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President Obama is Not the First President Re-Elected With a Smaller Share of Either the Popular Vote or the Electoral College Vote

Published on November 23, 2012, by in General.

Several writers and commentators have written or stated that President Obama is the first President in history to be re-elected with a smaller share of the popular vote and/or a smaller share of the electoral vote than he had received in his initial election. Different individuals have expressed this in slightly different ways. Sometimes their statements are false and other times they are technically true but very misleading.

In 1808, James Madison won his first term with 66.2% of the popular vote. The vote was Madison 95,643; Charles C. Pinckney 45,376; James Monroe 3,450.

But in 1812, Madison was re-elected with only 51.3% of the popular vote. He received 116,973; DeWitt Clinton received 106,513; Rufus King received 4,650. If the Electoral College had remained the same size in 1812 as it had been in 1808, then Madison would have received fewer electoral votes in 1812 than in 1808. However, the Electoral College grew between those two years, from 175 members in 1808 to 217 members in 1812, so even though Madison’s share of the electoral vote slipped, his number of electoral votes increased.

Also, in 1912, Woodrow Wilson won more electoral votes for his initial election than he won when he ran for re-election in 1916. He received 435 electoral votes in 1912 but only 277 in 1916.

9 Responses

  1. Demo Rep

    The E.C. was due to an EVIL conspiracy of the small and slave States in the 1787 top secret Federal Convention.

    ANY thing having to do with the E.C. is an OLIGARCHY machination.

    Democracy NOW
    Uniform definition of Elector in ALL of the U.S.A.
    P.R. and nonpartisan App.V.

  2. Jim Riley

    Apples and Oranges – Massachusetts did not use popular elections in 1808, and represented 40% of Clinton’s popular vote in 1812. The main flip in electoral votes was New Jersey where they used the popular election 1808, but not 1812.

  3. Joseph McNiesh

    #1: In 1976, Gerald Ford was going to win MI, and Jimmy Carter was going to win GA. Suppose MI said Ford won 3,000,000 votes. GA found out ahead of the election, so it also cheated, and GA said Carter won 4,000,000 votes. You know both sides cheated, who wins? In Msgr. Farrell High School, when Carter won, I argued in American History class in favor of the popular vote. Then I got wiser.

  4. Demo Rep

    #3 What about ANY election for ANY office or ballot question ???

    ALL cheating all the time ???

    i.e. EVIL monarchs/oligarchs having EVIL false election results for ALL offices and ALL ballot questions ???

    Need to have paper ballots counted by dozens of folks on election nights — with zillions of miles of videotape in the counting process ???

  5. Before the election, I heard several people state that no President had been re-elected by a smaller margin than the original election. I misspoke this statement on national radio on one occasion before fact-checking myself.
    FDR also had one or two of his re-elections by smaller amounts of EV’s.

    After the election, I made sure to state that Obama was the first since FDR to win by a smaller margin.

  6. Joseph McNiesh

    I think the commentators meant since 1856, when the Republican Party started. In 1912, former president Teddy Roosevelt came in second on the Bull Moose Party. Woodrow Wilson won with 43% in a five-way split (with the Socialist and Prohibition Parties). In 1916, Wilson won with 49%. Those elections almost don’t count. I have not heard nor read electoral college-only percent.

  7. Joseph McNiesh

    #5: In 1932, FDR won with 56%; 1936 60%; 1940 55%; 1944 44%. I think the pundits and commentators meant the FIRST re-election. Of course, Obama cannot run again in 2016. A new president is elected and, after four years, what happens?

  8. Joseph McNiesh

    The pundits and commentators should have said: Since 1856, the only president to win re-election on the first try was Woodrow Wilson, in 1916. Similarly, pundits and commentators also make a mistake about the national debt. They say, “Since George Washington, it took X years to reach Y trillions in national debt.” Under President Andrew Jackson, the national debt was paid off. They should say, “Since 1835, it took X years to reach Y trillions in national debt.” My source is ‘American Lion,’ a biography about Andrew Jackson. I got it from the library and read two chapters: the threat of secession by SC after he was re-elected in 1832, and paying off the national debt in 1835. SC almost seceded after Congress passed a tariff in 1832. Jackson negotiated the Compromise of 1833, which lowered the tariff. Jackson and Congress paid off the debt, and tariffs were lowered again. 85% off government revenue was from tariffs. The North passed laws that hurt the South. Congress passed the Morrill Tariff in 1860 and, this time, secession really happened. President Buchanan signed the Morrill Tariff after he lost. My second source is, ‘In the Course of Human Events…’ B&N ordered it for me.

  9. Joseph McNiesh

    #3: Camcorders were not around in 1976. Cheaper and easier to just let the D and R win their states. Also, cheaper and easier for companies to pay $2000 fine to government than to pay $4000 for health insurance. Those who voted for Obama and have h.i. will lose it-ha ha!

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