By Philip Bump
December 8, 2016
Donald Trump will be president thanks to his having won the electoral college by 74 votes. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, as you know, by nearly 2.7 million ballots.
Or perhaps you don't know that. Pew Research quizzed people on whether or not they knew the results of the election and most people got the answers correct. But not all.
Pew asked three questions:
Who won the electoral vote?
Who won the popular vote? and
Who won your state?
Three-quarters of respondents got the first question right. More than 8-in-10 correctly identified the winner of their own state. But overall, only about 60 percent got all three correct, in part because nearly 30 percent of respondents didn't know who won the popular vote.
Why? Probably for a few reasons. The first is that Clinton's margin in the popular vote is mostly a function of the results in California, a state that only finished counting all of its ballots this week.
But second, Trump and his supporters have aggressively pushed back on the idea that Clinton won the popular vote, even though she did.
There's a clear partisan split on getting that question right. Republicans were slightly more likely to know who won the electoral vote than Democrats and slightly more likely to know who won their own states. But Democrats were much more likely to know that Clinton won the popular vote.
Anyway, it doesn't matter in the context of who the next president will be. That will be Donald Trump, thanks to the electoral college. It does matter from the standpoint of a shared understanding of the nature of reality. To the extent that willful misrepresentation is the cause of those wrong answers, it's a problem.
Especially if the source of that misrepresentation is also the guy mentioned in the preceding paragraph.