Barack Obama First President Re-Elected With Less Popular, Electoral Support Second Time Around

Presidents don't usually win like this


With just over 63 million votes this cycle and just under 70 million in 2008, President Obama became the first president to be re-elected to the office with less votes than he was first elected with since every state moved to deciding electors by popular vote. Prior to that, only George Washington got less votes in his re-election; he faced no opposition and only a few thousand people in a few states actually voted. Franklin Roosevelt, the only president to be re-elected three times, received less popular and electoral votes in his second and third re-elections.

President Obama is also projected to receive 33 fewer electoral votes. His 332 expected this year, along with his 2008 take, is still the highest count this century. Bill Clinton received 370 in 1992 and 372 in 1996. Those totals, on the other hand, were the lowest since Jimmy Carter in 1976. No president has won re-election with less electoral votes except Woodrow Wilson, who promised to "keep us out of the war" but still got 158 fewer electoral votes in 1916, when the field wasn't split three ways. As for Obama getting us out of the wars; not true on Iraq and increasingly clearly not true on Afghanistan.

Obama becomes the 17th president, out of 43, to be elected to a second term. With most states reporting 100 percent of their votes, about 125 million people voted, six million fewer than 2008. The Census Bureau estimates the 2010 population of voting age at 237 million. At 26.5 percent of that total, President Obama sees a mandate from the middle class. Republicans, meanwhile, whose standard bearer got 25 percent of the voting age population and who kept control of the House, see a mandate of their own.