What does it take to win an election? How about the United States presidential election? At the most basic level, it takes a lot of votes. But what range of votes does it take to become the next leader of the free world?
The popular vote percentage is the number of people who voted for the winner of an election, divided by the total number of votes. No president has ever won with more than 61.05% of the popular vote. The most popular president of all time was Lyndon B. Johnson. Most presidents have won with more than 50% of the popular vote. Barack Obama won 52.87% of the popular vote in 2008 and 51.07% of the vote in 2012.
There have been 18 presidents who have won the election despite losing the popular vote. John Quincy Adams had the lowest popular vote percentage in history. He won the 1824 presidential race with 30.92% of the vote. That infamous election featured four candidates; of the four, Andrew Jackson actually won the largest percentage of the popular vote at 41.34%. More recently, George W. Bush won the 2000 election with 47.87% of the vote. The popular vote does not decide elections. Instead, the United States Electoral College chooses the president. The Electoral College exists to ensure that smaller states have a voice in the election. In order to win, a presidential candidate must receive support from a variety of states. Political parties must nominate candidates who appeal to all sorts of Americans.
See for yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9H3gvnN468
Watch the videos below for more about the Electoral College and an analysis of the 2012 presidential election.