I teach history and economics and have a YouTube channel called Mr. Beat's Social Studies Channel.

I just completed a series about every single presidential election in American history, and learned quite a bit. AMA!

Here is the last episode.

EDIT: That's it folks. You have made my day the best Election Day Eve ever. Thank you for all the great questions, and thank you for watching.

My Proof

Comments: 777 • Responses: 80  • Date: 

LifeUpInTheSky923 karma

Followed your journey from start to finish and loved it.

So, with many people believing this to be the most outrageous and unlikable campaign season in US history, what does someone who literally knows every election have to say on this?

beatmastermatt1404 karma

Another great question, and thanks for your support! I think that most presidential elections in American history were considered "high stakes" elections. The media and the masses all commonly hyped their election as "the most important election of our time." Shoot, even in 2012 a great number of tastemakers and citizens were arguing that. Based on what I have learned doing this, I would say we shouldn't be too worried regardless of who gets elected tomorrow. Fearmongering has always been there, but our Constitution and system of checks and balances has usually saved the day. Except in 1860, and tensions are certainly not that high today.

LaFolie67 karma

I thought the executive branch today is the strongest in American history because of the expansion of the federal government and foreign policy.

Even with strong checks and balances, do you think the president can still do a lot without Congress? Is that different than the past?

beatmastermatt120 karma

Yes, I would have to agree that the executive branch is stronger today than ever before, and therefore the President can get away with more than he could in the past. As I mentioned earlier, executive actions and executive orders, but also being the commander in chief and with the gigantic power of the enforcement agencies like Homeland Security, the NSA, etc.

Foffy12344 karma

No question here, but late happy birthday!

beatmastermatt34 karma

Thank you!

dirtiest_dru315 karma

When will you make the next Presidential election video? Will you wait until January 6, 2017 when the electoral college votes so you can report if there are any faithless electors?

beatmastermatt389 karma

That's actually a really good idea. I originally had planned for December some time, but I might change my mind now.

qtm1167 karma


beatmastermatt336 karma

157. Faithless electors have never influenced the outcome. My favorite story is the fact that the Libertarian Party got electoral votes in 1972. So technically, that was the first time a female candidate got electoral votes.

lodbible162 karma

I read on NPR:

No president has campaigned strongly for his chosen successor in at least 100 years.

What do you make of Obama's electioneering on Clinton's behalf, and can you lend any expansion to NPR's statement?

beatmastermatt262 karma

I think that's mostly true, but Truman was a big fan of Adlai Stevenson. In fact, he talked Stevenson into running in 1952. I do think that Obama is very afraid of Trump getting elected, so is more motivated to campaign out of fear.

Under_the_Milky_Way116 karma

Why do you think Americans continue to have a fanatical view of long dead presidents?

beatmastermatt218 karma

Likely because they apply their own political views and confirmation bias to history. We can still spin history to meet our agendas, and therefore facts about long dead Presidents seem much less "objective."

Under_the_Milky_Way28 karma

I get that, but any country could do that. Still doesn't explain the American infatuation though...

beatmastermatt160 karma

Oh I see. I better understand your question now. I guess I am surprised to hear that other countries don't do the same. My guess that in America, Presidents have always been easier to relate to and less like royalty. Sure, nearly all of them were lawyers, but so many came from obscurity and a few even came from poverty. You probably can't say the same about other countries until more recently.

DiscoWentPunk90 karma

Hi Mr Beat!

Who's your favorite president?

beatmastermatt307 karma

My two favorite Presidents are George Washington, probably the greatest leader in American history, and Grover Cleveland, the President who probably had more integrity than any other President in American history. Gotta love superlatives!

STFUtopia109 karma

This makes me truly happy. As a decendant of Grover Cleveland, it's amazing to see him get some recognition (or get mentioned at all).

beatmastermatt75 karma

KingBubzVI19 karma

Would you mind supplying a couple of reasons/examples of why you like Cleveland? He's a president I don't know much about, and I have a negative connotation with his name for some reason.

beatmastermatt46 karma

He had integrity- he was a man of strong character. He also had a non-interventionist foreign policy that I admire.

KingBubzVI5 karma

Like a Teddy/Washington-esque figure?

beatmastermatt31 karma

Yes, with better policy. He was basically a classic liberal.

FilthyPlagiarist73 karma

Who will you be voting for?

beatmastermatt251 karma

Gary Johnson. It's worth noting I am not in a swing state, and that I also like Jill Stein.

UUUUUUUUU03076 karma

Aren't libertarians and greens radically different from each other? I haven't really looked into it that much, but they probably have totally different ideologies and plans. I would expect libertarians to be against government interference while the green party probably wants the government to subsidise clean energy development.

beatmastermatt167 karma

On some issues, but they generally agree about foreign policy, ending crony capitalism, ending the drug war, having term limits, and protecting civil liberties.


What do you think about this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7tWHJfhiyo and the issues it proposes?

beatmastermatt28 karma

That's a classic. I love CGP Grey, and I agree with the video almost entirely.

TBANmc17 karma

Do you have an opinion about the current system America uses to elect a president? Hearing someone say that his vote doesn't count because he doesn't live in a certain state anyway seems weird to me, as a foreigner.

beatmastermatt55 karma

Yes. We need to abolish the antiquated Electoral College and replace it with instant runoff voting.

yup_username_checks4 karma

Have you seen John Oliver's video on Gary Johnson and Jill Stein? If so, how does this change your view on them if at all?

beatmastermatt54 karma

Honestly, it's just a smear piece, so it didn't change my perspective too much.

holysausage71 karma

Hello mr.Beat! I followed your series from the beginning, and I am quite impressed by the amount of research and your matter-of-fact approach to the subject matter!

My question is: How do you think this election differs from others, especially in regard to the kind of campaign Trump has run? Do you feel that that this years' dynamics are unprecedented, or are there good comparisons to earlier elections that can be drawn to other election years? Thanks in advance!

beatmastermatt136 karma

Thanks for your support!

I think this election is certainly different in terms of the rhetoric. During the primaries and in the general election campaigns, the language by the actual candidates has been more coarse than it has ever been. In the past, it was the supporters of the candidates who were coarse, not the actual candidates. Trump is a personality never before seen in a presidential election, for better or for worse. The closest we get to a character like Trump in history is George Wallace, Pat Buchanan, or perhaps Wendell Wilkie.

angryherbivore48 karma

This is a really interesting answer to me. What about Jefferson v Adams in 1800. J referred to A as "his rotundity" in various public spheres. That feels very Trump-like, in a neo- classical kind of way.

beatmastermatt56 karma

That's a good point. Maybe it didn't seem as coarse due to the language differences today.

holysausage28 karma

Thank you for a quick response!

As a follow-up, what do you figure the ramifications are for the Republican party after this election? What happens if Trump loses? Or consequently, how will it affect the party structure if he wins?

beatmastermatt86 karma

Either way, the Republican Party has to gravitate toward Trump's base or abandon the party all together. I see the party weakening due to this election. If Trump wins, I still see this happening.

PorkYewPine8 karma

Was Andrew Jackson as brash as those you mentioned?

beatmastermatt16 karma

On the campaign trail, not as brash as you'd think. At least I found little evidence to support this. Now, his supporters, on the other hand, certainly were.

Shaeos66 karma

Just learned about you.

Which election got you the most excited?

beatmastermatt205 karma

The Election of 1992, mostly because it happened in my lifetime and featured a strong third party candidate that made democracy feel more legit in this country.

SyrioForel72 karma

One of the main reasons Perot was relevant and others are not is because Perot spent a huge amount of his own money purchasing time on prime time television to run his infomercials. Is that a sign that democracy is legit, or is that a criticism that this is what it takes for someone without a giant political machine behind them to be relevant?

beatmastermatt90 karma

Actually, Perot only spent the money after a grassroots effort to get him to run after he announced on CNN that he'd be open to it. In fact, he was polling higher than both Bush and Clinton before he spent all that money.

tomdarch10 karma

In 2000, Nader had (arguably) a greater impact. Would you say that Nader's run as a "3rd party" candidate "made democracy feel more legit in this country"? (I ask, because I don't think so, but I'm not sure why.)

beatmastermatt21 karma

I actually made a whole video about Nader's impact on that election. If it doesn't answer your question, please let me know.

purple186458 karma

From a political science student, I want to know if Trumps rhetoric regarding the rigged election, challenging the election, etc. is precedented. It seems to me that this is incredibly dangerous as tens of millions of people are incredibly devoted Trump supporters (note the woman who told Mike Pence she was ready to start a revolution if Hillary wins).

Is speech like this a historically unprecedented challenge to democracy? Is it founded in any sort of truth?

beatmastermatt113 karma

It is certainly unprecedented. I have not found any records of any presidential candidate, at least any major party candidate, making such audacious claims. If we were talking about the Electoral College or the first past the post system in general, I could understand a "rigged election" argument, but Trump never brings those two things up.

yasupra49 karma

How do you think history will come to view the Obama presidency?

beatmastermatt227 karma

I think he will be viewed as generally an effective leader who struggled with deadlock in Washington. He'll be viewed as much better as Carter, maybe as good as Reagan. He'll get credit for a recovering economy. I think Obamacare and gay marriage will be the cornerstones of his legacy, though I feel his foreign policy, continuing of the drug war, and neglect for whistleblowers could tarnish that legacy.

sign_on_the_window42 karma

If your students had to learn one presidential US election in great detail, what will that election be? (not counting 2016 election)

beatmastermatt120 karma

That's such a great question. That would have to be The Election of 1860, the most consequential presidential election ever due to what it triggered. Not only that, but it was a complex and fascinating election.

venb0y37 karma

Do you think it would be as close as it seems now when Bernie would have run versus Trump instead of Hillary? How would you rate his chances in this hypothetical scenario?

beatmastermatt108 karma

No, Bernie would be dominating over Trump. Easily.

CorporalSundance18 karma

Wow, im surprised yet happy to hear you think this. Mind explaining why?

Sorry to piggy back off another comment

CorporalSundance4 karma

Wow, hadn't seen those polls. Thanks for the reply! You're great and a great role model to a college student hopeful on being a teacher!

beatmastermatt6 karma

You bet! Best of luck on your journey to being a teacher.

SynopticOutlander33 karma

You're a Matt.

I'm a history TA also named Matt.

I know 3 other history major Matts.

What is the deal with history and Matts?

beatmastermatt18 karma

Matts just rule in general, really.

dkl41529 karma

Thanks for sharing! I'm going to show these to my APUSH students.

Any thoughts on balancing video content between important elections and frankly unimportant ones?

beatmastermatt38 karma

Well thank you for sharing them with your students.

The less important elections usually got shorter videos, except for 1800, but generally I tried to add a bit of general American history in each and every one.

TheDarkFiddler14 karma

Speaking of the election of 1800, how do you feel about the musical Hamilton?

beatmastermatt29 karma

It's amazing and has social studies teachers everywhere thankful for Lin-Manuel Miranda.

questionthis27 karma

What's it really like inside the teacher's lounge?

beatmastermatt94 karma

It smells a little funny in there. It's mostly just a place where we can talk trash about kids. I joke. Kind of.

Ideaslug26 karma

What timing! A random search i did this very morning was looking up which elections have had the most mudslinging, in light of the current one. The internet has its opinions, but what is yours? Which elections have been the dirtiest?

beatmastermatt48 karma

The Election of 1800, The Election of 1828, The Election of 1860, and The Election of 1884. Notice how they all took place a very long time ago?

darkplane1313 karma

So does this mean we'll be okay?

beatmastermatt46 karma

I sincerely think so.

Brian957723 karma

Which election do you think was the least important/consequential?

beatmastermatt49 karma

That's a tossup between the election of 1792 and the election of 1820. In both cases, a candidate ran essentially unopposed. However, 1820 probably gets the edge because in 1792 Vice Presidents were the runner-up. That's why the election of 1796 ended up being a little awkward with John Adams as President and Thomas Jefferson as Vice President.

tjo8520 karma

Mr. Beat! Amazing job with the series! I've loved watching over the last few months. Thank you and congrats on getting it all done.

Question(s): what's your opinion on how much of a role Presidents really have when it comes to shaping the direction of the country? Is there too much gridlock for them to be effective? Is there still a bully pulpit or has it been drowned out in today's current environment where anyone can get their message out?

beatmastermatt34 karma

Thanks for watching and for the kind words.

Presidents certainly have influence on the national dialogue, as the bully pulpit still exists. Presidents also have great power with executive actions and executive orders, though it's been that way for awhile. Gridlock is exceptionally bad right now, though, so whoever gets elected tomorrow is going to struggle to advance their agenda. I mean, look at how some Republicans vow to block whoever Clinton would nominate for the Supreme Court- that is certainly a rarity in American history. Overall, the President's role continues to primarily be a spokesman and diplomat, especially since most of the Republicans and Democrats largely agree on foreign policy (even Trump and Clinton).

5redrb19 karma

The vow to block Supreme Court Justices is a dereliction of duty in my opinion and is why I can't vote for the republican party in its current form. Are there any interesting past examples of a political party acting like a seven year old?

beatmastermatt32 karma

Well, FDR did try to pack the court, and Article III says nothing about there having to be nine justices. Still, they are acting like seven-year olds, yes.

Fleiger13320 karma

My mom is under the belief that Trump knows more about taxes and the tax code than any other candidate to have ever run.

She bases this solely on the idea that you must be a tax genius yourself, not just to hire geniuses, in order to avoid paying taxes on the magnitude it seems like Trump is.

Does this seem accurate?

Edit- grammar

beatmastermatt55 karma

His accountants might, but him, certainly no.

Jimmy_Russula19 karma

Did you just skip this year and refer folks to South Park?

beatmastermatt33 karma

It pretty much sums it up.

Pompous_Walrus19 karma

Now that you have finished this collection, what does your life hold next?

beatmastermatt86 karma

I'm going to Disneyland.

But seriously, I have a 2016 election video planned, a song about Barack Obama planned, and a video about the history of marijuana planned. I will be taking a bit of a break first, though, as this sort of wore me out.

Cybermonk2313 karma

Looking forward to the history of marijuana video! There is so much misconception out there. I live in CO where medical and rec is currently legal, and looking forward to more states following suit! It's time to end prohibition, definitely end the Class I status, clear the prisons, and most importantly allow science to fully delve into the medical benefits of this wonderful plant.

Question: Do you plan to include the current 'case studies' of CO and WA and their new laws?

beatmastermatt26 karma

Yes I do. These case studies have already dramatically changed the national (and even global) dialogue.

cncpoise18 karma

Just seeing this today and I will watch them as soon as I'm done with work.

I'm doing a paper on the effects of social media on political campaigns, and am drawing a parallel to the first televised debate between Nixon and Kennedy.

Would you say that presidential candidates moving forward will move away from the typical politician, to someone more relatable to the American people due to constant exposure via social media?

beatmastermatt38 karma

Definitely. I think the trend toward populism is here to stay. The rise of Bernie and Trump this year supports that claim.

forava717 karma

which election was your favorite to do research one? Why?

beatmastermatt72 karma

The Election of 1872. I didn't know much about it beforehand, and it was fascinating because it featured a woman running for President before most women could even vote. Oh, and her running mate was an African American.

xXHercfanXDXx17 karma

What inspired you to make this series?

beatmastermatt42 karma

I love political history, and I've always loved learning about all the Presidents and would-be Presidents. My regular job is teaching high school American history anyway.

kapdragon15 karma

Might be a bit late and buried, but I've always wondered... how many major events in American history don't make it into the classes (because of time, textbook, prejudice, etc.) and of those events, is there one you really think should be taught and why?

beatmastermatt40 karma

The Philippine–American War needs to be taught much more in American history classes. It's always just glossed over, as if it weren't a big deal.

speisenkarte12 karma

Who was the hardest president to find information about?

Who had the most secretive personal life?

beatmastermatt30 karma

James Monroe didn't seem to have much information about him, considering he was so popular when he was alive. Regarding the second question, James Buchanan.

dis_is_my_account12 karma

With tensions so high this election with massive amount of hate for both candidates, how likely do you think that either Clinton or Trump will be assassinated?

beatmastermatt42 karma

Still fairly low. The Secret Service doesn't mess around anymore.

Jwalla8311 karma

How do you feel about Hamilton's portrayal of the election of 1800?

Did you consider how you would've voted in each election you researched? Did any in particular stand out as ones you would've been passionate to vote in?

beatmastermatt19 karma

Surprisingly, no I didn't. Not until 1992, at least.

sbs113811 karma

If you could have a dinner party with three presidents, who would you choose?

beatmastermatt26 karma

Andrew Jackson, Grover Cleveland, and Theodore Roosevelt.

Jamey410 karma

Hello Mr. Beat!

I know this may seem like an odd, hypothetical question, but I figured I'd run it by you. (I love thinking about alternate history, and watch alternate history hub a lot)

If President John F. Kennedy had never been assassinated, do you think he would have gone on to win a second term, or would he have been another single-term president?

beatmastermatt9 karma

Yes, I think Barry Goldwater would not have stood a chance, assuming Goldwater would still be the nominee against him. However, it's worth noting that some might argue that powerful people might not like JFK running again and could have used some psyops or something to work against him.

MorontheWicked10 karma

What do you think about the 1824 presidential election? Ever see something like that happening again?

beatmastermatt16 karma

What a crazy election. It was one of my favorites to research and tell the story about. Honestly, there is a small chance that could happen with this current election. It might be a bit presumptuous to think the House would pick Trump, too.

Tera_GX10 karma

Did any presidential candidates have a notable friendly relationship with each other?

beatmastermatt19 karma

Interesting question. I will tell you that it seemed to me that Mondale and Reagan seemed to get along ok.

Encryptedmind9 karma

What was the msot corrupt presidential election?

beatmastermatt15 karma

The Election of 1876, with an honorable mention going to The Election of 1824

SittingInAnAirport8 karma

Was there a specific election where we switched over to such negative campaigning, or did it just slowly creep in? It seems to have gone from 'Vote for me because I'll do these good things' to 'Don't vote for my opponent because he did this bad thing'.

beatmastermatt9 karma

It slowly creeped in, but in 1964 it really picked up with the attacks on Barry Goldwater.

Appliers8 karma

Hillary's campaign has made a big deal out of her being "the most qualified candidate in history." Is there anyone who sticks out to you as especially qualified before they took office?

DoctorGun8 karma

Hey I'm Canadian but I love American politics. I'm gonna get baked someday and watch the shit out of all your videos. Awesome stuff.

My question is.

If you had a time machine, what election could you feasibly show up to and win?

beatmastermatt12 karma

That's the best way to watch my videos!

To answer your question, probably none of them, because no one would know who I was and name recognition is incredibly important.

Big_one_bitey7 karma

Hey Mr. Beat I've been binging on your videos for a while now.

Question: Who would you put on Mount Rushmore next?

beatmastermatt12 karma

Grover Cleveland, or maybe Franklin Roosevelt.

yupyepyupyep6 karma

Should Calvin Coolidge have run for a second term? I think its crazy that he didn't. In fact, I'm not sure that any other President in his situation - great economy, huge approval ratings, etc - would have turned down a second term.

beatmastermatt9 karma

imho, yes. He was superior to Hoover, but I don't think he liked being President that much.


Hi! Big fan of the series. Having covered all the elections what do you think is the recipe for a successful third party candidate in terms of political climate and the qualities they demonstrate? How can third parties be more effective in first past the post systems?

beatmastermatt18 karma

The mainstream media giving them credibility and equal exposure.

Mswizzle235 karma

What's your favorite 19th century campaign song?

beatmastermatt12 karma

The Hunters of Kentucky!

cardinals19965 karma

What inspired you to do this? And how difficult was it trying to find information on elections pre-1900?

beatmastermatt12 karma

My love for political history and learning about the Presidents. The information was widely available, just not in a form easily understood.

narwhalle5 karma

Based on previous elections, what do you think will happen after this election and what is likelihood of impeachment of the next president?

beatmastermatt34 karma

Hillary Clinton should win based on previous elections, but I have a suspicion that we live in exceptional times. If Trump or Clinton get elected, both have a stronger chance at getting impeached than most other candidates in American history.

BoB_nugget5 karma

Was there any election that seemed like a drag to research?

Or, moreover, what was your least favorite election in terms of details?

Also, Will we ever be the same after this one?

beatmastermatt8 karma

The Election of 1956 was kind of a drag.

dustnbonez4 karma

Is there any evidence (concrete) of a rigged election?

beatmastermatt13 karma


kirbysdownb4 karma

Just watched a video and think your youtube channel is great!

quick question: what's the resource you use to get the county-level election results for pre-1900s elections (I saw your 1880 video have a fascinating chart i'd like to explore more closely)?

beatmastermatt3 karma

Believe it or not, there are maps on Wikipedia. Glad you like the channel! :)

ShovelBeatleRillaz4 karma

What an amazing idea. I love the presidents so I may as well go through the whole thing! May I ask if you ever thought a election in history was unfair?

beatmastermatt15 karma

Any of the elections in which the candidate who got the most in the popular vote still lost: 1824 1876 1888 2000

MicrowaveableJuggalo3 karma

How big of an impact does this election have on the meaning of "politics" and "political science" in future elections and even in higher educational studies?

Thank You:)

beatmastermatt10 karma

A big impact. Populism is likely here to stay. Things will likely be more "bottom-up" rather than "top-down." The fall of Jeb Bush and the near fall of Hillary Clinton are symbolic to the direction this country is likely going. The election of 2020 will probably be an exciting election.

revharrison2 karma

Future educator here. Any tips for engaging social studies lesson to begin the year?

beatmastermatt6 karma

Add music

lapishelper2 karma

Any reason to watch it as non-american?

beatmastermatt3 karma

To understand how we got to an election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Hassan3651 karma

can I get your channel link?

beatmastermatt3 karma

samantha22davis1 karma

Why do you think so"little of the population turns out to vote in our elections now?

beatmastermatt2 karma

Indifference to politics because they don't see how it relates to them. Also, part of it is due to the difficulties of getting off work.

Stanky_kaffir-1 karma

Do you have a life??

beatmastermatt1 karma