U.S. Elections Through the Years

Political hopefuls burn bright, then fade. Parties and poll numbers rise and fall. Presidents pass the torch, power changes hands.

Through it all, one constant remains: The Associated Press’ coverage of American politics, with a special emphasis on elections at the state and national level.

Since the election of Zachary Taylor as the 12th U.S. president in 1848, AP has been a trusted source of election coverage. This year, as it does every Election Day, AP will report results from towns, cities and every county in the U.S. The news cooperative is widely considered the gold standard for election night results.

Workers are shown in the offices of the Associated Press on Election night, Nov. 8, 1932, in New York. (AP Photo)

Since AP launched its WirePhoto service in 1935, the news cooperative has been no less committed to photographic coverage of the electoral process. Staff photographers, freelancers and member newspapers provide a steady stream of images from the primaries through the general election. The mandate for AP political coverage — words or pictures — has remained the same since Polk’s day: be accurate, be fair and be fast. And for tireless photographers, who can rarely recover a missed shot, it means always keeping a camera on the candidate.

But AP photojournalists in the midst of a grinding political campaign will look for images beyond the staged photo op, often producing revealing and unconventional images. For that approach AP photographers covering the 1992 presidential campaign received the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography.

Below is a selection of images from the Associated Press’ coverage of American politics.


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