo/Clinton: 280

Dole/Kemp: 258

Popular Result

Cuomo/Clinton: 53%

Dole/Kemp: 45%

The attractive Cuomo-Clinton ticket won in a landslide, ending eight years of Republican control of the White House in a year of voter hope as a result of the clear turning point in East-West relations. Cuomo also relied on widespread support from Catholic voters, being the first Catholic candidate for President since John F. Kennedy (and the first Italian-American).

Congressional elections

House of Representatives

Democratic = 256

Republican = 179


Democratic = 53

Republican = 47

See also

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