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In a United States presidential election, the popular vote is the total number or percentage of votes cast for a candidate by voters in the 50 states and Washington, D.C.; the candidate who gets the most votes nationwide is said to have won the popular vote. However, the popular vote is not used to determine who is elected as the nation's president or vice president. Thus it is possible for the winner of the popular vote to end up losing the election, an outcome that has occurred on five occasions, most recently in the 2016 election. This is because presidential elections are indirect elections; the votes cast on Election Day are not cast directly for a candidate, but for members of the Electoral College. The Electoral College's electors then formally elect the president and vice president.[2][3]

The Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution currently provides the procedure by which the president and vice president are elected; electors vote separately for each office. Prior to its enactment, electors cast two votes for president, and the winner and runner up became president and vice-president respectively.

The appointment of electors is a matter for each state's legislature to determine; in 1872 and all elections since 1880, all states have used a popular vote to do so.

List

The table below is a list of United States presidential elections by popular vote margin. It is sorted to display elections by their presidential term / year of election, name, margin by percentage in popular vote, popular vote, margin in popular vote by number, and the runner up in the Electoral College.

Key
Parties:   Democratic-Republican  Democratic  Republican  Whig  Progressive  Liberal Republican  National Republican  Federalist  Independent
Vote outcomes:    Winner did not receive a majority of the popular vote •    Winner did not receive a majority of the popular vote and lost the popular vote   Winner chosen by the House of Representatives

The Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution currently provides the procedure by which the president and vice president are elected; electors vote separately for each office. Prior to its enactment, electors cast two votes for president, and the winner and runner up became president and vice-president respectively.

The appointment of electors is a matter for each state's legislature to determine; in 1872 and all elections since 1880, all states have used a popular vote to do so.

The table below is a list of United States presidential elections by popular vote margin. It is sorted to display elections by their presidential term / year of election, name, margin by percentage in popular vote, popular vote, margin in popular vote by number, and the runner up in the Electoral College.

Election Winner & party Electoral College Popular vote Runner-up & party Turnout[4]
Votes % % Margin Votes Margin
1 1788–89 Washington,George Washington Ind. 69/69 100.00% 100.00% 100.00% 43,782 43,782 ,No candidate None[Note 1] 11.6%
2 1792 Washington,George Washington Ind. 132/132 100.00% 100.00% 100.00% 28,579 28,579 ,No candidate None[Note 1] 6.3%
3 1796 Adams,John Adams Fed. 71/138 51.45% 53.45% 6.90% 35,726 4,611 Jefferson,Thomas Jefferson D.-R.[Note 2] 20.1%
4 1800 Jefferson,Thomas Jefferson D.-R. 73/138 52.90% 61.43% 22.86% 41,330 15,378 Aaron Burr D.-R.[Note 3] 32.3%
5 1804 Jefferson,Thomas Jefferson D.-R. 162/176 92.05% 72.79% 45.58% 104,110 65,191 Pinckney,Charles C. Pinckney Fed. 23.8%
6 1808 Madison,James Madison D.-R. 122/175 69.72% 64.73% 32.33% 124,732 62,301 Pinckney,Charles C. Pinckney Fed. 36.8%
7 1812 Madison,James Madison D.-R. 128/217 58.99% 50.37% 2.74% 140,431 7,650 Clinton,DeWitt Clinton D.-R.[Note 4] 40.4%
8 1816 Monroe,James Monroe D.-R. 183/217 84.33% 68.16% 37.24% 76,592 41,852 King,Rufus King Fed. 23.5%
9 1820 Monroe,James Monroe D.-R. 231/232 99.57% 80.61% 64.69% 87,343 69,878 Adams, John Quincy Adams D.-R.[Note 5] 10.1%
10 1824 Adams,John Quincy Adams D.-R. 84/261 32.18% 30.92% −10.44% 113,142 −38,221 Jackson,Andrew Jackson D.-R.[Note 6] 26.9%
11 1828 Jackson,Andrew Jackson Dem. 178/261 68.20% 55.93%
Key
Parties:   Democratic-Republican  Democratic  Republican  Whig&#