In some ways, midterm elections are to the political world what the winter Olympics are to the sports world—fewer people show up and tune in. They just don’t seem to care as much as they do about what they think of as the “main event.”
With the Olympics, it’s mainly just a matter of opinion, but with midterm elections, the lack of interest has very real political ramifications. Sure, presidential elections may be more built up, but your state representatives, governor and local politicians make tons of decisions that affect you every day.
Even with all the political ads and talk about elections, it may seem like it doesn’t really matter if you personally vote.
Many of the gubernatorial and senate races in various states this year are extremely close. And, as the Washington Post points out, even though incumbents usually have the advantage, there are 11 current governors who could lose the election, potentially the most governors to lose their races since 1984. Most of those races are set to be extremely close calls.
Throughout voting history, there have been plenty of close elections, some won by just a handful of votes. Here’s a brief rundown of a few of the closest, as historic proof that every vote really does count.
1984 Indiana 8th Congressional District Race
Won by: 4 votes
After several recounts, controversies, protests and party fighting, Democrat Frank McCloskey won a spot in the House of Representatives over Republican Rick McIntyre by just four votes.
2004 Election for the Governor of Washington
Won by: 133 votes
In Washington’s gubernatorial race in 2004, the first automated count and the automated recount had the republican candidate, Dino Rossi, as the winner. But the state’s Democratic Party insisted on a manual recount, which revealed that the Democratic candidate, Christine Gregoire, had ultimately won by 133 votes.
2000 Presidential Race in Florida and New Mexico
Won by: 537 votes, 366 votes
The most controversial election in recent history centered on a controversial recount in Florida (where George W. Bush ended up winning by just over 500 votes). The race was actually closer in New Mexico (where Al Gore won by 366 votes), but winning Florida gave Bush the advantage in the electoral college.
1994 Connecticut 2nd Congressional District Election
Won by: 21 votes
Rep. Sam Gejdenson, who had been in the House of Representatives for seven terms, managed to just barely hold onto his seat by a margin of 21 votes.
2008 Minnesota Senate Election
Won by: 225 votes
After an election that resulted in a months-long legal battle, Senator Al Franken was finally sworn into office six months after his term was originally supposed to start, having won his place by a margin of just 0.01 percent of the vote.
1960 Presidential Election
Won by: 0.1 percent
The presidential election in 1960 was so close that the winner wasn’t announced until noon the day after the election. John F. Kennedy won 49.7 percent of popular vote, just over 100,000 more votes than Richard Nixon. Ultimately, like most close presidential elections, JFK won because of the electoral college.
1990 Missouri 2nd Congressional District Race
Won by: 54 votes
Democrat Joan Kelly beat out Republican Jack Buechner for a seat in the House.
Dargan is a former RELEVANT editor turned freelancer. Find her online at darganthompson.com or follow her extremely random train of thought on Twitter @darganthompson.