Obama Wins Reelection: Electoral Vote Count and Why Obama Won


Scroll down for analysis of presidential and key U.S. Senate races

President Barack Obama won reelection Tuesday night, as he fended off a tough challenge from Republican nominee Mitt Romney. Republicans were desperately hoping they could wrest back the Oval Office from Obama, who has presided over a sluggish recovery since he took office in 2009. However, exit polls on Tuesday showed that half of voters blame George W. Bush for the state of the economy, which under Bush experienced the worst recession since the Great Depression. Obama won by securing victory in a number of swing states, including Ohio, Virginia, and Florida. No Republican has ever won the presidency without winning Ohio.

Romney lost for a very simple reason: it was clear he didn't believe in anything except his own ambition. His political career goes back to 1994, when he ran for U.S. Senate against Ted Kennedy in Massachusetts. During that campaign, Romney advocated pro-choice policies, announced his support for universal government health care, and flat-out declared that he did not want to return to the Ronald Reagan/George H.W. Bush years. The same can be said of his successful election to the Massachusetts governorship in 2002, when he portrayed himself as a level-headed moderate. Those positions stood in stark contrast to the positions he took in both the 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, where he ran well to the right of the Romney from the 1990s on a number of issues, including abortion, health care, and gun control. His reputation as a flip-flopper is well-deserved. 

Romney's biggest problem was that Americans oppose his positions on taxes, Medicare, Social Security, and other domestic issues. Romney was never going to win on policy, which left only personality. Quite clearly, Romney has none. He could not, on any level, relate to the average American. It's difficult for most people to look at Romney — a man born to privilege who made even more money running the venture capital firm, Bain Capital. Romney campaigned on the promise that he'd run government like a business, but of course, government and business are very different. The goal of running a business is to make money, while the goal of government is to provide services (however defined by previous legislation). Both ought to operate as efficiently as possible, but they are not the same. 

Electoral Vote Count

Romney: 206 (IN, KY, GA, SC, WV, AL, MS, OK, TN, AZ, KS, LA, NE, ND, SD, TX, WY, MT, UT, ID, AK)

Obama: 332 (VT, CT, DE, IL, MD, MA, NJ, RI, ME, DC, MI, NY, PA, WI, NH, MN, NM, CO, CA, HI, WA, OR, OH, IA, NV, VA, FL)


1:46am: Official results from Florida aren't in yet, but it looks like an Obama victory there as well. The final electoral map should look like this:

1:07am: He's baaaack. No, not just Barack Obama, but Alan Grayson:

12:56am: Romney begins conession speech. Seems oddly happy for having just lost something he's wanted to have since he was a fetus.

12:41am: Obama takes slim lead in the popular vote.

12:36am: Romney is still leading in the popular vote.

12:11am: Virginia has been called for Obama:

11:47pm: It's been projected that Congressman Jeff Flake (R) has defeated Richard Carmona (D) for the seat being left vacant by the retiring Jon Kyl (R).

11:43pm: Nevada for Obama. When it's over, it appears this electoral map will look exactly like it did in 2008, with the exception of Indiana and North Carolina going red this year.

11:26pm: Romney is done.

11:18pm: When Fox News calls the election for Obama, you know it's over:

11:15pm: Multiple outlets are calling the general election for Barack Obama.

11:11pm: CNN calls Iowa for Obama, taking away another route to victory for Romney, who will now have to win Ohio, Virginia, Florida, and Nevada. If he Romney loses any of these states, he's finished.

11:08pm: All that's left now is to call Florida for Obama, and thus, the general election.

11:00pm: North Carolina called for Romney, while Colorado called for Obama. California, Washington, Oregon, Hawaii to Obama. Idaho to Romney. Obama needs ten more EVs. Romney needs 67.

10:54pm: Things look absolutely atrocious for Romney in Florida:

10:47pm: Tweet of the night:

10:27pm: Tammy Duckworth (D) has defeated Tea Party incumbent Joe Walsh (R) in the Illinois 8th.

10:24pm: Tammy Baldwin (D) has defeated Tommy Thompson (R) in the Wisconsin U.S. Senate race in the campaign for the seat of the retiring Herb Kohl. So far tonight, three Democratic pickups, and none for the Republicans. Warren in MA, Donnelly, in IN, and King in Maine. Though King is an independent, he will most likely caucus with the Democrats.

10:24pm: CBS is calling the Virginia U.S. Senate race for Tim Kaine (D) over George Allen (R) for in the campaign for the seat of the retiring Jim Webb (D)

10:22pm: My projections so far:

10:15pm: If Romney loses Virginia or Ohio or Florida. He is most undoubtedly finished. He needs to win all three of those states plus one other toss up: Iowa or Colorado or New Mexico or Nevada. Things look bleak for the Romney campaign.

10:07pm: At this point, Romney needs to win Ohio, Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, and Colorado or New Mexico. This election is all but over.

10:05pm: MSNBC is calling the U.S. Senate race in Missouri for Claire McCaskill (D) over Todd Akin (R).

9:47pm: NBC News is projecting that Elizabeth Warren (D) has defeated incumbent Scott Brown (R) in the U.S. Senate race in Massachusetts. NBC is also projecting that Joe Donnelly (D) will defeat Richard Mourdock (R) for Senate in Indiana. The GOP has lost three senate seats so far.

9:44pm: Things aren't looking good for Scott Brown (R) in the senate race in Massachusetts. The vast majority of (liberal) Boston's precincts have yet to report. 

9:41pm: If Romney loses Ohio, Florida, or Virginia, he's finished. 

9:35pm: With 70% of precincts reporting in Virginia, Romney has a four point lead:

9:33pm: Politico is calling Ohio for Senator Sherrod Brown (D), as he defeated Josh Mandel (R). 

9:30pm: Apparently, a bunch of gullable results-seekers believed a false Think Progress tweet about NBC News calling Massachusetts U.S. Senate race for Elizabeth Warren. Anyone who's actually been following the results coming in, would know how ridiculous that call would be. 

Lots of outlets fell for that tweet, but not PolicyMic.

9:27pm: Fox News is calling Wisconsin and its 10 EVs for Obama.

9:15pm: Pennsylvania for Obama, and 20 EVs. 

9:14pm: The U.S. Senate race in Pennsylvania has been called for incumbent Bob Casey (D) over Tom Smith (R).

9:10pm: If Richard Tisei's (R) lead holds against incumbent John Tierney (D), he'll become the first openly gay Republican U.S. congressman:

9:01pm: Polls have closed in: Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Wisconsin, Wyoming.

Here are the calls

For Romney: Arizona (11), Kansas (6), Louisiana (8), Nebraska (at least 4), North Dakota (3), South Dakota (3), Texas (38), Wyoming (3)

For Obama: Michigan (16), New York (29)

Too early to call: Colorado (9), Minnesota, New Mexico (5), Wisconsin (10)

8:53pm: With 4% of precincts reporting in Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren (D) has a slim lead over incumbent Scott Brown (R) in the race for U.S. Senate.

8:49pm: Florida results with 61% of precincts reporting:

8:34pm: Politico is reporting that Chris Murphy (D) has defeated Linda McMahon (R) for U.S. Senate in Connecticut. This is a Democratic hold, as the seat is being left vacant by the retiring Joe Lieberman (I), who caucused with the Democrats. 

8:32pm: Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D) projected winner against Barry Hinckley (R) in Rhode Island.

8:30pm: Polls have closed in Arkansas. Its 6 EVs go to Romney.

8:20pm: Results from Florida, with about half of precincts reporting:

8:09pm: The Democrats are hoping Donnelly's lead in Indiana holds. This would be a pickup for the Democrats in the U.S. Senate:

8:05pm: ABC news has called the U.S. Senate race in Florida for incumbent Bill Nelson (D) against challenger Connie Mack IV (R)

8:01pm: Angus King (I) projected winner of the Senate race in Maine. King, though an independent, will most likely caucus with the Democrats. This race was for the seat of the retiring Olympia Snowe (R). This apeears to be a pickup for the Democrats.

8:00: Polls closed in several states, plus Washington, D.C. Here are the projected winners in some of those states:

States called for Romney: Alabama (9 EVs), Mississippi (6), Oklahoma (7), Tennessee (11)

States called for Obama: Connecticut, (7), Delaware (3), Illinois (20), Maryland (10), Massachusetts (11), New Jersey (14), Rhode Island (4), Washington D.C. (3)

Too close to call: Florida (29), Missouri (10), New Hampshire (4), Pennsylvania (20).

7:45pm: Closely watched Indiana Senate race between Joe Donnelly and Richard Mourdock. Mourdock came under fire after he said in a debate, that pregnancies resulting from rape are something that God intended to happen.


7:33pm: In case anyone's wondering, Joe Manchin (D) and Bernie Sanders (I) won reelection in their senate races in West Virginia and Vermont, respectively. Though an independent, Sanders caucuses with the Democrats.

7:31pm: Polls closed in West Virginia, and its 5 EVs go to Romney.

7:24pm: The early picture in Virginia. Might Constitution Party nominee and former Republicans Virginia congressman Virgil Goode siphon enough votes away from Romney to make a difference?

7:22pm: At 7:30, polls will close in Ohio, North Carolina, and West Virginia. 

7:10pm: Polls have closed in Virginia, but it's going to be awhile before a winner is called in either the presidential race or the U.S. Senate race between Tim Kaine (D) and George Allen (R).

7:09pm: Polls have closed in Georgia (16) and South Carolina (9). Those 25 EVs will got to Romney.

7:02pm: Vermont polls have closed, and its 3 electoral votes can be called for Obama.  

6:47pm: Confusion reigns at polling stations in Pennsylvania over a blocked voter ID law. Last month, a Pennsylvania judge blocked the implementation of the state's voter ID law. The ruling said that election officials may ask voters to show an idea, but that voting would not be contingent on showing said ID. 

6:36pm: Huffington Post with a comprehensive live-blog on today's exit polling data.

6:29pm: Presidential results from the only two states so far whose polls have closed.

6:13pm: According to exit polling data, about half of voters blame George W. Bush for the state of the economy. Will this translate into an Obama victory? Yes.

6:01pm: Polls closed in Indiana, and the state's 11 electoral votes will go to Romney. The senate race between Joe Donnelly and Richard Mourdock will be too close to call for some time.

6:00pm: The polls in Kentucky have closed, and I'm calling the state's 8 electoral votes for Romney. No surprise here, as the polls have Romney ahead by double digits.

5:54pm: PolicyMic editor Chris Miles has your guide to the nation's gubernatorial races.

5:44pm: Unsurprisingly, Ron Paul is not impressed with candidates Obama and Romney:

"I don't think there's enough difference between the two candidates, and I assume the victor today will be the status quo," Paul told CNN. "We're going to continue with basically the same policies that we've had for a long time, so I don't see the election, as the way it's turning out, to be very crucial at all."

5:31pm: PolicyMic editor Chris Miles all but called Ohio for Obama two months ago after Romney's now-infamous 47% gaffe at a private fundraiser with wealth campaign donors.

5:16pm: Obama makes BOLD claim. Says he can do Gangnam style dance. Obama told WZID radio station in New Hampshire, "I just saw that video for the first time. I think I can do that move. But I'm not sure that the Inauguration Ball is the appropriate time to break that out." 

4:39pm: Chris Mathews lost his mind today on MSNBC's NOW with Alex Wagner:

“If you don’t vote you’re an idiot,” he said. 

He soon extended his critque to voters of minor party candidates:

“And if you vote for one of these numbskull third or fourth party candidates like Gary Johnson or Jill Stein and say, oh I was so surprised at what happened — no you shouldn’t be, because idiots like you who voted for third and fourth party candidates, and they don’t know how the system works. You have two choices.”

4:20pm: Over at Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi is killing it as usual:

"So it's finally here – the big day. After eighteen months of relentless, ear-splitting propaganda, with thousands, if not tens of thousands, of reporters humping the horse-race (jumping on every single poll like heavily-panting boy-dogs with their little red wieners showing) and day after day swinging the heavy horseshit-hammer of Thor, braining us with one meaningless, made-up non-controversy after another – after all that angst and stress and directionless aggression, it’s finally going to end.

"That it's all going to be over finally, thank God for that. But today will still go down as a truly sad day, no matter who wins...."

4:08pm: Poll closing times in all the states:

6:00 pm: KY, IN

7:00 pm: GA, SC, VT, VA

7:30 pm: NC, OH, WV

8:00 pm: AL, CT, DE, DC, FL, IL, ME, MD, MA, MS, MO, NH, NJ, OK, PA, RI, TN

8:30 pm: AR

9:00 pm: AZ, CO, KS, LA, MI, MN, NE, NM, NY, ND, SD, TX, WI, WY

10:00 pm: IA, MT, NV, UT

11:00 pm: CA, HI, ID, OR, WA

1:00 am: AK

3:53pm: Exclusive video of Springfield resident Homer Simpson having serious issues with an electronic voting machine in his precinct:

2:55pm: From FiveThirtyEight, Sarah Wheaton notes the record number of women running for U.S. Congress this year. Eighteen women are running for Senate and 141 are running for House seats. I don't know how many binders full of women that is, but it seems like a lot.

2:11pm: Footage of this electronic voting machine turning a vote for Obama into a vote for Romney in Pennsylvania legit? MSNBC has confirmed that the machine featured below has been taken out of service.

1:56pm: My final Electoral College projection. It's the same as it was yesterday. As impressive as winning all those rectangles in the west is, it won't be enough to save the candidacy of Mitt Romney:

1:42pm: It looks like liberal firebrand Sherrod Brown may very well hang on against Josh Mandel for U.S. Senate in Ohio. This was the most expensive congressional race in the country:

1:29pm: PolicyMic pundit Matt Rozsa has Obama collecting 303 electoral votes to 235 for Romney:

"My hunch is that Romney will also lose the popular vote by less than one percent, although for the sake of convenience, I’m rounding Obama to 50% and Romney to 49% (as well as giving 1% to Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, with the rest being split among various third parties). This would leave Obama with the dubious distinction of having the closest popular margin of victory ever received by a re-elected president, a record currently held by none other than George W. Bush (who beat John Kerry in 2004 by 2.4%)."

1:03pm: PolicyMic editor Sam Meier explains why she's voting "Feminist" in this year's election: 

"As the election draws closer, I have increasingly gotten more and more enraged as it is pointed out to me more and more frequently that apparently, feminists have won everything. I'm told that the “war on women” when it comes to social issues is meaningless because the real “war on women” is economic, and neither war is really a war in any case....

"But when politicians and pundits alike do a poor job of linking the social to the economic, or when one is deemed to be totally unimportant because of the other, and when neither is really considered a “real” issue facing “real” America, a world-weary millennial feminist fresh out of college toes the fine line between rage and exhaustion."


12:43pm: PolicyMic pundit Jesse Merkel not only has Romney winning the election, but he has Romney winning in a beatdown, 325 to 213 electoral votes. Merkel has Romney winning every single swing state — Ohio, Virginia, Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Minnesota. Check out Merkel's Electoral College map.

10:00am: Nate Silver who has long predicted an Obama victory at FiveThirtyEight has even more bad news for Romney:

Mitt Romney has always had difficulty drawing a winning Electoral College hand. Even during his best period of polling, in the week or two after the first presidential debate in Denver, he never quite pulled ahead in the polling averages in Ohio and other states that would allow him to secure 270 electoral votes.

But the most recent set of polls suggest another problem for Mr. Romney, whose momentum in the polls stalled out in mid-October. Instead, it is President Obama who is making gains.

Among 12 national polls published on Monday, Mr. Obama led by an average of 1.6 percentage points. Perhaps more important is the trend in the surveys. On average, Mr. Obama gained 1.5 percentage points from the prior edition of the same polls, improving his standing in nine of the surveys while losing ground in just one.

Silver now has Romney's chances of winning at 8.4%.

Romney aide Eric Fehrnstrom reacted to Silver's report:

Tuesday, 9:17am: Today's election results in the 8th Illinois congressional district should bring the news that the contemptible freshman Congressman Joe Walsh (R) lost to Tammy Baldwin (D). During the summer, Walsh had this to say about Duckworth, a veteran who lost both her legs in the Iraq war:

Here are the latest polls from that race:

Adios, Congressman Walsh. It's one-and-done for you.

Tuesday, 7:16am: Polls are now open on most places in the Eastern time zone. It's going to be an uphill climb for Romney, as the polls in this race are going to have to be very wrong in order for Romney to win. From the Washington Post:

"But just how wrong would current polls have to be for Romney to win the election? Robert Erikson, a prominent forecasting specialist at Columbia, and his colleague Karl Sigman did the math. They estimate that if the current polls are correct, Obama has a 99.9 percent chance of winning."

Tuesday, 1:05am: The latest and greatest general election polls courtesy of Real Clear Politics:

Tuesday, 12:35am: The first Election Day results are in, as tiny Dixville Notch, New Hampshire keeps up its 52-year tradition of opening its polls at midnight on Election Day. Here's final the tally:

Obama:  5 votes

Romney: 5 votes

In case you were wondering, this race is still too close to call.

Tuesday, 12:05am: Count me among the 86.9% of ESPN's Streak for the Cash participants who think Obama is headed toward victory:


As the 2000 election reminded Americans, the presidency does not go to the candidate with highest popular vote total, but rather the highest electoral vote total. On this front, the Romney campaign has less reason to be optimistic. Conventional wisdom says that Romney must win Ohio and its 18 electoral votes to have any chance at all of getting the necessary 270 votes to win the general election. No Republican has ever won the presidency without winning the Buckeye State. 

Based on a reading of the latest presidential polls in each state, here's my projection of the final electoral vote tally:

Even if Romney were to win Ohio, in addition to Florida and Virginia, he would need to snag one other state currently in blue. That is a tall order. 

Over at FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver has the breakdown of electoral vote probabilities. He has Virginia leaning toward Obama: