1984Flag of the United States 1992 › ›
United States presidential election, 1988
November 8, 1988
Kemp126 Mario Cuomo speaking at a rally, June 20, 1991
Nominee Jack Kemp Mario Cuomo
Party Conservative Socialist
Home state New York New York
Running mate Alexander Haig Dick Gephardt
Electoral vote 257 174
Popular vote 51,109,713 50,107,219
Percentage 50.6 50.4
The United States presidential election, 1988, was a democratic election held in the United States to decide the nation's next president. The incumbent Christian Democrat, Bob Dole, was term limited. The Christian Democratic Party also collapsed in 1987, and the Conservative Party - who nominated Jack Kemp - largely took it's place.

This was the fist American presidential election since the "Secessions of 1986", in which the New England and West Coast Regions seceded from the United States to become independent nations. At the time of this election, the United States had not recognized the recently founded Republic of New England and Republic of the Pacific as independent, separate nations, and still considered the RNE and RoP as part of the United States.

The hardline anti-New England anti-West Coast and anti-secession Jack Kemp of the Conservative Party was widely believed to be the front-runner entering the election. Kemp won, but by a much smaller margin than initially predicted.

The Socialists united with the Progressives to put forth a unified ticket with governor of New York Mario Cuomo and Missouri representative Dick Gephardt (who would go on to be Progressive Al Gore's running mate in 1992). Initially thought to be dead-in-the-water against Kemp, Cuomo was able to battle back into the running, even taking the lead in the poles occasionally. Cuomo didn't share Kemp's same hardline attitude toward the new breakaway republics. Actually, Cuomo's position on the RNE and ROP was to the contrary of Kemp's, as he supported full acknowledgment of the new nations.

The Moderates only had ballot access in a few states, for the first time in their history. Considering that the biggest issue entering the election of 1988 were the Secessions of 1986, and that it was rather impossible to be "moderate" on that issues (you were either pro-secession or anti-secession), the only candidates who came forward were obscure ones.


Bold denotes the party's nominee.

Socialist Party

The Progressives again pledged to endorse the Socialist nominees. The Vice Presidential nominee, Dick Gephardt, would switch from the Socialist Party to the Progressive Party in 1989.

Governor Mario Cuomo, New York

Representative Dick Gephardt, Missouri

Reverend Jesse Jackson, South Carolina

Senator Lloyd Bentsen, Texas

Senator Gary Hart, Colorado

Senator Paul Simon, Illinois

Former Governor Bruce Babbit, Arizona

The Socialist nomination was hard fought, as Delaware Sen. Joe Biden was initially expected to be the frontrunner, but he soon dropped out for undisclosed reasons, throwing the nomination wide open. Governor Mario Cuomo soon took the lead, but the left-wing African-American Reverend from South Carolina, Jesse Jackson, soon surged back, winning the South Carolina primary and taking states with large black populations. Eventually Jackson faded and allowed Cuomo to get the nomination.

There were rumors that Cuomo would rather have had Jackson as his Vice Presidential candidate than Gephardt, but many Socialist Party members with a large amount of pull dissuaded Cuomo away from that, thinking that an Italian-American Catholic and an African-American preacher on the same ticket could be detrimental to the ticket overall. Gephardt was chosen instead of Jackson.

Conservative Party

The upstart Conservative Party was founded in response to the Christian Democratic Party, and were previously small and out of the public eye. However, after the mass exodus from the Christian Democratic Party in 1986 and 1987 following the Secessions of 1986, the CDP collapsed and the majority of the members went to the Conservative Party. This was their first primary and first convention.

Representative Jack Kemp, New York

Secretary of State Alexander Haig, Pennsylvania

Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Illinois

Former Director of the CIA George Bush, Texas

Former Senator Paul Laxalt, Nevada

Ben Fernandez, Nevada

David Duke, Louisiana

The only real candidates in the 1988 Conservative primary were Kemp and Haig, and it was quite clear from the outset that they would win the nomination.


While ballots were sent to New England and the West Coast, the FEC received no results back from the independent states.

In the remaining states, Jack Kemp won small victories over Mario Cuomo, and soon the election was all but decided in his favor.

The election was narrow, and Cuomo actually took the lead a couple of times. Ultimately, however, without New England and the west coast, Cuomo was sunk.

Constitutional Amendment

Proposed during the lame-duck session of congress following the election, the "Kerrey Amendment" (proposed by Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey) reduced the number of electoral votes needed to win the election by subtracting the electoral votes the seceded states had from 270, resulting in an overall electoral margin of 170 to win.