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McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS
  • Will Obama make the 51 percent club?

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  • Remember back on election night, when Donald Trump complained that President Obama was winning re-election despite trailing in the popular vote? Trump was proven wrong within a few hours of making that statement, but people who have tuned out all politics since Nov. 6, might be surprised by how large the president's margin of victory has become over the last few weeks. He now leads Mitt Romney by some 4.5 million votes. The election was not that close after all. With thousands of ballots remaining uncounted, President Obama now stands at 50.9 percent. When all the votes are finally tallied, experts expect him to reach 51 percent. Gov. Romney keeps falling as the votes come in, and now sits at 47.44 percent. As Obama creeps toward 51 percent, it may be instructive to ponder the number of recently elected presidents who have chalked up at least 51 percent of the popular vote more than once in the race for the White House. Let's look at the period from 1948 to the present. Harry S. Truman: Won in 1948 with 49.55 percent of the vote, and that was the only time he ran. Didn't make 51 percent twice. Dwight D. Eisenhower: His margins of victory in both 1952, when he picked up about 55 percent of the popular vote, and 1956, when he garnered some 57 percent, easily puts him into this special class. That's one. John F. Kennedy: The Democrat ran for president only once, in 1960, and he did not reach 51 percent. He finished with 49.72 percent in his winning race against Richard Nixon, besting the Republican nominee by only 110,000 votes out of 68 million that were cast. Didn't make 51 percent twice. Lyndon B. Johnson: Kennedy's successor racked up 61 percent of the vote in 1964. Johnson, however, was never on a presidential ballot again, so he did not make it to 51 percent twice. Richard M. Nixon: He won the presidency twice, with 43 percent in 1968 and 60 percent in 1972. Did not reach 51 percent twice. Gerald R. Ford: He received 44.6 percent in 1976. He was not a 51 percenter. Jimmy Carter: He won 50 percent of the vote in his 1976 election, but only 41 percent in his loss to Ronald Reagan in 1980. Didn't make 51 percent once, let alone twice. Ronald Reagan: He won the White House in 1980, earning 50.75 percent of the vote. Reagan was re-elected in 1984 with nearly 59 percent of the vote. Close, but Reagan did not make it to 51 percent twice. George H.W. Bush: The first President Bush racked up 53.3 percent of the vote in his 1988 election. Four years later, he could muster only 37 percent in his loss to Bill Clinton. Didn't make it to 51 percent twice. Bill Clinton: The two-term Democrat never actually made it to 50 percent. He won with 43 percent in 1992 and 49 percent in 1996. George W. Bush: He earned 47.8 percent in 2000, losing the popular vote to Vice President Al Gore, but winning the Electoral College and the presidency. He won re-election in 2004 with 50.73 percent. Did not make it to 51 percent even once. Barack H. Obama: The current president won in 2008 with 52.7 percent of the vote. The 2012 results continue to come in, but he currently sits at 50.9 percent. He's almost there. So as it stands, President Dwight D. Eisenhower is the only president since 1948 to win the backing of 51 percent of the electorate in a presidential election twice. It appears that Barack Obama is about to join a very select club. Neal Simon is a staff writer for The Evening Tribune in Hornell, N.Y.
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