How Many Electoral Votes Does It Take To Become President? 2

As I was watching the 2008 election results I decided to do some research into which presidential candidate won which of the eleven “key states” (read my previous article) and went on to become, or remain, president. Due to all the traffic on the internet, especially some of the more politically oriented sites, it was slow going and I managed to get as far back as President Eisenhower.

vote-smart-buttonI have done a spreadsheet showing the presidents, which of the eleven states they won along with the % of the popular vote along with a simple calculation to see if I could see a relation between popular vote, electoral vote and the number of key states. (my spreadsheet covers back until just before Hawaii became a state – this is an excel spreadsheet, if you don’t have excel you can download OpenOffice for free). To my surprise this calculation made it easy to see squeekers, minor and full landslides!

I stopped at Eisenhower because it starts to get a little more complicated with states disappearing along with changes in the number of electoral votes as you go back in time. If anyone wants to take it further to see if my theory holds up – go for it! Please let me know the results. Just make sure you adjust the key states with the changes in the electoral votes.

I obtained the voting stats from Dave Leip’s “Atlas of U.S. Presidential ElectionsKey-State-Theory.”

My “Key State” theory is as follows: in order to become President all you have to do is win half , or six, of the eleven states that comprise 270 of the electoral votes and the rest of the electoral votes will come from other states.

My “Key State” theory has held up with two presidential election exceptions. Those two exceptions were President George Bushes two terms (he won the same 5 key states both times). But as far as most people are concerned he is an anomaly anyway you look at it.

His two elections are looked upon with great suspicion and were narrow margins in both the electoral vote and the popular vote – not a mandate as the Republicans would leave you to believe.

  • President Obama had a minor landslide.
  • President Bush 2 had narrow margins.
  • President Clinton had narrow margins.
  • President Bush also won with a minor landslide.
  • President Reagan won both elections with a landslide.
  • President Carter had narrow margins.
  • President Nixon had a narrow margin and a landslide.
  • President Johnson a minor landslide.
  • President Kennedy had a narrow margin.
  • President Eisenhower had a minor landslide.

However, they all won at least 8 of the “key states” with the exception of President Bush who only won 5 in each of the two elections.

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