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Results just in...Apathy wins in a landslide!

Updated March 29th, 2016


Election 2016 results just in...Apathy wins in a landslide! Over 71% of eligible voters did not bother to vote. This chart adds up the popular vote from the first 26 states that voted and that have full results available. For the top candidates, this chart shows each candidate's votes as a percentage of eligible voters. Eligible voters are residents of the first 26 states who are U.S. citizens, ages 18+, and not disenfranchised by their state due to a felony conviction.  Read below the chart for full takeaways, state-by-state results, overall results, and complete data.

Note: This was originally published as a 4-state analysis on March 1st, after Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina had voted. While the 26-state results are similar to the 4-state results, we now have more insight and a much clearer picture of the overall election.

Election 2016 in Perspective

Major takeaways:

  1. On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders (5.1% of the pie) could catch Hillary Clinton (7.1% of the pie) if he could energize another 2% of the voting population. On the Republican side, another 2% would put Cruz (4.4%) well ahead of Trump (6.1%).
  2. State-by-state, the results get a lot more interesting. On the Democratic side, six states were decided by a margin of less than 0.5% of eligible voters — Iowa, Missouri, Nevada, Michigan, Massachusetts, and Illinois — with five out of six states going in favor of Hillary Clinton. While Democratic Party delegates are assigned proportionally, bragging rights, media coverage, and momentum go to the winner, no matter how small the margin of victory. Eleven more states (6 in favor of Bernie Sanders; 5 in favor of Hillary Clinton) were decided by margins of 0.7% to 2.7% of eligible voters. The remaining nine states were "landslides" so to speak (7 southern states for Clinton; New Hampshire & Vermont for Sanders), eight of them decided by a margins of 4.0% to 7.2%, and the remaining state (Vermont) decided by a margin of 19.7% of eligible voters. On the Republican side, 11 states were decided by a margin of less than 1% of eligible voters, 10 states were decided by a margin of 1% to 3%, and the remaining five states were decided by margins ranging from 3.3% to 5.6%.
  3. Is it really a landslide when the winning candidate gets less than 10% of the vote? In only five states did a candidate get more than 10% of the vote. In Vermont, Bernie Sanders captured a whopping 23.4% of eligible voters. In New Hampshire, Bernie Sanders took 14.6% of the vote. In Alabama, Donald Trump took 10.9% of the vote. In both Massachusetts and Illinois, Sanders and Clinton each topped 10% of the vote.  Let's compare our lowest turnout race for perspective. In Hawaii's Republican Caucus, the media reports that Trump beat Cruz, 43% to 32%, by a convincing margin of 11%. However, as a percentage of eligible voters, Trump took 0.7% of the vote and Cruz took 0.5% of the vote, for a victory margin of 0.2%.
  4. Republicans (16.4% of the pie) are trouncing Democrats (12.5% of the pie) this year in total voter turnout. That could bode well for Republicans in November's general election, if Democrats don't energize more eligible voters in the remaining states. Good news! Since we last reported our 4-state analysis on March 1st, Republicans have added another 1.8% of the pie to their turnout, and Democrats have added another 2.6%. You've shared this research tens of thousands of times on social media, and this article has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times. Please keep sharing this article far and wide, and perhaps we can make a bigger impact on voter turnout.
  5. Apathy rules. If you've ever wondered why it's a choice between the "lesser of two evils" in November, now you know. Candidates pander to special interest groups and party insiders because it pays off in votes. Your "average Joe" doesn't bother to show up for the election that matters the most, the Primary. Election 2016 turnout is very similar to Election 2008 and prior dual-party contested primaries, despite having grassroots contenders on both the Republican and Democratic sides for the first time in decades. So this level of apathy is nothing new.
  6. Get informed, register, and vote in the Primaries if it's not too late in your state. Another 1% is all it takes to change history.
  7. Turnout losers, starting with last place, were Hawaii (4.8%), Kansas (5.4%), Alaska (6.3%), Minnesota (8.1%), Nevada (8.3%), and Iowa (15.6%), all caucus states. That's right, the overhyped "first in the nation" Iowa caucuses brought less than 16% voter turnout. That's why candidates go out of their way in Iowa to appeal to the fringe who vote. Rounding out the bottom 10 were Louisiana (18.4%, Primary), Idaho (21.5%, Caucus for Democrats & Primary for Republicans), Arizona (22.2%, Primary), and Texas (24.4%, Primary).
  8. Turnout winners, starting with first place, were New Hampshire (51.5%), Vermont (39.6%), Massachusetts (37.9%), Illinois (37.8%), Ohio (37.2%), Alabama (36.8%), Missouri (34.4%), Michigan (34.3%), Virginia (31.6%), and North Carolina (31.2%). What do these top 10 states all have in common? First, they all hold Primaries, not Caucuses. Second, their Primaries are either Open (7 states) or Semi-Closed (3 states). In Open Primary states, voters never declare party affiliations; they simply show up to vote and ask for the ballot of any party. In Semi-Closed Primary states, voters either declare a party affiliation or declare themselves "Independent". Independents may vote in primaries for any party, but party-affiliated voters must vote within their own party (switching parties can take anywhere from 0 to 30 days).
  9. How many people tried to vote but couldn't? We've heard numerous reports of voter suppression in Iowa, Nevada, Massachusetts, and Illinois, to name a few of the prominent cases. But Arizona takes the cake. Arizona had a mere 22% turnout. Compare this to Florida's 31% turnout. Florida is a demographically similar state, and it has an identical Closed Primary system which, just like Arizona, requires 29-30 days advance voter registration. This similarity to Florida, along with widespread reports of prohibitively long voting lines due to missing precincts, and widespread reports of voter registrations mysteriously altered by the state to remove voters' party affiliations, leads us to believe that at least tens of thousands of eager voters (and likely hundreds of thousands) were disenfranchised in Arizona. So part of the blame for low voter turnout lies with the voting system and not with the voter. Some states' voting systems are not built to handle more voters.
  10. Caucuses vs Primaries — Total turnout for the 19 Primary States was 31.0% (69.0% didn't vote). Total turnout for the 6 Caucus states was 8.8% (91.2% didn't vote). Totaling the 6 caucus states only, everything changes, with Cruz leading Trump 1.3% to 1.2%, Sanders leading Clinton 2.6% to 2.0%, and Democrats having higher turnout than Republicans. Some would argue that caucuses aren't all bad, since they give the underdog a chance. However, the dismal turnout can't be ignored. Caucuses suppress voter participation by requiring hours-long commitments. Caucuses discriminate against the elderly, the handicapped, active-duty military, parents, and anyone with a job or a life. Caucuses are also run by the state political parties, themselves, rather than the states. Sometimes the state political parties play favorites, sometimes they're overwhelmed by larger-than-expected turnout, and sometimes they're simply inept at running a fair election.

Election 2016 Caucuses Only

24 States Excluded + DC — This study has included the 26 states where both parties have voted and 100% of the vote has been tabulated. Where are the results from the Maine Democratic Caucuses? It's been over three weeks and still the Maine Democratic Party has only reported 91% of their results. For this reason, Maine is excluded from the above analysis. Likewise, it's been over three weeks and the Nebraska Democratic Party has not yet reported 100% of their results, so Nebraska is also excluded. (Republicans also haven't yet voted in Nebraska.) The State of Arkansas has only reported results from 99% of their precincts (it's been 4 weeks), so Arkansas is excluded. In Kentucky, Washington State, and Washington DC, one party has voted but not the other. If and when we get results from these five states and DC, we'll add them to the analysis. In 16 states, neither party has voted; we'll add these states once they've voted, assuming the elections in both parties remain competitive. Last are three states we can't include in the analysis — Colorado, North Dakota, and Wyoming — because the state Republican parties have decided to disenfranchise all voters in these states (except for party insiders). They're not holding a real presidential vote. They're simply sending all of their delegates to the national convention as "uncommitted". Herein lies the biggest problem with our current presidential election system. The two parties, along with their media accomplices, control the primaries and can do whatever they want; they're not obligated to listen to voters. Superdelegates, brokered conventions, voter suppression, and a host of other corrupt practices are nothing new.

Methodology — We only use popular vote in this study, not delegate counts. In cases where popular vote is not made available by the state party (three cases so far, Iowa(D), Nevada(D), and Washington(D)), we estimate each candidate's popular vote by multiplying their delegate percentage by best available estimates of overall caucus turnout. We don't include U.S. territories — American Samoa, Guam, Virgin Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico — because none of these territory's residents are eligible to vote in November's presidential election. Perversely, the Democratic and Republican parties hold caucuses, primaries, and conventions in these five territories. This gives territorial residents an actual vote in the U.S. presidential primaries. The two parties allocate a disproportionately large group of national convention delegates to the territories. In addition, the Democratic Party holds a Democrats Abroad global primary that sends delegates to the national convention; there is no counterpart in the Republican Party. The territorial caucuses are rife for manipulation in any given election year. For example, check out the reported shenanigans by stateside party operatives in this year's Republican Virgin Islands caucus.

2016 Presidential Primary Results, March 29th 2016 Version

Click here for full data and sources
2016 Presidential Primary Data, March 29th 2016 Version

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