1844 Election Results Polk VS Clay

The election of 1840 had been fought over the economy. The election of 1844 was fought over American expansion. The question of the annexation of Texas had become a political issue. However, both the expected Democratic nominee, former President Van Buren, and the expected Whig nominee Clay, agreed not to make Texas an issue in the campaign.

At the Democratic convention, in Baltimore, in May 1844, many Democrats opposed President Van Buren’s position on Texas. Van Buren did not receive the required 2/3 vote. As a result the convention seemed near a deadlock. Finally, on the ninth ballot the convention swung behind James Polk. This was the first time that a dark horse (an unknown) received the nomination.

The Democratic party endorsed a platform that called for the annexation of Texas and the reoccupation of Oregon. It also stood against federal improvement and the resurrection of the Bank of the United States. The Whigs nominated Henry Clay, unanimously.

In April of 1844, President Tyler had dropped his "Texas bombshell", as it had become known, when he submitted a treaty for the annexation of Texas. This framed the election campaign. Questions of Manifest Destiny and Slavery dominated the campaign.

Clay was the early front runner, and expected to have an easy victory. His opposition to the annexation of Texas lost him support in the South. The fact he was a slave owner lost him support in the North. A third party abolitionist candidate named James Birney siphoned off enough support in the North to deny Clay a win in New York, which would have guaranteed his election victory. This election was very personal, with newspaper attacks calling Polk “a coward” and Clay a “drunkard”. James Polk won the election.

Democratic Convention

 

State results in 1844

Popular Results in 1844

Alabama James Polk 37,401 59.0 Henry Clay 26,002 41.0
Arkansas James Polk 9,546 63.0 Henry Clay 5,604 37.0
Connecticut James Polk 29,841 46.2 Henry Clay 32,832 50.8
Delaware James Polk 5,970 48.7 Henry Clay 6,271 51.2
Georgia James Polk 44,147 51.2 Henry Clay 42,100 48.8
Illinois James Polk 58,795 53.9 Henry Clay 45,854 42.0
Indiana James Polk 70,183 50.1 Henry Clay 67,866 48.4
Kentucky James Polk 51,988 45.9 Henry Clay 61,249 54.1
Louisiana James Polk 13,782 51.3 Henry Clay 13,083 48.7
Maine James Polk 45,719 53.8 Henry Clay 34,378 40.5
Maryland James Polk 32,706 47.6 Henry Clay 35,984 52.4
Massachusetts James Polk 53,039 40.2 Henry Clay 67,062 50.8
Michigan James Polk 27,737 49.9 Henry Clay 24,185 43.5
Mississippi James Polk 25,846 57.4 Henry Clay 19,158 42.6
Missouri James Polk 41,322 57.0 Henry Clay 31,200 43.0
New Hampshire James Polk 27,160 55.2 Henry Clay 17,866 36.3
New Jersey James Polk 37,495 49.4 Henry Clay 38,318 50.5
New York James Polk 237,588 48.9 Henry Clay 232,482 47.8
North Carolina James Polk 39,287 47.6 Henry Clay 43,232 52.4
Ohio James Polk 149,127 47.8 Henry Clay 155,091 49.7
Pennsylvania James Polk 167,311 50.4 Henry Clay 161,195 48.6
Rhode Island James Polk 4,867 39.9 Henry Clay 7,322 60.0
Tennessee James Polk 59,917 49.9 Henry Clay 60,040 50.1
Vermont James Polk 18,041 37.0 Henry Clay 26,770 54.9
Virginia James Polk 50,679 53.0 Henry Clay 44,860 47.0