What journalists need to know & explain about the Electoral College

Three times in United States history, the person who became president did not receive the most votes — 1824, 1876, 2000.

Polls have consistently shown a large majority of Americans want the system changed. The National Popular Vote bill would change the way we elect presidents; it has passed in nine state legislatures.

So why do we have this system and how does it work? Permit me to go back a couple of hundred years. Stay with me, this won’t take long.

How the System Works

The main framework of the Electoral College comes from Article II Section 1 of the Constitution and was revised by the 12th Amendment in 1804.

When you vote for the President in the United States, you are not actually voting for your favorite candidate. You are voting for a slate of electors. There are 538 electors, typically people who are active in state and local politics. Oddly, even for a federal election, each state can have different rules about how to elect the electors. Usually they are elected at a state political convention. It would be a rare voter who could name more than one or two electors, even though the electors are the core of the voting process.

Each state gets one elector per member of Congress. So some states like Florida have more electors than Wyoming. (See state-by-state list.) It is a winner-take-all system, so whoever wins the popular vote in a state wins all of that state’s electors. There are two exceptions, Nebraska and Maine, where the electors are doled out differently. In those states, whoever wins the popular vote gets two electoral votes. Then the rest are awarded by whoever wins each Congressional district.

States can decide if they are winner-take-all states, or if they are proportional by Congressional districts or if they want to dole out electors by popular vote. It is a state decision. But the federal government requires electors and decided how many each state gets. So states could meaningfully change the system without Congress changing the Constitution.

Even though Washington, D.C. is not a state, the District gets three electoral votes as set out in the Constitution.

The Constitution does not allow electors to be sitting Members of Congress.

In some of this country’s earliest elections, the popular vote didn’t even elect the electors. In 1824, for example, one fourth of the states used a system where the state legislature, not voters, chose electors.

On December 17, 2012, the electors in each state meet to sign the “Certificates of Vote.” Then on January 6, 2013, the state’s certificates are examined and electoral votes counted. Whomever has 270 electoral votes is the new President.

There are lots of electoral systems around the world. Look at this list of systems. Some make our system seem logical.

What if Election Day produces a tie?

In a tight election year like this one, the “tie” is a “what if” parlor game worth playing. If President Obama won Ohio, Wisconsin and New Hampshire, and Romney won all of the other “swing states” and other states went as expected, it would result in a dead-on electoral tie: 269 to 269. The Washington Post has concocted five ways a tie could happen.

The first thing that would happen would be recounts and legal challenges in the most contested races. Think of the 2000 election on a larger scale. It could last months and cost many millions of dollars.

Then, if the courts and recounts don’t solve the issue, we turn to the 12th Amendment to the Constitution. A few key parts:

“The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted;–the person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President.”

So, in a tie, the 12th Amendment tosses the election into the hands of the House of Representatives.

In 1800, Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr got equal numbers of electors and the House of Representatives had to vote 36 times to break the tie. In fact, the 12th Amendment was a direct product of that debacle. Before that election, the top vote getter was President, the guy who ran second was Vice-President.

In 1824, Andrew Jackson got 151,271 votes, John Quincy Adams got 113,122. Jackson got the most electoral votes, but not enough to win a majority since there were three other contenders in the race. The election went to the House to resolve and John Quincy Adams won the election there. According to election lore, Adams cut a deal with Henry Clay, the fourth place candidate. Adams appointed Clay to be Secretary of State. Four years later, Jackson got his revenge and beat Adams handily.

But when an election goes to the House, things get weird. Under the 12th Amendment each state gets one vote. That’s right, Rhode Island’s vote is equal to California’s. Read it for yourself:

“But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice.”

The House members from each state must agree on who will get their vote. What a fight that would be.

You might assume that House members would vote for whomever carried their state, but that is not required. Some states might say they are unable to reach a consensus and not vote at all.

So, a candidate needs 26 electors to win. The House can vote again and again to break the tie.

While the House is locked up in a 25 to 25 tie, the U.S. Senate steps in to choose a Veep. Each Senator gets one vote. So, once again, all states are equal regardless of population. The candidate who gets 51 Senate votes is the new Vice-President.

Then, if the Senate cannot come to an agreement on a Vice-President before Inauguration Day, the Speaker of the House serves as acting President.

If the Senate reaches agreement on a VP and the House remains deadlocked, the Vice President acts as President.

Cassandra Thompson votes in the presidential primary at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Why the system works

The National Archive says in the last 200 years more than 700 bills have been introduced in Congress to change the system. After the 2000 election, a flurry of bills floated around Congress and went nowhere. Some suggested we just do a direct vote, whoever gets the most votes wins. Some said it should be based on Congressional district, more like what Maine does. Some said it should be a coalition based majority system, more like Canada.

Some proposals said a candidate should have to get 40 percent of the national vote or face a run-off.  Imagine that, a primary, a general election and then a run-off? The rationale is that a president should have at least 40 percent support or the country would be too divided to stand behind him or her.

Many of the proposed reforms did away with electors.

The strongest argument for the current system is that it forces candidates to build a national coalition of voters. They have to stitch together big and small states to get the needed electors.

Eleven states account for more than half of the population. California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas have the majority of voters.

In a popular vote system, small states might never see the candidates, who would spend their time in vote-rich, highly-populated states. But those who favor changing the system point out that the most populated states are evenly split. The big 11 states are split between Democrats and Republicans. So the smaller states would be necessary to break a tie.

Some argue the electoral system is right for a country of our size because in a tight election it would take forever to recount and litigate every state outcome. The nation would be thrown in a tizzy. The electoral system, even with its flaws, settles the matter with a system that has worked for two centuries.

There is also a state’s rights argument. Each state currently makes its own rules and counts electors and sends them to the federal government. A national popular system would be more of a federal election.

How the system fails

The more than 200-year-old system is clearly not one-person-one-vote. Sometimes the person who gets the most votes doesn’t get elected. The electors get adjusted after each census. But population shifts happen faster than that.

Plus in a winner-take-all state, the people who vote for the losing candidate lose all of their voice. It might as well have been a 100 percent vote, even if the winner won by only one vote. Opponents of the Electoral College say the current system allows candidates to write off states where they have no chance of capturing a majority. But if they could pick up pieces of states, Congressional districts for example, they might visit more states during the campaign.

Under the current system, third party candidates are marginalized. But under a proportional system, where electoral votes are doled out based on the proportion of votes you receive, a third party candidate could get enough electoral votes to become a significant power broker. A candidate who got say 5 percent of the electors could toss the entire race into the House to decide.

Under the current system, states appear Bluer and Redder than they actually are. There is no room for nuance.

In almost half of the states, electors don’t have to vote for the candidate they were elected to represent. Seriously. Even though a candidate wins the electoral vote, in those states the elector is not bound by law to vote for the winning candidate. The U.S. Archives website explains:

“There is no Constitutional provision or Federal law that requires Electors to vote according to the results of the popular vote in their States. Some States, however, require Electors to cast their votes according to the popular vote. These pledges fall into two categories—Electors bound by State law and those bound by pledges to political parties.”

“The U.S. Supreme Court has held that the Constitution does not require that Electors be completely free to act as they choose and therefore, political parties may extract pledges from electors to vote for the parties’ nominees. Some State laws provide that so-called “faithless Electors”; may be subject to fines or may be disqualified for casting an invalid vote and be replaced by a substitute elector. The Supreme Court has not specifically ruled on the question of whether pledges and penalties for failure to vote as pledged may be enforced under the Constitution. No Elector has ever been prosecuted for failing to vote as pledged.”

“Today, it is rare for Electors to disregard the popular vote by casting their electoral vote for someone other than their party’s candidate. Electors generally hold a leadership position in their party or were chosen to recognize years of loyal service to the party. Throughout our history as a nation, more than 99 percent of Electors have voted as pledged.”

It is rare, but it does happen. Project Vote Smart says, in fact, it happens for all kinds of reasons:

“On 158 occasions, electors have cast their votes for president or vice president in a different manner than that prescribed by the legislature of the state they represent. Of those, 71 votes were changed because the original candidate died before the elector was able to cast a vote. Two votes were not cast at all when electors chose to abstain from casting their electoral vote for any candidate. The remaining 85 were changed by the elector’s personal interest or perhaps by accident. Usually, the faithless electors act alone.”

The Congressional Research Service said “the faithless vote” has never influenced the outcome of the election.

The U.S. Archives assembled a list of which states require electors to vote for a specific candidate. Check the list to learn more about your state’s law.

Learn more from some of the places I went to flesh out this story:

  • The Congressional Research Service has written briefings on the Electoral College system, including citations to various proposed reforms over the decades.
  • I learned a lot from this Smithsonian Magazine article on the Electoral College vote of 1800. The craziness of that vote set the stage for the passage of the 12th Amendment, but it also gives insight as to the kind of chaos that a locked up vote would cause.
  • The Washington Post calculates as many as 32 ways the election could end in an electoral tie. But if it did, the Post concludes,”a tie, in all likelihood, would lead to President Mitt Romney.”
  • Harper’s Weekly set up a special website that explores the awful election of 1876-77 in which Governor Samuel J. Tilden of New York seemed to have gotten more votes than Rutherford Hayes of Ohio. But questions arose over the legitimacy of many elector votes and in an effort to resolve the problems, a special commission was formed. The commission dissolved into a political quagmire of corruption and even offers of vote selling.
  • The AP explores various “nightmare” scenarios that could develop Election Night.
  • See how other countries elect leaders. This essay from a Georgetown professor describes the difference between the “plurality” system and the “majority” and “proportional” systems. Throughout history, some states have changed how they award electors.
  • A list of election resources worldwide, useful in comparing systems.

Correction: This article initially misused the term majority when it meant plurality.

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  • Codewizard

    Wow, I learned this is 8th grade. Maybe the media should cover the shabby education system run by Unions? Oh what am I thinking? That would require reporting news.

    Sadly the Electoral College has been torn from it’s original goal. That was to keep bad Presidents out of Office. Too bad it’s not working that way.

  • http://twitter.com/oldgulph s e

    The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the
    candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in
    presidential elections. No more distorting and divisive red and blue
    state maps. There would no longer be a handful of ‘battleground’ states
    where voters and policies are more important than those of the voters in
    80% of the states that now are just ‘spectators’ and ignored after the
    conventions.

    When the bill is enacted by states possessing a
    majority of the electoral votes– enough electoral votes to elect a
    President (270 of 538), all the electoral votes from the enacting states
    would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most
    popular votes in all 50 states and DC.

    The presidential election system that
    we have today was not designed, anticipated, or favored by the Founding
    Fathers but, instead, is the product of decades of evolutionary change
    precipitated by the emergence of political parties and enactment by 48
    states of winner-take-all laws, not mentioned, much less endorsed, in
    the Constitution.

    The bill uses the power given to each state
    by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution to change how they award
    their electoral votes for President. Historically, virtually all of the
    major changes in the method of electing the President, including ending
    the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote
    and 48 current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have come about by
    state legislative action.

    In Gallup polls since 1944, only
    about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all
    of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives
    the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about
    10% undecided). Support for a national popular vote is strong among
    Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every
    demographic group in virtually every state surveyed in recent polls in
    recent closely divided Battleground states: CO – 68%, FL – 78%, IA 75%,
    MI – 73%, MO – 70%, NH – 69%, NV – 72%, NM– 76%, NC – 74%, OH – 70%, PA –
    78%, VA – 74%, and WI – 71%; in Small states (3 to 5 electoral votes):
    AK – 70%, DC – 76%, DE – 75%, ID – 77%, ME – 77%, MT – 72%, NE 74%, NH –
    69%, NV – 72%, NM – 76%, OK – 81%, RI – 74%, SD – 71%, UT – 70%, VT –
    75%, WV – 81%, and WY – 69%; in Southern and Border states: AR – 80%,
    KY- 80%, MS – 77%, MO – 70%, NC – 74%, OK – 81%, SC – 71%, TN – 83%, VA –
    74%, and WV – 81%; and in other states polled: AZ – 67%, CA – 70%, CT –
    74%, MA – 73%, MN – 75%, NY – 79%, OR – 76%, and WA – 77%. Americans
    believe that the candidate who receives the most votes should win.

    The bill has passed 31 state legislative chambers in 21 states. The
    bill has been enacted by 9 jurisdictions possessing 132 electoral votes -
    49% of the 270 necessary to go into effect.

    NationalPopularVote
    Follow National Popular Vote on Facebook via NationalPopularVoteInc

  • http://twitter.com/oldgulph s e

    Electors are dedicated party activists of the winning party who meet briefly in mid-December
    to cast their totally predictable rubberstamped votes in accordance with their pre-announced pledges.

    If a Democratic presidential candidate receives the most votes, the state’s dedicated Democratic party activists who have been chosen as its slate of electors become the Electoral
    College voting bloc. If a Republican presidential candidate receives the most votes, the state’s dedicated Republican party activists who have been chosen as its slate of electors become the Electoral College voting bloc. The winner of the presidential election is the candidate who collects 270 votes from Electoral College voters from among the winning party’s dedicated activists.

    The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld state laws guaranteeing faithful voting by presidential electors (because the states have plenary power over presidential electors).

  • http://twitter.com/oldgulph s e

    An analysis of the whole number proportional plan and congressional district systems of awarding electoral votes, evaluated the systems “on the basis of whether they promote majority rule, make elections more nationally competitive, reduce incentives for partisan
    machinations, and make all votes count equally. . . .

    Awarding electoral votes by a proportional or congressional district [used by Maine and Nebraska] method fails to promote majority rule, greater competitiveness or voter equality. Pursued at a state level, both reforms dramatically increase incentives for partisan machinations. If done nationally, the congressional district system has a sharp partisan tilt toward the Republican Party, while the whole number proportional system sharply increases the odds of no candidate getting the majority of electoral votes needed, leading to the selection of the president by the U.S. House of Representatives.

    For states seeking to exercise their responsibility under the U.S. Constitution to choose a method of allocating electoral votes that best serves their state’s interest and that of the
    national interest, both alternatives fall far short of the National Popular Vote plan . . .”

    FairVote

  • http://twitter.com/oldgulph s e

    With the Electoral College and federalism, the Founding Fathers meant to empower the states to pursue their own interests within the confines of the Constitution. The National Popular Vote is an exercise of that power, not an attack upon it.

    The Electoral College is now the set of dedicated party activists who vote as rubberstamps for their party’s presidential candidate. That is not what the Founders intended.

    The current state-by-state winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but since enacted by 48 states), under which all of a state’s electoral votes are awarded to the candidate who gets the most votes in each separate state, ensures that the candidates, after the conventions, in 2012 will not reach out to about 80% of the states and their voters. Candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or care about the voter concerns in the dozens of states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind.

    80% of the states and people have been just spectators to the presidential elections. That’s more than 85 million voters, 200 million Americans.

    Policies important to the citizens of ‘flyover’ states are not as highly prioritized as policies
    important to ‘battleground’ states when it comes to governing.

    Since World War II, a shift of a few thousand votes in one or two states would have elected the
    second-place candidate in 4 of the 13 presidential elections. Near misses are now frequently common. There have been 6 consecutive non-landslide presidential elections. 537 popular votes won Florida and the White House for Bush in 2000 despite Gore’s lead of 537,179 popular votes nationwide. A shift of 60,000 voters in Ohio in 2004 would have defeated President Bush despite his nationwide lead of over 3 Million votes.

    The National Popular Vote bill preserves the Electoral College and state control of elections. It changes the way electoral votes are awarded in the Electoral College.

    Under National Popular Vote, every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election. Every vote would be included in the state counts and national count. The candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC would get the 270+ electoral votes from the enacting states. That majority of electoral votes guarantees the candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC wins the presidency.

    States have the responsibility and power to make all of their voters relevant in every presidential election and beyond.

    Unable to agree on any particular method, the Founding Fathers left the choice of method for selecting presidential electors exclusively to the states by adopting the language contained in section 1 of Article II of the U.S. Constitution– “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors . . .” The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly characterized the authority of the state legislatures over the manner of awarding their electoral votes as “plenary” and “exclusive.”

    Federalism concerns the allocation of power between state governments and the national government. The National Popular Vote bill concerns how votes are tallied, not how
    much power state governments possess relative to the national government. The powers of state governments are neither increased nor decreased based on whether presidential electors are selected along the state boundary lines, or national lines (as with the National Popular Vote).

  • http://twitter.com/oldgulph s e

    The idea that recounts will be likely and messy with National Popular Vote is distracting.

    The 2000 presidential election was an artificial crisis created because of Bush’s lead of 537 popular votes in Florida. Gore’s nationwide lead was 537,179 popular votes (1,000 times
    larger). Given the miniscule number of votes that are changed by a typical statewide recount (averaging only 274 votes); no one would have requested a recount or disputed the results in 2000 if the national popular vote had controlled the outcome. Indeed, no one (except perhaps almanac writers and trivia buffs) would have cared that one of the candidates happened to have a 537-vote margin in Florida.

    Recounts are far more likely in the current system of state-by-state winner-take-all methods.

    The possibility of recounts should not even be a consideration in debating the merits of a national popular vote. No one has ever suggested that the possibility of a recount constitutes a
    valid reason why state governors or U.S. Senators, for example, should not be elected by a popular vote.

    The question of recounts comes to mind in connection with presidential elections only because the current system so frequently creates artificial crises and unnecessary disputes.

    We do and would vote state by state. Each state manages its own election and is prepared to conduct a recount.

    The state-by-state winner-take-all system is not a firewall, but instead causes unnecessary fires.
    “It’s an arsonist itching to burn down the whole neighborhood by torching a single house.” Hendrick Hertzberg

    Given that there is a recount only once in about 160 statewide elections, and given there is a presidential election once every four years, one would expect a recount about once in 640
    years with the National Popular Vote. The actual probability of a close national election would be even less than that because recounts are less likely with larger pools of votes.

    The average change in the margin of victory as a result of a statewide recount was a mere 296 votes in a 10-year study of 2,884 elections.

    No recount would have been warranted in any of the nation’s 56 previous presidential elections if the outcome had been based on the nationwide count.

    The common nationwide date for meeting of the Electoral College has been set by federal law as the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December. With both the current system and the National Popular Vote, all counting, recounting, and judicial proceedings must be conducted so as to reach a “final determination” prior to the meeting of the Electoral
    College. In particular, the U.S. Supreme Court has made it clear that the states are expected to make their “final determination” six days before the Electoral College meets.

  • http://twitter.com/oldgulph s e

    Now political clout comes from being among the handful of battleground states. 80% of states
    and voters are ignored.

    Now with state-by-state winner-take-all laws (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but since enacted by 48 states), presidential elections ignore 12 of the 13 lowest population states (3-4 electoral votes), that are non-competitive in presidential elections. 6 regularly vote Republican (AK, ID, MT, WY, ND, and SD), and 6 regularly vote Democratic (RI, DE, HI, VT, ME, and DC) in
    presidential elections. Voters in states that are reliably red or blue don’t matter. Candidates ignore those states and the issues they care about most.

    Support for a national popular vote is strong in every smallest state surveyed in recent polls among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group. Support in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): AK -70%, DC -76%, DE –75%, ID -77%, ME – 77%, MT- 72%, NE – 74%, NH–69%, NE – 72%, NM – 76%, RI – 74%, SD- 71%, UT- 70%, VT – 75%, WV- 81%, and WY- 69%.

    In the lowest population states, the National Popular Vote bill has passed in nine state legislative chambers, and been enacted by 3 jurisdictions.

    Of the 25 smallest states (with a total of 155 electoral votes) 18 received no attention at all from presidential campaigns after the conventions. Of the seven smallest states with any post-convention visits, Only 4 of the smallest states – NH (12 events), NM (8), NV (12), and IA (7) – got the outsized attention of 39 of the 43 total events in the 25 smallest states. In contrast, Ohio (with only 20 electoral votes) was lavishly wooed with 62 of the total 300 post-convention campaign events in the whole country.

    In the 25 smallest states in 2008, the Democratic and Republican popular vote was almost tied (9.9 million versus 9.8 million), as was the electoral vote (57 versus 58).

  • http://twitter.com/oldgulph s e

    Now political clout comes from being among the handful of battleground states. 80% of states
    and voters are ignored.

    Now with state-by-state winner-take-all laws (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but since enacted by 48 states), presidential elections ignore 12 of the 13 lowest population states (3-4 electoral votes), that are non-competitive in presidential elections. 6 regularly vote Republican (AK, ID, MT, WY, ND, and SD), and 6 regularly vote Democratic (RI, DE, HI, VT, ME, and DC) in
    presidential elections. Voters in states that are reliably red or blue don’t matter. Candidates ignore those states and the issues they care about most.

    Support for a national popular vote is strong in every smallest state surveyed in recent polls among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group. Support in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): AK -70%, DC -76%, DE –75%, ID -77%, ME – 77%, MT- 72%, NE – 74%, NH–69%, NE – 72%, NM – 76%, RI – 74%, SD- 71%, UT- 70%, VT – 75%, WV- 81%, and WY- 69%.

    In the lowest population states, the National Popular Vote bill has passed in nine state legislative chambers, and been enacted by 3 jurisdictions.

    Of the 25 smallest states (with a total of 155 electoral votes) 18 received no attention at all from presidential campaigns after the conventions. Of the seven smallest states with any post-convention visits, Only 4 of the smallest states – NH (12 events), NM (8), NV (12), and IA (7) – got the outsized attention of 39 of the 43 total events in the 25 smallest states. In contrast, Ohio (with only 20 electoral votes) was lavishly wooed with 62 of the total 300 post-convention campaign events in the whole country.

    In the 25 smallest states in 2008, the Democratic and Republican popular vote was almost tied (9.9 million versus 9.8 million), as was the electoral vote (57 versus 58).

  • http://www.poynter.org Poynter

    Thanks, Shane. You are exactly right. I have fixed the post and added a correction. Thank you. –Julie Moos, Director of Poynter Online

  • http://www.ackermannpr.com/ Shane Rhyne

    A small quibble with your first factoid that hinges on the correct definitions and usages of “majority” and “plurality.” A majority is an election in which the candidate wins at least 50.1% of the vote. A plurality (or a “relative majority”) is an election in which the candidate wins the most votes, but not a true majority. A plurality is most common when there are more than two candidates.

    What you meant to say, I believe, is that there have been three (actually four) elections in which a candidate without a plurality won the presidency. These would be John Quincy Adams (1824), Rutherford B. Hayes (1876), Benjamin Harrison (1888) and George W. Bush (2000). Each of these candidates actually received less popular votes than at least one competitor and still managed to win the Electoral College.

    However, 18 (almost 40%) of all U.S. presidential elections since 1824 (when popular vote totals began to be reported) have been awarded to a candidate who did not win an outright majority. In 14 of these cases, however, the candidate did at least win a plurality.

    Notable non-majority winners include Bill Clinton (both terms), Nixon (first term), Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln (who holds the dubious distinction of winning the presidency in his first term with the smallest percentage of the popular vote — about 39.5% — of any president since 1824).

    There was a five-election streak from 1876 to 1892 in which the winning candidate did not win a majority. The second longest such streak, incidentally, was a three-election run from 1992-2000.