The 2016 presidential election popular vote count is nearly complete, and Hillary Clinton — who lost the election to Donald Trump — has scored a historic victory, with the second-largest margin of any candidate ever to lose the presidency in the Electoral College.
The Electoral College meets to vote on Monday, December 19 — with each states’ electors meeting in their own state — at which time the electors are expected to confirm Trump’s victory. If all of the electors vote for the candidate required by their respective states, Trump will win 306 electoral votes while Clinton will win 232. A majority of the Electoral College is 270 votes.
However, at least one Trump elector has publicly announced his intention to vote for a different Republican candidate, and another has joined 62 Democratic Clinton electors in requesting a special briefing from intelligence officials into reports that Russian government agents may have influenced the outcome of the election through computer hacking.
But it would take 37 Trump electors to defect in order to prevent Trump from winning the presidency — and even then the election would be decided in the heavily Republican House of Representatives, which would likely elect him anyway.
But despite the fact that Trump appears certain to become the 45th president of the United States, Clinton’s popular vote margin appears to negate claims by Trump and his supporters that he has claimed an electoral “mandate,” — a term used to indicate broad popular support for an incoming president’s policy platform.
In fact, Trump won the sixth-lowest percentage of the total vote in the history of American presidential elections, going back to 1824, the first year in which the popular vote was recorded — a total of 49 elections.
With 46.1 percent of the popular vote, according to totals tabulated by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, Trump barely edges out the 24th U.S. president, Grover Cleveland, who won 46.02 percent in the election of 1892.
Cleveland, the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms in the White House, was first elected in 1884 with a razor-thin popular vote margin of 0.57 percentage points, making him one of 11 elected presidents whose popular vote margin of victory was less than Clinton’s in 2016.
Clinton now appears set to finish with 2,833,224 votes, which is 48.2 percent of the vote and a 2.1 point lead over Trump, edging past Jimmy Carter whose 1976 margin of Gerald Ford came in at 2.06 percent.
Besides Cleveland in 1892, the only elected presidents who scored a lower percentage of the popular vote than Trump this year were:
• John Quincy Adams, 1884 (32.2 percent)
• Abraham Lincoln, 1860 (39.7)
• Woodrow Wilson, 1912 (41.8)
• Bill Clinton, 1992 (43.01)
• James Buchanan, 1856 (45.3)
Clinton’s raw vote total of 65,788,567 is the third-largest in U.S. history, behind only Barack Obama’s 2008 total of 69,456,897, and barely missing Obama’s 2012 total of 65,918,507.
With 136.5 million votes counted, the final national popular vote result is very likely to be:— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) December 14, 2016
The former secretary of state’s percentage of the total possible vote — that is, the percentage of all eligible voters — Clinton’s 29 percent is better than the winners of seven of the last 25 elections. In fact, Clinton’s percentage was better than her husband, President Bill Clinton, did in either of his presidential elections.
Bill Clinton won only 25.1 percent of all eligible voters in 1992, and 25.3 percent in 1996.
Carter won 27.5 percent of all eligible voters in 1976, while Ronald Reagan stopped Carter’s re-election bid in 1980 with just 27.8 percent of the possible vote. In 1988, George W. Bush was elected president with 28.4 percent of the total potential vote and in 2000, Al Gore won the popular vote, scoring 26.2 percent of the voting-eligible population.
Finally, in 1948 Harry Truman defeated Republican Thomas Dewey but won only 26.3 percent of all eligible voters, 3.7 percentage points behind Clinton in 2016.
[Featured Image by Carolyn Kaster/AP Images]