Don't Stop Believin
November 6, 2008 9:21 AM   Subscribe

How common has it been in US history for a Presidential election to prompt celebrations in the streets across the country?

I was bemused and pleased by the spontaneous street parties that erupted Tuesday night, and am now curious: how often do we run out into the street to cry with joy, hug one another, wave the American flag, and sing the national anthem (or Journey) as a spontaneous collective reaction to the victory of a Presidential candidate? Please note, I am not asking how often Presidential campaign workers engage in said behavior. I was thinking back through the elections in my lifetime and beyond; the only thing that I can think of that remotely relates is the out-of-hand celebrations associated with the inauguration of Andrew Jackson. Hope me, historians of MeFi!
posted by mwhybark to Society & Culture (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
There was actually a nice article in this months Smithsonian about Lincoln waiting for the results by telegraph, and the ongoing party in the street outside of where he was receiving the poll results. Not sure about the rest of the country, though.
posted by korej at 9:26 AM on November 6, 2008

Response by poster: I think that counts, although it's likely locale-specific. The key thing, I think, is people feeling so invested in the event - without being part of the campaign per se - that they feel the need to get out and go nuts. I guess I would expect that it would be relatively common for the home area of a pre-modern candidate to be quite invested in his run.
posted by mwhybark at 9:31 AM on November 6, 2008

It seems like you need at least two things for this to happen: the non-incumbent winning, and the race being called on election night. That only leaves two elections in the last 50 years as candidates.

1960 - Kennedy (D), not called immediately
1964 - LBJ (D), incumbent
1968 - Nixon (R), not called until next morning
1972 - Nixon (R), incumbent
1976 - Carter (D), incumbent
1980 - Reagan (R)
1984 - Reagan (R), incumbent
1988 - Bush (R), semi-incumbent
1992 - Clinton (D)
1996 - Clinton (D), incumbent
2000 - Bush (R), not called immediately
2004 - Bush (R), incumbent
posted by smackfu at 9:55 AM on November 6, 2008

Response by poster: It seems like you need at least two things for this to happen: the non-incumbent winning, and the race being called on election night.

That's an interesting observation, and I follow your reasoning. I'm not 100% sold, though.

While I personally just loathed Reagan the whole time he was in office, apparently most others in the country did not share that feeling, and he won quite definitively in 1984. I would suggest that election might well be one in which some street hooting and hollering took place. But of course, I am unaware of it.

Additionally, I am interested in election celebrations from day one. When TR won, did the Hamptons erupt? When FDR won, did grown men hold one another and weep in the streets? When Silent Cal erected his cone of silence, did children parade and cheer?
posted by mwhybark at 10:04 AM on November 6, 2008

Response by poster: Also, I should note that this question was partially prompted by this post.
posted by mwhybark at 10:06 AM on November 6, 2008

Carter was not the incumbent in 1976 - Ford was - and the race was called around 3 am ET, according to Wikipedia.
posted by expialidocious at 10:09 AM on November 6, 2008

I've read that people celebrated in the street after FDR's first re-election, where he carried the country by more than twenty points. I don't know on how wide a scale, though.
posted by EarBucket at 10:32 AM on November 6, 2008

What happened when keneedy got elected?
posted by majortom1981 at 10:38 AM on November 6, 2008

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