Final Popular Vote Total Almost Done: Clinton Lead Swells Toward 2.7 Million, May Pass Obama's 2012 Total

Jonathan Vankin

While Donald Trump remains the United States president-elect, the popular vote lead ruled up by Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election now appears to make the Democrat who hoped to become the country's first woman president the clear people's choice — with a vote total that appears likely to top the number of votes compiled by President Barack Obama in the 2012 election.

In addition Clinton's percentage lead of 2.0 points puts her in sight of surpassing an 11th elected president's victory margin. Clinton's widening popular vote gap over Trump is already greater than the winning margin posted by 10 previous United States presidents who actually assumed the office, including John F. Kennedy in 1960, Richard M. Nixon in 1968, and George W. Bush in 2000.

Prior to Trump, who appears set for an electoral college win with 306 votes to 232 for Clinton, Bush was the last president elected despite losing the popular vote. But while Bush fell short of Democrat Al Gore by just 540,520 votes, Trump as of Tuesday night, December 6, trailed Clinton by a whopping 2,669,743 votes — with votes in several states still yet to be counted.

According to Los Angeles Times reporter Cathleen Decker, about 150,000 votes remain to be counted in the nation's most populous state — mostly mail-in and absentee ballots — and those are expected to break for Clinton with about 100,000 votes to roughly 50,000 for Trump.

Hayes, a Republican, lost the popular vote by 3.0 points to Democrat Samuel Tilden. But Hayes prevailed in the Electoral College after a lengthy legal dispute.

At the same time, Clinton's vote total appears poised to climb past Obama's 65,915,795 votes won in the 2012 presidential election, which currently stands as the second-highest total in American history. But Clinton, whose total on Tuesday evening stood at 65,503,605 according to The Cook Political Report Popular Vote Tracker, needs to find just 412,191 votes to top Obama's total and become the second-highest vote-getter in U.S. history — and the highest vote-getter who did not actually assume the presidency.

Obama's total of more than 69 million in his landslide victory over Republican John McCain in 2008 will remain untouched as the highest vote total ever by a U.S. presidential candidate.

While Trump's Electoral College victory appears more impressive, his winning percentage of 56.97 is actually the 12th lowest in the 58 presidential elections held since the first president, George Washington, was elected in 1789.

Trump's total of 306 electoral votes is the sixth-lowest in the 15 elections held in the 50-state era, which began with the 1960 election, one year after Hawaii was admitted to the union as the 50th state.

Clinton, on the other hand, is now approaching the margin of victory claimed by Jimmy Carter when he defeated President Gerald Ford in the 1976 presidential election.

Carter ended up with a 2.06 point lead over Ford in the popular vote, while winning 297 electoral votes — nine fewer than Trump 40 years later.

Clinton, with her 2.0 point lead, still has a chance to overtake Carter's margin — which would make Carter the 11th president to have won an election with a lower margin of victory than Hillary Clinton. The popular vote was not recorded until the 1824 election, meaning that of the 49 elections in which a popular vote total was counted, Clinton's margin over her opponent would be better than 22 percent of the winners — more than one out of every five.

While at least a few Electoral College voters appear likely to go rogue in the December 19 vote, Trump nonetheless appears assured of victory there, which would officially make him the country's 45th president.

[Featured Image By Drew Angerer/Getty Images]