Which Candidates Have The Most Votes? The Popular Presidential Contenders Are Nearing A Probable Nomination

With the New York primary out of the way, the Democratic and Republican primaries are entering their final stretch. The candidates will now turn their eyes to California, the most delegate-rich state in the primary. But setting aside delegate counts for the moment, there's also the question of the raw vote totals. Which candidates have the most votes in the primary?

The candidate with the most votes in either party is Hillary Clinton. Including the New York results, Clinton has received around 10.3 million votes in total throughout the course of this primary, according to both RealClearPolitics and FairVote. That puts her almost two million votes ahead of the second place votegetter, Donald Trump, who's received about 8.7 million votes in the GOP primary so far.

Going down the list, we have Bernie Sanders in third place, with 7.7 million votes. Ted Cruz has 6.4 million in total, while John Kasich has around 3.2 million. And while Marco Rubio isn't even in the race anymore, he racked up 3.4 million votes before he left, putting him a hare ahead of Kasich.

What should we make of all of this? Well, one thing we shouldn't do is draw conclusions about the general election based on these numbers. That's because, contrary to popular belief, voter turnout in general elections isn't correlated with voter turnout in primaries. So, for example, the fact that Republicans have collectively received more votes this year than Democrats doesn't necessarily imply that the GOP will defeat the Democrats win in November.

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We could use these numbers to try and discern which party is more unified in general, and thus more likely to win in November. Hillary Clinton is the frontrunner in the Democratic race, and she's received about 57 percent of all Democratic votes so far. Donald Trump, the frontrunner in the GOP, has garnered just 40 percent of all Republican votes cast.

It wouldn't be wise to conclude too much from this, because a lot can happen in the seven months between now and the election. But the fact that, with the primary almost finished, the Democratic frontrunner has received the majority of votes from within her party and the Republican frontrunner hasn't is a nontrivial fact, and certainly something to keep an eye on between now and election day.


Perhaps the biggest point to take home from these vote totals is the most obvious one: Only a very small percentage of the voting electorate has actually cast a vote for any candidate. According to the last census, there are around 240 million eligible voters in the U.S., and so Hillary Clinton, despite being the top votegetter in either party, has only actually received a vote from 4.2 percent of all eligible voters. Meanwhile, anybody who's horrified at Donald Trump's sustained popularity can take solace in knowing that, in actuality, only 3.6 percent of eligible voters have cast a vote for him.

Primary campaigns get loads of media coverage, and there are a lot of good reasons for that. But it's good to keep a healthy dose of perspective, and the raw vote drive home an important but easy-to-forget point: The vast, overwhelming majority of American voters haven't cast any votes yet. Despite the fact that states have been voting for months, the 2016 election is really just getting started.