How many votes did Barack Obama and Mitt Romney win in the 2012 presidential election?
Well, if you believe the New York Times, Politico, or the Washington Post then Barack Obama got 62,611,250 votes and Mitt Romney got 59,134,475 votes. CNN says that Obama has 62,615,406 votes to Romney’s 59,142,004 votes. On the other hand, USA Today says that Obama has 62,088,847 votes while Romney has 58,783,137.
So who’s right?
Well, in fact all of these media organizations are wrong. They’re badly wrong, actually. In fact, according to the latest vote count maintained by Dave Wasserman, Barack Obama has 64,430,567 votes while Mitt Romney has 60,255,705 votes.
It’s pure laziness that’s keeping these media sites from updating their numbers. Because fewer people are looking at the election results, they feel that they don’t have to keep their numbers accurate anymore. So as millions (or tens of millions) of votes are counted, the media organizations show Obama and Romney’s numbers remaining millions of votes below where they actually are.
Sometimes things are even worse. For instance, the Los Angeles Times shows GOP candidate Bill Berryhill leading his State Senate race. In fact, he is now losing in the latest count. In this case the media is not just inaccurate but actually showing the wrong person winning.
It’s not that hard to keep the numbers up. All you need are a couple of people every day working for a couple of hours. In fact, 12 states have their results already finalized and certified. Wasserman also has up-to-date county numbers for 16 states. For those states, all you need to do is to copy-and-paste from Google Docs. It would literally take half-an-hour.
Depressingly, these websites might remain inaccurate for a long, long time. The New York Times graphic on the 2008 presidential election still shows Barack Obama with 66,862,039 votes and John McCain with 58,319,442 votes (in reality Obama got 69,499,428 votes and McCain got 59,950,323 votes). Four years after the 2008 presidential election, the Times amazingly still has the state of Washington as 93% reporting. If this example is anything to go by, then media organizations may well be wrong about the 2012 presidential election…forever.
P.S. If anybody from the New York Times is reading this, I am willing to dedicate my time to update the 2008 results for free. After the counting has stopped for the 2012 presidential election, I am also willing to update the 2012 results for free for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Wall Street Journal. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org