Understanding the Margin of Victory

The margin of victory in U.S. federal elections is the difference between the winning candidate’s percentage of all votes and the losing candidate’s voting percentage. 

This percentage is primarily based on the number of electoral votes a candidate receives. If a presidential candidate does not receive the majority of the electoral votes, they do not win the election. The margin of victory for winning candidates is generally a result of more than 50 percent of total votes from the Electoral College.

How the Voting Process Works

Members of the Electoral College gather in their state capitols the Monday following the second Wednesday in December. Afterward, each elector casts their vote separately based on their affiliated political party and the popular vote outcome. Each elector casts a vote for the president and vice president separately. However, most electors vote for candidates who are on the same ticket.

A certified election official, such as the Secretary of State or any other elected official, is in charge of administering the electoral voting process.

At the beginning of each meeting, the assigned certified official is required to read the Certificate of Ascertainment to all the participating electors. The Certificate of Ascertainment is a list of all electors chosen to vote as well as their party affiliation.

Once each name has been read, officials take attendance and select certain roles to electors in an attempt to organize the meeting and ensure they remain on schedule.

Electors cast their vote for the president seat first. Each member is given a paper ballot where they indicate their selection and once they have completed their ballot, whoever was assigned president of the meeting, goes forward with collecting all the ballots.

Once the votes for the president of the United States have been collected, they then move on to voting for the vice president. 

The president of the U.S. Senate then receives all of the votes and stores them until the official count is made. The general election has generally been over for weeks by the time the U.S. senate president receives the votes from the electors.

The winning presidential candidate, however, is named only within a couple of hours after the general election has been completed. The winner is essentially based on the assumption that the electors will vote in favor of the citizens within their regions.

The President’s Mandate Depends on the Margin of Victory

A winning candidate’s margin of victory will affect the amount of presidential mandate they will hold during their presidency. A mandate is the president’s power to implement a policy or course of action.

The electorate gives a mandate to a candidate or party that wins the election. However, the more votes a losing candidate receives, the more it will limit the mandate the winning presidential candidate can claim once he or she is in office.