Home world What is the popular vote and how does it affect US election results?

What is the popular vote and how does it affect US election results?

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What is the popular vote and how does it affect US election results?


DONALD Trump may have won a landslide in the 2016 presidential election – but his rival Hillary Clinton actually got almost three million more votes across the USA.

Tonight Trump is going head-to-head with Joe Biden as voters decide who will become the next president of the United States.

Read our US election live blog for the very latest on the 2020 race to the White House

 Donald Trump has claimed he would have won the popular vote in 2016 if the voting system was not rigged

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Donald Trump has claimed he would have won the popular vote in 2016 if the voting system was not riggedCredit: AFP – Getty

The reality star turned politician has claimed the system is rigged, saying he would have won easily if not for the “the millions of people who voted illegally”.

So how does the US election work – and why does it matter?

What is the popular vote?

The popular vote is simply the total votes cast for each candidate across the whole of the United States.

The candidate with the most votes across the nation is said to have won the popular vote.

Winning over the majority of voters in the US doesn’t always mean a candidate will win the election though.

Hilary Clinton won the popular vote in 2016 but it was Trump who became president.

 Hilary Clinton won the popular vote in 2016 with three million more votes than Trump

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Hilary Clinton won the popular vote in 2016 with three million more votes than TrumpCredit: Getty Images – Getty

How does the popular vote affect the US election outcome?

Simply put, it doesn’t.

According to the US Constitution, presidents are elected by the electoral college, not directly by the people.

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However, presidents who do not also win the popular vote may struggle to claim a mandate.

Donald Trump is said to have a “deep fear” he was not elected legitimately and has suggested there was widespread vote tampering as an explanation for why more people voted for Clinton overall.

 Trump is going head-to-head with Joe Biden this evening

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Trump is going head-to-head with Joe Biden this eveningCredit: Reuters

Which presidents lost popular vote but still elected?

Candidates do not become President by winning the most votes – known as the ‘popular vote’ – but rather by gaining more electoral college votes also known as ‘electors’.

Each of the 50 US states and the District of Columbia (which is not part of any state) is allocated a proportion of the total of 538 electors, according to their population.

These electors then choose a president according to how people voted in their state – which may be very different from the national tally.

California is the most populous (over 38 million people) and has 55 electoral votes – more than any other.

Mr Trump is only the fifth president in US history to take the White House despite losing the nationwide popular vote.

Here’s the full list of presidents who lost the popular vote but were still elected.

  • 2016 – Donald Trump
  • 2000 – George W Bush
  • 1888 – Benjamin Harrison
  • 1876 – Rutherford Hayes
  • 1824 – John Quincy Adams
 Trump is only the fifth president in US history to take the White House despite losing the popular vote

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Trump is only the fifth president in US history to take the White House despite losing the popular voteCredit: AFP – Getty

What was the 2016 popular vote result?

In 2016 Trump became president after losing the popular vote to Hilary Clinton.

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Clinton got almost three million more votes than Trump across the country.

The Democrat candidate received nearly 66 million votes while Trump only got 63 million.

The president however won 304 electoral college votes compared to Clinton’s 227, a huge margin of victory.

 Donald Trump has said the voting system is rigged

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Donald Trump has said the voting system is riggedCredit: AFP – Getty






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