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Margin of victory through U.S. history

You might think the 2012 presidential election had an incredibly close popular vote, but in historical terms it was not especially so. President Barack Obama won by a margin of 2.5 percent (about 3 million votes). Eleven other presidents won by a smaller percentage, including four who didn't carry the popular vote at all. In order, we list races each president won by the least — a margin of victory at or under 3 percent. A note: Four times, most recently in 2000, the winner lost the popular vote but won the election either in the Electoral College or, in the case of John Quincy Adams, the House of Representatives. The closest presidential race in history? James Garfield's 1,898-vote victory over Winfield Scott Hancock in 1880. At the bottom of the page, we list the races where the margin was 20 percent or more. Who knew that it wasn't LBJ or FDR or Nixon with the biggest blowout victories, but rather Warren G. Harding followed by Calvin Coolidge?

They won by the most

Margin of victory of more than 20 percent

Year Winner Margin of victory Actual vote difference Loser

1920 Warren G. Harding 26.2% 7,017,842 James M. Cox

1924 Calvin Coolidge 25.2% 7,337,778 John W. Davis

1936 Franklin D. Roosevelt 24.3% 11,071,183 Alf Landon

1972 Richard Nixon 23.2% 17,999,528 George McGovern

1964 Lyndon B. Johnson 22.6% 15,951,378 Barry Goldwater

Sources: CQ Guide to U.S. Elections, Federal Register, Associated Press

Margin of victory through U.S. history 11/10/12 [Last modified: Saturday, November 10, 2012 3:32am]
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