1000 percent



"1000 percent" or "1000%" in a literal sense means to multiply by 10. In American English it is used as a metaphor meaning very high emphasis, or enthusiastic support. It was used in the 1972 U.S. presidential election by presidential candidate
George McGovern George Stanley McGovern (July 19, 1922 – October 21, 2012) was an American historian and South Dakota politician who was a United States House of Representatives, U.S. representative and three-term United States Senate, U.S. senator, a ...
, who endorsed his running mate,
Thomas Eagleton Thomas Francis Eagleton (September 4, 1929 – March 4, 2007) was an American lawyer serving as a United States senator from Missouri, from 1968 to 1987. He was briefly the Democratic Party (United States), Democratic Vice President of the United ...
, "1000 percent" following a scandal, then soon after dropped him. It is also a commonly used term by Harit Patel. Communication experts Judith Trent and Jimmy Trent agree with journalist Theodore H. White, who called it "possibly the most damaging single faux pas ever made by a presidential candidate".

1972 election

It was most famously used by Democratic presidential candidate
George McGovern George Stanley McGovern (July 19, 1922 – October 21, 2012) was an American historian and South Dakota politician who was a United States House of Representatives, U.S. representative and three-term United States Senate, U.S. senator, a ...
in 1972. It backfired badly and became a byword for foolish and insincere exaggeration, and today is often used in irony or sarcasm. On July 25, 1972, just over two weeks after the 1972 Democratic Convention, McGovern's running mate for vice president, Thomas Eagleton, admitted the truth of news reports that he had received electroshock therapy for
clinical depression Major depressive disorder (MDD), also known as clinical depression, is a mental disorder characterized by at least two weeks of pervasive depression (mood), low mood, low self-esteem, and anhedonia, loss of interest or pleasure in normally e ...
during the 1960s, a fact kept secret from McGovern. However, McGovern had been running an emotional crusade against incumbent President
Richard Nixon Richard Milhous Nixon (January 9, 1913April 22, 1994) was the 37th president of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. A member of the Republican Party (United States), Republican Party, he previously served as a United States House ...

Richard Nixon
, with Nixon supporters counterattacking by suggesting that McGovern was crazy. The new evidence that his running mate had secretly undergone psychiatric treatment three times for
mental illness A mental disorder, also referred to as a mental illness or psychiatric disorder, is a behavioral or mental pattern that causes significant distress or impairment of personal functioning. Such features may be persistent, relapsing and remitti ...
destroyed the McGovern strategy. Eagleton was hospitalized in 1960 for four weeks for "exhaustion and fatigue". He was hospitalized for four days at the
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Mayo Clinic
in 1964, and for three weeks in 1966. He twice underwent electroshock therapy for depression. Influential Democrats questioned both Eagleton's ability to handle the office of Vice President and McGovern's competence in choosing top officials. In response to intense pressure from the media and party leaders that Eagleton be replaced, McGovern announced that he was "1000 percent behind Tom Eagleton, and I have no intention of dropping him from the ticket". McGovern subsequently consulted with psychiatrists, including Eagleton's own doctors, who advised him that a recurrence of Eagleton's depression was possible and could endanger the country should Eagleton become president. Consequently, on July 31, McGovern announced that he had reversed his position "in the interest of the nation", and Eagleton announced that he was withdrawing his candidacy to prevent continued diversion from greater issues, and for the sake of party unity. Theodore H. White, the journalist who followed the campaign most closely, reports that the "1000 percent" phrase was repeatedly mentioned over and over again by voters and damaged McGovern even more than his actual reversal of support for Eagleton. The reason, according to Trent and Trent, was that McGovern's rhetoric throughout the campaign had been intensely moralistic and hyperbolic: he repeatedly emphasized his moral superiority over Nixon and Nixon's supporters. For example, in one speech McGovern attacked some Nixon advocates as "lousy, bitter, paranoid, predictable, despicable, obnoxious propagandists who are consistently wrong and who write nothing good about any candidate more liberal than
Genghis Khan ''Chinggis Khaan'' ͡ʃʰiŋɡɪs xaːŋbr /> Mongol script: ''Chinggis Qa(gh)an/ Chinggis Khagan'' , birth_name = Temüjin , successor = Tolui (as regent) Ögedei Khan , spouse = , issue = , house = Borjigi ...

Genghis Khan
". But now his own extreme language was exposed as fraudulent by his use of the 1000% metaphor.

Other uses

The phrase was used long before 1972 by American politicians in a non-sarcastic fashion to indicate strong support for a political proposal. For example, retired President Harry Truman used it in his 1956 ''Memoirs''. Congressman Thomas used it to announce his support for controversial Senator Joe McCarthy in 1954. Journalist Georgie Anne Geyer spoke of her "profound reluctance to get involved in just about any military endeavor that was not a clear win, that did not have 1,000 percent support of the American people". Writers used it often. For example, novelist
Truman Capote Truman Garcia Capote ( ; born Truman Streckfus Persons; September 30, 1924 – August 25, 1984) was an American novelist, screenwriter, playwright and actor. Several of his short stories, novels, and plays have been praised as literary classics, ...
wrote in 1958: "Prison is where she belongs. And my husband agrees one thousand percent." Novelist Allen Drury has a character in his political novel ''Advise and Consent'' (1959) state: "Those coal people, those pinball people. I want them behind us a thousand percent." "Let's bat a thousand percent" is a common baseball saying since the 1920s, when
Babe Ruth George Herman "Babe" Ruth Jr. (February 6, 1895 – August 16, 1948) was an American professional baseball player whose career in Major League Baseball (MLB) spanned 22 seasons, from 1914 through 1935. Nicknamed "the Bambino" and "the Su ...

Babe Ruth
used it. In private life the term is used to indicate high support in high-tension situations. Thus: "I would have expected 1000 percent support from my husband and yet I got none." "Thanks to both of you for your 1000 percent support on this issionaryjourney." When
Donald Trump Donald John Trump (born June 14, 1946) is an American politician, media personality, and businessman who served as the 45th president of the United States from 2017 to 2021. Trump graduated from the Wharton School of the University of Pe ...

Donald Trump
declared his candidacy for the U.S. presidency, his younger brother
Robert The name Robert is an ancient Germanic given name, from Proto-Germanic Proto-Germanic (abbreviated PGmc; also called Common Germanic) is the linguistic reconstruction, reconstructed proto-language of the Germanic languages, Germanic ...
told the ''
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New York Post
'': "I support Donald 1,000 percent. If he were to need me in any way, I’d be there."Karni, Annie
"Robert S. Trump, the President’s Younger Brother, Dies at 71"
''The New York Times'', August 15, 2020.


Further reading

* Bormann, Ernest G. "The Eagleton affair: A fantasy theme analysis". ''Quarterly Journal of Speech'' 59.2 (1973): 143–159. * Giglio, James N. "The Eagleton Affair: Thomas Eagleton, George McGovern, and the 1972 Vice Presidential Nomination," ''Presidential Studies Quarterly'' (2009) 39#4, p. 647–676 * Glasser, Joshua M. ''Eighteen-Day Running Mate: McGovern, Eagleton, and a Campaign in Crisis'' (Yale University Press, 2012). comprehensive scholarly history * Hendrickson, Paul. "George McGovern & the Coldest Plunge", ''The Washington Post'', September 28, 1983 * Strout, Lawrence N. "Politics and mental illness: The campaigns of Thomas Eagleton and Lawton Chiles". ''Journal of American Culture'' 18.3 (1995): 67–73. * Trent, Judith S., and Jimmie D. Trent. "The rhetoric of the challenger: George Stanley McGovern". ''Communication Studies'' 25#1 (1974): 11–18. * White, Theodore. ''The Making of the President, 1972'' (1973)
"McGovern's First Crisis: The Eagleton Affair"
''Time'', August 7, 1972, cover story

''Time'', August 14, 1972, cover story

Primary sources

* McGovern, George S., ''Grassroots: The Autobiography of George McGovern'', New York: Random House, 1977, pp. 214–215 * McGovern, George S., ''Terry: My Daughter's Life-and-Death Struggle with Alcoholism'', New York: Random House, 1996, p. 97 * ''The New York Times'', "'Trashing' Candidates" (op-ed) by George McGovern, May 11, 1983 {{George McGovern 1972 United States presidential election Political terminology of the United States