The Washington Post

Tennessee’s incredibly close 4th congressional district race, visualized


Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., and his wife, Amy. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

On Thursday, we marveled at the resilience of Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.), running close in his bid for a third term in Congress despite a slew of revelations that, for most candidates, would be career-enders. But in Tennessee's 4th district, it appeared, DesJarlais would be able to run competitively with challenger Jim Tracy.

We had no idea, though, just how competitive it would be.

On Friday morning, with all precincts reporting but absentee ballots still to be counted, the Associated Press had DesJarlais in the lead by a margin of 34,779 to 34,746. Do the subtraction, and you will see that we're talking about 33 votes. Do the division, and you'll see that this means that 0.047 percent of the total vote count is what separates DesJarlais and Tracy. Zero-point-zero-four-seven percent. That's not a million-to-one shot or anything, but it's a pretty rare margin in politics.

Let's put it into perspective. The chart below shows all of the votes that have been counted -- and the votes by which DesJarlais leads.

Margin-v3

This is the kind of race that a candidate cites when he or she says "every vote counts" -- and with good reason. Not all races are this close -- not all races are even close -- but you never know when you'll be one of the 33 people that makes the difference.

Philip Bump writes about politics for The Fix. He is based in New York City.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Comments
Show Comments
The South Carolina GOP primary and the Nevada Democratic caucuses are next on Feb. 20. Get caught up on the race.
Past South Carolina GOP primary winners
South Carolina polling averages
Donald Trump leads in the first state in the South to vote, where he faces rivals Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
South Carolina polling averages
The S.C. Democratic primary is Feb. 27. Clinton has a significant lead in the state, whose primary falls one week after the party's Nevada caucuses.
62% 33%
Quoted
We'll have half a million voters in South Carolina. I can shake a lot of hands, but I can't shake that many.
Sen. Marco Rubio, speaking to a group of reporters about his strategy to regain support after a poor performance in the last debate
Fact Checker
Sanders’s claim that Clinton objected to meeting with ‘our enemies’
Sanders said that Clinton was critical of Obama in 2008 for suggesting meeting with Iran. In fact, Clinton and Obama differed over whether to set preconditions, not about meeting with enemies. Once in office, Obama followed the course suggested by Clinton, abandoning an earlier position as unrealistic.
Pinocchio Pinocchio Pinocchio
The complicated upcoming voting schedule
Feb. 20

Democrats caucus in Nevada; Republicans hold a primary in South Carolina.

Feb. 23

Republicans caucus in Nevada.

Feb. 27

Democrats hold a primary in South Carolina.

Upcoming debates
Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

March 3: GOP debate

on Fox News, in Detroit, Mich.

Campaign 2016
Where the race stands
Most Read

politics

the-fix

Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Close video player
Now Playing

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.