List of United States presidential elections by popular vote margin

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Comparison of the popular vote totals since 1900[1]
  Republican
  Democrat
  All other candidates together

In a United States presidential election, the popular vote is the total number or the percentage of votes cast for a candidate by voters in the 50 states and Washington, D.C.; the candidate who gains the most votes nationwide is said to have won the popular vote. However, the popular vote is not used to determine who is elected as the nation's president or vice president. Thus it is possible for the winner of the popular vote to end up losing the election, an outcome that has occurred on five occasions, most recently in the 2016 election. This is because presidential elections are indirect elections; the votes cast on Election Day are not cast directly for a candidate, but for members of the Electoral College. The Electoral College's electors then formally elect the president and vice president.[2][3]

The Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution (1804) provides the procedure by which the president and vice president are elected; electors vote separately for each office. Previously, electors cast two votes for president, and the winner and runner up became president and vice-president respectively. The appointment of electors is a matter for each state's legislature to determine; in 1872 and in every presidential election since 1880, all states have used a popular vote to do so.

The 1824 election was the first in which the popular vote was first fully recorded and reported. Since then, 19 presidential elections have occurred in which a candidate was elected or reelected without gaining a majority of the popular vote.[4]

List[edit]

The table below is a list of United States presidential elections by popular vote margin. It is sorted to display elections by their presidential term / year of election, name, margin by percentage in popular vote, popular vote, margin in popular vote by number, and the runner up in the Electoral College.

Key
Parties:   Democratic-Republican  Democratic  Republican  Whig  Progressive  Liberal Republican  National Republican  Federalist  Independent
Vote outcomes:    Winner did not receive a majority of the popular vote •    Winner lost the popular vote   Winner chosen by the House of Representatives
Election Winner and party Electoral College Popular vote Runner-up and party Turnout[5]
Votes % % Margin Votes Margin
1788–89 George Washington Ind. 69/69 100.00% 100.00% 100.00% 43,782 43,782 ,No candidate[a] 11.6%
1792 George Washington Ind. 132/132 100.00% 100.00% 100.00% 28,579 28,579 ,No candidate[a] 6.3%
1796 John Adams Fed. 71/138 51.45% 53.45% 6.90% 35,726 4,611 Thomas Jefferson D-R[b] 20.1%
1800 Thomas Jefferson D-R 73/138 52.90% 61.43% 22.86% 41,330 15,378 Aaron Burr D-R[c] 32.3%
1804 Thomas Jefferson D-R 162/176 92.05% 72.79% 45.58% 104,110 65,191 Pinckney,Charles C. Pinckney Fed. 23.8%
1808 James Madison D-R 122/175 69.72% 64.74% 32.33% 124,732 62,301 Pinckney,Charles C. Pinckney Fed. 36.8%
1812 James Madison D-R 128/217 58.99% 50.37% 2.74% 140,431 7,650 DeWitt Clinton D-R[d] 40.4%
1816 James Monroe D-R 183/217 84.33% 68.16% 37.24% 76,592 41,852 Rufus King Fed. 23.5%
1820 James Monroe D-R 231/232 99.57% 80.61% 64.69% 87,343 69,878 John Quincy Adams D-R[e] 10.1%
1824 John Quincy Adams D-R 84/261 32.18% 30.92% −10.44% 113,142 −38,221 Andrew Jackson D-R[f] 26.9%
1828 Andrew Jackson Dem. 178/261 68.20% 55.93% 12.25% 642,806 140,839 John Quincy Adams NR 57.3%
1832 Andrew Jackson Dem. 219/286 76.57% 54.74% 17.81% 702,735 228,628 Henry Clay NR 57.0%
1836 Martin Van Buren Dem. 170/294 57.82% 50.79% 14.20% 763,291 213,384 William Henry Harrison Whig 56.5%
1840 William Henry Harrison Whig 234/294 79.59% 52.87% 6.05% 1,275,583 145,938 Martin Van Buren Dem. 80.3%
1844 James K. Polk Dem. 170/275 61.82% 49.54% 1.45% 1,339,570 39,413 Henry Clay Whig 79.2%
1848 Zachary Taylor Whig 163/290 56.21% 47.28% 4.79% 1,360,235 137,882 Lewis Cass Dem. 72.8%
1852 Franklin Pierce Dem. 254/296 85.81% 50.83% 6.95% 1,605,943 219,525 Winfield Scott Whig 69.5%
1856 James Buchanan Dem. 174/296 58.78% 45.29% 12.20% 1,835,140 494,472 John C. Frémont Rep. 79.4%
1860 Abraham Lincoln Rep. 180/303 59.41% 39.65% 10.13% 1,855,993 474,049 John C. Breckinridge Dem.[g] 81.8%
1864 Abraham Lincoln Rep. 212/233 90.99% 55.03% 10.08% 2,211,317 405,090 George B. McClellan Dem. 76.3%
1868 Ulysses S. Grant Rep. 214/294 72.79% 52.66% 5.32% 3,013,790 304,810 Horatio Seymour Dem. 80.9%
1872 Ulysses S. Grant Rep. 286/352 81.25% 55.58% 11.80% 3,597,439 763,729 Thomas A. Hendricks Dem.[h] 72.1%
1876 Rutherford B. Hayes Rep. 185/369 50.14% 47.92% −3.00% 4,034,142 −252,666 Samuel J. Tilden Dem. 82.6%
1880 James A. Garfield Rep. 214/369 57.99% 48.31% 0.09% 4,453,337 1,898 Winfield Scott Hancock Dem. 80.5%
1884 Grover Cleveland Dem. 219/401 54.61% 48.85% 0.57% 4,914,482 57,579 James G. Blaine Rep. 78.2%
1888 Benjamin Harrison Rep. 233/401 58.10% 47.80% −0.83% 5,443,892 −90,596 Grover Cleveland Dem. 80.5%
1892 Grover Cleveland Dem. 277/444 62.39% 46.02% 3.01% 5,553,898 363,099 Benjamin Harrison Rep. 75.8%
1896 William McKinley Rep. 271/447 60.63% 51.02% 4.31% 7,112,138 601,331 William Jennings Bryan Dem. 79.6%
1900 William McKinley Rep. 292/447 65.23% 51.64% 6.12% 7,228,864 857,932 William Jennings Bryan Dem. 73.7%
1904 Theodore Roosevelt Rep. 336/476 70.59% 56.42% 18.83% 7,630,557 2,546,677 Alton Brooks Parker Dem. 65.5%
1908 William Howard Taft Rep. 321/483 66.46% 51.57% 8.53% 7,678,335 1,269,356 William Jennings Bryan Dem. 65.7%
1912 Woodrow Wilson Dem. 435/531 81.92% 41.84% 14.44% 6,296,284 2,173,563 Theodore Roosevelt Prog. 59.0%
1916 Woodrow Wilson Dem. 277/531 52.17% 49.24% 3.12% 9,126,868 578,140 Charles Evans Hughes Rep. 61.8%
1920 Warren G. Harding Rep. 404/531 76.08% 60.32% 26.17% 16,144,093 7,004,432 James M. Cox Dem. 49.2%
1924 Calvin Coolidge Rep. 382/531 71.94% 54.04% 25.22% 15,723,789 7,337,547 John W. Davis Dem. 48.9%
1928 Herbert Hoover Rep. 444/531 83.62% 58.21% 17.41% 21,427,123 6,411,659 Al Smith Dem. 56.9%
1932 Franklin D. Roosevelt Dem. 472/531 88.89% 57.41% 17.76% 22,821,277 7,060,023 Herbert Hoover Rep. 56.9%
1936 Franklin D. Roosevelt Dem. 523/531 98.49% 60.80% 24.26% 27,752,648 11,070,786 Alf Landon Rep. 61.0%
1940 Franklin D. Roosevelt Dem. 449/531 84.56% 54.74% 9.96% 27,313,945 4,966,201 Wendell Willkie Rep. 62.4%
1944 Franklin D. Roosevelt Dem. 432/531 81.36% 53.39% 7.50% 25,612,916 3,594,987 Thomas E. Dewey Rep. 55.9%
1948 Harry S. Truman Dem. 303/531 57.06% 49.55% 4.48% 24,179,347 2,188,055 Thomas E. Dewey Rep. 52.2%
1952 Dwight D. Eisenhower Rep. 442/531 83.24% 55.18% 10.85% 34,075,529 6,700,439 Adlai Stevenson II Dem. 62.3%
1956 Dwight D. Eisenhower Rep. 457/531 86.06% 57.37% 15.40% 35,579,180 9,551,152 Adlai Stevenson II Dem. 60.2%
1960 John F. Kennedy Dem. 303/537 56.42% 49.72% 0.17% 34,220,984 112,827 Richard Nixon Rep. 63.8%
1964 Lyndon B. Johnson Dem. 486/538 90.33% 61.05% 22.58% 43,127,041 15,951,287 Barry Goldwater Rep. 62.8%
1968 Richard Nixon Rep. 301/538 55.95% 43.42% 0.70% 31,783,783 511,944 Hubert Humphrey Dem. 62.5%
1972 Richard Nixon Rep. 520/538 96.65% 60.67% 23.15% 47,168,710 17,995,488 George McGovern Dem. 56.2%
1976 Jimmy Carter Dem. 297/538 55.20% 50.08% 2.06% 40,831,881 1,683,247 Gerald Ford Rep. 54.8%
1980 Ronald Reagan Rep. 489/538 90.89% 50.75% 9.74% 43,903,230 8,423,115 Jimmy Carter Dem. 54.2%
1984 Ronald Reagan Rep. 525/538 97.58% 58.77% 18.21% 54,455,472 16,878,120 Walter Mondale Dem. 55.2%
1988 George H. W. Bush Rep. 426/538 79.18% 53.37% 7.72% 48,886,597 7,077,121 Michael Dukakis Dem. 52.8%
1992 Bill Clinton Dem. 370/538 68.77% 43.01% 5.56% 44,909,806 5,805,256 George H. W. Bush Rep. 58.1%
1996 Bill Clinton Dem. 379/538 70.45% 49.23% 8.51% 47,400,125 8,201,370 Bob Dole Rep. 51.7%
2000 George W. Bush Rep. 271/538 50.37% 47.87% −0.51% 50,455,156 −537,179 Al Gore Dem. 54.2%
2004 George W. Bush Rep. 286/538 53.16% 50.73% 2.46% 62,040,610 3,012,171 John Kerry Dem. 60.1%
2008 Barack Obama Dem. 365/538 67.84% 52.93% 7.27% 69,498,516 9,550,193 John McCain Rep. 61.6%
2012 Barack Obama Dem. 332/538 61.71% 51.06% 3.86% 65,915,795 4,982,291 Mitt Romney Rep. 58.6%
2016 Donald Trump Rep. 304/538 56.50% 46.09% −2.09% 62,984,828 −2,868,686 Hillary Clinton Dem. 57.3%
2020 Joe Biden Dem. 306/538 56.88% 51.31% 4.45% 81,284,666 7,060,347 Donald Trump Rep. 66.2%
  1. ^ a b Washington ran unopposed and was unanimously elected in both elections; John Adams received the majority of electors' second votes and became vice-president.
  2. ^ Jefferson became vice-president, as both Adams's and Jefferson's electors split over their choices for vice-president.
  3. ^ Jefferson and Burr ran on the same ticket; Jefferson's main election rival in the 1800 election was incumbent president and Federalist candidate, John Adams. Due to the Democratic-Republicans failing to arrange for a different candidate to receive what was Burr's 73rd electoral vote, the election was decided by the House, who eventually elected Jefferson on the 36th ballot. The Twelfth Amendment was later enacted to prevent a recurrence of the issue.
  4. ^ While commonly labeled as the Federalist candidate, Clinton ran as a Democratic-Republican and was not nominated by the Federalist party itself, the latter simply deciding not to field a candidate. This did not prevent endorsements from state Federalist parties (such as in Pennsylvania), but he received endorsements from state Democratic-Republican parties (such as in New York) as well.
  5. ^ The 1820 election took place at the height of the Era of Good Feelings; Monroe did not face serious opposition, though 16% of the popular vote went towards unpledged Federalist electors. Adams's only electoral vote came from a faithless elector.
  6. ^ Jackson won a plurality of electoral votes – 99 compared to Adams's 84 – but lost due to Adams securing a majority of state delegations in the contingent election.
  7. ^ Breckinridge was the runner up in the electoral vote; Stephen A. Douglas was the runner up in the popular vote.
  8. ^ The initial Democratic-backed candidate, Horace Greeley (Lib. Rep.), died between the popular election and the meeting of electors; his electoral college votes scattered, with Hendricks gaining 42 of the 66 electors previously committed to Greeley.

Timeline[edit]

Presidents of the U.S. listed in a timeline graph of elections with results of the popular vote color coded for political parties.
A gray arrow points to the name of a person who became president without having been elected as president (9 total). The double arrow indicates becoming president without having been elected as vice president as well (Ford). 5 other former vice presidents are underlined (14 total). The top line indicates the Presidency number (e.g. Reagan: 40th) with Roman numerals indicating election (and term) number.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved November 12, 2017.
  2. ^ "Clinton on pace to win popular vote despite losing election". CBS News. November 9, 2016. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  3. ^ Bostedt, Shelbie Lynn (November 9, 2016). "How it happened: Clinton wins popular vote but loses Election". RedEye. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  4. ^ McPherson, J. (2001). To the Best of My Ability: The American Presidents. Dorling Kindersly Publishing.
  5. ^ McDonald, Michael P. (11 June 2014). "National General Election VEP Turnout Rates, 1789-Present". United States Elections Project. Retrieved 16 November 2016.

External links[edit]