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 all elections since 1880, all states have used a popular vote to do so.

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 & party Electoral College Popular vote Runner-up & party Turnout[4]
Votes % % Margin Votes Margin
1 1788–89 Washington,George Washington Ind. 69/69 100.00% 100.00% 100.00% 43,782 43,782 ,No candidate None[Note 1] 11.6%
2 1792 Washington,George Washington Ind. 132/132 100.00% 100.00% 100.00% 28,579 28,579 ,No candidate None[Note 1] 6.3%
3 1796 Adams,John Adams Fed. 71/138 51.45% 53.45% 6.90% 35,726 4,611 Jefferson,Thomas Jefferson D.-R.[Note 2] 20.1%
4 1800 Jefferson,Thomas Jefferson D.-R. 73/138 52.90% 61.43% 22.86% 41,330 15,378 Aaron Burr D.-R.[Note 3] 32.3%
5 1804 Jefferson,Thomas Jefferson D.-R. 162/176 92.05% 72.79% 45.58% 104,110 65,191 Pinckney,Charles C. Pinckney Fed. 23.8%
6 1808 Madison,James Madison D.-R. 122/175 69.72% 64.73% 32.33% 124,732 62,301 Pinckney,Charles C. Pinckney Fed. 36.8%
7 1812 Madison,James Madison D.-R. 128/217 58.99% 50.37% 2.74% 140,431 7,650 Clinton,DeWitt Clinton D.-R.[Note 4] 40.4%
8 1816 Monroe,James Monroe D.-R. 183/217 84.33% 68.16% 37.24% 76,592 41,852 King,Rufus King Fed. 23.5%
9 1820 Monroe,James Monroe D.-R. 231/232 99.57% 80.61% 64.69% 87,343 69,878 Adams, John Quincy Adams D.-R.[Note 5] 10.1%
10 1824 Adams,John Quincy Adams D.-R. 84/261 32.18% 30.92% −10.44% 113,142 −38,221 Jackson,Andrew Jackson D.-R.[Note 6] 26.9%
11 1828 Jackson,Andrew Jackson Dem. 178/261 68.20% 55.93% 12.25% 642,806 140,839 Adams,John Quincy Adams N. R. 57.3%
12 1832 Jackson,Andrew Jackson Dem. 219/286 76.57% 54.74% 17.81% 702,735 228,628 Clay,Henry Clay N. R. 57.0%
13 1836 Van Buren,Martin Van Buren Dem. 170/294 57.82% 50.79% 14.20% 763,291 213,384 Harrison,William Henry Harrison Whig 56.5%
14 1840 Harrison,William Henry Harrison Whig 234/294 79.59% 52.87% 6.05% 1,275,583 145,938 Van Buren,Martin Van Buren Dem. 80.3%
15 1844 Polk,James Polk Dem. 170/275 61.82% 49.54% 1.45% 1,339,570 39,413 Clay,Henry Clay Whig 79.2%
16 1848 Taylor,Zachary Taylor Whig 163/290 56.21% 47.28% 4.79% 1,360,235 137,882 Cass,Lewis Cass Dem. 72.8%
17 1852 Pierce,Franklin Pierce Dem. 254/296 85.81% 50.83% 6.95% 1,605,943 219,525 Scott,Winfield Scott Whig 69.5%
18 1856 Buchanan,James Buchanan Dem. 174/296 58.78% 45.29% 12.20% 1,835,140 494,472 Frémont,John Frémont Rep. 79.4%
19 1860 Lincoln,Abraham Lincoln Rep. 180/303 59.41% 39.65% 10.13% 1,855,993 474,049 Breckinridge,John Breckinridge Dem.[Note 7] 81.8%
20 1864 Lincoln,Abraham Lincoln Rep. 212/233 90.99% 55.03% 10.08% 2,211,317 405,090 McClellan,George McClellan Dem. 76.3%
21 1868 Grant,Ulysses Grant Rep. 214/294 72.79% 52.66% 5.32% 3,013,790 304,810 Seymour,Horatio Seymour Dem. 80.9%
22 1872 Grant,Ulysses Grant Rep. 286/352 81.25% 55.58% 11.80% 3,597,439 763,729 Hendricks,Thomas Hendricks Dem.[Note 8] 72.1%
23 1876 Hayes,Rutherford Hayes Rep. 185/369 50.14% 47.92% −3.00% 4,034,142 −252,666 Tilden,Samuel Tilden Dem. 82.6%
24 1880 Garfield,James Garfield Rep. 214/369 57.99% 48.31% 0.09% 4,453,337 1,898 Hancock,Winfield Scott Hancock Dem. 80.5%
25 1884 Cleveland,Grover Cleveland Dem. 219/401 54.61% 48.85% 0.57% 4,914,482 57,579 Blaine,James Blaine Rep. 78.2%
26 1888 Harrison,Benjamin Harrison Rep. 233/401 58.10% 47.80% −0.83% 5,443,892 −90,596 Cleveland,Grover Cleveland Dem. 80.5%
27 1892 Cleveland,Grover Cleveland Dem. 277/444 62.39% 46.02% 3.01% 5,553,898 363,099 Harrison,Benjamin Harrison Rep. 75.8%
28 1896 McKinley,William McKinley Rep. 271/447 60.63% 51.02% 4.31% 7,112,138 601,331 Bryan,William Jennings Bryan Dem. 79.6%
29 1900 McKinley,William McKinley Rep. 292/447 65.23% 51.64% 6.12% 7,228,864 857,932 Bryan,William Jennings Bryan Dem. 73.7%
30 1904 Roosevelt,Theodore Roosevelt Rep. 336/476 70.59% 56.42% 18.83% 7,630,557 2,546,677 Parker,Alton Brooks Parker Dem. 65.5%
31 1908 Taft,William Taft Rep. 321/483 66.46% 51.57% 8.53% 7,678,335 1,269,356 Bryan,William Jennings Bryan Dem. 65.7%
32 1912 Wilson,Woodrow Wilson Dem. 435/531 81.92% 41.84% 14.44% 6,296,284 2,173,563 Roosevelt,Theodore Roosevelt Prog. 59.0%
33 1916 Wilson,Woodrow Wilson Dem. 277/531 52.17% 49.24% 3.12% 9,126,868 578,140 Hughes,Charles Evans Hughes Rep. 61.8%
34 1920 Harding,Warren Harding Rep. 404/531 76.08% 60.32% 26.17% 16,144,093 7,004,432 Cox,James Cox Dem. 49.2%
35 1924 Coolidge,Calvin Coolidge Rep. 382/531 71.94% 54.04% 25.22% 15,723,789 7,337,547 Davis,John Davis Dem. 48.9%
36 1928 Hoover,Herbert Hoover Rep. 444/531 83.62% 58.21% 17.41% 21,427,123 6,411,659 Smith,Al Smith Dem. 56.9%
37 1932 Roosevelt,Franklin Roosevelt Dem. 472/531 88.89% 57.41% 17.76% 22,821,277 7,060,023 Hoover,Herbert Hoover Rep. 56.9%
38 1936 Roosevelt,Franklin Roosevelt Dem. 523/531 98.49% 60.80% 24.26% 27,752,648 11,070,786 Landon,Alf Landon Rep. 61.0%
39 1940 Roosevelt,Franklin Roosevelt Dem. 449/531 84.56% 54.74% 9.96% 27,313,945 4,966,201 Willkie,Wendell Willkie Rep. 62.4%
40 1944 Roosevelt,Franklin Roosevelt Dem. 432/531 81.36% 53.39% 7.50% 25,612,916 3,594,987 Dewey,Thomas Dewey Rep. 55.9%
41 1948 Truman,Harry Truman Dem. 303/531 57.06% 49.55% 4.48% 24,179,347 2,188,055 Dewey,Thomas Dewey Rep. 52.2%
42 1952 Eisenhower,Dwight Eisenhower Rep. 442/531 83.24% 55.18% 10.85% 34,075,529 6,700,439 Stevenson,Adlai Stevenson Dem. 62.3%
43 1956 Eisenhower,Dwight Eisenhower Rep. 457/531 86.06% 57.37% 15.40% 35,579,180 9,551,152 Stevenson,Adlai Stevenson Dem. 60.2%
44 1960 Kennedy,John F. Kennedy Dem. 303/537 56.42% 49.72% 0.17% 34,220,984 112,827 Nixon,Richard Nixon Rep. 63.8%
45 1964 Johnson,Lyndon Johnson Dem. 486/538 90.33% 61.05% 22.58% 43,127,041 15,951,287 Goldwater,Barry Goldwater Rep. 62.8%
46 1968 Nixon,Richard Nixon Rep. 301/538 55.95% 43.42% 0.70% 31,783,783 511,944 Humphrey,Hubert Humphrey Dem. 62.5%
47 1972 Nixon,Richard Nixon Rep. 520/538 96.65% 60.67% 23.15% 47,168,710 17,995,488 McGovern,George McGovern Dem. 56.2%
48 1976 Carter,Jimmy Carter Dem. 297/538 55.20% 50.08% 2.06% 40,831,881 1,683,247 Ford,Gerald Ford Rep. 54.8%
49 1980 Reagan,Ronald Reagan Rep. 489/538 90.89% 50.75% 9.74% 43,903,230 8,423,115 Carter,Jimmy Carter Dem. 54.2%
50 1984 Reagan,Ronald Reagan Rep. 525/538 97.58% 58.77% 18.21% 54,455,472 16,878,120 Mondale,Walter Mondale Dem. 55.2%
51 1988 Bush,George H. W. Bush Rep. 426/538 79.18% 53.37% 7.72% 48,886,597 7,077,121 Dukakis,Michael Dukakis Dem. 52.8%
52 1992 Clinton,Bill Clinton Dem. 370/538 68.77% 43.01% 5.56% 44,909,806 5,805,256 Bush,George H. W. Bush Rep. 58.1%
53 1996 Clinton,Bill Clinton Dem. 379/538 70.45% 49.23% 8.51% 47,400,125 8,201,370 Dole,Bob Dole Rep. 51.7%
54 2000 Bush,George W. Bush Rep. 271/538 50.37% 47.87% −0.51% 50,460,110 −543,816 Gore,Al Gore Dem. 54.2%
55 2004 Bush,George W. Bush Rep. 286/538 53.16% 50.73% 2.46% 62,040,610 3,012,171 Kerry,John Kerry Dem. 60.1%
56 2008 Obama,Barack Obama Dem. 365/538 67.84% 52.93% 7.27% 69,498,516 9,550,193 McCain,John McCain Rep. 61.6%
57 2012 Obama,Barack Obama Dem. 332/538 61.71% 51.06% 3.86% 65,915,795 4,982,291 Romney,Mitt Romney Rep. 58.6%
58 2016 Trump,Donald Trump Rep. 304/538 56.50% 46.09% −2.09% 62,984,828 −2,868,686 Clinton,Hillary Clinton Dem. 60.2%
59 2020 Biden,Joe Biden Dem. 306/538 56.88% 51.31% 4.45% 81,284,666 7,060,347 Trump,Donald Trump Rep. 66.8%[5]

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]

Notes[edit]

  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 (L.-R.), 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.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved 12 November 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. ^ McDonald, Michael P. (11 June 2014). "National General Election VEP Turnout Rates, 1789-Present". United States Elections Project. Retrieved 16 November 2016.
  5. ^ McDonald, Michael P. (7 December 2020). "2020 November General Election Turnout Rates". United States Elections Project. Retrieved 14 September 2021.

External links[edit]