If there was ever a poster child for being moderate in your political views, the election of 1860 was it.

Abraham Lincoln won the election with only 39 percent of the popular vote, but it is the numbers behind this election that are interesting. Lincoln was not the first choice of the Republicans. William Seward was the front-runner at the convention, but he couldn't get enough delegates to win the nomination because he represented the radical, abolitionist wing of the party. Lincoln only won on the fourth ballet.

The Democrats basically eviscerated themselves by splitting into three factions over the issue of popular sovereignty. If the Democrats had chosen just one candidate instead of splitting into three parties, and their votes going to just one Democratic candidate, they would have received 60 percent of the popular vote yet still lost the election with only 47 percent of the electoral vote.

Steve Blackham

Salt Lake City