The presidential election of 1988 was a contest between incumbent Vice President George H. W. Bush and the Democratic Governor of Massachusetts, Michael Dukakis. Vice President Bush rode on President Ronald Reagan’s popularity and the improved economy, and won the election in a landslide victory. George H. W. Bush became the forty-third President of the United States.
Since incumbent President Reagan was unable to run for reelection as per the Twenty-second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, after already having served two full terms, his vice president was the next best choice. Reagan threw his support behind his vice president, who campaigned on continuing Reagan’s policies and promising to not add any new taxes. Bush was elected without opposition at the Republican National Convention, choosing Dan Quayle, a senator from Indiana, to be his vice presidential nominee.
The Democratic Party decided to choose a new candidate, after the enormous failure of Walter Mondale in the election of 1984. The party knew they needed a strong, centrist candidate who could unify the party. Many candidates were considered, including Reverend Jesse Jackson and Senators Al Gore and Joe Biden. Mondale’s main opponent during the 1984 primary season, Senator Gary Hart, was an early frontrunner until he dropped out of the race. Finally, Governor Michael Dukakis took the lead in six of Super Tuesday’s contests.
At the Democratic National Convention, Dukakis beat out his nearest competitor, Jackson, by a wide margin, to become the Democratic nominee. His vice presidential nominee was Lloyd M. Bentsen, a senator from Texas.
Ron Paul of Texas ran as the Libertarian Party candidate with vice presidential nominee Andre V. Marrou. During the campaign, Dukakis was seen as too liberal to appeal to the nation as a whole. His lack of military knowledge and experience was highlighted by the Republican Party, which damaged his image with conservative voters. A fierce campaign strategy by the Republicans effectively ended Dukakis’s chances at winning the election, despite his success during the first presidential debate. Bush won forty of the fifty states, and a grand total of 426 electoral votes to become the next President of the United States. His popular vote victory was just over 53 percent of the vote, with Dukakis not far behind at 45 percent. Bush won several states which have gone to the Democratic candidate in every election ever since, including California and much of the Northeast.
The breakdown of candidates and electoral votes was as follows:
|Presidential Candidate||Home State||Party||Electoral Votes||Running Mate|
|George Bush||Texas||Republican||426||James Danforth Quayle|
|Michael S. Dukakis||Massachusetts||Democratic||111||Lloyd Bentsen|
|Lloyd Bentsen||Texas||Democratic||1||Michael S. Dukakis|
|Ron Paul||Texas||Libertarian||0||Andre V. Marrou|