It appears that American voters have “buyer’s remorse” two years after President Donald Trump was elected to office.
A recent poll provided respondents with a hypothetical situation, asking them if they could vote again in the 2016 presidential election, who they would cast their votes for. Registered voters in the poll were given a choice between Republican candidate Trump, Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton, Libertarian Gary Johnson, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein.
Individuals in the poll also had the choice to choose none of the above, to decline to not “vote” at all, or to say they would choose someone else, as reported by Newsweek.
Among these choices, 44 percent of voters said they would choose Clinton while Trump only garnered 36 percent of the hypothetical vote. Johnson received 4 percent of the vote while Stein had 2 percent.
The poll also asked voters to select between just the two top candidates, Clinton and Trump, in a head-to-head contest. When all of the other options were removed, 50 percent said they’d vote for Clinton while only 40 percent said they would prefer Trump.
The poll was conducted among 1,000 registered voters and administered jointly by Hill.TV and polling company HarrisX between September 14 and 15. It has a margin of error of 3.2 percentage points.
The polling data, however, does not necessarily mean Clinton would have won the election in this hypothetical matchup. Indeed, Clinton did win the popular vote in 2016 with 48.2 percent of Americans casting a ballot in her favor but lost the election itself due to the rules of the Electoral College, which Trump won overwhelmingly.
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) September 22, 2018
The mechanisms of the Electoral College give votes to each state based on their representation in Congress, according to the rules found within the U.S. Constitution. Electoral College votes are given based on the state’s representation in Congress, with each state being guaranteed at least three votes (two for each senator and at least one for their representation in the House of Representatives).
Because of this system, a person can feasibly win the election without garnering a majority of votes, or even without having won a plurality of voters. This happened four times before the last election cycle, according to USA Today.
It happened a fifth time in 2016, when Trump defeated Clinton in the Electoral College despite her winning the popular vote, although Trump has disputed Clinton’s popular vote win by suggesting, without evidence, that her totals were inflated by undocumented immigrants, Reuters reported after the election.
The Hill.TV and HarrisX poll did not account for the Electoral College calculations.
A candidate doesn’t even need a quarter of the popular vote to win the Electoral College, according to reporting from NPR. By winning a bare majority (50 percent plus one vote) in 40 of the least populated 50 states and the District of Columbia (while winning zero votes in the remaining 10 states), a candidate can actually win the Electoral College with just 23 percent of the popular vote totals. Going in the other direction, a candidate, winning just the bare majority in the 11 most populated states in the country, could win the majority electors in the Electoral College with just 27 percent of the national popular vote.