Monday, November 26, 2012

Still counting votes from the 2012 presidential election

It was already clear several weeks ago that Barack Obama won the election with a majority of 332-206 votes in the Electoral College (you can see an electoral-vote map here). But as Nate Silver mentioned in a recent post on his FiveThirtyEight blog, they're still counting votes in states across the country.  (Did anyone need to be reminded that we have a remarkably fragmented, inefficient, banana-republic voting system?)  In the process, Obama's popular-vote margin over Romney is gradually inching up.
The last ballots in the presidential election were cast more than two weeks ago. But votes in 37 states, and the District of Columbia, are still being counted, with the results yet to be officially certified.

President Obama’s national margin over Mitt Romney has increased as additional ballots have been added to the tally. According to the terrific spreadsheet maintained by David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report, Mr. Obama now leads Mr. Romney by 3.3 percentage points nationally, up from 2.5 percentage points in the count just after the election.

Turnout has grown to about 127 million voters, down from roughly 131 million in 2008. [....]
At this moment, according to that table at the Cook Political Report, Obama's share of the overall popular vote stands at 50.8%, versus 47.49% for Romney (1.7% of the votes went to other candidates).  If we round off those numbers, that's 51% for Obama vs. 47% for Romney.

Yes, it may turn out that Romney got 47% of the popular vote, which would certainly be poetic justice.  But a very slight shift could change that rounded-off number to 48% ... which would be a pity, since it would spoil the effect.  Stay tuned.

—Jeff Weintraub