Opinion: Why the Fact That Hillary Won the Popular Vote Is Misleading – by Yona Bellar

voting vote 2016It is almost impossible to have a conversation with a Never-Trumper without them citing the fact the Hillary won the popular vote as proof that a majority of Americans really wanted her to be president, and if not for the gross inaccuracy (and dreadful inconvenience) of the tradition called the Electoral College, Hillary would be the rightful winner. This concept is so widespread, that a petition on Change.org calling on electors to disregard their individual state results and cast their vote for Hillary because “the will of the people (the popular vote) wants her to be president” has gained over 4 million signatures!

This sentiment has gained so much traction that Donald Trump felt compelled to combat it by tweeting “If the election were based on total popular vote I would have campaigned in N.Y. Florida and California and won even bigger and more easily”, followed by a tweet stating, “The Electoral College is actually genius in that it brings all states, including the smaller ones, into play. Campaigning is much different!”

While it may seem like this anti-Trump rhetoric has some substance to it, allow me to prove that it is in fact a warped conception, for a very simple reason, even without relying on the argument put forward by Trump in his tweets.

In battleground states, every decided voter goes out to vote, because they know that their vote can very well decide the outcome of the election. On the other hand, registered voters in overly democrat or overly republican states, even if they have decided who they want to win, are nevertheless less motivated to vote, because the outcome of their state will happen whether or not they show up to vote. This lack of motivation, though, differs between the majority group in the state and the minority group. A higher percentage of the majority group will go out to vote than of the minority group for two reasons. Firstly, because everyone likes to vote for the winner, so they have greater motivation to go vote, and secondly, they feel that their vote accomplishes at least something because, after all, their vote was one of the votes that went towards the win, and was not completely useless like the losing votes are.

Thus said, in the Democrat strongholds, more Trump supporters didn’t bother to waste their time voting, while in the Republican strongholds more Hillary supporters stayed home. Now, let’s estimate the number and size of the Democrat strongholds and the Republican strongholds. Anyone who follows politics would be quick to point out that there are more mega Democrat states than Republican (Texas being the only mega Republican state, while California and New York both always go Democrat). That said, it is extremely likely that even if Hillary won the popular vote, there were many more Trump supporters than Hillary supporters who just didn’t vote, and it is safe to say that a Trump presidency is indeed the will of the majority of the people.

What can you do about correcting this misconception? Not much, but perhaps it may help to go onto Change.org and report the petition as misleading. It probably won’t accomplish anything, but if you need to let out your frustration, it just might do the trick.

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  1. I would add one point: Hillary only received 47.8 % of the vote. She did not win a majority of voters in this country, and it is safe to say that more of the third-party votes were anti-Hillary.

    In any case, once we do not have a clear majority winner, why is this different than parliamentary systems where a party could win only 30% of the vote and yet form the government? Sometimes this happens even when another party wins a higher share of the vote, as occurred several years ago in Israel.

    According to the US Constitution, Donald Trump won fair and square. Enough.

  2. I have what I believe is a simpler (and visual) explanation- look at the map showing the election results. Notice that almost the entire country is red (Replublican)? In each of those many many many red states, a majority of voters voted for Trump. Only certain scattered states are blue (Democrat). So it is misleading to say she won the “popular vote” nationally because in every one of those red states a majority of voters voted for Trump. The only reason Hillary has (slightly) more popular votes is because many/ most of those blue states like California, NY, etc are loaded with Democrat/ liberal voters. So in actuality the electoral college DOES more accurately represent the majority will of the people nationally…it’s just that a very small number of states, some of them quite large, have a disproportionate number of Democrat voters.

  3. Let me tell you something world is being crazy about this election and matter fact since democract. Won 8 year what is the problem with republican back on track. Even fhough he isn’t so great it doesn’t matter anyway. Let me give you example you play lottery ticket and you expect to win like everyone else does. But you lose will you go out and protest against lottery headquarters ? Why would you bother going crazy ? Same here these liberal are going banana and it silly and lack of mature behavior.
    I think people are going out their wasting time and matter facts nothing is going change.

  4. What is left out is the tweet by Trump criticizing the electoral college last election. OOPPPS!. Nevertheless , he is the constitutional winner. But the fact remains more of American wanted HIllary than the Donald.

  5. We have know idea who most of the people want. Unless we revote based on popular vote. I guarantee many more people will vote. The petition is silly.

  6. There’s no way to know if what you’re saying is true. Accept the fact that she won the popular vote. But there are reasons for the electoral college and that is how the winner is decided.

  7. Your reasoning makes no sense. The founding fathers established the electoral college for one reason only. They felt as if the majority of people in the land were commoners and were too uneducated & incapable of making a proper decision. So they established the college and appointed elites to represent each particular state. So yes Donald Trump won the election fair and square but the real question that should be asked is why do we still rely on elected officials to represent the people, especially since it was established as a means of silencing the majority? As for your logic as to people staying home in mega democratic states and vice versa, is a statistic that you just made up. Out of the roughly 200 mil registered voters in the United States about 73 mil are registered Democrats versus only 55 mil registered Republicans. So if every registered voter came out to vote for their affiliated party, Hillary would still win the popular vote. That’s not a made up statistic that actually can be verified

  8. I don’t even begin to understand the problem with one candidate winning the electoral college and losing the popular vote. If the winner always won the popular vote and the electoral vote, there would be no purpose whatsoever in the electoral college. It is obvious then that the founding fathers created the electoral college for just this case, when a candidate wins the popular vote but loses in the electoral college.

  9. It is irrelevant if Hillary won the popular vote. As this writer correctly explains people that people from states like New York, such as my father didn’t vote because they felt it was a waste of time. We have no idea who would have actually won the popular vote. We can only conjecture who would have won.
    Regardless, I’m very skeptical that Hillary actually won the popular vote fairly. The republican national committee did a good job at curbing voter fraud in the swing states this time. Other than in Nevada and Pennsylvania they did a much better job than they did four years ago. In Nevada Harry Ried was able to get many illegals to vote, and in Pennsylvania there was strange malfunctioning in northern Pennsylvania and only limited voter fraud in Philadelphia. In big cities like in New York and California voter fraud and voter intimidation was still rampant. Four years ago the voter fraud in places like Detroit and Philadelphia and Cleveland was much worse. Reince Prebius deserves much of the credit. It helped that Hillary didn’t energize her base of the black vote. In Virginia the democratic governor pardoned 80,000 felons prior to the election so that could vote for Hillary. She “won” Virginia by about 50,000 votes. Hopefully, voter ID will be required in future elections. That will curb voter fraud.
    I am fairly confident that if the absentee ballots are counted and we disqualify the dead people that voted that Trumps vote tally will be about two per cent higher than Hilary’s.
    Trump won the election fairly despite spending much less money, despite media bias and lying, despite not getting support from many of the leaders of his own party, despite being given unfair advantages at the debates (which she lost anyways! – cheater never prosper!), despite voter fraud helping the democrats.
    Hillary was a despised and flawed candidate that was loved by very few. I think that Trumps unfavorability numbers are distorted by eager pollsters that wanted us to believe that most if the country doesn’t like him. On the flip side they distort Obamas favorabilty numbers in his favor. Most of the country wouldn’t have felt that “the country is on the wrong track”, “want a strong leader”, disapprove of his policies if they really had a favorable view of his presidency. It may be that they don’t want to be labeled as racists, or they like his personality, or that the pollsters framed the question so that they’d receive the answers which they wanted.

  10. The author forgot to address the flip side to his argument:

    If more republicans would have come out in the deeply democratic states (of which two were named) likewise, more democrats would have turned out in the ~10-15 republican states.

  11. Ms Candy Cane:
    That is misleading, as I commented earlier – only certain concentrated pockets of the country had a majority who wanted Hillary. To ignore the vast majority of states, where a majority of those voters voted for Trump, would lead candidates to only concentrate campaigns on a few more populated states, completely ignoring the rest of America. The US is and always has been set up as a country of States, rather than colonies and towns all part of one government. That’s how senators are selected, that’s how representatives are selected, giving each state a representative voice in running the country. This is no different – each state’s majority of voters determines who that state casts its vote(s)for as President.

  12. Michelle:

    Your reason for why the electoral college was established is not entirely, if at all, correct. While it may have some element of truth, the real reason for the electoral college is twofold: 1) so that less populous states and/ or where populations are more spread out would have a fair chance of being represented in an election rather than being ignored and/ or steamrolled by the more densely populated pockets of the country, and more importantly, 2)this setup is in line with the entire setup of the US as a nation of states, or more accurately, a representative democracy rather than a direct democracy. In a direct democracy, each citizen throughout the country has one equal vote and laws are passed by majority vote. The US, however, is a representative democracy, where each state elects (by majority votes within a particular state) senators and representatives to stand in the place of their respective states’ citizens and cast their votes on their behalf. In this form of government, each STATE has a say in everything from ratifying the Constitution to voting on Federal bills. The “STATES” speak by way of the 2 senators and several representatives sent to Washington to represent them. The electoral college follows that exact same format. So perhaps you want to change the Constitution from a representative democracy to a direct democracy as well. If so, then you can argue that the electoral college should do the same. But if not, then keeping the electoral college makes perfect sense.

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