How Hillary Clinton Won the Popular Vote but Still Lost the Election

logoBy Daniel Nasaw, WSJ

In sum, Clinton did really well in states that didn’t matter in the electoral college

bn-qv849_sadvot_p_20161117114239More than a week after losing the presidential election, Democrat Hillary Clinton is ahead in the popular count by somewhere around one million votes. But as any middle-schooler knows, the president is chosen not directly by the voters but through a system established by the Constitution called the Electoral College.

By that score, based on winning individual states, Donald Trump is poised to win 306 electoral votes to 232 for Mrs. Clinton, after flipping into the Republican column five states Barack Obama won twice.

The president-elect won fewer electoral votes than President Barack Obama did in either of his races and was behind in the popular vote by 1.3 million in a tally by David Wasserman of Cook Political Report, and 947,579 in an Associated Press tally. (Votes are still being counted.) Neither candidate has an outright majority of the total vote: Mr. Trump won about 47% of the vote and Mrs. Clinton 48%, with the balance going to third-party candidates.

A look at the results shows how Mrs. Clinton won more votes than Mr. Trump but was unable to stack up enough states to win the Electoral College.

Put simply, Mrs. Clinton performed well relative to Barack Obama in states that didn’t matter for the Electoral College because they were states she could count on winning easily or losing badly. In two prime examples, Mrs. Clinton ran up the score in California, which hasn’t voted for a Republican since 1988, and outperformed Mr. Obama in Texas, which last voted for a Democrat in 1976.

Meanwhile, Mr. Trump eked out victories in Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, and won solidly in Iowa and Ohio. All those states voted twice for Mr. Obama.

As of Wednesday’s AP tally, overall turnout in California was down about 18% from 2012, but not evenly. The number of Democratic votes declined 16% from 2012, while the number of Republican votes dropped 27%. The result: Mrs. Clinton won the state with 62% of the vote to 33% for Mr. Trump, while Mr. Obama won with 59% to 38% for Mr. Romney.

Texas was one of the rare states where turnout was up — 11.4% over 2012, and Democrats added about 450,000 more votes over the 2012 election than did the Republicans. The upshot: Mr. Trump won with 53% of the vote, four points less than Mr. Romney’s vote in 2012.

The pattern repeats itself elsewhere: Mr. Trump dramatically under-performed Mr. Romney in heavily Mormon Utah, winning about 289,000 fewer votes, while Mrs. Clinton won 22,400 votes more than Mr. Obama did. But he still won the conservative state, which last voted for a Democrat in 1964.

By winning a lot of votes in states already firmly in the Democratic or Republican columns and losing key historically Democratic states by very small margins, Mrs. Clinton became the second Democrat in 16 years to win the popular vote while losing the Electoral College.

Democratic California Sen. Barbara Boxer on Tuesday said she planned to introduce a bill to abolish the electoral college and award the presidency to the winner of the popular vote. That would require a constitutional amendment, and the measure is unlikely to advance in a Republican controlled Senate, let alone win ratification by three-fourths of the states subsequently.

A switch to a popular vote system would lead to an overhaul in campaign strategy, probably with candidates spending more time in dense, vote-rich media markets at the expense of the traditional battlegrounds. Said Mr. Trump on Monday: “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.”

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