(2000 Results by state and 2004 swing states | 2004 Result Summary | 2008: Campaign (swing states), Results | President Ratings
Under Construction

The president is elected by votes from the electoral college where there are 538 votes.
Votes are based 435 congressional districts (apportioned to states based on population) plus 100 Senators (2 per state) plus 3 votes for DC. You need 270 votes to win.
Most states have a winner take all electoral vote system. Maine and Nebraska, use a tiered system where a single elector is chosen within each Congressional district and two electors are chosen by statewide popular vote.
See Electoral College (United States) - Wikipedia

This system allows a candidate to loose the popular vote (As George W. Bush did in 2000 (Bush - 50,456,002 votes, Gore - 50,999,897 votes), but win the election.

The other seeming inequity in the system is if you are in a state that strongly supports one party or the other, your vote doesn't matter because the state is always going to going to cast all their electoral votes for the winner.

This is true for the following in 1992-2012;
Republican States: Alabama, Alaska, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wyoming.

and Democratic States: California, Connecticut, Delaware, D.C., Hawaii , Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin.
Arkansas and Tennessee had the native son effect with Clinton and Gore in '92 and '96, or they would have been on this list.

The exceptions are Reagan's popularity in the 1980's and Roosevelt's popularity in the 30's.

The 1960's marked a shift in political ideologies.
Southern conservatives where Democrats because they didn't want to belong to the party of Lincoln after the slavery issue in the Civil war. They decided it was OK to be Republican after Barry Goldwater, who had voted against the Civil Rights act became the Republican candidate in 1964.
Another thing pushing southern conservatives was voter registration efforts in the 60's, which brought more African Americans into the Democratic party.
These two issues accelerated the transition from a solid South for the Democrats to one for the Republicans.

In 1967 George Wallace ran for the American Independent party and got 13.5% of the vote.

Swing States and Safe States:
Safe states - republican: 17 states - 138 Electoral College Votes (ECV)
Safe states - democratic: 15 states - 186 ECV
Swing states: 19 states - 214 ECV (States which have been swing states in at least one of the last 5 elections)
FiveThirtyEight lists 7 swing states for 2016, Wikipedia and Politico listed 11 states for 2012 (but 2 are different), CNN listed 7 battleground states for 2008, The Wall Street Journal listed 16 battleground states for 2000.
Candidates Safe states and swing states
State 1948 1952 1956 1960 1964 1968 1972 1976 1980 1984 1988 1992 1996 2000 2004 2008 2012 2016State ECV
Winner ECV * 303 442 457 303 486 301 520 297 489 525 426 370 379 271 286 365 332279 Swing states
SS
 
Winner Popular % 49.6 54.9 57.4 49.7 61.1 43.4
1
60.2 50.0 50.5 58.8 53.4 43.0
1
49.2
1
47.9
1
50.7 52.9 51.1 47.2
1
Alabama SR D D I R AI R D R R R R R R R R R AL 9
Alaska R D R R R R R R R R R R R R AK 3
Arizona D R R R R R R R R R R R D R R R R AZ 11
Arkansas D D D D D AI R D R R R D2 D2 R R R R AR 6
California D R R R D R R R R R R D D D D D D CA 55
Colorado D R R R D R R R R R R D R R R D D CO 9
Connecticut R R R D D D R R R R R D D D D D D CT 7
Delaware R R R D D R R D R R R D D D D D D DE 3
D.C. D D D D D D D D D D D D D DC 3
Florida D R R R D R R D R R R R D R R D D FL 29
Georgia D D D D R AI R D D R R D R R R R R GA 16
Hawaii D D D R D D R D D D D D D D HI 4
Idaho D R R R D R R R R R R R R R R R R ID 4
Illinois D R R D D R R R R R R D D D D D D IL 20
Indiana R R R R D R R R R R R R R R R D R IN 11
Iowa D R R R D R R R R R D D D D R D D IA 6
Kansas R R R R D R R R R R R R R R R R R KS 6
Kentucky D D R R D R R D R R R D D R R R R KY 8
Louisiana SR D R D R AI R D R R R D D R R R R LA 8
Maine R R R R D D R R R R R D D D D D D ME 4
Maryland R R R D D D R D D R R D D D D D D MD 10
Massachusetts D R R D D D D D R R D D D D D D D MA 11
Michigan R R R D D D R R R R R D D D D D D MI 16
Minnesota D R R D D D R D D D D D D D D D D MN 10
Mississippi SR D D I R AI R D R R R R R R R R R MS 6
State 1948 1952 1956 1960 1964 1968 1972 1976 1980 1984 1988 1992 1996 2000 2004 2008 2012 State ECV
Missouri D R D D D R R D R R R D D R R R R MO 10
Montana D R R R D R R R R R R D R R R R R MT 3
Nebraska R R R R D R R R R R R R R R R R R NE 5
Nevada D R R D D R R R R R R D D R R D D NV 6
New Hampshire R R R R D R R R R R R D D R D D D NH 4
New Jersey R R R D D R R R R R R D D D D D D NJ 14
New Mexico D R R D D R R R R R R D D D R D D NM 5
New York R R R D D D R D R R D D D D D D D NY 29
North Carolina D D D D D R R D R R R R R R R D R NC 15
North Dakota R R R R D R R R R R R R R R R R R ND 3
Ohio D R R R D R R D R R R D D R R D D OH 18
Oklahoma D R R R D R R R R R R R R R R R R OK 7
Oregon R R R R D R R R R R D D D D D D D OR 7
Pennsylvania R R R D D D R D R R R D D D D D D PA 20
Rhode Island D R R D D D R D D R D D D D D D D RI 4
South Carolina SR D D D R R R D R R R R R R R R R SC 9
South Dakota R R R R D R R R R R R R R R R R R SD 3
Tennessee D R R R D R R D R R R D2 D2 R R R R TN 11
Texas D R R D D D R D R R R R R R R R R TX 38
Utah D R R R D R R R R R R R R R R R R UT 6
Vermont R R R R D R R R R R R D D D D D D VT 3
Virginia D R R R D R R R R R R R R R R D D VA 13
Washington D R R R D D R R R R D D D D D D D WA 12
West Virginia D D R D D D R D D R D D D R R R R WV 5
Wisconsin D R R R D R R D R R D D D D D D D WI 10
Wyoming D R R R D R R R R R R R R R R R R WY 3
State 1948 1952 1956 1960 1964 1968 1972 1976 1980 1984 1988 1992 1996 2000 2004 2008 2012 State
AI - American Independent a far right party created by Bill and Eileen Shearer, (Eileen was the daughter of California senator Wiliam Knowland). George Wallace, former Alabama governor, ran as an AI in 1968.
I - Independent
SR = States' Rights - A far right, white supremacist party.
ECV = Electoral College Votes

* Prior to 1960 there were only 531 electoral votes and you needed 266 to win.

1. In 1968 George Wallace got 13.5% of the vote as an American Independent.
In 1992 Ross Perot got almost 19% of the vote as an independent.
In 1996 Perot got 8.4%.
In 2000 Ralph Nader got 2.7%, Gore, the looser in ECV, got 48.4%, Bush got 47.9% of the popular vote.
In 2016 Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson got 3% of the vote. Hillary Clinton, who lost, got 48.7% of the popular vote.

2. In 1992 and '96 Arkansas and Tennessee went republican for favorite sons Clinton and Gore

Sources:
List of United States presidential election results by state - Wikipedia
Popular Votes 1940-2012 - Roper Center

See Margin of victory - Republican & Democratic States in 2000 the closest election.

I had a housemate in grad school who was doing his PhD thesis on the fairness of the electoral system. He came to the conclusion that it was the best system. I don't remember the criteria he used to judge the the different options.

The 11 states with the largest population account for more than half of EC Votes.

StateECV2000
Margin
CA 55 -11.8%
TX 34 21.3
NY 31 -24.5
FL 27 0.01
IL 21 -12.0
PA 21 -4.2%
StateECV2000
Margin
OH 20 3.6
MI 17 -5.1
NJ 15 -15.8
NC 15 12.8
GA 15 11.8
ECV - Elctoral College votes

Battleground States

Safe states - Republican: 13 states - 102 Electoral College Votes (ECV)
Safe states - Democratic: 19 states - 242 ECV (Includes DC)
Swing states:             19 states - 194 ECV

Source: Electoral Map Looks Daunting for Donald Trump - WSJ - 5/4/2016 (chart no longer available)













The following were considered battleground states in at least one of the last five elections.

Note: The table to the left counts Wisconsin, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Oregon and Washington as safe democratic states, but they have been considered battleground states at times by the compaigns.

X - Battleground State
State 2000 2004 2008 2012 2016
Here WSJ CNN Wiki-
pedia
Politico
FL Florida x x x x x
OH Ohio x x x x x
IA Iowa x x x x
NV Nevada x x x x
NH New Hampshire x x x x
PA Pennsylvania x x x x
WI Wisconsin x x x x
MN Minnesota x x x x
MI Michigan x x x
NC North Carolina x x x
MO Missouri x x x
CO Colorado x x
VA Virginia x x
AZ Arizona x x
WV West Virginia x x
AR Arkansas x x
NM New Mexico x x
OR Oregon x x
WA Washington x x
GE Georgia x
IN Indiana x
MT Montana x
ND North Dakota x
ME Maine x


Swing state - Wikipedia


The 11 states that will determine the 2016 election - POLITICO


Tipping-Point (or battleground) states (Oct 12, 2016) per fivethirtyeight.com:
State       Chance      2012       2008       2004

Florida        16.6%  Obama  50%  Obama 51%  Bush  52%
Pennsylvania   11.5   Obama  52%  Obama 55%  Kerry 51%
North Carolina  9.2   Romney 51%  Obama 50%  Bush  56%
Colorado        7.9   Obama  51%  Obama 54%  Bush  52%
Ohio            7.3   Obama  50%  Obama 52%  Bush  51%
Virginia        7.2   Obama  51%  Obama 53%  Bush  54%
Wisconsin       6.8   Obama  53%  Obama 57%  Kerry 50%
Minnesota       5.6   Obama  53%  Obama 55%  Kerry 52%
Michigan        5.4   Obama  54%  Obama 58%  Kerry 52%

Democrat Republican
State ECV Margin of victory
Clinton Bush Obama
1992 1996 2000 2004 2008
National 5.6% 8.5% -0.5% 2.8% 6.5%
Florida FL 27 1.89% 5.70% 0.0% 5.0% 3%
Missouri MO 11 10.15% 6.30% 3.3% 7.2% 0%
Ohio OH 20 1.83% 6.36% 3.5% 2.1% 4%
Iowa IA 7 6.02% 10.34% 0.3% 0.7% 9%
New Hampshire NH 4 1.22% 9.95% 1.3% 1.4% 9%
North Carolina NC 15 0.79% 4.69% 12.8% 12.4% 0%
Virginia VA 13 4.38% 1.95% 8.0% 8.2% 7%
New Mexico NM 5 8.56% 7.32% 0.1% 0.8% 15%
Pennsylvania PA 21 9.02% 9.20% 4.2% 2.5% 11%
Arizona AZ 10 6.77% 2.23% 6.3% 10.5% 9%
Nevada NV 5 2.63% 1.02% 3.5% 2.6% 12%
Colorado CO 9 4.26% 1.37% 8.4% 4.7% 9%
West Virginia WV 5 13.02% 14.75% 6.3% 12.9% 13%
Michigan MI 17 7.39% 13.21% 5.1% 3.4% 16%
Montana MT 3 2.51% 2.88% 25.1% 20.5% 3%
Indiana IN 11 6.12% 5.58% 15.6% 20.7% 1%
Wisconsin WI 10 4.35% 10.33% 0.2% 0.4% 14%
Minnesota MN 10 11.63% 16.14% 2.4% 3.5% 10%
Tennessee * TN 11 4.65% 2.41% 3.9% 14.3% 15%
ECV - Elctoral College votes
* Arkansas and Tennessee had the advantage of the native son effect with Clinton and Gore in '92 and '96.

See:
Presidential Battleground States: A History

Forecasting References:
Election forecasting in the age of Trump - LA Times

Nate Silver, statistician, baseball player analyst, FiveThirtyEight Blog, successfully called the outcomes in 49 of the 50 states in the 2008 U.S. Presidential election.

Fundamental Models for Forecasting Elections


Source: Was Nate Silver the Most Accurate 2012 Election Pundit? - CFAR (Center for Applied Rationality)

Links:
List of United States presidential election results by state - Wikipedia
U.S. Balance of power President - Congress
www.PresidentElectionPolls.com/
Presidential Elections at Infoplease
US Presidential Election Maps: 1860-1996 at U. Virginia
County Voting Patterns in US Presidential Elections, 1976-2000
Maps at Washington Post
Presidential Elections 1789-2000 Results by county 2000 & 2004 at USA TODAY
Red States feed, Blue states Supply at TaxProf Blog
Presidential Battleground States: A History | The Federalist
List of United States presidential elections by popular vote margin - Wikipedia

Return to Politics

last updated 18 Oct 2016