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In David Leip's political atlas, it says that 'Communist' gained 32 votes in the 1876 presidential election. The name of the candidates and the state where these votes were counted doesn't appear.

Of course 32 votes isn't many, but I'm surprised even the word was in use back then. Is this website kosher?

  • 32 votes period? I highly suspect the Communist Party got more votes last election than that....Yup. 74,000 for the PSL, 12,000 for the Socalist Worker's Party, and 4,000 for the Worker's World Party – T.E.D. Feb 14 '18 at 17:23
  • Sure. I suppose I'm surprised a Communist party existed. – Ne Mo Feb 14 '18 at 17:37
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    @T.E.D.: The question is about the 1876 election, not the last election. I'm sure Mickey Mouse get more than 30 votes in modern elections. – Giter Feb 14 '18 at 18:02
  • @Giter - FWIW: 32 votes in 1876 would be roughly equivalent to getting 407 votes in 2016. – T.E.D. Feb 14 '18 at 20:23
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The term 'communist' is actually pretty old, here is an example of it being used in a 1777 philosophical book. Karl Marx was developing his ideas in the early/mid 1800's, and the English Communist League was established in 1847. So, it's entirely possible that a 'Communist Party' could have gotten votes in the 1876 US presidential election.

However, the only American party that could have been labeled as such (that I could find) is the Socialist Labor Party, conveniently established in 1876, which itself was formed from an earlier Illinois party. Everything I've found on them seems to refer to the political parties as socialist and not communist. It's certainly possible that somebody called them communists, or that David Leip is simply using 'communist' to mean 'socialist'.

I couldn't find (in an admittedly short search) any records of the party getting any votes in 1876, or even who their nominee was if they participated. 32 votes is tiny enough to not have been meaningfully recorded if it did happen, and hard to fully disprove if the claim is just made up. If the website doesn't site any sources for its info then you have no reason to believe it, though the claim definitely is something that could have happened.

  • Thanks, didn't know the word was that old. Still be interesting to know about this tiny group of Communists from 1876. Maybe I'll email David Leip – Ne Mo Feb 14 '18 at 18:57
  • @NeMo: Yeah, if he has some images of ballot records or other evidence, that would certainly clear things up. – Giter Feb 14 '18 at 19:31
  • There's probably a full accounting somewhere of how many votes were cast for everyone in most of the states that actually voted. One might have to check saved results for every county though. Seems a pretty thankless task just for tracking down 32 votes in an 8.3 million vote election. – T.E.D. Feb 14 '18 at 20:20

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