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Sarah Burns is a non-resident fellow at the Quincy Institute.



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You are watching: Did clinton win the popular vote?

How come Donald Trump winner if Hillary Clinton got much more votes? Ellen T., 8, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Many americans wonder why Donald Trump came to be president after the 2016 election, due to the fact that Hillary Clinton got more votes overall.

In fact, Clinton got as countless votes in 2016 as Barack Obama go in 2012. Hair were concentrated in under states, however, which provides all the difference in the American politics system.

I’m a professor who researches the presidency. To define why Trump winner we need to go back to the founding of the united States.

What is the Electoral College?

In the united States, something referred to as the Electoral college determines how countless votes a presidential candidate it s okay in an election.

Each state has a certain number of votes because that presidential candidates around tied come the populace of the state. This number is same to the variety of representatives and senators the state sends out to Congress.

For example, brand-new York, the state wherein I live, has actually 27 representatives and also therefore 29 Electoral college votes. Washington, D.C. — which no have any members of congress — has actually three Electoral university votes.

But the rules also say each state must have at the very least one representative and there have the right to only be 435 members of the House. Because of the means those easily accessible seats are separated up, certain states have fewer to represent per human than in other states.

For example, each of the 53 representatives in the residence from California represents approximately 746,415 people. In Wyoming, the number drops to 577,737 for your one representative.

This means the national popular vote – i beg your pardon goes to the candidate who won the many individual votes – can be somewhat different than the Electoral university vote.

That’s what taken place in the 2016 election. Huge portions the city-dwellers in blue claims voted because that Clinton, giving her the most votes nationally.

But Trump had actually an benefit in says with smaller populations and an advantage in the Electoral College. This is in part because 48 states and the ar of Columbia give all of the electoral votes indigenous the state come the candidate that wins the bulk of the votes. Just Maine and also Nebraska don’t follow this ‘winner takes all’ approach.

Where did that come from?

The Electoral university is component of the U.S. Constitution.


Rutherford B. Hayes and also William A. Wheeler voted for the state that Louisiana in 1876. The Library the Congress, CC through

In 1787, the starting Fathers worried that the human being might elect a demagogue, or someone that would very nice one to their emotions and also facilitate the creation and also execution of laws based upon fear or anger. The founders assumed the electors in the Electoral university would just be “unfaithful” come the voter if they voted because that someone unqualified.

In contemporary times, human being in every 50 says vote in November and those decisions space conveyed come the electors. The electors meet in mid-December to actors the official ballot because that president.

Almost always, castle adhere come the votes of the people, however every so often an unfaithful elector votes for a various candidate. Electors are normally chosen by the party – Republicans and also Democrats – but each state determines for itself how it choose electors.

In the case of the 2016 election, electors largely voted through their states, electing trumped president.

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