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National Politics|By Cook Political Report Staff, December 16, 2016

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s victory was definitely THE most interesting thing that happened in the 2016 election, but it certainly wasn’t the only interesting thing. In keeping with our end-of-cycle tradition, we found 56 more interesting things to tide you over during the holidays as we take a well-earned break. The weekly update will return on Friday, January 12, 2017. Happy Holidays!


1. Effectively 77,759 votes in three states (WI/PA/MI) determined the Presidency: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump won by:
  • 22,748 votes in WI, 0.7 of a point (3rd party candidates received: 188,330)
  • 44,307 votes in PA, 0.7 of a point, (3rd party candidates received: 218,228)
  • 10,704 votes in MI, 0.2 of a point (3rd party candidates received: 250,902 votes)
2. Just three counties – Macomb County, MI; York County, PA and Waukesha County, WI – elected Donald Trump. If those three counties had cast zero votes, Trump would have lost all three states and the election. By the same logic, just three counties re-elected President Obama in 2012: Miami-Dade County, FL; Cuyahoga County, OH and Philadelphia, PA.

3. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton carried the popular vote by more than 2.8 million votes, and 2.1 percentage points. But while she narrowly improved on President Obama's margin in non-swing states (4.1% vs. 4.0%), she vastly underperformed in the 13 swing states that actually mattered: Obama's 3.6-percent margin in those states morphed into a 1.8-percent Trump lead.

4. There have been 58 presidential elections in the United States. The popular vote and the Electoral College have gone in the same direction in 54 of them. These are the exceptions.
  • 1824: Andrew Jackson won the popular vote and a plurality of the Electoral College vote, throwing the election to the House of Representatives where John Quincy Adams beat Jackson.
  • 1876: Samuel Tilden won popular vote, but Rutherford B. Hayes won the Electoral College
  • 1888: Grover Cleveland won popular vote, and Benjamin Harrison won the Electoral College
  • 2000: Al Gore won popular vote, but George W. Bush won the Electoral College.
5. Trump won the White House by winning 76 percent of counties with a Cracker Barrel Old Country Store and 22 percent of counties with a Whole Foods Market. This 54-percent gap is the widest ever recorded. When Bill Clinton was elected in 1992, it was 19 percent; when George W. Bush was elected in 2000, it was 31 percent; and when Barack Obama was elected in 2008, it was 43 percent.

6. The state with the largest increase in total votes cast for president versus 2012 was Texas (12.2%), while the state with the sharpest decrease was Mississippi (-6.7%). The state with the largest pro-Republican margin shift versus 2012 was North Dakota (16.1%), while the state with the largest pro-Democratic margin shift was Utah (30.0%).

7. Orange County, CA voted Democratic for president for the first time since 1936. Meanwhile, Elliott County, KY voted Republican for the first time since it was founded in 1869.

8. There is only one county in the U.S. that voted for Barack Obama by more than 20 percent in 2012 AND voted for Donald Trump by more than 20 percent in 2016: Howard County, IA.

9. Clinton did better in 2016 than Obama did in Arizona, Georgia and Virginia in 2012.

10. In 2016, Clinton won California by 8 points more than Obama did in 2012. She lost Texas by 9 points, while Obama lost the state by 16 points.

11. Overall, the national polls were not as wrong as they appeared to be at first glance. The final RealClearPolitics running average had Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton up by 3.2 points. At this writing, her actual popular vote margin is 2.1 points.

12. On average, polling in 2016 was closer to the results of the election than it was in 2012. President Obama's final popular vote margin was 3.9 points, but the RealClearPolitics running average before Election Day was 0.7 points, a difference of 3.2 points. The difference in 2016 was just 1.1 points.

13. The approval ratings of a lame-duck president are seen as a critical factor in predicting the success of his party’s nominee to succeed him in the White House.  But, it’s clear that it is not the DETERMINING factor. Three of the last four two-term presidents had approval ratings above 50 percent for the entire fall of the election year. Those three – Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama – also ended the fall with approval ratings in high-50’s to high-60’s. Yet, only one – Reagan – saw his party succeed in holding the White House for a third term. 

Two-Term Presidents And Post-Election Approval Ratings (GALLUP)

14. For the entire cycle, Clinton aired 39 percent of all presidential ad occurrences on broadcast, Trump aired 12 percent (Bernie Sanders also aired 12 percent and Jeb Bush’s Super PAC Right to Rise aired 4 percent). (courtesy: Kantar Media/CMAG)

15. Clinton aired 187 unique spots on broadcast TV throughout the entire election, and Trump ran just 40 unique ads. (courtesy: Kantar Media/CMAG)

16. 80 percent of broadcast TV ads in the presidential general election were either negative or contrast ads. (courtesy: Kantar Media/CMAG)

17. 60 percent of all general election presidential spots on broadcast TV were anti-Trump, while only 20 percent were anti-Clinton. (courtesy: Kantar Media/CMAG)

18. The most frequently talked about issue on broadcast TV in the presidential general election was jobs. The issue was mentioned in 21 percent of ads. (courtesy: Kantar Media/CMAG)

19. 3 percent of all presidential spots on broadcast TV mentioned Obamacare. (courtesy: Kantar Media/CMAG)

20. Florida was the presidential general election’s most targeted state. $110 million was spent on broadcast there – that’s a quarter of all money spent in the presidential general election and over twice as much in Ohio, the next closest state. (courtesy: Kantar Media/CMAG)

21. 13 sponsors aired Spanish language ads in the presidential general election on broadcast TV: nine Democratic sponsors and three Republican sponsors. The three GOP sponsors aired 650 spots and the Democratic sponsors aired 17,000 spots. (courtesy: Kantar Media/CMAG)

22. In the general election, Trump aired 53 percent of the Republican spots on broadcast television while outside groups aired 46 percent and coordinated party buys made up just under 1 percent. By contrast, in 2012 Romney aired just 35 percent of the GOP ads and outside groups aired 54 percent while party coordinated buys and independent expenditures came in at just over 10 percent. (courtesy: Kantar Media/CMAG)

U.S. Senate

23. No Democrat won a Senate race in a state that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump carried.

24. No Republican won a Senate contest in a state that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton carried.

25. Democrats scored a gain of two seats, defeating Republican incumbents Mark Kirk in Illinois and Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire, both states that Clinton carried. Even so, both Kirk and Ayotte got more votes than Trump did in their respective states.

26. New Hampshire hosted the closest Senate race this cycle. Democrat Maggie Hassan beat Ayotte by just 1,017 votes out of 738,618 cast.

27. Republican U.S. Sen. John Hoeven had the largest margin of victory at 62 points. He beat Democratic state Rep. Eliot Glassheim, 79 percent to 17 percent. This is a state record.

28. Republican U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska made some history Election Night by becoming the first Senator to win by a plurality of the vote in three consecutive elections. (courtesy: University of Minnesota’s Smart Politics)

29. Despite the retirements of Democratic U.S. Sens. Barbara Boxer of California and Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, and the defeat of Republican Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire, women gained a Senate seat. There are currently 20 women in the Senate; there will be 21 at the start of the 115th Congress in January, 16 Democrats and five Republicans.

30. This is the second time that New Hampshire has had an all female congressional delegation (two U.S. Senators, two U.S. Representatives); the first was 2012-2014. However, according to Smart Politics, it is the first time that the state has had an all-Democratic delegation since 1852.

31. 20 percent of all general election broadcast spots in U.S. Senate races mentioned jobs or unemployment issues. In the race in Ohio, it was 65 percent. (courtesy: Kantar Media/CMAG)

32. In the general election Senate races, Republicans spent three times more criticizing Clinton and Obama compared to what Democrats spent criticizing Trump. For the entire cycle, more money was spent criticizing Obama than was spent attacking Clinton and Trump combined. (courtesy: Kantar Media/CMAG)

33. Even so, just 16 percent of all Republican general election broadcast spots in U.S. Senate races were anti-Obama, compared to 58 percent in 2014. (courtesy: Kantar Media/CMAG)

34. In terms of television advertising, the three most expensive U.S. Senate races for the cycle overall were Pennsylvania ($122 million), New Hampshire ($113 million), and Ohio ($59 million). The three most expensive general election contests were in New Hampshire ($99 million), Pennsylvania ($96 million), and Ohio ($53 million). (courtesy: Kantar Media/CMAG)

35. The Senate race with the highest number of unique general election advertisers was Pennsylvania at 43. (courtesy: Kantar Media/CMAG)

36. The three Republican outside group advertisers that were most in the most Senate races were the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (10 races), One Nation (8) and Senate Leadership Fund (7). (courtesy: Kantar Media/CMAG)

37. The three Democratic outside group advertisers who were active in the most Senate races were Senate Majority PAC (9 races), AFSCME People (8) and End Citizens United (8). (courtesy: Kantar Media/CMAG)

38. Number of Senate races with Democratic Spanish-language advertising: 7 (AZ, CA, CT, FL, NV, NY and NC) versus the number of Senate races with Republican Spanish-language advertising: 5 (AZ, FL, IL, NV and OH). (courtesy: Kantar Media/CMAG)

39. Spending by issue groups in all U.S. Senate races increased by 15 percent over 2014 when they made up 41.7 percent of all spending. This cycle, they accounted for 56.2 percent of spending. (courtesy: Kantar Media/CMAG)

40. There was $13 million spent on broadcast in the California U.S. Senate race, which is just over 10 percent of the $122 million spent in the Pennsylvania U.S. Senate race. By contrast, $125 million was spent on television advertising for California ballot measures this cycle. (courtesy: Kantar Media/CMAG)

U.S. House

41. In each of the past three elections, House Republicans have won a 4 percent greater share of seats than votes cast in House races: in 2012, Republicans won 53 percent of seats while winning just 49 percent of major-party votes; in 2014, they won 57 percent of seats while winning 53 percent of major-party votes; and in 2016, they won 55 percent of seats while winning 51 percent of major-party votes.

42. In 2016, only 32 of 435 House races were decided by less than 10 percent. The closest race in the country was in CA-49, where GOP Rep. Darrell Issa won re-election by only 1,629 votes in a district Hillary Clinton carried. The next closest race was in MN-08, where Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan was re-elected by just 2,009 votes in a district Donald Trump carried.

43. The House Democrat sitting in the most heavily pro-Trump district is Collin Peterson (MN-07), who is last remaining original member of the Blue Dog Coalition. Trump carried his district, 61 percent to 31 percent. The House Republican sitting in the most heavily pro-Clinton district will either be David Valadao (CA-21), Carlos Curbelo (FL-26) or Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27), depending on the final data.

44. The House's "demographic gap" will set a new record in 2017: in the new Congress, 87 percent of House Republicans will be white men, compared to just 41 percent of House Democrats. Republicans' white male share will be unchanged from the current Congress, while Democrats' white male share will be down two points.

45. Of all 435 U.S. House races, television ads were aired in 194 contests, and 49.1 percent of all spending was in just 16 races. The top five contests accounted for 21.8 percent of all spending. (courtesy: Kantar Media/CMAG)

46. Social issues, jobs & unemployment, and international affairs were the three most talked about issues in House races advertising in 2016. Democrats spent over 4.6 times as much on social issues advertising as Republicans. Republicans spent over 1.2 times as much on jobs & unemployment advertising as Democrats, and nearly 2.5 times as much on international affairs. (courtesy: Kantar Media/CMAG)

47. 5.5 percent of all Republican general election spots in U.S. House races focused on immigration, down from 8 percent in 2014. (courtesy: Kantar Media/CMAG)

48. IA-01, ME-02, and NE-02 tied for the House race with the most sponsors in the general election, with 11 sponsors each. NE-02 had the highest count of unique ads at 46. IA-01 and ME-02 each had 43. (courtesy: Kantar Media/CMAG)

49. Congressional Leadership Fund, American Action Network, and Maryland USA were the top three outside group advertisers in 2016 Republican House races. House Majority PAC, Center Forward, and Women Vote were the top three outside group advertisers in 2016 Democratic House races. (courtesy: Kantar Media/CMAG)

50. Trump was attacked on broadcast TV in 16 percent of U.S. House races, that’s three times more than ads that targeted Clinton. (courtesy: Kantar Media/CMAG)

51. In 2018, Democrats need to pick up 24 GOP House seats to regain the majority, which is about the same number of House Republicans who will represent districts carried by Clinton in the next Congress. But only 15 of 241 Republican winners won their races by less than 10 percent, and Democrats will need to defend 12 districts carried by Trump.


52. Republicans scored a net gain of two governorships, winning the Democratic-held seats in Missouri, New Hampshire and Vermont. Democrats defeated GOP Gov. Pat McCrory in North Carolina.

53. Republicans now hold 33 governorships, compared to 16 for Democrats and one independent. This is the most governorships that the GOP has held since 1922.

54. If U.S. Senate and House contests saw few voters split their tickets, the same cannot be said for Governors races. Of the 12 contests on the ballot in November, Republicans won governorships in two states that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton carried: New Hampshire and Vermont. Democrats were successful in three Governor’s races in states that GOP nominee Donald Trump carried: Montana, North Carolina and West Virginia.

55. Vermont’s gubernatorial race saw much more advertising than ever before

In other words, more money was spent on television advertising this cycle than in the previous six cycles combined ($5,844,991 v. $8,697,147). (courtesy: Kantar Media/CMAG)

56. At $37 million, Missouri’s open gubernatorial contest had the highest spending on broadcast TV through the entire cycle. For the general election, Missouri moves to third place and North Carolina takes the top spot with $34 million spent on broadcast television ads. (courtesy: Kantar Media/CMAG)