US presidential vote numbers 2000-2016 in one chart

Sometimes a picture (or a data table) does say more than a thousand words. Regardless of how you feel at the outcome, have a dispassionate look at this graph:


Data for 2000-2012 are from the FEC, preliminary data from 2016 from Wikipedia — the latter are subject to some change but not enough to matter at the resolution of this graph. Now focus on the stretch 2008-2016 to identify some trends:

  • the GOP vote is remarkably constant over the last 3 elections
  • the D vote is trending downward from the historic 2008 mark, with a sharper drop this election.
  • the overall third-party vote is trending upward and increased notably this election
  • overall voter participation is dropping
  • From 2008 to 2016, the D party lost 8.6 million votes, while the GOP posted a small increase of 0.3 million (probably a bit more when we’ll have final numbers).
  • The Libertarians, on the other hand, are now big enough that in a “French” system with a runoff election, they’d have found themselves kingmaker. (I know, this is a hypothetical, as people’s “tactical voting” behavior would be quite different in such a system.) Regardless of how one feels about the party or its candidate, that is no mean achievement.

Some more commentary to follow later.


4 thoughts on “US presidential vote numbers 2000-2016 in one chart

  1. The numbers aren’t final yet. I know several states are still counting, mine hasn’t even finished processing all the ballots yet. I think it was almost half a million to go as of yesterday?

    • Sure, and that may affect the small difference between Trump and Clinton, but the graph will stay the same at this resolution, and the trends re playing out on a factor 10-20 larger scale (e.g, the big D vote drop). I will try to update the moment I have never numbers.

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