Recounts rarely reverse election results

Recounts also typically don’t change the margin by an amount that would be large enough to affect the result of this year’s presidential election. The mean swing between the top two candidates in the 27 recounts was 282 votes, with a median of 219. The biggest swing came in Florida’s 2000 presidential election recount, when Al Gore cut 1,247 votes off George W. Bush’s lead, ultimately not enough to flip the state to his column. In each state Trump won or leads in, his advantage is more than 10,000 votes, according to counts to far. Some statewide races that have undergone recounts have far fewer votes than the closest states in the 2016 presidential race, but even in percentage terms, the average swing was 0.2 percentage points, which could be enough to flip Michigan but not any other states (and therefore not the Electoral College; even with Michigan, Clinton would be 22 electoral votes short of the 270 needed to win).

“I think there’s real value in post-election audits, in large part to catch something systemic — even more so for a big election like president, and with our Electoral College rules that can exaggerate the impact of results in one or two states,” said Rob Richie, executive director of FairVote and co-author of a forthcoming report on recounts — updating earlier FairVote reports — from which the data in the preceding paragraphs is drawn. “But as a general matter, the likelihood of a statewide recount having an impact on outcome is extremely small unless the original outcome is exceptionally close.”