This election was a rematch from 1796 and when the incumbent, John Adams, was defeated the power hierarchy in the United States would never be the same. This marked the first time in election history that there was a major power shift in terms of the system that governs a nation through peaceful means. This election showed why democracy works and two main aspects stood out as reasons to acknowledge the importance
First, since our first commander-in-chief, the Federalist party had ruled the political structure in the U.S. and after winning again in 1796, it was expected for the Federalist rule to remain. But Thomas Jefferson had other ideas. He felt the Federalists were elitist and that there needed to be a change in power to meet the needs of more Americans. Although Jefferson was previously Vice-President to Adams, they did not see eye-to-eye in terms of interaction with Great Britain and France and this election showed that no level of political status was safe from new ideas. Despite personal attacks from the Adams campaign that described the challenger as “mean spirited,” “an atheist,” and more, Jefferson would win the election by 23% of votes, which is still the largest margin of victory against an incumbent president in U.S. history.
Secondly, the way Jefferson was selected to be the candidate for the Democratic-Republicans was an important exercise for the party system. It came down to an electoral tie between Jefferson and Aaron Burr, who was Jefferson’s running mate. This caused some heated debate before Jefferson was finally selected by the college the week after.
1800 was only the third election in U.S. history, and as such, had some wrinkles to iron out. These wrinkles would help shape the future of United States’ electoral system. The Democratic Republicans would hold power in the U.S. from 1801 to 1825 without halt. And as a result of the confusion between Burr and Jefferson, Congress would enact the 12th amendment into the U.S. Constitution giving one vote for president and one vote for vice president to each elector.
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