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Dublin: 13 °C Tuesday 16 September, 2014

Minorities, causes and Nate Silver witchcraft: US election 2012 in numbers

121,366,971 people went to the polls on Tuesday. How did they vote – and which candidates did better with certain groups?

44 - The 44th President of the United States is in this photograph. Somewhere.
44 - The 44th President of the United States is in this photograph. Somewhere.
Image: Jerome Delay/AP

EVERY WEEK, TheJournal.ie offers a selection of statistics and numerical nuggets to help you digest the week that has just passed.

This week, it’s a special on the US presidential and congress elections.

121,366,971 – The total number of votes cast in this year’s United States presidential election.

10,027,019 – The number of votes by which that figure has fallen since 2008. The fervour surrounding Barack Obama’s candidacy – and the end of the Bush era – in 2008 brought a record turnout, which melted away this time around.

61,680,412 – The total number of votes cast for the Obama-Biden ticket in 2012. That’s 50.51 per cent of all votes cast.

7,817,803 – The number of votes Obama lost compared to 2008. That’s almost 78 per cent of the total fall in the turnout. Another way of putting that: out of every 9 people who voted in 2008 but didn’t this time, 7 of them would had voted for Obama in 2008.

58,487,232 - The total number of votes cast for Mitt Romney in 2012; a healthy 47.98 per cent of the total number cast. That’s 1,461,008 fewer than John McCain won in 2008, though.

748,208 – The decline in the number of votes for candidates from neither of the two main parties. This year the Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson, mopped up most of the third-party votes, winning the support of 1,178,442 voters. Actress Roseanne Barr, running on a ‘Peace and Freedom’ ticket, got 49,380.

60 – The time, in years, since Vigo County in Indiana has supported the candidate which did not ultimately win the election. Dwight D Eisenhower, in 1952, was the last Commander-in-Chief who did not win the county’s support – the voters went for Adlai Stephenson. Vigo County has only gotten it ‘wrong’, so to speak, twice since 1892.

4 – The total number of seats that changed hands in the Senate, out of 33. Pretty much nothing changed: the Senate is now 53-45 with two independents, compared to 51-47 with two independents previously.

3 – The net number of seats gained by the Democrats in the house. (There are still nine seats which had not been totally sewn up by the time of writing.)

$6 billion – The estimated total campaign spending between the Presidential, Senate and House elections. Which, when you think about it, is quite a lot of money to spend so that the net composition of all three institutions is virtually identical to where it was last week.

$50 million – The estimated amount spent by Linda McMahon on her Senate campaign in Connecticut; it was the second time in three years that McMahon had been the republican nominee. She spent a similar amount in 2010. She lost both times.

1 – The total number of elections called incorrectly by the New York Times poll analyst Nate Silver. Silver correctly predicted the results of all 51 presidential states (the 50 states, plus DC), and 32 of the Senate elections. The only one he got wrong was the North Dakota senate election, which went to the Democrat candidate on a 50.5-49.5 margin. Silver’s success at predicting elections has led some to ask: is Nate Silver a witch?

78 per cent – The proportion of Mormon voters who are thought to have voted for Mitt Romney, the first member of the Church of Latter Day Saints to run for a major party. That, as it happens, is less than the proportion who voted for George W Bush in 2004. Exit polls suggest that Romney’s performance with members of his own church was ‘break even’.

11 percentage points – The spread by which female voters preferred Obama to Romney, according to exit polls commissioned by the National Election Pool (a consortium of ABC, Associated Press, CBS, CNN, Fox and NBC). That’s barely a dent on the 13 per cent from 2008 and, given that women make up 53 per cent of the electorate, shows the importance of the female vote in getting Obama into office for a second term.

13 percentage points – The spread in favour of Obama, at 55-43, among voters with postgraduate degrees. When ranked by educational status, Romney’s only majority was in those with only undergraduate qualifications, 51-47.

15 percentage points – The spread in Obama’s favour (56-41) among people who consider themselves ‘moderate’. That’s down from the 60-39 spread in 2008 but still a clear majority among the 41 per cent of voters who describe themselves as ‘moderate’.

56 per cent – The proportion of married voters who supported Romney. Republican candidates traditionally do well among married voters, though they make up a smaller proportion of the population (60 per cent this year, compared to 66 per cent last time). John McCain only managed a 52-47 spread; Romney made it to 56-42.

7 per cent – The volume of registered Democrats who voted for Romney.

6 per cent – The volume of registered Republicans who voted for Obama.

In full: TheJournal.ie‘s coverage of the 2012 US elections >

Want more? Check out our previous ‘In numbers’ pieces >

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