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I think I read this one in early 2000. It was a novel length hardback, I think with a white cover. The President-Elect has won the election and is riding a horse in some parade when it gets spooked. He falls off, and suffers a nasty bone fracture, which subsequently gets infected and kills him rather suddenly. The natural replacement is the vice president, who is a Brainless Beauty from a political destiny family like the Kennedy's. I think there was a line introducing him coming in for a run where it was noted that not one hair was out of place, and he sported only an attractive sheen of sweat. At the time I read it, I thought he was being portrayed as a cross between Kennedy and Quayle.

Whether due to his incompetence (meaning he'd be run by his cabinet), or some other reason, the protagonists decide someone else needs to be elected. Some or all of the Electoral College had not voted, so they were scheming to get those College members to vote for someone not supported by their state's popular vote.

  • I'm not sure enough of this for an answer, but could it be Dark Horse by Fletcher Knebel? Presidential candidate dies unexpectedly, Vice-President described as "colourless", nearly-unknown figure called in at the last minute to be elected. I can't find anything about a horse accident or electoral college shenanigans though. – Rand al'Thor Nov 10 '18 at 23:10
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I think I may have found it, The People's Choice by Jeff Greenfield, published in 1995.

Book Cover - *The People's Choice*

On Election Day in 1996, The Republican presidential ticket of Foyle-Block wins enough states to receive 305 electoral Votes, compared to 233 electoral votes for the Democratic ticket of Mueller-Vincent. Since 270 electoral votes are needed to win the Presidency, the issue of who should be the next President is thought resolved.

However, President-elect Foyle dies only days after the election in a freak accident. The Republican party then promotes his running mate, Governor Theodore Block, to the top of the ticket. Governor Block quickly proves that he is a mental lightweight, his nickname being Terry Blockhead, leading some to question his fitness for the presidency.

One of those questioning Block's fitness to be president is Michigan elector Dorothy Ledger, one of those forgotten people lost in a party's political machine who seems unimportant—until the fate of an election hinges on her actions. Ledger publicly questions whether she is required to vote for Block, and in so doing sets off a political firestorm and a minor rebellion among some Republican electors. A series of missteps by Block further exacerbates the issue.

This review mentions the horse:

It was a contentious presidential election filled with backroom shenanigans, but finally the Republican candidate won. A few days after the election, the president-elect went to Wyoming to appear in a parade with children with disabilities. The unthinkable happens when the president-elect is thrown from the horse, and DIES. Now what?

The fate of the nation now is in the hands of the Electoral College. Everyone agrees that the former vice-presidential elect is barely functional and certainly not qualified to actually be president. What will happen when the Electoral College meets?

The Google search which got me there was novel president-elect dies before swearing in. It wasn't until I wrote this question that I realized I'd been searching a president dying, not a president-elect.

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