US election 2012… in numbers

Here's a deluge of data detailing tonight's democratic ding-dong between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney


Abacuses, calculators and sophisticated Excel formulas alike will be deployed across America tonight to count up the votes cast in this presidential election and decide whether it’ll be Barack Obama or Mitt Romney who’ll lead the free world for the next four years.


But before the US of A’s army of vote counters (and machines) get stuck into the contents of the nation’s ballot boxes, it’s worth pausing to remember that the 100-odd million votes cast won’t be the only remarkable number associated with this election.

In reality, tonight’s political showdown hinges on a whole host of fascinating facts and figures pertaining to everything from newspaper support to the number of voters who won’t be making their voices heard. So, while you’re waiting for America’s democratic number-crunchers to finish their herculean feats of addition, here’s the 2012 US Presidential election… in numbers.

3…televised debates. Before heading out on one last frantic charge along the campaign trail, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney locked intellects in three televised debates. Romney won one, Obama another, and there was no score drawn for the third. Obama and Romney’s running mates, Joe Biden and Paul Ryan, only had the one vice-presidential debate, which was won by Biden.

11…key swing states. While the whole nation’s being canvassed, the real battlegrounds will be the 11 “bellwether” states where the outcome could go either way. If you’d like to find out which ones they are, we’ve profiled all 11 here.

41…endorsements from major newspapers. Of the top 100 American newspapers in circulation, 41 are backing Obama while 35 are pro-Romney. 23 endorse neither candidate and one confused (or cowardly) organ’s support is split between the two men.

44…presidents so far. If Obama wins tonight and stays put in the White House that figure won’t change. If Romney makes it, he’ll be #45.

81%…of voting-age Americans. Four-fifths of US citizens eligible to vote turned out for the 1860 presidential election, the highest percentile ever recorded. By contrast, just 58% of voters submitted a ballot in 2008.

270…Electoral College votes. The winning candidate will need to secure 270 of a possible 538 Electoral College votes in order to secure an absolute majority and claim the presidency. Not all states return equal numbers of votes, however. For instance, California’s worth 55 votes, while South Dakota, Vermont, Wyoming, Washington DC and Montana only return three apiece.

563…potential candidates. While it’s a foregone conclusion that only Obama or Romney stand a chance of getting over the White House threshold, there are over 500 presidential canidates in total from 70 different parties. These include the Third Telepathic Party, the People’s Ping Pong Party and (rather worryingly) the Absolute Dictator Party.

25,000…voters. When ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and Fox conduct exit polls tonight, they’ll be asking 25,000 voters in key states to get an idea of the result.

90,000,000…Apathetic people. Nearly a third of Americans are expected to greet the election with complete disinterest and forgo their chance to vote. Madness! As cult actor Bruce Campbell said on Twitter earlier: “Vote. Or shut up. Do one or the other.”

225,499,000…citizens of voting age. In 2008, there were just under 230m Americans of voting age living in the county, but only 131,144,000 turned out to vote.


852.9m….dollars. Is the whopping sum of money spent by Obama on his presidential campaign. Mind you, Romney’s not been much thriftier, having forked out $752.3m. Each man’s raised more money than he’s spent, though: Obama has amassed $934m during the course of the campaign, while Romney’s made $881.8m.