Even as cable news pundits search for explanation for how Hillary Clinton “went wrong and lost” the 2016 election, they’re each starting off their conjecture with a factually false statement. At last count Hillary is ahead of Donald Trump by around one and a half million votes nationwide, a margin that’s likely to grow significantly by the time absentee votes are finalized. The Electoral College has always been around and has long been hated by all involved, but when is the last time someone won this big and had it taken away from them? Try never.
Of the fifty-eight Presidential elections that have been held during the course of United States history, just four of them have resulted in the winner of the popular vote being denied the Presidency. We all recall Al Gore winning the 2000 election by around 550,000 votes even as George W. Bush was named the Electoral College winner. Before that we have to go back to the 1800s when three popular vote winners were also denied the Presidency, and all of them were by even smaller totals: roughly 250,000 votes in 1876, roughly 87,000 votes in 1888, and roughly 28,000 votes in 1824.
Contrast those relatively puny numbers with the 2016 election, where Hillary Clinton will likely end up having won the popular vote by two to three million votes. That means the 2016 election will mark the first time in United States history in which the decisive votes of millions of voters simply won’t count. It’s not merely an argument for the illegitimacy of this election and the abolishment of the Electoral College. It’s also proof that Hillary essentially got everything right.
Take away the bizarre fluke of electoral math, and a multimillion vote victory would have the cable news pundits praising Hillary Clinton for being the right candidate at the right time with the right strategy and the right vision and the right message. Those things are just as true in light of the Electoral College taking the Presidency away from a multimillion vote winner for the only time in our history. Hillary did everything right. We got it wrong by not ditching the Electoral College before this disaster could occur.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report