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Capturing California's Vote
Presidential Elections in the Golden State 

Nineteenth Century Elections

California's Early 20th Century Candidates

Gears and Levers

Franklin D. Roosevelt 's First Two Terms

Wartime President

Vice President Earl Warren?

Upset in '48

Warren's Last Shot

1956 Republican National Convention

1960 Democratic National Convention

Nixon v. Kennedy

Nixon's 1960 California Campaign

1968 Election

1968 Tragedy

Race for '68

Jerry Brown's Presidential Campaigns

Watergate to the Reagan Years

Californians in the White House

MINERVA Archives Online Catalog

<- Online Exhibits


Barrel-style secret ballot box, black with white lettering“General Ballots”.  Artifact Collection, California State Archives.

Barrel-style Secret Ballot Box
Black with White Lettering
"General Ballots"
Artifact Collection, California State Archives.

Presidential election campaigns sweep across the United States, touching every person in some fashion. When citizens participate in a presidential election, they help decide the fate of our nation for the next four years. Each individual's vote, and through them each state in the Union, plays an important role in determining the direction in which the country will proceed. Some states, however, through sheer weight of population, are capable of having greater impact upon the outcome of presidential elections than other areas of the country. California is one such state.

California's citizens first took part in a presidential election in 1852. The Golden State had only entered the Union two years prior, and its population, although bolstered by the influx of Gold Rush hopefuls, was small in comparison to other states along the East Coast and in the Midwest. As a result, at that time California had only four Electoral College votes and was a minor player on the presidential stage. This circumstance changed greatly over the next 150 years. The Golden State's influence in national politics has grown in tandem with its skyrocketing population. Today, California has 55 votes in the Electoral College, more than any other state in the Union. Presidential nominees must carefully court the Californian populace, or risk losing a large chunk of the votes required to attain the highest office in our nation.

This exhibit highlights the manner in which various presidential contenders (some of them Californians themselves) have attempted to capture California's vote. Explore how political campaign techniques evolved from nineteenth century ballot tickets to the massive media campaigns of recent years, as illustrated in a broad selection of photographs, documents, and political ephemera from the varied collections of the California State Archives.



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