The latest 2016 election results show a widening popular vote lead for Hillary Clinton, with her margin growing to more than 2.5 million votes and putting a serious dent in the post-election claims from Trump that he has a “mandate” from American voters.
In the more than three weeks since Trump’s stunning Election Day victory, the slow process of counting ballots from a host of largely left-leaning states has grown Hillary Clinton’s popular vote lead, ABC News reported. On Wednesday, the New York Times reported Clinton’s lead grew to 2,526,184 votes — a margin five times larger than Al Gore’s lead over George W. Bush in the hotly contested 2000 election.
Donald Trump was still able to win the election, scoring razor-thin victories in enough states to win the Electoral College by a margin of 306 to 232. But the rising popular vote total for Clinton seems to undercut claims from the Trump camp made in the weeks after the election that the president-elect has a mandate to push through his campaign initiatives.
“This election was not close. It was not a squeaker,” senior adviser Kellyanne Conway said on Fox News Sunday the weekend after the election (via the Washington Times). “There is a mandate there, and there is a mandate for his 100-day agenda, as well.”
Those statements came into question even more in the last week, when President-elect Donald Trump made baseless claims that there was widespread election fraud that pushed the popular vote to Hillary Clinton. In a series of tweets, Trump claimed that there was “serious” fraud in Virginia, New Hampshire, and California — a claim disputed both by local election officials and by members of Trump’s own party.
As the Washington Post noted, there could be a political motivation to Trump’s claims — the latest 2016 election results showing Hillary Clinton with a widening lead in the popular vote could pose a political problem for him.
“It’s unusually petty and strange for a president-elect to do this, yes. But there is actually good reason for Trump to be concerned about his share of the popular vote. After all, the current tabulation suggests that 53.5 percent of Americans cast ballots for someone not named Donald Trump, and politicians are generally stronger when they have demonstrated popular support. That translates to political capital and an easier time pursuing your agenda. It makes your opponents — and perhaps even skeptical congressional Republicans, in Trump’s case — less likely to stand in your way. (Witness President Obama’s mandate in the wake of the 2008 election, for example.)
“Trump, though, has a historically small mandate. And if you compare his election to the 57 previous presidential votes, that reality begins to come into clearer focus.”
While the latest 2016 election results may present difficulties with how Donald Trump can move forward campaign promises like building a wall at the Mexican border and dismantling Obamacare, they also show a challenging landscape for Democrats. As the New York Times noted, Clinton’s massive disparity between her popular vote lead and her Electoral College deficit show that Democratic voters are tightly concentrated in states that don’t have as much to offer. Much of Clinton’s winning margin came from California alone, while Trump was able to score nearly as many electoral votes between Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania — where he won by a margin of tens of thousands of votes.
“Well, her lead is close to what the final polls before Election Day had shown, pointing to a geographic concentration of Democratic voters and a daunting disadvantage in the Electoral College,” the New York Times noted. “Do Democratic presidential candidates now need to build a four percentage-point lead to assure victory?”
But the latest 2016 election results and the big loss for Donald Trump in the popular vote hasn’t seemed to slow the president-elect. This week, he kicked off a “victory tour,” with a stop planned for Ohio.
[Featured Image by Paul Sancya/AP Images]