Leavitt Followed Plurality Win with Big Victory in 1996

When former Governor Mike Leavitt won re-election in 1996, it was the best showing by a governor in an election following a win where they did not receive a majority of the vote.

According to a Smart Politics analysis, Leavitt’s 75% of the vote in ’96 after winning in 1992 with just 42.2% is the highest mark for any state since 1900. Leavitt faced independent Merrill Cook and Democrat Stewart Hanson in 1992. 

In fact, only two other governors, Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson in 1994 and Wyoming Democrat Dave Freudenthal in 2002, topped the 70% mark after winning with a plurality in the previous election.

The analysis finds more than 45% of governors who won with a plurality since 1900 won re-election the next time around. 26% did not run while just 17% lost in the next election.