While hosting rallies on the campaign trail, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump consistently riled his crowds with cries of voter fraud and a rigged election. It turns out he was right about a rigged election – just not in the way many might have thought.
Donald Trump won the election with 306 electoral votes vs. Hillary Clinton’s 232, however, Clinton’s popular vote lead continues to climb – by a lot.
No candidate in the history of the United States has lost the popular vote by so much and still won, which has many questioning whether or not we should abolish the electoral college system.
Why We Use the Electoral College
The U.S. is the only democratic nation where voters elect an intermediate body (electors) who then cast their votes on their behalf for a presidential candidate. The reason for this stems back to the founding fathers, when Alexander Hamilton believed a, “small number of people, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, would be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.” In other terms, the founding fathers didn’t trust the general population to elect the right candidate.
Many people argue the reason we still have it now is because it allows smaller states to have as much power as larger ones, however, it doesn’t quite work out equally. It turns out smaller states end up having more power due to electors representing a much smaller population size than in larger ones.
For example; North Dakota’s population size is 756,927 and has three electoral votes, meaning each elector represents 252,309 people. California, on the other hand, has a population size of 38,802,500 and has 55 electoral votes, meaning each elector represents 705,500.
On top of this, the electoral college makes it so that only the dozen or so swing states are important for presidents to campaign in.
If We Had a Popular Vote System
Prior to this election, only one other candidate since the 1800’s has won a presidential election losing the popular vote. It’s happened in 1824, 1876, 1888, 2000 and now 2016. Before this year’s election, the biggest vote difference was in 2000, where Al Gore received more than 540,000 more votes than George W. Bush, whom won the electoral vote.
Now, for the second time within two decades, a candidate has lost the popular vote but won the election.
Had this election been turned around, with Clinton losing the popular vote by more than 2 million votes while winning the presidency, would Trump not call this exactly what he’d been saying for months: a rigged election?
Trump has tweets from 2012 saying, “The electoral college is a disaster for democracy,” and others he deleted, which include, “He lost the popular vote by a lot and won the election. We should have a revolution in this country!” and, “We can’t let this happen. We should march on Washington and stop this travesty. Our nation is totally divided!” Just a side note, Obama actually won the popular vote by nearly 5 million votes in 2012, contrary to what Trump tweeted. After he won this November, he did a full reversal, tweeting, “The electoral college is actually genius in that it brings all states, including the smaller ones, into play. Campaigning is much different!”
President-elect Trump was right; this election was rigged – but not by voter fraud or stuffing the ballot boxes – by the very system in which we call “democracy.”