Hillary Clinton now leads Donald Trump by more than 1.4 million popular votes, as of November 18. Clinton’s growing lead has renewed calls in some corners to abolish the Electoral College.
The Cook Political Report and Dave Wasserman have compiled a continually updated popular vote tracker. Both candidates are still gaining votes as states count absentee and provisional ballots, millions of which were still uncounted after the election, especially in California.
Here are the updated popular vote totals as of November 18:
That means Clinton now leads the popular vote by 1,439,123 votes. She leads 47.9% to 46.8%.
The issue for Clinton, according to the Wasserman/Cook Political Report numbers: Trump leads in the swing states. That gave him the Electoral College by a 290-232 margin and made him president-elect. Defenders of the Electoral College say it forces candidates to compete for the hearts and minds of Americans in all states, giving all states a voice in the presidential election.
Clinton’s vote total is a historic achievement. Clinton now has the third highest number of votes of any presidential candidate in U.S. history (she also became the fourth presidential candidate to win the popular vote but lose the Electoral College). She is behind only Barack Obama’s two historic elections. However, she just surpassed the tally of George W. Bush.
Without the Electoral College, a few large cities and states (New York, L.A.), would determine every presidential election. Indeed, Clinton’s popular vote edge was boosted by millions from New York and California alone. Trump’s Electoral College lead is expected to grow after Michigan is formally called. Right now, he leads there by just over 13,000 votes, but the Associated Press is waiting to call the state until after the deadline for requesting a recount passes (candidates have to wait until votes are canvassed.)
Some Clinton supporters have now turned to an improbable last-ditch scenario to make her president: Trying to convince electors, who will vote for the president in December, to ditch Trump even though many states now bind them to him. This is an improbable scenario because Trump has such a large margin in the Electoral College and because many of the electors are partisans. Clinton has conceded the election to president-elect Trump. Democratic electors pushing this scenario have called it “moral electors.”
Swing state popular vote, per the popular vote tracker:
Clinton’s popular vote total is history making. Here’s how.
The first point is obvious but sometimes overshadowed by the at-times theatrical narratives this campaign season: Clinton was the first female major party nominee.
However, Clinton’s popular vote total also made history regardless of gender.
Here is how her popular vote total stacks up with the top 10 popular vote tallies of any presidential candidate in U.S. history, according to 270toWin.
1. Barack Obama 2008: 69,456,897
2. Barack Obama 2012: 65,446,032
3. Hillary Clinton 2016: 63,049,607 (as of November 18)
4. George W. Bush 2004 62,039,073
5. Donald Trump 2016: 61,610,484 (as of November 18)
6. Mitt Romney 2012 60,589,084
7. John McCain 2008: 59,934,814
8. John Kerry 2004: 59,027,478
9. Ronald Reagan 1984: 54,455,000
10. Al Gore 2000: 50,996,582
(#11 is George W. Bush 2000: 50,456,062)
Trump is also close to making history. He is on the cusp of surpassing Bush as the Republican presidential candidate with the most popular votes in U.S. history. He has the 5th highest popular vote total in U.S. history.
Sen. Barbara Boxer of California has filed legislation seeking to abolish the Electoral College, saying, “This is the only office in the land where you can get more votes and still lose the presidency.”
According to the National Archives and Records Administration, “The founding fathers established it (the Electoral College) in the Constitution as a compromise between election of the President by a vote in Congress and election of the President by a popular vote of qualified citizens.”
The site adds, “The Electoral College consists of 538 electors. A majority of 270 electoral votes is required to elect the President. Your state’s entitled allotment of electors equals the number of members in its Congressional delegation: one for each member in the House of Representatives plus two for your Senators.”
Trump has fired back on Twitter against Electoral College critics (even though he once was one himself):
Noting that Hillary Clinton got more votes than Trump but still lost the election, Boxer said it is time to do away with an “outdated, undemocratic system that does not reflect our modern society.”
In case you’re curious, Clinton has surpassed her husband, former President Bill Clinton, by millions of votes as the country’s number of eligible voters continues to grow. Bill Clinton earned 45,590,703 popular votes in 1996 and 44,908,254 in 1992, according to 270toWin.
A few other random popular vote totals from history: John F. Kennedy received 34,227,096 votes in an exceptionally close 1960 election against Richard Nixon. Franklin D. Roosevelt received 27,244,160 votes in 1940. In 1824, Andrew Jackson was able to win the presidency with just 153,544 votes.
You can see more popular vote and electoral college results for historic elections here.
The uncounted ballots won’t change the Electoral College math because they come in states Clinton won by a large margin already, especially California. However, they will continue pushing her popular vote total higher.
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