Who won the popular vote — Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump? Now more than one month after the 2016 presidential election, the nationwide vote count is nearing completion. The answer, and Clinton’s popular vote wipeout of Trump, suddenly appeared to take on new relevance on Friday, when bombshell revelations that Russia may have deliberately tampered with the election to get Donald Trump elected were leaked to the Washington Post.
The issue of Russian intelligence agencies hacking into Democratic National Committee internet servers in order to steal information that could cast Clinton in a poor light and tilt the election toward Trump was raised well before the election. In fact, Clinton herself hammered on the issue in her October 19 debate with Trump.
“We have 17, 17 intelligence agencies, civilian and military who have all concluded that these espionage attacks, these cyber attacks, come from the highest levels of the Kremlin. And they are designed to influence our election,” Clinton said during that debate. “I find that deeply disturbing.”
On Friday, the Post revealed that a secret CIA intelligence assessment concluded that Clinton was right — and not only that, the Russian cyberattacks were specifically designed to help Trump get elected.
The new revelations, which imply that Trump won the election unfairly with help from a foreign power, have raised questions about the validity of the 2016 election, and who should be named the rightful winner. While Trump appears to have won the Electoral College — though electors do not vote until December 19 — Clinton was the clear choice of voters who cast ballots in the November 8 election, taking a popular vote win by a margin unprecedented in any modern election.
As of Saturday evening, December 10, voting figures compiled by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report look like this:
Hillary Clinton won 65,746,544 votes, while Donald Trump — despite winning 306 electoral votes, 74 more than Clinton — collected 62,904,682 votes from actual American voters.
That gives Clinton a “victory” margin of 2,841,862 votes over Trump, or seen in percentage figures, a lead of 2.09 percentage points.
That margin edges her popular vote lead over Trump past the lead by which Jimmy Carter defeated then-incumbent President Gerald Ford in the 1976 presidential election. Carter beat Ford by 2.07 points.
By passing Carter, Clinton’s popular vote win over Trump is now greater than the victory margins of 11 presidents who were actually elected and served in office. There have been only 49 elections since the popular vote was first recorded, in 1824. In other words, Clinton’s lead over Trump beats the leads compiled by 22 percent of all elected presidents — more than one-of-every-five — since the popular vote was first counted.
In another piece of political trivia, Clinton’s lead of 2,841,862 more voters than Trump is larger than the populations of 15 of the 50 states.
One benchmark that Clinton appears likely to miss, albeit narrowly, is the mark of 65,915,795 votes won by President Barack Obama in the 2012 election. That figure is the second-highest raw vote total in U.S. presidential election history.
With few ballots now left uncounted, it appears that Clinton will have to settle for the third-largest vote total in U.S. history, by fewer than 100,000 votes.
But Trump won the Electoral College due to victories in three states — Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, each of which he won by less than one percentage point. Trump also won the state of Florida by less than a full point.
The alleged Russian tampering, as well as the last minute letter from FBI director James Comey that appeared to reopen the investigation into Clinton’s private email server, may have given Trump the slim margin needed to win those states and with them, all of their electoral votes under the “winner take all” system. Without three of those four states, Trump would have lost the election and Clinton would be president-elect.
[Featured Image By Scott Olson/Getty Images]