Part Two: Campaigns are Insignificant in Determining Presidential Election Outcomes


Democrat Political Dominance of High Population Counties 

Part Two of a Five-Part Series by Stephen R. Meyer

This is the second article in a series of five articles supporting a method to predict the outcome of the 2016 presidential election based on extrapolating the 2012 presidential election results out to 2016 and on trends established by the 1988 and 2012 presidential elections.

The first article, published in May can be accessed by this link:

In the 2012 presidential election, the Democrat’s nominee’s success in vanquishing his Republican opponent was brought about in our country’s large population counties. To demonstrate the political importance to the Democrats of large population centers, the following table lists ten counties (of our country’s 3,144 total counties or their equivalence) where President Obama gained a 5.5 million vote cushion in his approximately five million popular-vote defeat of his challenger in the 2012 presidential election. In the 2012 presidential election, the voters of these ten counties cast 8.0% of our nation’s total vote of 129,215,421 votes, and 12.1% of the Democrats’ national vote total of 65,917,257 votes.

State County 2012 Democrat Presidential Votes 2012 Republican Presidential Votes Percent of the County Vote Cast For Democrats Democrat Vote Margin in the County
California Los Angeles 2,216,903 885,333 71.5% 1,331,570
Illinois Cook 1,488,537 495,542 75.0% 992,995
Pennsylvania Philadelphia 588,806 95,467 86.0% 493,339
New York King 609,443 124,551 83.0% 484,892
New York New York 502,674 89,559 84.9% 413,115
Washington King 668,004 275,700 70.8% 392,304
Michigan Wayne 595,846 213,814 73.6% 382,032
California Alameda 469,684 108,182 81.3% 361,502
New York Queens 470,732 118,589 79.9% 352,143
New York Bronx 339,211 29,967 91.9% 309,244
Total 7,949,840 2,436,704 76.5% 5,513,136

Although the table above represents ten counties, the New York metropolitan area is the home to four of these counties; so in essence there are seven metropolitan areas that have this huge influence on the nation’s vote totals.

To demonstrate the importance of large population centers to the Democrat’s Electoral College success, in 2012 there were seven states where had the Republican presidential nominee received more votes in just one county, but still less than 50% of the votes in the given county, the Republicans would have won the state! In the case of Florida, four counties fall into this category. A table of these politically significant counties follows.

The States (With the Associated Number of Electoral College Vote in Parentheses) Politically Significant Counties

(The First Number in the Parentheses is the Percent of the Actual Republican Presidential Vote in 2012 followed by the Percent of the Vote Republicans needed in the County to Win the State in the 2012 Presidential Election)

2012 Democrat Presidential Margin of Victory in the State Listed in the First Column 2012 Democrat Presidential Margin of Victory In the County Listed in the Second Column
Florida (29) Broward (32.2%, 37.8%) 74,309 264,211
Miami-Dade (37.9%, 42.6%) 74,309 208,459
Orange (40.4%, 49.4%) 74,309 85,076
Palm Beach (41.1%, 48.0%) 74,309 102,253
Illinois (20) Cook (24.6%, 48.0%) 884,296 992,995
Pennsylvania (20) Philadelphia (14.0%, 37.2%) 309,840 493,339
Ohio (18) Cuyahoga (29.5, 43.6%) 166,272 256,613
Colorado (9) Denver (24.2%, 49.4%) 137,858 148,907
Delaware (3) New Castle (32.2%, 49.0%) 77,100 86,852
Nevada (6) Clark (41.8%, 48.5%) 67,806 100,883

Republicans could have won the 2012 Electoral College vote 273 to 265 if they had won the states of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Had the Republican nominee won 37.8% of the vote in Florida’s Broward County instead of the 32.2% of the vote Republicans actually received, along with 43.6% of the vote in Ohio’s Cuyahoga County instead of 29.5% of the vote Republicans actually received, along with 37.2% of the vote in Pennsylvania’s Philadelphia County instead of the 14.0% of the vote Republicans actually received, the Republican nominee would have won the presidency in 2012.


There are also four states where had the Republicans received more of the vote in just two counties, but still less than the 50% of the combined vote in the two counties, then the states would have been carried by the Republicans in 2012. The states where this is true, with the corresponding counties in parentheses, are Virginia (Fairfax, Arlington), Minnesota (Hennepin, Ramsey), Oregon (Multnomah, Lane), and Wisconsin (Milwaukee, Dane).

The prior vote analysis was based on the value of a changed vote being worth twice as much as a new vote. For example, in an election won by a Republican 501 to 499, giving the Republican candidate a two vote margin, had a Democrat voter changed their vote into a vote for the Republican, the Republicans would have picked up one vote to make their new vote total 502 and the Democrats would have lost one vote from their total to make their new vote total 498.

The Republican margin would have increased from two votes to four votes with the changing of just one vote. Owing to this phenomena, the Republicans only had to change a relatively few votes in strategic areas to win the 2012 election.

The last set of counties to be examined were identified when a question on my internet home page asked if I lived in one of the 146 highest-population counties in the United States, which are home to roughly half of our country’s population. Data sets that may be used to analyze the political situation are always of interest, and indeed this data set turned out to be fascinating. Although representing less than 5% of the United States’ total number of counties, or their equivalents, these 146 counties have an outsized political influence in our country owing to their large populations.

In the 1988 presidential election, Republicans won the presidential national popular vote by roughly 7.1 million votes, and the Republican nominee carried the popular vote in these 146 high population counties by a roughly 1.3 million vote margin. In the 2012 presidential election, the Democrats won the national popular vote by roughly 5 million votes, and the Democrat nominee carried the popular vote in these 146 high population counties by a roughly 12.5 million vote margin. The Democrats popular vote margin grew by 13.8 million votes in these 146 high population counties between 1988 and 2012, while in the remainder of our country, the Republican margin grew by 1.7 million votes!

Only six of these 146 high-population counties (4.1%) were trending to become more Republican in the 1988 to 2012 timeframe! On average these 146 counties vote margins shifted to become 23.4% more Democrat in this 1988 to 2012 time period.

harris cty

Trending Democratic in Harris County, Texas.

Worth noting is that the average annual margin shift in the vote of these 146 counties between 1988 and 2012 was less than 1%. A change this small is imperceptible to campaign strategists, but after 24 years, this seemingly small annual change in vote margin has become the deciding factor in presidential elections.

Extrapolating these 1988 to 2012 trends out to 2016 suggests the 12.5 million vote margin enjoyed by the Democrat nominee in the 2012 presidential election in these 146 counties will grow to be over 14.8 million votes in the 2016 presidential election.

Next month, how the variability in the vote, with an underlying trend favoring the Democrats, suggests that Republicans have little awareness of which factors are significant in determining election outcomes.


2 thoughts on “Part Two: Campaigns are Insignificant in Determining Presidential Election Outcomes

  1. It will be interesting to see if enthusiasm for Trump translates into a shift in party affiliation of any significance. The demographics say no, but anything is possible in this wacky election year.

  2. Pingback: Steve Meyer: Part Three / Presidential Campaigns are Insignificant in Determining Election Outcomes. | Vero Communiqué

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