The last Republican to have won a U.S. presidential election as well as the popular vote was George W. Bush in 2004. Bush left office 14 years ago, in 2009, but social media users are claiming that the last Republican president who also won the popular vote left office nearly 30 years ago.
A Twitter post sharing the claim said: “FUN FACTS: If the American electoral system went by popular votes (you know, the ‘will of the people’) vs. the electoral college, the last Republican President would have left office 29+ years ago” (here). More examples of the claim can be seen (here) and (here).
During the 2004 presidential election, Bush defeated Democrat John F. Kerry and won the presidency with 286 electoral votes and 50.73% of the popular vote (page 4) (here). Bush exited the White House in January 2009 after eight years in office (here).
The United States determines the winner of a presidential election via the Electoral College process, where a candidate must win at least 270 of the 538 electors. The number of electors equals the number of lawmakers in Congress. Critics of the system say the Electoral College creates an opportunity for a candidate who lost the popular vote to win the presidency by winning the right combination of states, according to a Reuters report (here).
The Federal Election Commission publishes official and certified election results including electoral and popular vote numbers (here).
In the past four presidential elections, a Democrat candidate won the presidency three times – President Joe Biden in 2020 (page 12) (here), as well as Barack Obama in 2012 (page 12) (here) and 2008 (page 10) (here). In all three elections, the winning candidate also had the popular vote.
In 2016, Republican Donald Trump lost the popular vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton, but secured enough electoral votes to win the presidency (page 11) (here).
False. The last Republican president who also won the popular vote was George W. Bush in 2004, who left office 14 years ago.
This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts here .
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.