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Entering the presidential nomination process as a distinct underdog, Lincoln was eventually chosen as the Republican candidate for the 1860 election for several reasons. His expressed views on slavery were seen as more moderate than the views of rivals William H. Seward and Salmon Chase. His "western" origins also appealed to the newer states. Other contenders, especially those with more governmental experience, had acquired enemies within the party and were weak in the critical western states. Lincoln was seen as a moderate who could win the west. Most Republicans agreed with Lincoln that the North was the aggrieved party as the Slave Power tightened its grasp on the national government. Despite his Southern connections (his in-laws owned slaves), Lincoln misunderstood the depth of the revolution underway in the South and the emergence of Southern nationalism. Throughout the 1850s he denied there would ever be a civil war. His supporters repeatedly denied that his election would be a spark for secession. Lincoln did not campaign or give speeches. The campaign was handled by the state and county Republican organizations. They were thorough and used the newest techniques to sustain the enthusiasm of party members and thus obtain high turnout. There was little effort to convert non-Republicans, and there was virtually no campaigning in the South except for a few border cities such as St. Louis, Missouri, and Wheeling, Virginia; indeed the party did not run a slate of electors in most of the South. In the North, there were thousands of Republican speakers, tons of campaign posters and leaflets, and thousands of newspaper editorials. They focused first on the party platform, and second on Lincoln's life story, making the most of his boyhood poverty, his pioneer background, his native genius, his rise from obscurity to fame. His nicknames, "Honest Abe" and "the Rail-Splitter," were exploited to the full. The point was to emphasize the superior power of "free labor", whereby a common farm boy could work his way to the top by his own efforts. On November 6, 1860, Lincoln was elected the 16th President of the United States, beating Democrat Stephen A. Douglas, John C. Breckenridge of the Southern Democrats, and John C. Bell of the new Constitutional Union Party. Lincoln was the first Republican president. He won entirely on the strength of his support in the North: he was not even on the ballot in nine states in the South — and won only 2 of 996 counties in the other Southern states. Lincoln gained 1,865,908 votes (39.9% of the total,) for 180 electoral votes; Douglas 1,380,202 (29.5%) for 12 electoral votes; Breckenridge 848,019 (18.1%) for 72 electoral votes; and Bell 590,901 (12.5%) for 39 electoral votes. There were fusion tickets in some states, but even if his opponents had combined in every state, Lincoln had a majority vote in all but two of the states in which he won the electoral votes and would still have won the electoral college and the election.