Donald Trump will be president thanks to 80,000 people in three states

live_map_presidentThree-weeks-plus after Election Day, there are still more votes to count in California than were cast in each of nine states and D.C. Most of the votes that have been (slowly, laboriously) counted in the state have been votes for Hillary Clinton, giving her a 4.1 million-vote lead in that state that’s powering her 2.5 million-vote lead nationally. It takes Donald Trump’s margins in the seven states where he saw the biggest vote advantages to make up Clinton’s lead in California alone. (All of these figures thanks to Cook Political’s Dave Wasserman.)

But, of course, none of this matters. All that matters is that Trump got more electoral college votes, thanks to having won more states. In many cases, those wins were much more narrow than Clinton’s, which also helps power the gap between the electoral vote and the popular one. Trump won 18 states by fewer than 250,000 votes; Clinton, 13.

The most important states, though, were Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Trump won those states by 0.2, 0.7 and 0.8 percentage points, respectively — and by 10,704, 46,765 and 22,177 votes. Those three wins gave him 46 electoral votes; if Clinton had done one point better in each state, she’d have won the electoral vote, too.

Or put another way: But for 79,646 votes cast in those three states, she’d be the next president of the United States. The 540-vote margin in Florida that swung the 2000 election is still the modern record-holder for close races, but this is a pretty remarkable result. (Especially since the final gap between Al Gore and George W. Bush was only a little over 500,000 votes nationally.)

More people were in attendance as the Ohio State Buckeyes beat a high school football team in Columbus last weekend. More people live in Gary, Ind., than made the difference in this presidential race. In fact, Clinton’s margins in 51 counties were larger than the deficit in these three critical states. That’s margins, not the number of votes she actually won.

Put visually, this is how many people made the difference. The dots represent 20,000 votes cast in this election. The dark blue dots are the critical margin.

Just for kicks, here’s the margin by which Clinton leads nationally.

 

That sound you hear is every member of Clinton’s campaign team kicking themselves. And/or kicking effigies of FBI director James B. Comey.

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

Follow @pbump

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