And The Last Shall Be First

The four elections in which the President-Elect lost the popular vote are: 

1824 – Adams over Jackson 

Popular vote margin: 44,804 - favoring Jackon

Electoral College margin: 15 - favoring Jackon

*John Q. Adams received fewer electoral votes and fewer popular votes than Andrew Jackson, but, as outlined by the Constitution, when no candidate receives the majority of the Electoral College vote the decision is turned over to the House of Representatives. There, 13 state delegations voted for John Q. Adams, 7 for Jackson and 3 for Crawford. (

1876 – Hayes over Tilden

Popular vote margin: 264,292 - favoring Tilden

Electoral College margin: 1 - electing Hayes

1888 – Harrison over Cleveland

Popular vote margin: 100,456 - favoring Cleveland

Electoral College margin: 65 - electing Harrison 

2000 – Bush over Gore

Popular vote margin: 543,895 (the largest so far) - favoring Gore

Electoral College margin: 5 - electing Bush

*Note: Some sources also consider 1960 a contested election. Although most believe Kennedy won the popular vote and the electoral college, some believe that there exists an alternative result that puts Nixon on top in popular votes. However, this election is not as harshly contested as the above four.

It is only luck that has saved us from more situations like these where the White House is not delivered to the President-Elect. Statistics show that close elections possess a very high possibility of this distorted result. Several elections throughout the 19th and 20th centuries have been so close that a small difference in votes – a fraction of 1 percent of the national vote – would have presented a different winner. 

Election Year Shift Needed In Which States
1828 11,517 Ohio, Kentucky, New York, Louisiana, Indiana
1840 8,386 New York, Pennsylvania, Maine, New Jersey
1844 2,555 New York
1848 3,227 Georgia, Maryland, Delaware
1864 38,111 New York, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Oregon, Wisconsin, Maryland, Connecticut
1868 29,862 Pennsylvania, Indiana, North Carolina, Alabama, Connecticut, California, Nevada
1880 10,517 New York
1884 575 New York
1892 37,364  New York, Indiana, Wisconsin, New Jersey, California
1896 20,296 Indiana, Kentucky, California, Delaware, Oregon, West Virginia
1900 74,755 Ohio, Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska, Maryland, Utah, Wyoming
1908 75,041 Ohio, Missouri, Indiana, Kansas, Delaware, West Virginia, Montana, Maryland
1916 1,983 California
1948 29,294 California, Ohio, Illinois
1960 11,424 Illinois, Missouri, New Mexico, Hawaii, Nevada
1976 9,246 Hawaii, Ohio

*Information from Why the Electoral College is Bad for America, George C. Edwards III

Ignoring Your Vote

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Vague Values

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A Few States Wins

Constitutional Residence

State Size

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Power of State Legislatures

Electoral College Table of Contents

December 21st 2008
Choose President by National Popular Vote
Wichita Eagle

Co-President of Wichita-Metro League of Women Voters cites FairVote in argument for National Popular Vote

December 17th 2008
Electoral College debate reignites
Small Newspaper Group (Illinois)

The debate over the Electoral College reignites in the land of Lincoln.

December 16th 2008
Flunking Electoral College
Baltimore Sun

Editorial making the case against the electoral college.

December 15th 2008
Group Works To Weaken Electoral College Process

National Public Radio's 'All Things Considered,' -- News story featuring comments from FairVote's Rob Richie.

December 15th 2008
Cruise keeps local elector from historic Obama vote
Quad Cities Online

FairVote's Adam Fogel quoted on the National Popular Vote plan.

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