It takes 270 Electoral Votes to win the U.S. Presidential Election. A new web site shows the projected electoral votes for the 2008 election, updated daily as the various public opinion polls release their findings. However, I found the history of electoral votes shown on the site to be much more interesting than today's projections.
For instance, in the first U.S. national election of 1789, George Washington won 69 electoral votes, John Adams won 34 electoral votes, and 35 electoral votes were cast for various other candidates. If my math is correct, that shows Washington as winning only 50% of the electoral votes.
Washington didn't fare any better when he ran for reelection in 1792, winning 132 Electoral Votes. Once again, that's 50% of the electoral votes. John Adams gained 77 votes while George Clinton received 50. Five electoral votes were cast for independent candidates in 1792.
Does the Electoral College system result in America always picking the best candidate? We could argue that forever, but I will point out the 1972 landslide reelection of Richard Nixon seems interesting. Nixon won 96.8% of the electoral votes (520 votes to George McGovern's 17), only to resign a few years later in disgrace.
The 270ToWin.com site provides statistics as well as maps showing which states voted for each candidate throughout history. This is an interesting site for history buffs. Go to http://www.270towin.com to learn more about American history.