Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The size of Donald Trump’s popular-vote loss keeps growing


By Steve Benen
Nov. 22, 2016

When it comes to the metric that decides the outcome, Trump won 306 electoral votes, which is roughly 57% of the total. That’s more than enough to win, but it’s not especially close to the electoral totals earned by Barack Obama (in 2008 and 2012), Bill Clinton (in 1992 and 1996), or George H. W. Bush (in 1988).

But then there’s that other metric.

Hillary Clinton’s popular vote lead surged above 1.72 million on Sunday night, with millions of votes still to count. At 1.3 percentage points, she has built a lead not seen in a losing campaign since Rutherford B. Hayes’s bitterly disputed election of 1876.

The 2016 results have no such disputes, however. Mrs. Clinton’s lead keeps rising on her strength in California, where her margin stands at 29 percentage points, up from President Obama’s 23 percentage points 2012.

As a matter of percentages, Clinton’s current popular-vote advantage is greater than that of seven candidates who won the presidency, including Kennedy and Nixon. Her popular-vote win is roughly in line with George W. Bush’s victory over John Kerry in 2004.

And votes are still being counted. By some measures, Clinton may end up with a popular-vote margin of roughly 2.5 million votes, pushing Trump well below the share of the popular vote than Mitt Romney received.

Remember, we’re not just talking about raw vote totals, which can be misleading: as the country grows, more people vote. The fact that Clinton received more votes than any American in history whose name isn’t Barack Obama is a nice piece of trivia, but little more.

The more salient point is that Clinton is the most successful popular-vote candidate in percentage terms of any candidate who didn’t win. With this in mind, Paul Waldman raised a good point yesterday:

Legally speaking, that fact is irrelevant. But the fact that a couple million more Americans chose Clinton to be their president is highly relevant to Trump’s legitimacy.

In normal circumstances, a minority president might take it as a strong suggestion to tread carefully – not just to “reach out” to the other party by appointing one or two of its members to his Cabinet or by inviting its congressional leadership over for dinner, but to govern with an awareness that most Americans still need to be convinced that his presidency will be something other than a disaster. That means moving carefully, making efforts to assure the people who voted against you that they won’t be victimized by your presidency, and not undertaking sweeping, disruptive changes that the public isn’t behind.

Trump and his team, of course, are doing the exact opposite, even pretending his victory was an impressive and historic triumph.


No comments:

Post a Comment