1988 United States presidential election in Tennessee

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United States presidential election in Tennessee, 1988

← 1984 November 8, 1988 1992 →
  1988 Bush.jpg 1988 Dukakis.jpg
Nominee George H. W. Bush Michael Dukakis
Party Republican Democratic
Home state Texas Massachusetts
Running mate Dan Quayle Lloyd Bentsen
Electoral vote 11 0
Popular vote 947,233 679,794
Percentage 57.89% 41.55%

County Results

President before election

Ronald Reagan

Elected President

George H. W. Bush

The 1988 United States presidential election in Tennessee took place on November 8, 1988. All 50 states and the District of Columbia were part of the 1988 United States presidential election. Tennessee voters chose 11 electors to the Electoral College, which selected the president and vice president.

Tennessee was won by incumbent United States Vice President George H. W. Bush of Texas, who was running against Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis. Bush ran with Indiana Senator Dan Quayle as Vice President, and Dukakis ran with Texas Senator Lloyd Bentsen.

Tennessee weighed in for this election as 8% more Republican than the national average; as of the 2016 presidential election, this was the last time the Republican candidate carried Davidson County (home of Nashville) and Shelby County (home of Memphis), both of which have become Democratic strongholds into the 21st century.[1]

Partisan background[edit]

The presidential election of 1988 was a very partisan election for Tennessee, with more than 99% of the electorate voting for either the Democratic or Republican parties, though 10 candidates did appear on the ballot.[2] Most counties in Tennessee turned out for Bush, including the highly populated Shelby County and Davidson County, by narrow margins; those two counties have never voted Republican since this election.[1] Tennessee was the only state that Bush improved on Ronald Reagan’s 1984 vote share, although only by 0.07 percent.[3] He became only the second Republican after Richard Nixon in 1972 to carry Lincoln County and Hardeman County,[4] which were two of only seven counties in the nation to switch from Mondale to Bush.[a]

Republican victory[edit]

Bush won the election in Tennessee with a solid 16 point landslide; the election results in Tennessee are reflective of a nationwide reconsolidation of base for the Republican Party, which took place through the 1980s. Through the passage of some very controversial economic programs, spearheaded by then President Ronald Reagan (called, collectively, "Reaganomics"), the mid-to-late 1980's saw a period of economic growth and stability; the hallmark for Reaganomics was, in part, the wide-scale deregulation of corporate interests, and tax cuts for the wealthy.[5]

Dukakis ran his campaign on a socially liberal platform, and advocated for higher economic regulation and environmental protection. Bush, alternatively, ran on a campaign of continuing the social and economic policies of former President Reagan - which gained him much support with social conservatives and people living in rural areas. Additionally, while the economic programs passed under Reagan, and furthered under Bush and Clinton, may have boosted the economy for a brief period, they are criticized by many analysts as "setting the stage" for economic troubles in the United State after 2007, such as the Great Recession.[6]


United States presidential election in Tennessee, 1988
Party Candidate Votes Percentage Electoral votes
Republican George H. W. Bush 947,233 57.89% 11
Democratic Michael Dukakis 679,794 41.55% 0
Libertarian Ron Paul 2,041 0.12% 0
America First David Duke 1,807 0.11% 0
Prohibition Earl Dodge 1,807 0.11% 0
New Alliance Party Lenora Fulani 1,334 0.08% 0
U.S. Labor Party Lyndon LaRouche 873 0.05% 0
Socialist Workers Party James Warren 718 0.04% 0
Socialist Willa Kenoyer 358 0.02% 0
Write-Ins 285 0.02% 0
Totals 1,636,250 100.0% 11

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The other five counties that voted for Mondale in 1984 and Bush in 1988 were Strom Thurmond’s home county of Edgefield, South Carolina, and the four Georgia counties of Bibb, Taylor, Telfair and Mitchell.


  1. ^ a b Sullivan, Robert David; ‘How the Red and Blue Map Evolved Over the Past Century’; America Magazine in The National Catholic Review; June 29, 2016
  2. ^ "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". Uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved 2013-07-21.
  3. ^ Menendez, Albert J.; The Geography of Presidential Elections in the United States, 1868-2004, p. 111 ISBN 0786422173
  4. ^ Menendez; The Geography of Presidential Elections in the United States, pp. 298-303
  5. ^ "Since 1980s, the Kindest of Tax Cuts for the Rich". The New York Times. 2012-01-18. Retrieved 2013-07-21.
  6. ^ Jerry Lanson (2008-11-06). "A historic victory. A changed nation. Now, can Obama deliver?". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 2013-07-21.