But none of the three candidates for the nomination, Sherman, James G. Blaine and Ulysses S. Grant was able, after dozens of ballots, to garner enough votes from the delegates to win the nomination. Garfield was now put forward as a compromise candidate, and, at the 36th ballot, he won the nomination for presidential candidate on the Republican ticket.
Then in the 1880 election, Garfield defeated his Democratic opponent, Winfield Scott Hancock, to take the presidency. In a scenario that may be resonant for contemporary American voters, with 9.2 million votes cast, Garfield scraped the popular vote by a margin of less than 2,000. But his victory in the electoral college was a resounding 214 to 155.