By the summer of 1864, the Union push had been stopped. At Petersburg, Union troops had been entrenched in an intricate network trenches for two months. The key to victory lay in Sherman capturing Atlanta and on July 22, the battle began and by September, Confederate Gen. Hood abandoned the city. In Virginia, Gen. Sheridan was laying waste to the Shenandoah Valley. For Lincoln, he faced an election in the midst of a civil war, something unknown at the time. Lincoln seemed unelectable and the Democrats were running the ousted Gen McClellan as their candidate. The Democrats had as their platform the immediate cessation of all hostilities. The election became a referendum on the war itself. By November, Lincoln and his running mate won a resounding victory with 55% of the popular vote. In the South, discouragement set in with the realization that they could not win the war.