The Electoral College meets on December 19, but how large is Hillary Clinton’s lead as that happens?
Fueling the talk of some “faithless electors” is the fact that Clinton has a historically large margin in the popular vote. She leads 48.2% to 46.1% over Donald Trump in the popular vote.
The Cook Political Report popular vote tracker says that Clinton had a more than 2.8 million popular vote lead over Donald Trump on December 19. That lead has steadily grown since the November 8 election because some populous states, like California, took weeks to count unprocessed ballots. In fact, one could argue that California gave Clinton her entire popular vote lead.
Popular vote as of December 19
Hillary Clinton: 65,844,594
Donald Trump: 62,979,616
Clinton margin over Trump: 2,864,978
Trump won because he prevailed in the swing states. Supporters of the Electoral College say that the founders created it because they wanted to ensure that the election was not dominated by one or two states. Trump has insisted he would have run a different campaign without the electoral college and still won because he would have campaigned only in populous states like California. People who want to abolish the Electoral College say that it’s unfair a candidate could win so many more votes and still lose.
Indeed, there’s never been a candidate who has won so many popular votes and yet lost the presidential election in the United States. Clinton has now surpassed one of Obama’s tallies. Trump’s popular vote total is also historic; he received more votes than any Republican nominee in history.
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. 3. Hillary Clinton 2016: 65,844,594 (as of December 19)
3. Barack Obama 2012: 65,446,032
4. Donald Trump 2016: 62,979,616 (as of December 19)
5. George W. Bush 2004 62,039,073
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)
Clinton’s margin over Trump is greater than the margin of the victor in some historic presidential elections, such as the 1960 election between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy.
The other three candidates who also won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College received far fewer votes. They are:
Al Gore, 2000: Lost the presidential election to George W. Bush but won the popular vote by 543,816 votes.
Andrew Jackson, 1824: Jackson won the popular vote but lost the presidency in the House of Representatives because neither candidate reached the threshold for victory in the Electoral College. Jackson also had more electoral votes at the onset.
Grover Cleveland, 1888: Lost the presidential election to Republican Benjamin Harrison despite leading by 90,000 popular votes.