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I was recently writing a post on how news organizations still haven’t updated their election results. As part of that post, of course, I tried to track down the “real” popular vote. That is, how many votes did President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney actually win, in reality?

More below.

Election 2012
I ran into a problem. Apparently nobody knows.Different organizations are reporting different numbers. To find reliable election results, most analysts go to Dave Leip’s Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections. However, Dave’s numbers differ from those of Wikipedia. Unfortunately, Dave doesn’t provide a source of how he got his numbers. Wikipedia does; it derived its numbers from the Federal Election Commission Report. Ironically, however, Wikipedia’s numbers are actually different from the report’s numbers. Then there is Dave Wasserman, who with great labor added uncounted ballots to the numbers as they were counted. His numbers are slightly different as well. Here’s a table:
Votes Won According to… Barack Obama Mitt Romney
Dave Leip 65,909,451 60,932,176
Dave Wasserman 65,909,191 60,932,015
Huffington Post 65,899,660 60,932,152
Federal Election Commission Report 65,899,660 60,932,152
Wikipedia 65,907,123 60,931,767
The vote counts by private individuals such as Dave Leip are probably the most accurate. Unfortunately, these people don’t say how they got their numbers.

In addition, there is the fact that uncounted ballots are still being discovered and added to the official count. For instance, a stack of ballots was found in New York City in March, after the completion of the Federal Election Commission Report. So the report is probably wrong. Dave Wasserman also has stated that the official certified results in some states are wrong; apparently the states incorrectly added up all the official county numbers.

The best way to find the popular vote is probably to add up individually all the official certifications of the vote by each state, which I may or may not do. Of course, we also have to be aware of the fact that some of these official certifications may be wrong.

We may never actually know how many votes Barack Obama and Mitt Romney won in the 2012 presidential election.


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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (8+ / 0-)

    by Inoljt on Mon Apr 29, 2013 at 11:37:58 PM PDT

  •  not to mention (0+ / 0-)

    some of the totals are presented for your viewing pleasure by companies who's ownership have backed one of the candidates with money and time.  So, ymmv

  •  There was someone in Kansas (0+ / 0-)

    who marked Romney's line but then lined out Romney's name.

    So the true vote can never be known.

    Too late for the simple life, too early for android love slaves - Savio

    by Clem Yeobright on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 04:51:31 AM PDT

  •  It only matters how the Electors voted. n/t (0+ / 0-)
  •  As long as they show (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    a 5 million vote margin for Obama, the actual exact number probably doesn't matter. If it was a knife-edge, then we'd get down to it. And that's why keeping it accurate is important.

    If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

    by CwV on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 06:12:54 AM PDT

    •  Only problem is... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jm214, jncca

      ...if the election is knife-edge close, our system is just not accurate enough to tell us who really won.   I remember the 2000 election, with those punch cards, and how they were quite nonchalant about noting that running a stack of cards through the counting machine twice would routinely provide different counts.  

      •  This is exactly why audits are such a good idea (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bill W

        I don't know if this is nationwide, but here in CT we have a very active group that does election audits, it's mostly volunteers with a few dedicated pros that drive the project. Non-partisan, the only goal is accuracy.
        If you are interested at all in the way elections actually work, find out if there is an audit group in your state and sign up as a volunteer, it is a couple weeks of work, after the elections and it keeps elections honest.

        If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

        by CwV on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 08:22:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  If votes are found (0+ / 0-)

    after the votes have been counted, as you describe happening in New York, then it's clear that a tally of how many votes were cast and how many votes did a candidate get are different categories.

    A candidate gets the number of votes that were counted. I wouldn't add the found votes to the official tallies. It would be better to start two new columns, Lost Votes for Obama and Lost Votes for Romney. The difference is between the number of votes that were cast and the votes that impacted the election. It's a shame that there's a difference.

  •  A note (0+ / 0-)

    Because of the sheer number, all of these vote totals approximate 51.95% of the two party vote for Obama with rounding error removed. That's really all that matters.

    23 Burkean Post Modern Gay Democrat; NM-2 (Raised), TX-20 (B.A. & M.A. in Political Science), TX-17 (Home); 08/12 PVIs

    by wwmiv on Thu May 02, 2013 at 08:59:29 AM PDT

  •  It looks like the numbers are still in flux (0+ / 0-)

    the popular vote on Wikipedia is now:

    In fact, the occasional victory for the GOP cannot hide the fact that this country is fast heading into another era, not of two-party democracy, but a party-and-a-half system. And the GOP is the half a party- Larry Sabato

    by lordpet8 on Sun May 05, 2013 at 10:18:46 PM PDT

  •  The numbers I am tracking are (0+ / 0-)

    O 65,911,256
    R 60,933,354

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