No country is more besotted with politics than India, and for good reason: the architecture of a system designed to give three-quarters of a billion people a free and fair vote can’t help but be fascinating. Each Indian general election is the “world’s biggest,” and each one feels primal and vital, as if the electioneering itself were the stuff of nationhood. But, even allowing for this obsession, the election campaign that ended on Friday, which has held the country in thrall for nearly a year, has been unusually absorbing. I’ve been at dinner parties where hours were spent in state-by-state analysis of the prospects of candidates, and I’ve watched friends take out pen and paper to break down the electorate with charts. India’s television news channels, whose ruminations on politics are never placid, worked themselves into a lather of speculation, night after night. The election consumed the country in a way that managed to be suffocating and exhilarating at the same time.
On Friday, as the results were announced, it became clear that almost all of the prognosticators, amateur and professional, had got it wrong. The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (B.J.P.) had assessed its chances confidently, and it was commonly expected to amass enough seats to lead a coalition of allies into government. But few expected Narendra Modi, its candidate for Prime Minister, to romp home in such a blistering manner. No single party had won an outright majority in the Lok Sabha, Parliament’s lower house, since 1984. Of the five hundred and forty-three seats, the B.J.P. won a stunning two hundred and eighty-two; with its coalition allies, it controls a dominating three hundred and thirty-four seats. The Congress, India’s oldest party, has led the governing coalition for the past decade. Although its members acknowledged in private that they were likely to be voted out, they suspected that they would secure roughly ninety seats—which would have been a record low. Instead, they took a miserable forty-four seats. What looked a few weeks ago like a mere dramatic change of government now appears to be a seismic shift, arguably the most significant in India since 1977, when the Congress was voted out after three decades in power. Even in that election, held after the Congress government, under Indira Gandhi, declared an emergency and suspended constitutional rights for two full years, the party managed to win a hundred and fifty-three seats.
Any election can be spun as a tussle to define the very soul of a country, but that has truly felt like the case for the past year in India. Both the Congress and the B.J.P. framed their campaigns as plebiscites on the fate of the country. The Congress asked voters to examine whether they wanted to elect Modi, a man who had ruled the state of Gujarat when more than a thousand people—mostly Muslims—were killed in religious riots, in 2002, who was known for his autocratic temperament, and whose political education was shaped by Hindu nationalists. In one campaign speech, the heir to the Congress dynasty, Rahul Gandhi, explicitly compared Modi to Hitler, warning that he would discard democracy altogether. “Hitler thought there was no need to go to the people,” Gandhi said. “He believed that the entire knowledge of the world was only in his mind. Similarly, there is a leader today in India who says, ‘I have done this, I have done that,’ and behaves arrogantly.”
Gandhi was referring to Modi’s claims to have delivered unprecedented economic progress in Gujarat—the sort of development that seemed to have seized up elsewhere in India in the past few years, amid the economic downturn, a growing litany of corruption scandals, and the government’s policymaking paralysis. Modi skillfully projected himself as efficient and clean, a friend of free enterprise as well as of the poor, a man who knows the value of a good road and of plentiful electricity. (None of this went uncontested, of course, and there is a bounty of evidence to suggest that Modi and his party have flaws—and flawed records—quite similar to those of the leaders whom they will now replace.) In his campaign, Modi adhered carefully to these issues of development, bypassing almost entirely the pet concerns of the Hindu right, such as the construction of a temple on the site of a mosque that zealots demolished in 1992, a project that nevertheless found its way into the B.J.P. manifesto.
At the crossroads of these narratives lay the dilemma that the parties presented to the voters, the question that, precisely for its essentialist simplicity, invaded conversations for many months: Did India consider itself so starved of decisive leadership, and so exasperated by its faltering progress, that it wished to take a chance on a polarizing leader who has been charged with tacitly encouraging riots against his own citizens, and has been backed by majoritarian organizations with little regard for civil liberties? The answer, as the results have now clearly shown, is an overwhelming yes.
In this big and simple story, there are hundreds of nuances: micro-trends and regional variations, caste and class preferences, the quality of individual parliamentary candidates from each of the five hundred and forty-three constituencies—the sort of complexity that makes Indian politics such a wearying, brain-busting labyrinth. In a Westminster-style parliamentary system, elections rarely feel like a referendum on one person. That Modi managed to transform this one into such a contest is his greatest feat.
Even for Modi’s critics—and these are not necessarily all Congress supporters—there may be some grim solace to be taken from the results. For one, this charged election passed with barely any violence at all. For another, Modi did not win by being the demagogue that, in the past, he often appeared to be. The fundamentals of moderation and accommodation that undergird Indian politics compelled him to reach out to Muslims—at least rhetorically—and to talk about building the economy rather than building a temple. The best outcome for India will come to pass if Modi is now forced—by his party and by his allies—to live up to the image that he has projected for the past year. It would not necessarily exonerate him of past sins, but it would be the reward that India deserves for having poured itself so unreservedly into this election.
Samanth Subramanian is the India correspondent for The National. His new book, “This Divided Island: Stories from the Sri Lanka War,” will be published by Penguin Books India this summer.
Above: Narendra Modi waves to supporters; Varanasi, India, April 24, 2014. Photograph by Kevin Frayer/Getty.
Compiled by Kenneth Drexler, Digital Reference Specialist
This resource guide compiles a list of online and print resources that contain U.S. election statistics for both federal and state elections. All of the print publications listed in this guide can be consulted on-site at the Library of Congress. In addition, most of the online resources listed below are freely available on the Internet. A few of the online databases are available by subscription only, and are so designated.
Online Resources | Print Resources
American Presidency Project: Presidential Election Data
The American Presidency Project at the University of California, Santa Barbara, presents the electoral and popular vote results from 1789 to the present. Additional presidential election-related data is also provided such as voter turnout, Gallup Poll accuracy, representation of the president's party in House elections, and popular and electoral vote mandates.
Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives: Election Statistics
Official vote counts from 1920 to the present for presidential and congressional elections compiled by the Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives. This site also contains links to election resources found on the websites of the Census Bureau, National Archives, Federal Election Commission, and state election offices.
Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections
This site provides national election results and maps for presidential elections from 1789 to the present, as well as state and county results for more recent elections. It also contains results for U.S. Senate and gubernatorial elections from 1990 to the present.
Federal Election Commission
Every two years, the Federal Election Commission publishes Federal Elections, a compilation of the official, certified federal election results obtained from each state’s election office and other official sources. This page provide the primary, runoff, and general election results for the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives and, when applicable, U.S. President from 1982 to the present.
National Archives: Historical Election Results
The Office of the Federal Register at the National Archives coordinates the functions of the Electoral College on behalf of the Archivist of the United States, the States, and the Congress. This site contains the electoral votes and popular votes from 1789 to the present.
A New Nation Votes: American Election Returns 1787-1825
A searchable collection of election returns from 1787 to 1825. The data were compiled by Philip Lampi. The American Antiquarian Society and Tufts University Digital Collections and Archives have mounted it online with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The site contains federal and state election returns.
Office of the Historian
Official vote counts from 1920 to the present for presidential and congressional elections compiled by the Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives.
National Association of State Election Directors
The National Association of State Election Directors presents a roster of state election offices that contains links to official state Web sites. From this roster select a specific state to find official election results from recent elections. Election results provided on each site will vary depending on the state.
National Governors Association
The National Governors Assocation provides gubernatorial election results from 2009 to the present.
ANES: American National Election Studies
A collaboration of Stanford University and the University of Michigan, producing data on voting, public opinion, and political participation. The ANES produces high quality data from its own surveys on voting, public opinion, and political participation. Data are available in the form of raw data and statement files that can be run using statistical software such as SAS, SPSS or Stata. The help page provides technical assistance on how to use the data on the ANES Web site.
Center for American Women and Politics: Voters
The Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), a unit of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, is nationally recognized as the leading source of scholarly research and current data about American women’s political participation. This site presents data and analysis of women's voting behavior, including statistics on turnout and the gender gap in voting.
The Roper Center for Public Opinion Research: U.S. Elections
The Roper Center provides primary, national, and state exit polling date for presidential elections from 1976 to the present. Membership is required in order to access much of the exit polling data available on this site.
U.S. Census Bureau: Voting and Registration
Voting and Registration data have been collected biennially by the U.S. Census Bureau in the November Current Population Survey (CPS). The statistics presented on this website are based on replies to survey inquiries about whether individuals were registered and/or voted in specific national elections. For the purpose of these estimates, election types are considered to be either congressional or presidential.
United States Election Project: Voter Turnout
Dr. Michael McDonald, an Associate Professor at George Mason University, provides national and state voter turnout statistics from 1980 to the present.
CQ Press Library (Available on-site only)
The Voting and Elections Collection is part of the CQ Press Library. The database integrates a wealth of data, authoritative analyses, concise explanations, and historical material to provide a research and reference tool on the American voter, major and minor political parties, campaigns and elections, and historical and modern races for Congress, the presidency, and governorships. This database contains all election results for presidential, gubernatorial, and congressional elections from 1789 to the present.
Polling the Nations (Available on-site only)
Polling the Nations is an online database of public opinion polls containing the full text of over 600,000 questions and responses, from more than 18,000 surveys and 1,700 polling organizations, conducted from 1986 through the present. This database contains a large collection of public opinion polls related to federal and state elections. Information is gathered by professional polling organizations, television networks, universities, newspapers, businesses and associations, including the Gallup Poll, the Roper Organization Poll and others.
America Votes: A Handbook of Contemporary American Election Statistics. 28 vols. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press. 1956-.
LC Call Number: JK1967 .A8 [Catalog Record]
Note: Official, state-certified election returns and key data by county and by district for presidential, congressional, and gubernatorial elections from 1956 to the present. Also contains primary results for congressional (House and Senate) and gubernatorial elections. Published every two years
The Election Data Book: A Statistical Portrait of Voting in America. Lanham, Md.: Bernan Press, 1993.
LC Call Number: JK1967 .E44 [Catalog Record]
Note: Summarizes the results of the 1992 presidential, congressional, and gubernatorial elections. Includes state data on election results, voter turnout and registration, and voters' demographics.
Guide to U.S. Elections. 6th ed. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2010.
LC Call Number: JK1967 .C662 2010 [Catalog Record]
Note: Contains popular and electoral vote returns for president (1789-2008); presidential primary returns (1912-2008); House general election returns (1824-2008); Senate general election returns (1913-2008); Senate primary election returns (1920-2008); gubernatorial general election returns (1776-2008); and gubernatorial primary election returns (1919-2008).
Gans, Curtis. Voter Turnout in the United States, 1788-2009. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2011.
LC Call Number: JK1967 .G36 2011 [Catalog Record]
Note: Voter turnout statistics for general and primary elections for presidential, congressional, and state gubernatorial races from 1788 to 2009.
Rusk, Jerrold G. A Statistical History of the American Electorate. Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2001.
LC Call Number: JK1967 .R87 2001 [Catalog Record]
Note: Gathers data from presidential, congressional, and gubernatorial elections and examines historical voting patterns from 1788 to 1999. The material in each of the eight chapters is introduced with an essay that explains the data and its importance, and sets it all in context. Looks at election laws and suffrage, voting participation, and partisan vote percentages at the national, regional, and state level by political party.
Walton, Hanes, Jr., Sherman C. Puckett, and Donald R. Deskins, Jr. The African American Electorate: A Statistical History. 2 vols. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: CQ Press, 2012.
LC Call Number: JK1924 .W35 2012 [Catalog Record]
Note: Contains extant, fugitive, and registration data on African-American voters from Colonial America to the present and traces the laws dealing with enfranchisement and disenfranchisement of African Americans. It also provides the election return data for African American candidates.
Congressional Elections, 1946-1996. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly, 1998.
LC Call Number: JK1967 .C64 1998 [Catalog Record]
Note: Election returns for all congressional elections from 1946 to 1996. Also provides Senate primary vote returns.
Dubin, Michael J. United States Congressional Elections, 1788-1997: The Official Results of the Elections of the 1st through 105th Congresses. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 1998.
LC Call Number: JK1967 .D77 1998 [Catalog Record]
Note: Complete published election returns for all congressional elections from 1788 to 1997, including special elections.
Presidential Elections: 1789-2008. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2010.
LC Call Number: JK528 .P75 2010 [Catalog Record]
Note: Electoral vote and popular vote by state from 1789 to 2008.
Barone, Michael, et al. The Almanac of American Politics. Washington, D.C.: National Journal. 1972-. Biennial.
LC Call Number: JK1012 .A44 [Catalog Record]
Note: Biennial publication that profiles of every member of Congress and every congressional district from 1972 to the present. Each district profile includes vote totals and percentages by congressional district for the most recent one or two presidential elections.
Burnham, Walter Dean. Presidential Ballots, 1836-1892. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1955.
LC Call Number: JK524 .B8 [Catalog Record]
Note: Election returns by county and state from 1836 to 1892.
Cook, Rhodes. United States Presidential Primary Elections, 1968-1996: A Handbook of Election Statistics. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2000.
LC Call Number: JK522 .C66 2000 [Catalog Record]
Note: Official state and county results for all presidential primaries and caucuses from 1968 to 1996.
-----. United States Presidential Primary Elections, 2000-2004: A Handbook of Election Statistics. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2007.
LC Call Number: JK522 .C662 2007 [Catalog Record]
Note: Official state and county results for all presidential primaries and caucuses from 2000 to 2004.
Deskins, Donald Richard. Presidential Elections, 1789-2008: County, State, and National Mapping of Election Data. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2010.
LC Call Number: JK524 .D47 2010 [Catalog Record]
Note: Mapping of presidential election returns that provides a systematic and comprehensive analysis of the vote at the county, state, and national levels.
Dubin, Michael J. United States Presidential Elections, 1788-1860: The Official Results by County and State. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co., 2002.
LC Call Number: JK524 .D778 2002 [Catalog Record]
McGillivray, Alice V., Richard M. Scammon, and Rhodes Cook, comps. America at the Polls, 1960-2004, John F. Kennedy to George W. Bush: A Handbook of American Presidential Election Statistics. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2005.
LC Call Number: JK524 .M33 2005 [Catalog Record]
Note: County and state election results by total votes and percentages from 1960 to 2004. Also includes census data for each county.
Petersen, Svend. A Statistical History of the American Presidential Elections. New York: Ungar, 1963.
LC Call Number: JK1967 .P4 1963 [Catalog Record] [Full Text]
Note: Electoral vote and popular vote by state for presidential elections from 1789 to 1960.
Robinson, Edgar Eugene. The Presidential Vote, 1896-1932. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1934.
LC Call Number: JK524 .R6 [Catalog Record]
Note: Election returns by county and state from 1896 to 1932.
-----. They Voted for Roosevelt: The Presidential Vote, 1932-1944. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1947.
LC Call Number: JK1967 .R6 [Catalog Record]
Note: Election returns by county and state from 1932 to 1944.
Runyon, John H., et al, eds. Source Book of American Presidential Campaign and Election Statistics, 1948-1968. New York: F. Ungar, 1971.
LC Call Number: JK524 .R83 [Catalog Record]
Note: Election results by state. Also includes statistics related to primaries, conventions, polls, voter participation, and the cost of presidential campaigns.
Scammon, Richard M. comp. America at the Polls: A Handbook of American Presidential Election Statistics, 1920-1964. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1965.
LC Call Number: JK524 .G6 [Catalog Record]
Note: Election returns by county and state from 1920 to 1964.
Thomas, G. Scott. The Pursuit of the White House: A Handbook of Presidential Election Statistics and History. New York: Greenwood Press, 1987.
LC Call Number: JK524 .T44 1987 [Catalog Record]
Note: A statistical summary of all presidential elections from 1789 to 1984. Elections are classified into six separate periods and states are grouped into four regions: East, South, Midwest, and West. At the end of each chapter, charts for the relevant primaries, conventions, and general elections are presented in chronological order.
Wright, Russell O. Presidential Elections in the United States: A Statistical History, 1860-1992. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 1995.
LC Call Number: JK524 .W75 1995 [Catalog Record]
Note: Electoral vote and popular vote by state. Presents election returns by regions and compares each region to the national vote. Also examines voting patterns by state.
Dubin, Michael J. United States Gubernatorial Elections, 1776-1860: The Official Results by State and County.
Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co., 2003.
LC Call Number: JK2447 .D83 2003 [Catalog Record]
-----. United States Gubernatorial Elections, 1861-1911: The Official Results by State and County. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co., 2010.
LC Call Number: JK2447 .D83 2010 [Catalog Record]
Glashan, Roy R. American Governors and Gubernatorial Elections, 1775-1978. Westport, Conn.: Meckler Books, 1979.
LC Call Number: JK2447 .G53 [Catalog Record]
Note: Election returns and percentages for every gubernatorial election from 1775 to 1978.
Lilley, William, et al. The Almanac of State Legislative Elections: Voting Patterns and Demographics 2000-2006. 3rd ed. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2007.
LC Call Number: JK1967 .A77 2007 [Catalog Record]
Note: Presents detailed, state-by-state, district-by-district election results for all of the nation’s state legislative districts with a wide range of socioeconomic data for each district.
-----. The Almanac of State Legislatures: Changing Patterns, 1990-1997. 2nd ed. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly, 1998.
LC Call Number: G1201.F7 L5 1998 [Catalog Record]
Mullaney, Marie Marmo. American Governors and Gubernatorial Elections, 1979-1987. Westport, Conn.: Meckler, 1988.
LC Call Number: JK2447 .M85 1988 [Catalog Record]
Note: Election returns and percentages for every gubernatorial election from 1979 to 1987.