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How Donald Trump’s Electoral College Victory Compares to Prior Elections

Donald Trump, Donald Trump Ohio, Donald Trump polls, Donald Trump vs Hillary Clinton

Donald Trump in Canton, Ohio on September 14. (Getty)

The final 2016 Electoral College tally is in. Now that Michigan has officially been declared for Donald Trump, the Republican candidate has won 306 electors compared to Hillary Clinton’s 232. In response to Michigan finally being called, Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, bragged that the Electoral College victory was a “landslide,” a “blowout” and “historic.” But how historic is it, exactly?

While it is certainly true that Donald Trump winning the presidential election was a historic achievement, his margin of victory over Hillary Clinton is hardly so large as to be classified as historic or as a landslide. In fact, when looking at all of the 25 elections that have taken place in the past 100 years, in 21 of them, the winner won by a wider margin than Donald Trump did in 2016.

The most recent election where the Electoral College result would be considered historic was 2000, as this was the most narrow margin in modern American history. George W. Bush defeated Al Gore by just five electors; the previous comparable election was 1876, when Rutherford B. Hayes won by one elector. Another historic election in modern times was 1984, when Ronald Reagan scored the biggest landslide in the history of the United States, winning 525 Electoral College votes.

In terms of the 21st century, Trump did not come close to scoring a bigger Electoral College victory than Barack Obama did; in 2008, Obama won 365 electors, and in 2012, he won 332. Trump did, however, win more electors than George W. Bush did in either of his elections. Just looking at the Republican candidates, though, every Republican president since 1916 – Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan and George H.W. Bush, won with more electors than Trump did.

In addition to Kellyanne Conway’s tweet, Donald Trump himself also recently tweeted that he won the Electoral College in “a landslide.” Trump and his staff have continued to emphasize what they call a historic Electoral College victory as Democrats emphasize that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. Now, Trump is attempting to discredit even that, saying that he would have won the popular vote if it wasn’t for voter fraud, a statement Trump has no evidence to support.

In order to put the 2016 election in historical perspective, here is the Electoral College total from every election in the past 100 years:

Election Winner Loser Margin
1916 (Wilson) 277 254 23
1920 (Harding) 404 127 277
1924 (Coolidge) 382 136 246
1928 (Hoover) 444 87 357
1932 (Roosevelt) 472 59 413
1936 (Roosevelt) 523 8 515
1940 (Roosevelt) 449 82 367
1944 (Roosevelt) 432 99 333
1948 (Truman) 303 189 114
1952 (Eisenhower) 442 89 353
1956 (Eisenhower) 457 73 384
1960 (Kennedy) 303 219 84
1964 (Johnson) 486 52 434
1968 (Nixon) 301 191 110
1972 (Nixon) 520 17 503
1976 (Carter) 297 240 57
1980 (Reagan) 489 49 440
1984 (Reagan) 525 13 512
1988 (Bush) 426 111 315
1992 (Clinton) 370 168 202
1996 (Clinton) 379 159 220
2000 (Bush) 271 266 5
2004 (Bush) 286 251 35
2008 (Obama) 365 173 192
2012 (Obama) 332 206 126
2016 (Trump) 306 232 74

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4 comments

  1. Trump is here to stay for 8yrs as the nation President. but I wasn’t expected that much huge different on electoral college out come.

      • It sounds all Russian to me. It would
        be funny if it was not so serious,even dangerous to our U S election process.
        Donald Trump ought to be in jail , not pardoned by the American voters for his lies,racism and bigotry. #PresidentialElection2016 #safetypin
        #Stillwithher

        • Funny, Republicans think Hilary should be in jail for lies, selling out the country to foreign goverments for profit, not supporting our troop, mishandling classifies material. Support a know rapist (Bill). He won the electoral college, deal with it. The losers need to stop costing the tax payers money and creating division.