Along the last week of the 1860 election....it had turned into a bigger mess than any previous election. In a normal presidential voting year....there would be typically two significant parties in the mix.....the Republicans versus the Democrats.
In this 1860 election....six months prior at the Democratic Convention held in Charleston, SC.....things got screwed up. The likely (guaranteed winner)...Senator Stephen A. Douglas arrived and all he had to do is put up the general and regular platform, which said that slavery was not acceptable but no one was going to change nothing.
Well....the Alabama delegation decided that because of Lincoln's comments and the anticipated games to be played out to end slavery....that Douglas needed to put a heavy comment into the platform to say slavery was acceptable. It didn't happen.
So the Convention ended a couple of days later, without a vote on Douglas, and everyone walked out.
It's decided six weeks later, at a second convention in Baltimore.....that get everyone lined up and agreed on Douglas, and not to drag this into a big mess. Some folks are peppy and angry because of this treatment and forced vote.
So this group of folks....mostly southern state Democrats.....walk down the street and have a meeting. They decide to front a third-party, and their guy....John Breckinridge of Kentucky is the chosen guy.
This sets up an interesting election. If you go state by state....without the Breckinridge mix in this deal....Douglas wins. But up and down the line....Breckinridge steals votes entirely in the south....taking literally every single state. In the north, some split continues, with Lincoln taking most all of the remaining states outside of the south.
Douglas? The guy who should have won the entire election? By reshaping this election and taking support away from the obvious supposed winner, the southern states created a dynamic which should not have existed.
Douglas after this election? He's dead eight months after the election, from Typhoid Fever, in Chicago.
If the Democrats had simply stuck with the better received guy, Douglas? That's the thing about it. Lincoln would not have won. Slavery, for some brief period of time (maybe another five years) would have continued, and the cotton market shifting over to India and Egypt would have shut down the value of virtually every single slave. The war would never come, and people would not have gotten so peppy and energized over this whole Lincoln topic.