In Last 6 Elections, There Were Near-Misses in 2020 and 2004 and Second-Place Presidents in 2000 and 2016

In the last 6 presidential elections, there have been 2 near-misses and 2 second-place Presidents in the Electoral College.

The 2 near-misses were

  • 2020 election: If 21,847 voters had changed their minds and not voted for Biden (5,229 in Arizona, 5,890 in Georgia, and 10,342 in Wisconsin), Trump would have won the 37 electoral votes from these three states, and there would have been a 269-269 tie in the Electoral College. Trump would have been re-elected, because the U.S. House of Representatives picks Presidents on a one-state-one-vote basis, and the Republicans control a majority of the House delegations in the 2021 Congress.  Each of these 21,461 voters for Biden was 329 times more important than the more than 7,058,909 people who voted for Biden across the country.
  • 2004 election: If 59,393 voters in Ohio in 2004 had changed their minds and not voted for  incumbent President George W. Bush, John Kerry would have taken Ohio's 20 electoral votes from Bush and won the Presidency in the Electoral College.  Each of these 59,393 voters for Bush was  51 times more important than the 3,012,171 other people who voted for Bush. 

The 2 second-place presidents were

  • 2000 election: In 2000, George W. Bush became President even though then-Vice President Al Gore won the national popular vote by 537,179 votes.  Bush won the Presidency because he carried Florida by 537 votes.  Each of these 537 votes for Bush in Florida was 1,000 times more important than the 537,179 votes cast for Gore in other states.
  • 2016 election: In 2016, Donald Trump became President even though Hillary Clinton won the national popular vote by 2,868,518 votes.  Clinton's margin was comparable to George W. Bush’s substantial margin of 3,012,171 in 2004.  Trump won because he unexpectedly carried Michigan by 10,704 votes, Wisconsin by 22,748 votes, and Pennsylvania by 44,292 votes. Each of these 77,744 voters was 37 times more important than the 2,868,518 voters that voted for Clinton in other states.