How Few Votes It Takes to Become a Presumptive Nominee

Posted by Rob Richie on May 04, 2016

Donald Trump's dominant win in the Indiana primary, including securing 53% of the vote and all 57 delegates, has led Ted Cruz and now John Kasich to drop out of the race. Trump has clearly become the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party. Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders keeps pushing Hillary Clinton hard and winning far more states than expected, but Clinton has had an unbeatable delegate lead for weeks absent a dramatic shift in public opinion among Democrats.

To put in perspective what it takes to earn this position, I wanted to share a few facts, drawing from our 2016 primary season popular vote spreadsheet and related research. Trump has won 10,706,130 votes out of 26,590,345 counted in Republican contests so far. That represents:

  • 40.2% of all Republican votes counted so far
  • 21.9% of all votes counted so far this year in 2016 presidential contests
  • 4.7% of all eligible voters in the United States
  • 4.3% of all adult residents in the United States
  • 3.3% of all people living in the United States

Hillary Clinton has won 12,575,576 votes out of 23,376,193 counted in Democratic contests. That represents:

  • 56.2% of all Democratic votes counted so far
  • 25.7% of all votes counted so far this year in 2016 presidential contests
  • 5.6% of all eligible voters in the United States
  • 5.0% of all adult residents in the United States
  • 3.9% of all people living in the United States

Although voter turnout is up from 2012, it still has averaged less than 30% of eligible voters in states holding primaries so far. Although the Democratic contest continues and notable people are seeking the presidency outside the major parties, it's onto a general election that almost certainly will be won by either Clinton or Trump based on each of them winning the votes of about one in 20 eligible voters.

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