Twice in the last eight years a president has been re-elected. And as votes continue to trickle in, it is becoming clearer and clearer that Barack Obama’s victory margin will be a bit wider than George W. Bush’s in 2004.
Neither was particularly large in the popular vote. Bush won reelection by a margin of 3 million votes. As of Nov. 11, Obama’s advantage was 3.2 million and growing.
Bush prevailed in the popular vote by 2.4 percentage points (50.7% to Democrat John Kerry’s 48.3%). As of last weekend, Obama held a lead of 2.6 percentage points (50.5% to Republican Mitt Romney’s 47.9%), with Obama’s vote share likely to increase and his lead likely to widen before all votes are officially tallied and certified next month.
And Bush’s ’04 electoral vote total of 286 is dwarfed by Obama’s current total of 332.
Bush has the clear edge over Obama in one category – the number of states carried. The Republican captured 31 in winning reelection; Obama took 26 states this time plus the District of Columbia.
To be sure, Obama’s electoral showing this year is down across the board from his initial election in 2008. Then, he drew 69.5 million popular votes. This time, he will be fortunate to go much above 63 million. Four years ago, he won by 9.5 million votes over Republican John McCain, which translated into a 7.2 percentage point victory in the popular vote (52.9% to McCain’s 45.7%). Obama also rolled up 365 electoral votes last time.
But when looking at the last four presidential elections, 2008 has to be considered an aberration. The other three were close, with an Electoral College “misfire” in 2000 that elected George W. Bush, followed by presidential reelections in 2004 and 2012 that were by comparatively narrow margins in the popular vote tally. They were so close, in fact, that Bush posted the smallest margin of victory percentagewise for any successfully reelected president. Obama’s margin this year will likely be the second smallest.