Obama: 5 Million Vote Win With 22% of Counties

Photograph by Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

President Barack Obama looks over the crowd as he prepares to leave the stage after making an acceptance speech during an election night rally in Chicago on Nov. 7, 2012.

One notable characteristic of the 2012 presidential election was how President Barack Obama ran up big vote margins in large metropolitan areas, overcoming Republican challenger Mitt Romney’s edge in lesser-populated regions.

Obama outran Romney by about 5 million votes despite winning 692 of 3,113 counties or their equivalents, according to official election data compiled and analyzed by Political Capital. Romney won 2,421 counties, or 78 percent of the total, though he carried just seven of the 82 counties that cast at least 300,000 votes. (The data don’t include Alaska, which doesn’t have counties, or the District of Columbia).

Take Nevada, where Obama won by 7 percentage points while carrying just two of 17 counties. One of the two was Clark, which includes Las Vegas and its suburbs and cast 68 percent of the statewide vote. Obama won Clark by 15 points. The other Nevada county Obama won was Washoe, the state’s second-biggest county in and around Reno.

Looking at the disparity another way: Obama won Los Angeles County, California, the nation’s most populous county, by 1,331,570 votes. That margin was greater than Romney’s cumulative vote margin in 1,195 of the counties he carried.

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