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Accuracy of final presidential polls since 1960

How often do the final polls of a presidential campaign match up to the results? Fairly often, actually. We looked at every election in the modern era and found only a few exceptions to national and Florida polling. The most notable was President Gerald Ford's loss to Jimmy Carter in 1976. In the final Gallup poll, Ford held a small margin in the popular vote. Of course, presidents are elected by the Electoral College, with 270 needed to win. (See Bush-Gore, 2000.)

Compiled by Caryn Baird and Amy Hollyfield, Times staff writers

1960 | John F. Kennedy (D) vs. Richard Nixon (R)

Gallup national poll: Kennedy 49%, Nixon 48%

Winner: Kennedy (Nixon wins Florida)

Popular vote: Kennedy 49.7%, Nixon 49.5%

Electoral College: Kennedy 303, Nixon 219

Note: Democrat Harry F. Byrd earned 15 electoral votes.

1964 | Lyndon B. Johnson (D) vs. Barry Goldwater (R)

Gallup national poll: Johnson 64%, Goldwater 29%

Winner: Johnson (Johnson wins Florida)

Popular vote: Johnson 61.1%, Goldwater 38.5%

Electoral College: Johnson 486, Goldwater 52

1968 | Richard Nixon (R) vs. Hubert Humphrey (D)

Gallup national poll: Nixon 42%, Humphrey 40%

Winner: Nixon (Nixon wins Florida)

Popular vote: Nixon 43.4%, Humphrey 42.7%

Electoral College: Nixon 301, Humphrey 191

Note: Independent George Wallace earned 45 electoral votes and 13.5% of the popular vote.

1972 | Richard Nixon (R) vs. George McGovern (D)

Gallup national poll: Nixon 61%, McGovern 35%

Winner: Nixon (Nixon wins Florida)

Popular vote: Nixon 60.7%, McGovern 37.5%

Electoral College: Nixon 520, McGovern 17

1976 | Jimmy Carter (D) vs. Gerald Ford (R)

Gallup national poll: Ford 47%, Carter 46%

Winner: Carter (Carter wins Florida)

Popular vote: Carter 50.1%, Ford 48%

Electoral College: Carter 297, Ford 240

1980 | Ronald Reagan (R) vs. Jimmy Carter (D)

Gallup national poll: Reagan 46%, Carter 43%

Winner: Reagan (Reagan wins Florida)

Popular vote: Reagan 50.7%, Carter 41%

Electoral College: Reagan 489, Carter 49

Note: National Union candidate John Anderson won 6.6% of the popular vote

1984 | Ronald Reagan (R) vs. Walter Mondale (D)

Gallup national poll: Reagan 57%, Mondale 39%

Florida poll: Reagan 57%, Mondale 34%

Winner: Reagan (Reagan wins Florida, and every state except Minnesota)

Popular vote: Reagan 58.8%, Mondale 40.6%

Electoral College: Reagan 525, Mondale 13

1988 | George H.W. Bush (R) vs. Michael Dukakis (D)

Gallup national poll: Bush 53%, Dukakis 41%

Florida poll: Bush 58%, Dukakis 36%

Winner: Bush (Bush wins Florida)

Popular vote: Bush 53.4%, Dukakis 45.6%

Electoral College: Bush 426, Dukakis 111

1992 | Bill Clinton (D) vs. George H.W. Bush (R)

Gallup national poll: Clinton 49%, Bush 37%

Florida poll: Bush 40%, Clinton 37%

Winner: Clinton (Bush wins Florida)

Popular vote: Clinton 43%, Bush 37.4%

Electoral College: Clinton 370, Bush 168

Note: Independent H. Ross Perot won 18.9% of the popular vote

1996 | Bill Clinton (D) vs. Robert Dole (R)

Gallup national poll: Clinton 48%, Dole 40%

Florida poll: Clinton 46%, Dole 42%

Winner: Clinton (Clinton wins Florida)

Popular vote: Clinton 49.2%, Dole 40.7%

Electoral College: Clinton 379, Dole 159

Note: Reform candidate H. Ross Perot won 8.4% of the popular vote

2000 | George W. Bush (R) vs. Al Gore (D)

Gallup national poll: Bush 47%, Gore 45%

Florida poll: Bush 46%, Gore 44%

Winner: Bush (Bush wins Florida by 537 votes)

Popular vote: Gore 48.4%, Bush 47.9%

Electoral College: Bush 271, Gore 266

Note: Green candidate Ralph Nader won 2.7% of the popular vote

2004 | George W. Bush (R) vs. John Kerry (D)

Gallup national poll: Bush 49%, Kerry 47%

Florida poll: Bush 49%, Kerry 45%

Winner: Bush (Bush wins Florida)

Popular vote: Bush 50.7%, Kerry 48.3%

Electoral College: Bush 286, Kerry 251

2008 | Barack Obama (D) vs. John McCain (R)

Gallup national poll: Obama 53%, McCain 42%

Florida poll: Obama 47%, McCain 45%

Winner: Obama (Obama wins Florida)

Popular vote: Obama 52.9%, McCain 45.7%

Electoral College: Obama 365, McCain 173

Note: Florida polling not available before 1984.

Sources: Mason-Dixon Polling and Research, Gallup International, the American Presidency Project.

Accuracy of final presidential polls since 1960 11/02/12 [Last modified: Friday, November 2, 2012 10:19pm]
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