So, how many states actually voted for Mitt Romney?

In the weeks and months leading up to November’s Presidential election, I was quite vocal about the electoral outcome I preferred.* But since the election ended, I’ve given in to the temptation to gloat only once — and even then, only sort of, and in passing.

*I would have linked to more articles but I ran out of words. OK, here’s one more.

The point of this post is not to gloat. The election is now last year’s news and Barack Obama has been sworn in as the 44 and 1/2th President of the United States of America, so I’m hoping people are not sensitive about the election anymore. Which is good, because that means I’m cleared to write about how Mitt Romney actually did worse against Obama than you thought: he won exactly four states.

Immediately after the election, there was a brief flurry of map-making. People compared the electoral map to other state-by-state breakdowns. Some of those parallels may have had something to them —

slave states

— while I would consider others more spurious, still:


But this is the map I want to talk about:

Romney Blue, Others Red

You might not recognize that immediately, so I’ll give you a hand: that’s a map of the 2012 Republican Primary. The states that are colored in are the ones that voted while primary results were still meaningful (i.e. until May 2, when Gingrich conceded and Romney was the last man standing*). Within that category, the blue states are the ones that voted for Mitt Romney. The reds voted for Not Mitt Romney.

*Purposefully excluding elves here.

I didn’t choose the color blue for Romney by accident. You’ll notice that nearly every state that went for him in the primaries went to Obama in November:


In fact, Romney owns exactly as many houses as there are states in which he appears to have genuinely been the preferred candidate: Idaho, Wyoming, Alaska, and Arizona are the only four in which Romney won the majority of votes in both the Republican primary and the general election.

Obviously, winning both states isn’t what’s important. They’re two different elections, facing two very different (sets of) opponents. But still, I think it’s worth thinking about some of the implications of this geographic split.

Leaving aside any important strategic reasons that may exist for running the candidate who does best in the states your party does worst in, it’s still kind of sad that even though Romney was the most acceptable Republican candidate in 25 states during the primaries, he still managed to lose nearly every single one of those to Obama.

But perhaps more importantly, it’s just another example of the insanity of our electoral system. We let the blue states pick a red state candidate even the red states don’t want, and the blue states still don’t like him enough to bother actually voting him into office themselves.

I don’t have a solution – assuming every ‘problem’ begs a solution – and I’m too lazy to bother looking into whether this outcome is a regular electoral occurrence (I’m guessing yes*), but I couldn’t help but wonder: what Republican candidate would blue states ever consider voting for? And until the Republicans find that candidate, do they have any hope of actually taking home the Presidency?

*By my count, Obama won 15 of the 28 states he took from Hillary in the primary over McCain (plus a whole pile of Hillary states) but I did not count very carefully.


2 thoughts on “So, how many states actually voted for Mitt Romney?”

  1. I don’t understand the chiddush. Romney, being a moderate (or “centrist”, or “purple”) won the primaries in the more moderately republican states, which are naturally more democrat. He lost the hard-core republican states to more hard-core republicans. It’s classic center-leaning of candidates. With Obama and Clinton, neither was obviously more “left”. Enlighten me.


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