The Crusader Newspaper Group

Electoral College Lesson: More voters chose Clinton, but Trump will be President

By Zachary Roth,

There are still more votes to be counted, but it looks almost certain that despite losing the presidency, Hillary Clinton will win the popular vote.

And likely by a million or more votes — a much larger margin than Al Gore enjoyed in 2000, when he too was denied by the Electoral College even though he had more votes.

Put more starkly: It appears Americans chose Clinton, but got Trump.

Trump’s popular vote loss likely won’t constrain his effective power as president, especially with unified GOP control of Congress — just as it didn’t seem to hem in George W. Bush.

But if the candidate who got fewer votes wins the White House for the second time in five elections, it could put a new spotlight on the peculiar way that America picks its presidents — one not shared by any other democracy.

“It certainly is going to bring this back into the forefront of public discussion,” John Koza, the founder of the National Popular Vote campaign, which aims to effectively get rid of the Electoral College, said Tuesday night as the results rolled in.

To Koza and many good-government advocates, sidelining the Electoral College is common sense.

“We think every vote should be equal throughout the United States,” he said. “We think the candidate who gets the most votes should become president.”

Even on election night in 2012, when early results seemed to indicate that Mitt Romney would get more votes than President Obama but lose the electoral college (that didn’t happen, Obama won both) Trump went on a tweet storm, calling “the electoral college … a disaster for a democracy.”

Five times in our history — in 1824, 1876, 1888, 2000, and, it appears, this year — the Electoral College has handed victory to the loser of the popular vote.

That’s nearly 10 percent of the time — though systematic black voter suppression and other differences in how the elections worked make it hard to determine the true popular choice in the first three cases.

The impact isn’t random, either. Since every state gets at least three electoral votes, there’s a bias toward small states. Consider that California has 69 times as many people as Wyoming, but only about 18 times as many electoral votes.


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