George Washington wished to retire after serving one presidential term. However, political allies convinced him to run for a second term. Washington agreed and won unanimously. His supporters gained in the House of Representatives while the Senate’s composition remained unchanged. However, administration foes doubled Washingtonian gains in the house. New states and redistricting created an influx of pro-agrarian, small government voters in the west. In the end, Washington earned a personal and political triumph, but the election demonstrated the increased strength for anti-administration forces.
President Washington ran for reelection unopposed in 1792. His popularity and symbol of American unity made him unbeatable. Any opponent would have appeared un-American to population. The president received all 132 electoral votes and won unanimous re-election. Meanwhile, Vice President John Adams won four more years with 77 electoral votes. Anti-administration forces garnered 55 electoral votes for three vice presidential candidates. Overall, the administration received 71% of the popular vote.
Pro-administration forces coalesced around Washington and Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton in the nascent Federalist Party. The Federalists supported industrialization, centralized activist government, a liberal interpretation of the Constitution, and federal support for the economy. In response, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison formed the Democratic-Republican Party that supported agrarianism, a strictly constructionist constitutionalism, free markets, and limited government. The Federalists held a 39-30 edge in the House of Representatives entering the 1792 election.
The 1792 election was the first to occur after a census. The 1790 head count led to reapportionment and a dramatic increase in house seats to over 100. Most of the new districts, particularly in the west, approved of Jefferson’s message leading to a Democratic-Republican takeover of the House of Representatives. The Federalists actually gained 12 seats, but still lost control of the chamber. They made major gains in Massachusetts and New York. However, the opposition increased by 24 seats, 13 of which came from Virginia and North Carolina. The Democratic-Republicans also gained four in Pennsylvania. In the end, the Democratic-Republicans held a narrow 54-51 advantage in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The opposition captured the House, but failed to repeat the success in the U.S. Senate. Washingtonians held a 16-13 edge with 10 seats up for re-election and a vacancy. State legislatures, and not the voters, selected the senators at this time. In the end, the Federalists retained control 17-13. The Federalists held Delaware, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, and Massachusetts. Pro-administration forces added New Hampshire and Rhode Island. The Democratic-Republicans held South Carolina, Virginia, and Georgia. Anti-administration forces added North Carolina, both Kentucky seats, and the vacant Pennsylvania slot. Federalist strength in state legislatures and Washington’s popularity held off the popular onslaught which flipped the House.
President Washington cruised to re-election. He won unanimously and brought Vice President Adams along for another term. His popularity helped retain the U.S. Senate for the Federalist Party. However, his popularity could not stem the tide of western libertarianism that began to infuse itself into the electorate. The opposition grabbed the House of Representatives by a three vote margin. In the end, Washington was the big winner in an election that brought victory to both Federalists and Democratic-Republicans.