I've already admitted to the following actual votes cast:
- 2004 and 2000: Bush 43 (actually votes against Kerry & Gore, which even in spite of Bush's numerous failings, I have never regretted thanks to the two excellent Supreme Court judges I got in the bargain)
- 1996: Dole (I knew it was a lost cause, and I supported Lamar! in the primary, but I couldn't in good conscience vote for Clinton. And the impeachment in 1998 only solidified my belief in that.
- 1992: Bush 41 (again, something about Clinton I didn't trust. Wisely.)
- 1988: Bush (this time was after supporting a younger Dole in the primaries, but was more a vote against Dukakis, but again, that was easy for a conservative.)
Following are my most honest answers, going back to before the Great Depression:
- 1980 and 1984: Reagan. That one's the easiest pick of all.
- 1976: Carter. Despite the fact that my parents were for Ford in '76, I think if I were an adult then, Carter's faith and integrity, combined with the bad taste of Watergate and the fact that Ford was far more a country-club Republican than a cultural conservative (after all, the Reagan Revolution hadn't happened yet), would have led me to vote for the man from Plains. There was no way of knowing at the time how incompetent he would be. But he's the reason I'm not falling for Huckabee now.
- 1972: Nixon. This one is hard to admit. But on election day of '72, less than half of Americans had even heard of Watergate. And Nixon carried 49 states. And there's zero chance I would have voted for McGovern.
- 1968: Probably Nixon. Let's not forget that Hubert Humphrey was the last hawk to run as a Democrat, so he wouldn't have carried the same stigma in my mind as later liberals did. But I think the events of the Chicago '68 Democrat convention would have convinced me that Nixon was a better chance to restore the social order so badly fractured in that year. And also, this is pre-Watergate Nixon, so I wouldn't have had that to hold against him.
- 1964: I want to say Goldwater, as he's the early philosophical incarnation of Reagan. But again, he wasn't running following the 1970s malaise like Reagan, either. I'll bet I would have been part of the 61% who pulled the lever for LBJ, partly out of loyalty to JFK, who had only been dead for a year. Once again, this is back when Democrats actually favored National Security, and Roe v. Wade was 9 years in the future.
- 1960: JFK. Pretty easy one, I think. Despite the closeness of the overall election, I think JFK was definitely the better candidate that year.
- 1956 and 1952: Ike. Easy. Everybody liked Ike.
- 1948: Truman. My favorite Democrat of all time.
- 1944: Dewey. Yes, FDR was awesome. And yes, he had pretty much won WWII by this time. But it was a run for a FOURTH term, and he was on death's door (as evidenced by the fact that he didn't make it past April of '45).
- 1940: This one's hard. I think if I had been around, I wouldn't have wanted to break Washington's 2-term tradition, and I would have been a little down on FDR for the 1937-38 recession and the court-packing plan. But Willkie was a real lightweight, and the war was on the horizon. I'm really not sure.
- 1936 & 1932: FDR. I may be conservative today, but I doubt very seriously I would have been on the other side of these two landslides.
That's far enough back. Probably nobody besides Matthew even cares who was running back in the 20's or before. But I should point out that there was a time when the social liberals were Republicans and all the evangelicals in the south were Democrats. Either way, the issues get funky as you get further back--it's harder and harder to put yourself in the shoes of someone back then and try to decide if I would have been "wet" or "dry" on prohibition, for example.
Anyway, some winners, some losers, some Democrats, some Republicans, a few I'd have been proud of and a few I would have likely regretted. Anybody else want to play?