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Record Book Near Misses in the 2012 Presidential Election

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The Romney-Obama contest ranked among the Top 5 most competitive races ever in three states (AK, FL, NC) and the Top 5 least competitive in six (HI, MD, OK, UT, WV, WY)

wyomingseal10.pngAlthough the 2012 presidential election delivered very few surprises in terms of the state-by-state winners, there were perhaps some unexpected results in terms of the margins of victory across the various states.

For example, throughout the election cycle few probably predicted the Romney-Obama contest in Georgia would end up more competitive than the results in several states that had been frequently discussed as battlegrounds, such as Arizona, Michigan, Missouri, and New Mexico.

Or that the race for South Carolina's and Mississippi's electoral votes would ultimately be more closely fought than Oregon's.

And while no statewide records were set, several states did find their 2012 victory margin rank among the closest - or the biggest blowout - in state history.

On the competitive side, the 2012 election delivered a Top 5 most competitive finish in the history of three states since the birth of the modern two-party system in 1828: Florida, Alaska, and North Carolina.

In Florida, Obama's 0.9-point victory was the second closest out of 40 contests over the last 184 years, behind George W. Bush's razor-thin 0.01-point win over Al Gore in 2000.

It was just the seventh time a presidential race had been decided by less than five points in the Sunshine State.

Although Romney's 14.0-point win in Alaska was far from a nail-biter, it was much closer than expected and marked the fourth closest such contest in the state (out of 14 cycles).

The only races that were more competitive in Alaska presidential electoral history were Richard Nixon's 1.9-point win over John Kennedy in 1960, Nixon's 2.6-point win over Hubert Humphrey in 1968, and George H.W. Bush's 9.2-point victory over Bill Clinton in 1992.

Alaska is also one of just three states won by John McCain in 2008 in which Obama decreased his margin of loss in 2012 (along with Louisiana and Mississippi). And, at +7.6 points, it was also Obama's biggest improvement.

In North Carolina, Romney's 2.0-point victory was the fifth most competitive race out of 46 election cycles since 1828.

Obama's 0.3-point win over McCain in 2008 was the narrowest in state history, followed by George H.W. Bush's 0.8-point win over Clinton in 1992, Franklin Pierce's 0.9-point defeat of Winfield Scott in 1852, and Adlai Stevenson's 1.3-point win over Dwight Eisenhower in 1956.

The Romney-Obama contest in six other states was among the Top 10 most competitive in state history: Arizona (#7), Georgia (#7), Colorado (#8), South Carolina (#9), Mississippi (#9), and Virginia (#9).

And as for the blowouts?

The Romney-Obama matchup delivered a Top 5 all-time landslide for six states across the country:

· Romney's 40.8-point win in Wyoming is the 2nd largest presidential victory margin in state history, behind Ronald Reagan's 42.3-point win over Walter Mondale in 1984.

· Obama's 42.7-point win in Hawaii ranks #3, behind LBJ's 57.5-point win over Barry Goldwater in 1964 and Obama's 45.3-point win over John McCain in 2008.

· Obama's 26.1-point victory in Maryland ranks #3 behind Horatio Seymour's 34.4-point win over Ulysses Grant in 1868 and LBJ's 30.9-point win over Goldwater in 1964.

· Romney's 48.0-point win in Utah ranks #4 behind William Jennings Bryan's 65.4-point win over William McKinley in 1896, Reagan's 52.2-point win over Jimmy Carter in 1980, and Reagan's 49.8-point victory over Mondale in 1984.

· Romney's 26.8-point victory in West Virginia ranks #4 behind Abraham Lincoln's 36.4-point win over George McClellan in 1864, LBJ's 35.9-point win over Goldwater in 1964, and Richard Nixon's 27.2-point victory over George McGovern in 1972.

· Romney's 33.5-point win in Oklahoma ranks #5 in the state behind Nixon's 49.7-point win in 1972, FDR's 46.6-point victory in 1932, Reagan's 37.9-point win in 1984, and FDR's 34.1-point victory over Alf Landon in 1936.

New York (#6), California (#7), Idaho (#8), Delaware (#8), Kentucky (#8), and Tennessee (#10) also recorded landslide victories among the Top 10 largest in their respective state histories.

The District of Columbia, which has voted in 13 cycles since 1964, recorded its second most lopsided victory at 83.6 points for Obama behind his 85.9-point victory there in 2008's.

2012 Presidential Election Cycle Margin of Victory Rank by State, 1828-present

State
Smallest
Largest
Cycles
Alabama
19
28
46
Alaska
4
11
14
Arizona
7
20
26
Arkansas
27
18
44
California
35
7
41
Colorado
8
27
34
Connecticut
32
16
47
DC
12
2
13
Delaware
39
8
46
Florida
2
39
40
Georgia
7
40
46
Hawaii
12
3
14
Idaho
24
8
31
Illinois
36
12
47
Indiana
24
24
47
Iowa
11
32
42
Kansas
21
18
38
Kentucky
40
8
47
Louisiana
22
25
46
Maine
24
24
47
Maryland
45
3
47
Massachusetts
30
18
47
Michigan
21
25
45
Minnesota
13
27
39
Mississippi
9
37
45
Missouri
25
23
47
Montana
14
18
31
Nebraska
20
18
37
Nevada
12
27
38
New Hampshire
15
33
47
New Jersey
34
14
47
New Mexico
12
15
26
New York
42
6
47
North Carolina
5
42
46
North Dakota
19
13
31
Ohio
12
36
47
Oklahoma
23
5
27
Oregon
26
14
39
Pennsylvania
19
29
47
Rhode Island
36
12
47
South Carolina
9
29
37
South Dakota
21
11
31
Tennessee
37
10
46
Texas
12
29
40
Utah
27
4
30
Vermont
27
21
47
Virginia
9
37
45
Washington
19
13
31
West Virginia
35
4
38
Wisconsin
18
25
42
Wyoming
30
2
31
Table compiled by Smart Politics.

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1 Comment


  • Yes there were some surprises, like North Carolina, but until the popular vote replaces the electoral college for electing the president of the United States, the flawed system will continue to be the laughingstock of the entire world.
    Outcomes like the 2000 presidential election, when the candidate with the most popular votes does not become president, serve as a reminder of the pitfalls of the antiquated system that needs to be replaced by straight popular vote election of the president.

  • Leave a comment


    Remains of the Data

    No Free Passes: States With 2 Major Party Candidates in Every US House Race

    Indiana has now placed candidates from both major parties on the ballot in a nation-best 189 consecutive U.S. House races, with New Hampshire, Minnesota, Idaho, and Montana also north of 100 in a row.

    Political Crumbs

    Gubernatorial Highs and Lows

    Two sitting governors currently hold the record for the highest gubernatorial vote ever received in their respective states by a non-incumbent: Republican Matt Mead of Wyoming (65.7 percent in 2010) and outgoing GOPer Dave Heineman of Nebraska (73.4 percent in 2006). Republican Gary Herbert of Utah had not previously won a gubernatorial contest when he notched a state record 64.1 percent for his first victory in 2010, but was an incumbent at the time after ascending to the position in 2009 after the early departure of Jon Huntsman. Meanwhile, two sitting governors hold the record in their states for the lowest mark ever recorded by a winning gubernatorial candidate (incumbent or otherwise): independent-turned-Democrat Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island (36.1 percent in 2010) and Democrat Terry McAuliffe of Virginia (47.8 percent in 2013).


    An Idaho Six Pack

    Two-term Idaho Republican Governor Butch Otter only polled at 39 percent in a recent PPP survey of the state's 2014 race - just four points ahead of Democratic businessman A.J. Balukoff. Otter's low numbers reflect his own struggles as a candidate (witness his weak primary win against State Senator Russ Fulcher) combined with the opportunity for disgruntled Idahoans to cast their votes for one of four third party and independent candidates, who collectively received the support of 12 percent of likely voters: Libertarian John Bujak, the Constitution Party's Steve Pankey, and independents Jill Humble and Pro-Life (aka Marvin Richardson). The six candidate options in a gubernatorial race sets an all-time record in the Gem State across the 46 elections conducted since statehood. The previous high water mark of five candidates was reached in seven previous cycles: 1902, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1914, 1966, and 2010.


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