Several writers and commentators have written or stated that President Obama is the first President in history to be re-elected with a smaller share of the popular vote and/or a smaller share of the electoral vote than he had received in his initial election. Different individuals have expressed this in slightly different ways. Sometimes their statements are false and other times they are technically true but very misleading.
In 1808, James Madison won his first term with 66.2% of the popular vote. The vote was Madison 95,643; Charles C. Pinckney 45,376; James Monroe 3,450.
But in 1812, Madison was re-elected with only 51.3% of the popular vote. He received 116,973; DeWitt Clinton received 106,513; Rufus King received 4,650. If the Electoral College had remained the same size in 1812 as it had been in 1808, then Madison would have received fewer electoral votes in 1812 than in 1808. However, the Electoral College grew between those two years, from 175 members in 1808 to 217 members in 1812, so even though Madison’s share of the electoral vote slipped, his number of electoral votes increased.
Also, in 1912, Woodrow Wilson won more electoral votes for his initial election than he won when he ran for re-election in 1916. He received 435 electoral votes in 1912 but only 277 in 1916.