Share of popular votes for major parties in US presidential elections 1828-2016

When comparing the victory margins between the main candidates in presidential elections, there is often quite a large difference between the victory margins in the electoral college vote and the victory margins of the popular vote. There have also been a few instances where the candidate with the most popular votes receives fewer electoral votes, most recently in 2016, where Hilary Clinton received 2.1 percent more votes than Donald Trump, however Trump received 14.5 percent more electoral votes. The closest result in the popular vote came in the year 1880, where Republican James Garfield defeated Democrat Winfield Hancock to become the twentieth President of the US. More than nine million votes were cast in this election, but the candidates were split by fewer than two thousand votes in the end (although Garfield won the electoral vote by a margin of almost sixteen percent). In recent times the closest popular vote result came in the year 2000, where Democratic nominee Al Gore won the popular vote by less than 0.5 percent, although George W. Bush was declared president as he won the electoral college by five votes (which was also less than one percent).

Share of popular votes for the Democratic and Republican parties in presidential elections from 1828 to 2016

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Release date

August 2019


United States

Survey time period


Supplementary notes

*Two other candidates took a noticeable portion of the votes.
**Horace Greeley died between the popular vote and electoral vote, and his allocation of the electoral votes was distributed among the other candidates.
***Former President Theodore Roosevelt ran as a Progressive Party (Bull Moose) candidate and took more votes than the Republican candidate.

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