Small Margins: A Look Back at the Closest Votes

Jan 4, 2012 5:14pm

 

gty florida recount hanging chad nt 120104 wblog Small Margins: A Look Back at the Closest Votes

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Mitt Romney eked out a win in the Iowa Caucuses beating Rick Santorum by a mere eight votes on Tuesday. It was a razor-thin margin, uncommon, but not unheard of in U.S. politics. Here is a list of a few of the closest and most dramatic votes in US history.

2008 Minnesota Senate Race: Franken vs. Coleman
Al Franken defeated incumbent Republican Norm Coleman by 312 votes in the race for one of Minnesota’s Senate seats. More than 2.4 million votes were cast in the election and Franken emerged victorious only after Coleman challenged the results in court and the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in favor of Franken.

2004 Gubernatorial Race: Gregoire vs. Rossi
Democrat Christine Gregoire defeated Republican Dino Rossi by 133 votes out of 2.8 million cast. The result was finalized after multiple recounts and lawsuits. Rossi challenged Gregoire again in 2008 and was defeated more handily.

2000 Presidential Race: Gore vs. Bush
It came down to Florida, and George W. Bush defeated Al Gore by 537 votes out of the more than 5.9 million cast in the state to win the presidency. In a controversial decision, the U.S. Supreme Court stopped the recount effort before it was completed.

1998 Nevada Senate Race: Reid vs. Ensign
Democratic incumbent Harry Reid defeated Republican John Ensign by only 428 votes. Ensign won Nevada’s other Senate seat two years later, but resigned last May after an affair with a staffer.

1974 New Hampshire Senate Race: Wyman vs. Durkin
It is the closest election in the history of the Senate and one that never had a winner. Republican Louis Wyman and Democrat John Durkin’s election came down to a margin of two votes out of the 223,363 that were cast. Wyman would have won by two if the fight had stopped with the last recount, but it didn’t. In the end, after a prolonged battle in the Senate, the two agreed to have a new election. Durkin won the new election by 27,000 votes.

1948 Presidential Race: Dewey vs. Truman
Harry Truman, who going into the election was a significant underdog, narrowly defeated Republican Thomas Dewey by winning Ohio and California to secure the electoral college. Truman also won the popular vote, and the upset created one the most famous, and incorrect, newspaper headlines of all-time, “Dewey Defeats Truman.”

ABC News’ Zach Wolf and Joel Siegel contributed to this report. 

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