Obama Avoided Defeat By Less Than 350,000 Votes

The race between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney was decided in just a few ultra-competitive states that could have gone either way. Had Romney won these states he would be President-elect Romney today. There is precedent for this kind of near victory despite a popular vote loss. In 2004 John Kerry was less than 120,000 votes in Ohio from winning an Electoral College victory over George Bush despite losing the popular vote by nearly the same margin as Romney (50% – 48%).

Here are the states and the vote difference (in Obama’s favor) between the two candidates:

State – Vote Differential (Electoral Votes)
Virginia – 110,341 (13)
Ohio – 100,142 (18)
Florida – 47,016 (29)
New Mexico – 76,222 (6)

Those totals are current as we publish, but could change slightly in the next few days. It’s also worth noting that Iowa (88,501 vote differential, 6 EV’s) could be used instead of New Mexico and still be under 350,000 total vote differential.

Out of a total of over 120 million votes, Barack Obama’s real margin of victory over Mitt Romney was 333,721 votes.

This data is important in framing the discussion of both how Obama won and how Romney lost. I intend to explore a variety of theories in separate posts over the coming days.

Obama won. Life goes on.
After The Elections: Where Is America Now? It's Dead, That's Where
  • TomInCali

    Had Romney won these states he would be President-elect Romney today.

    And had my grandma wheels, she’d be a wagon.

    There is precedent for this kind of near victory.

    “Near victory”? Is that the latest doublespeak? I believe they used to call that “losing”.

    I’m not sure where you’re going with this, but if you’re going to attempt to minimize Obama’s win by splitting his margins into smaller buckets, just remember that Bush had way smaller margins in both 2000 and 2004.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jim-Barfield/100000623883703 Jim Barfield

      I assume you are in California by your screen name which says a lot. Well at least now California with their less than lack luster saving techniques can take from those states that do control their monetary responsibilities. As Margret Thatcher once said “The trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.” The so called half of this country that did not vote this way will soon be broke by this presidents policies. We cannot feed the government bureaucracies and the welfare dole forever.

      • TomInCali

        Wow, did you just pick a random thread on Wizbang to post that? Well, that’s OK. It’s hard to take seriously any views from someone whose first name is Jim. So there.

        • Carl

          lol…

  • http://twitter.com/JonPavlovsky Jon Pavlovsky

    I am curious to know why all military absentee ballots were not counted and what about all provisional ballots?

    • Commander_Chico

      They have been burned on orders of the central committee of the politburo of the Obama commissariat. I got a confidential email on this today.

  • herddog505

    Let’s not lose sight of the central fact: Romney lost by roughly three milion votes, or about 2.5% (not all votes are in, of course, but there’s no reason to expect the basic ratio to change). In the EV, the loss is even more pronounced; the only silver lining in this cloud is that I expect that we won’t be treated to the usual democrat b*tching about the EV for the next four years. Frankly, TomInCali is in the right of it:

    Near victory”? Is that the latest doublespeak? I believe they used to call that “losing”.

    I don’t say, however, that the analysis doesn’t have some merit. First of all, it is a little comfort to those of us who are on the losing side: to use a football analogy, we lost, but had our passing game been a bit better and had we had a few less penalties, we would have won. It’s something.

    It’s also useful for guiding future election strategy, though I suppose that it’s no secret that national elections really come down to a handful of states: how to get a few hundred thousand more votes in OH, VA, PA, FL, PA and a few other states is something that ought to occupy what passes for the GOP political brain trust* for the next four years.

    ===

    (*) You know: the clowns who gave us Bob Dole, John McCain, and – though I’m a fan – Sarah Palin. They don’t exactly inspire confidence.

    As for Mitt and Ryan… I’m really not sure what to make of them yet. I think that Barry’s campaign to “kill” Mitt right out of the gate worked very well, though it was almost undone by Barry’s poor first debate performance. Though he seems to be a thoroughly decent man, Romney never projected any particular likability, compassion, or even fire: he came across, even without MiniTru ranting about his dog, binders, Big Bird, and all the other horsesh*t they threw at him, as a technocrat, a man thoroughly qualified to be chairman of the board but not an inspiring political figure. Further, aside from promising to repeal ObamaCare and create jobs, what they hell DID he plan to do?

    Ryan struck me as even more whonkish. There’s not much question that he’s something of an expert on the budget, but I’m not so sure that Americans are interested in electing “experts”.

    The sad thing is that they were the best of the bunch. I detest Newt as a sharp-witted opportunist; Cain and Bachmann came across as loons; Santorum and Pawlenty as Romneys without the high level of technical competence. The GOP simply has to do a better job of picking candidates: they have to BE what MiniTru will say the democrat – ANY democrat – is.

    • Commander_Chico

      I say again, Rubio would have made a big difference, esp given the margins in FL and NM. Portman might have tipped Ohio. Winning Progressive Wisconsin was always a stretch.

      Fact is that the VP pick highlighted Romney’s arrogance and poor judgment.

      • jim_m

        I could be wrong but I recall your criticizing Rubio back in July and claiming that he would bring doom upon the ticket.

        • Commander_Chico

          Nope. I was beating the Rubio drum for months.

          • Carl

            You mean Jim as wrong? I’m sooo surprised.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jim-Barfield/100000623883703 Jim Barfield

        It would have made little difference who he picked. Their agenda was to destroy no matter the candidate. Lie, cheat what ever they thought the American people sitting at home without jobs on the government dole wanted to hear.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jim-Barfield/100000623883703 Jim Barfield

      Can anyone say Al Frankein? It took 4 recounts in Minnesota to get the results the democrats wanted. Don’t tell me they used to call it loosing. Everyone just expects more class out of the republican party and for them never to fight back. You can only slap a good dog so many times before he turns and rips your frigin arm off.

    • TomInCali

      The problem, as I’m sure you’ve heard from both sides, is that it takes one kind of Republican candidate to win the nomination, and another kind to win the general election. Romney tried to pivot between them, so he came closest, but his two-faced opportunism was too blatant. I believe your best chance is to figure out how to nominate someone who is proudly and consistently moderate (at least on social issues). Unfortunately, those people tend to get drummed out of the party.

      • hstad

        Same problem for Democratic primaries!

  • Paul Hooson

    I was once a campaign manager for a candidate for the state legislature, and I picked 49 of 50 states correctly in this election, only missing on Florida. There’s certain things I just understand about politics that some people who never managed a campaign just don’t seem to understand.
    I think it’s probably better to look at how Romney lost this election in the first place:
    1. A lack of good ground organization to get out the vote. 2. A lack of a true vision on how to actually provide those 12 million jobs he claimed. 3. Political views that excluded too many voters, such as cuts to student aid grants, opposing the auto bailout, making Hispanic voters wary of his views on immigration policy, etc. 4. Too many contradictory views on too many issues or outrightly false statements such as the false claim that “Jeep Is Moving To China” that made many voters question his integrity. 5. Losing both home state of Michigan as well as Massachusetts where he was governor. 6.Choosing a member of Congress, rather than a governor or senator who was also unable to carry his home state. 7. Romney not listening to his own internal polls, and instead wasting valuable time and resources campaigning in Pennsylvania where he had no chance to win. 8. Romney seemed especially inarticulate on foreign policy, where even on issues like Israel, Jewish voters just didn’t feel very assured. 9. Hurricane Sandy, which blunted any late momentum for Romney, and gave the president one last chance to appear presidential. This storm had an impact on 42% of voters for example, and Obama did very well among this group of voters. 10. The Republican primary process was also damaging to Romney, where the party presented a string of unacceptable candidates to the American public before deciding on Romney. Michele Bachmann, was the early front-runner, but quickly fizzled because of some wacky views. Then Herman Cain was the front-runner, but appeared to be something of a sex offender and collapsed. Rick Perry proved to be an empty suit who did badly in the debates and fizzled. And Newt Gingrich and fringe candidate Rick Santorum both peaked and collapsed as well, finally only leaving Romney as the last man standing who looked presidential, but was hardly the skilled politician who could really be elected in a national election. Romney’s skills as a business manager buying a distressed business for a bargain price and then liquidating the company assets through bankruptcy auctions of company assets was far different than true skills managing a campaign or being able to manage and run the greatest country in the world. Romney proved himself to be not as good at delegating responsibility to others as the the sitting president was, and in the end that made all of the difference here.
    A footnote here: Michele Bachmann’s ill-fated campaign for president not only fizzled, but raised enough doubts about her as a legislator that she nearly lost her seat in Congress and barely survived. Losing an election is often devastating to a challenger, where Romney is now damaged goods as well, only leaving the GOP to find someone more suitable for 2016 who can withstand a strong Democratic candidate such as Hillary Clinton, or else lose again. Further, any candidate needs far better organizational skills and the ability to better delegate responsibility to good campaign managers as well as consistent views that are well thought out and well articulated. Romney often looked nervous or ill at ease in front of the cameras, which seemed to make him prone to some poor use of words. Further, a sense of arrogance sometimes was a real turnoff to voters as well, where Romney seemed better at a sharp tongue than really explaining specifics to the voters. Lose a few votes here, lose a few votes there, and it all eventually adds up. Romney needed to be a better managed candidate, and part of that was his own fault, and part of that was his handlers who didn’t appear to have good control of their candidate. A good campaign manager is sometimes more important than a perfect candidate. In the end, Obama appeared willing to follow his handlers advice much better than Romney, such as adjusting his debate style after that disastrous first debate, as well as to delegate responsibility to the right people. That tells me that Romney might have often tried to overwhelm his own handlers with his own self-sense of authority, and was not really a very manageable candidate. That style could have been disastrous in office, especially during a major foreign policy crisis.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jim-Barfield/100000623883703 Jim Barfield

      TOTUS??????

    • SteveCrickmore075

      Well done Paul! GOOD PREDICTION! here is one pollster who was perfect!

  • Wild_Willie

    You cannot use the total votes for or against. But Obama showed a very small margin. When you factor in 8 million NYC votes for Obama and except for a few counties all of California, this is a very devided nation. Ohio has to watch out. Remember, Obama asked employers not to notify their employees of lay offs until after the election. ww

  • joeyangtree

    “The race between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney was decided in just a few ultra-competitive states that could have gone either way.”

    I think that this quote adequately shows that you learned little about polling in this election cycle. Nate Silver’s 538 site, which you referred to as a “Magic BS Spewing Machine” predicted the result in every swing state correctly. Do you think that was just luck? Also, his site wasn’t the only one to do so. The sites that used state poll aggregations to predict the outcome of the election were amazingly accurate.

    This is the current nature of elections in this country. They are heavily contested in a few states. However, if you are showing a steady 1-3% margin in the state polls in a state, the chance that you will win that state is actually very large. Polling is quite good these days, and the chance that many, repeated polls from many different companies are all showing the same bias is very low. There was a lot of talk before the election about how the polls were skewed, had a pro-Democratic bias, etc. but all that bloviation turned out to be be the actual “magic BS Spewing Machine”. I’ll look forward to seeing if you can integrate this information into your analysis posts over the next few days.

    So, do you now understand where your assumptions were wrong? Also do you think you owe Nate Silver (for your ignorant slander) and your readership (for your bad analysis)(for your bad and misleading analysis) an apology?

  • ackwired

    Crazy, isn’t it? We need to start apportioning the electoral votes from each state by the popular vote in that state. The electoral vote should reflect the will of the people

    • jim_m

      Wrong.

      Doing so would dilute the influence of smaller states to the point that they could be ignored in the elections and their interests ignored in between. But that is what the left wants. They want to be able to ignore the interests of the states that comprise “fly over country”. Sorry but people live there and this country needs them.

      You couldn’t run a major medical center anywhere in this nation without the blood donated in the Midwest. Blood is donated in vast excess in the middle of the country and distributed elsewhere.

      Despite all the lefty idiocy about “locovorism” you could not have a functioning city without food grown in the Midwest.

      Ignorant leftists dismiss the contributions of the middle of this nation.

      • ackwired

        I lived in Nebraska for much of my adult life. You can’t get much more in the middle than that. Not many “ignorant leftists” there either. They are leading the nation in apportioning their electoral votes per the popular vote in the state. I guess they disagree with you and think that the person who gets the most votes should win the election.

        • jim_m

          They still give the bulk of their EV as winner take all as does Maine. It still dilutes their votes potentially but not as badly.

    • Carl

      The electoral college vote allocation is based on the US Census data. States pick up or lose votes based on population changes.

      Ignore morons on this board who tell you otherwise, like the idiot here who lies through his teeth or— just doesn’t have a fricking clue.

      Wrong.

      Doing so would dilute the influence of smaller states to the point
      that they could be ignored in the elections and their interests ignored
      in between. But that is what the left wants. They want to be able to
      ignore the interests of the states that comprise “fly over country”.
      Sorry but people live there and this country needs them.

      Electoral votes are based on population. Ignore the idiots who tell you otherwise.

      • jim_m

        Thanks for the half truth.

        Electoral votes are only partially given on the basis of population. States get electoral votes based by the number of congressmen and senators they have, so they get 3 EV regardless of population (2 senators and 1 congressman regardless of Pop) 7 states have the minimum EV (VT, DE, MT, WY, ND, SD, AK). By allocating 2 EV to each state, states with smaller populations get proportionally greater votes.

        This was done to ensure that small states still get their issues addressed and are not ignored in the national debate.

        You’re a freaking idiot if you think that electoral votes are given strictly by population. You are once again demonstrating that you are either an ignorant fool or willing to make a bald faced lie in order to score a point.

  • ackwired

    Gee… if he hadn’t p-ssed off the Latino’s, libertarians, women, and 47% who don’t pay income tax, he probably would have won.

    • Candice

      I am a woman and there was nothing said that was offensive to me.

      • ackwired

        I’m sure that is right. Do you assume from that fact that no women were offended and that he carried the woman vote?

        • jim_m

          What’s offensive is the left’s insistence that women only think about abortion rights.

          • TomInCali

            Who is insisting that?

          • ackwired

            I don’t know. Were you saying that my assertion that the R’s had offended women and lost their vote was invalid because they had not offended you, or were you just pointing out that 100% of the women were not offended?

          • jim_m

            Data suggests that the dems lost married women by a huge margin and the GOP lost singles by a huge margin.

          • ackwired

            Interesting…so maybe the R’s only offended the single women.

          • Carl

            Funny how the right sees single women as not “women” but just objects to be manipulated and controlled.

            “Women” left the GOP in big numbers. Ignore whether they are married or not – if you can get Sandra Fluke and “sluts” like her out of your mind for 5 minutes.

          • jim_m

            You’re projecting again.

            When a woman stands up on the right for issues like the economy, foreign policy etc, she is denounced by the left as a slut and a whore etc. Take a look at Michelle Malkin and Ann Coulter and see the disgusting slanders the left throws at them.

            As with any minority group, anyone who dares leave the leftist plantation is vilified in the most repulsive ways by the leftists who, like a cult, must shame anyone who leaves lest others join them.

          • jim_m

            You’re projecting again.

            When a woman stands up on the right for issues like the economy, foreign policy etc, she is denounced by the left as a slut and a whore etc. Take a look at Michelle Malkin and Ann Coulter and see the disgusting slanders the left throws at them.

            As with any minority group, anyone who dares leave the leftist plantation is vilified in the most repulsive ways by the leftists who, like a cult, must shame anyone who leaves lest others join them.

          • jim_m

            “Vote like your private parts depend upon it!”

            Such campaign slogans are demeaning, but it is exactly how the left views women.

          • ackwired

            Yes, stereotyping is offensive.

    • Candice

      What I’d like to encourage you to do next time is research what you do not know, and your statement shows that you did no know quite a bit.

      • ackwired

        There are certainly many things that I do not know. Were you saying that my assertion that the R’s had offended women and
        lost their vote was invalid because they had not offended you, or were
        you just pointing out that 100% of the women were not offended?

  • Candice

    Can you imagine what it would have been IF there wasn’t cheating and the military vote was counted?

    • TomInCali

      *sigh*

    • Carl

      Can you imagine Obama’s victory margin if Romney had shown some integrity and released the same number of tax return years that Obama released?

      There was a good reason Romney didn’t release those additional tax returns — they would have lost him votes.

    • Rance Frayger

      You obviously don’t know how absentee ballots handled. The election people know how many absentee ballots they have issued. If the margin in the regular voting exceeds the number of absentee ballots, there is no need to count them. It’s just a waste of time and money.

  • Carl

    IDNM.

    It Does Not Matter. It doesn’t matter how many votes. The Obama campaign had access to detailed polling data that showed them where they were at all times. If they needed more votes they would have spent the money and scheduled the resources to get the votes.

    IN VA Obama won by 3%. A nice, safe margin when you’re doing precise polling and can add commercials and campaign visits to tweak the numbers.

    In other words, don’t place any significance in the fact that it was 3%. It could have been 5% or perhaps even higher, if they wanted it to be.

    You only spend as much as you need to win the race in that state. Once you’ve got a comfortable lead there is no point in wasting money and time to make the lead bigger.

    Obama won OH by 2%, and won Florida by .6%. Wow, you say, he almost lost Florida. True, but he didn’t lose it — and if he had he still would have won the electoral count and been re-elected. Florida was not crucial with Ohio in his pocket, and they knew going in they had Ohio.

    The right was done a great disservice with all the poo flinging at the polls and especially at the genius Nate Silver, who nailed it.

    Rather than trying to find your pony in the post-election efforts to minimize Obama’s loss, you would have been much better off analyzing what the polls were telling you, rather than listening to Fox News and the other asshats who told you the polls were wrong and you should ignore them.

    Ignoring reality is a distinctly right wing trait. Too bad, you might have learned something and maybe even have been able to change the outcome,

    Oh, and the other state mentioned — New Mexico — Obama won by 10%.

    • Vagabond661

      Gimme free stuff. It’s how radio stations improve their ratings. It’s how Democrats swell their ranks. No secret.

    • jim_m

      You are ignorant because you have no historical perspective.

    • James

      Interesting analysis.Of course it assumes Obama is God and can just run more ads and win. His ground game won the election for him I agree.I do not think he could have manipulated the numbers however he wanted to. Then again when you, lie cheat and steal maybe you can. Hopefully, the media will begin to hold him accountable.

  • Digg34

    Hope the RP and other purists are happy.

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  • sabbahillel

    I wonder how many illegal, “dead”, and other votes were cast. I also saw people who caught the machines counting “D” when they pushed the “R” button. Many servicemen complained that they did not receive their ballots or that they were not delivered to the states when they were sent in.

    Given all this, what would an honest election have shown.

    Of course, Florida in 2000 turned out to go for Bush even after all the recounts, but Minnesota would have seated Senator Coleman had it been completely honest.

  • TG123

    You say that out of “120 million votes, Barack Obama’s real margin of victory over Mitt Romney was 333,721 votes.”

    This is a meaningless stat — the first number includes all 50 states, and the second number is only the difference between the 4 states you cherry-picked. Ie, out of the four closest states, here is how close they were.

    Out of 120 million votes, the real margin of victory would be the difference in votes for all 50 states — or about 2.9 million.

  • http://www.rustedsky.net JLawson

    Explore other theories?

    Please, don’t. All that’ll do is make you pissed off – and there’s nothing to be done about it.

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