Clinton's Popular Vote Should Shut Up Her Critics

by Alexandra Spychalsky

It is clear that this is no Bush v. Gore situation, where one candidate lost the Electoral College vote but won the popular vote by a relatively small (but still notable) amount (540,000 votes). Hillary Clinton's popular vote lead reached almost 1.7 million as of Sunday's count. That Donald Trump won the election but lost the popular vote — and by a historically wide margin — has set off protests and calls to repeal the Electoral College, and has only increased the divide in this country which was already magnified by this election. But while Clinton supporters can hold on to the popular vote as some kind of vindication that their candidate belongs in the White House, it's cold comfort that she won't be at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue come Jan. 20. Update: By Friday, Hillary Clinton had led by 2.1 million votes on.

As the current tally stands, Clinton received 63,649,978 votes, compared to Trump’s 61,943,670, according to the Cook Political Report. Other candidates received 7,074,979 votes combined. Clinton netted 48 percent of the votes to Trump's 46.7 percent. By comparison, Al Gore received 50,996,582 votes in 2000, compared to George W, Bush's 50,456,062. It was a split of slightly more than half a million votes, or about 0.5 percent of the total cohort of voters who cast ballots that year.

Does this mean anything for the outcome of the election? Unfortunately not. Roughly seven million ballots remain uncounted, so Clinton's lead could grow even larger. But it's unlikely that will translate into any flipped electoral votes. The majority of the remaining votes came from steadfastly blue states, like California, Washington, and New York, which she already holds the electoral votes for. She performed the best as compared to President Obama in states she was either almost guaranteed to win (like California and New York) or states she was almost guaranteed to lose (like Texas). This is how her large number of individual votes did not result in election success.

Some Electoral College members who represent states that voted for Trump are being petitioned to vote for Clinton instead. But even if there are ultimately some faithless electors, they are not likely to change the course either. It looks like it's full steam ahead for President-elect Trump.

But Clinton may see vindication in one area. After the election, some criticized her for not working hard enough during the campaign. Even President Obama made a comment about how he won Iowa "because I spent 87 days going to every small town and fair and fish fry and VFW Hall, and there were some counties where I might have lost, but maybe I lost by 20 points instead of 50 points. There's some counties maybe I won, that people didn't expect, because people had a chance to see you and listen to you and get a sense of who you stood for and who you were fighting for." As The Washington Post's Aaron Blake noted, many, including MSNBC's Joy Reid, interpreted this as a critique of Clinton.

However, as Clinton's popular vote numbers continue to grow, and begin to approach President Obama's numbers from 2012, Clinton supporters can find some solace.