Friday, November 11, 2016

Popular Vote and the Electoral College

Clinton beat Trump in the popular vote. Trump will be President as he will win in the Electoral College. For all our disagreements, we have a lot of confidence in law and process. That is what is so off-putting about violence in America around elections: It is distinctively European. The country was carefully structured at its beginning and most of us know it. And have deep regard for it. Violence in America over elections is not stupid or misguided, it is alien.

This is the fifth time a winner of the popular vote will not be elected President:

In 1824, John Quincy Adams was elected president despite not winning either the popular vote or the electoral vote. Andrew Jackson was the winner in both categories. Jackson received 38,000 more popular votes than Adams, and beat him in the electoral vote 99 to 84. Despite his victories, Jackson didn’t reach the majority 131 votes needed in the Electoral College to be declared president. In fact, neither candidate did. The decision went to the House of Representatives, which voted Adams into the White House. Jackson never forgave Adams.

In 1876, Rutherford B. Hayes won the election (by a margin of one electoral vote), but he lost the popular vote by more than 250,000 ballots to Samuel J. Tilden.

In 1888, Benjamin Harrison received 233 electoral votes to Grover Cleveland’s 168, winning the presidency. But Harrison lost the popular vote by more than 90,000 votes. (Incidentally, Cleveland was a pretty inexperienced politician as well.)

In 2000, George W. Bush was declared the winner of the general election and became the 43rd president, but he didn’t win the popular vote either. Al Gore garnering about 540,000 more votes than Bush. However, Bush won the electoral vote, 271 to 266.

Tight elections are tough on people but democracies demand integrity, agreement on the rule of law and an understanding of the greater good. Even Nixon, faced with the suspicion of voter fraud that tipped the Chicago vote and hence the electoral vote to Kennedy did not indulge himself and stood down.

Even Nixon.

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