Several educational blogs and publications are focusing on the Presidential election and creating ideas for learning opportunities. Our staff and friends have created these historical election math problems to share with your students.
A Bully Math Problem
In the election of 1912, former Republican president Teddy Roosevelt came out of retirement to lead a brand new party known at the Progressives. Below is the electoral vote count. It takes 270 electoral votes to win the Presidency.
Woodrow Wilson, Democratic Party 435 votes
Theodore Roosevelt, Progressive Party 88 votes
William H. Taft, Republican Party 8 votes
If Roosevelt had been the Republican party nominee and received the 8 votes in addition to his own how many more would he need to get the 270 votes needed?
Who Says One Vote Isn’t Important?
In 1876 Rutherford B. Hayes defeated Samuel J. Tilden by a single electoral vote! That’s the closest in US history. To complicate things further, Tilden won the popular vote by over two hundred thousand votes—one of four times in history someone won the popular vote but lost the presidency. There have been 56 contested U.S. Presidential elections. (George Washington ran unopposed)
What percentage of times has the popular vote been greater than the electoral vote?
Dewey Want Him or a Truman?
In 1948, early polls showed Thomas E. Dewey the winner over then President Harry S. Truman. However, east coast votes had not been counted when the Tribune went to press, and Truman pulled off one of the biggest upsets in American election history. He ended up winning with 303 electoral votes to Dewey’s 189, and was famously photographed holding the paper that announced his defeat.
What percentage of electoral votes when to Truman? What percent to Dewey?
The Winner by a Fraction!
John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon were evenly matched going into the presidential election of 1960. Kennedy received 49.72 percent of the vote while Nixon received 49.55 percent. The difference between them was only 112,827 popular votes!
What was the difference in the percent of vote between the two candidates?
Can you determine how many popular votes each candidate received?