Home » US presidential election » Hillary Clinton got more votes, but Donald Trump won the states that mattered

Hillary Clinton got more votes, but Donald Trump won the states that mattered

Trinaa Prasad | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:39 IST

In 2012, Donald Trump running for the presidency of the United States of America was a popular joke. A funny tagline for things too ridiculous to be considered. Today, with the exception of the xenophobic crowd that voted for him, nobody's laughing.

In the year 2000, the Democrats' Al Gore won the popular vote but it was the Republicans' George W Bush who took over the Oval Office. This has happened three times before as well. According to npr.org, Andrew Jackson won the popular vote in 1824 but lost to John Quincy Adams as did Samuel Tilden in 1876 (who lost to Rutherford B Hayes) and Grover Cleveland in 1888 (who lost to Benjamin Harrison).

What is this strange behaviour you ask?

Well, in America, it is not the number of votes but rather the electoral college which determines the presidency.

Electoral College? Say what?

The American Constitution has assigned each of the 50 states in America electors which total the state's Senate and House of Representatives. The number of electors vary from state to state - for instance, Vermont has 3, Arizona has 11, Texas has 38 - and equal a total of 538 electoral votes in all.

When the American public votes, they do not vote directly for a presidential candidate, but for the electors of a party of their choosing. In case of the 2016 US elections, the choice was between the Democratic Party, Republican Party, Green Party, Libertarian Party and an Independent candidate.

The winning candidates of the electoral college then pick the next President; and to become the POTUS, a candidate must win 270+ electoral votes.

For the record, Donald Trump's not a big fan of this system. This is what he said in 2012:

Hillary vs Trump - in Numbers

In Hillary's case, the popular vote was with her, but due to the higher number of electors in the states won by Trump, we're all stuck with him as the President of the United States.

  • Hillary Clinton: 47.7%

State/District: Electoral votes

- Vermont: 3

- Delaware: 3

- Columbia district: 3

- Hawaii: 4

- Rhode Island: 4

- New Hampshire: 4

- New Mexico: 5

- Nevada: 6

- Oregon: 7

- Connecticut: 7

- Colorado: 9

- Minnesota: 10

- Maryland: 10

- Massachusetts: 11

- Washington: 12

- Virginia: 13

- New Jersey: 14

- Illinois: 20

- New York: 29

- California: 55

Total Electoral Votes Won: 228

Total Number of Votes Won: 59,814,018*

  • Donald Trump: 47.5%

State/District: Electoral votes

- Alaska: 3

- Montana: 3

- Wyoming: 3

- North Dakota: 3

- South Dakota: 3

- Maine: 4

- Idaho: 4

- West Virginia: 5

- Nebraska: 5

- Arkansas: 6

- Mississippi: 6

- Utah: 6

- Iowa: 6

- Oklahoma: 7

- Kansas: 8

- Louisiana :8

- Kentucky: 8

- Alabama: 9

- South Carolina: 9

- Missouri: 10

- Winsconsin: 10

- Indiana: 11

- Tennessee: 11

- Arizona: 11

- North Carolina: 15

- Georgia: 16

- Michigan: 16

- Ohio: 18

- Pennsylvania: 20

- Florida: 29

- Texas: 38

Total Electoral Votes Won: 279

Total Number of Votes Won: 59,611,678*

In New Hampshire, Arizona and Michigan the margin of victory was really narrow.

Hillary: 59,814,018

( - )

Donald: 59,611,678


= 2,02,340

So she won the number-game, but lost the match.

*data according to Real Clear Politics



What The Elections Have Taught Us

Hillary won the popular vote by two lakh twenty-three hundred and forty votes, and yet the election went to Trump because he won those states which had more electoral votes.

It was the swing states of Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania that did Hillary in. Had only the millennials voted, Hillary would have won. Had Hillary been a man, she would have won.

And had the media paid more attention to the white baby boomers (48%), and women from traditionally Republican states (60%!!) - America wouldn't have been blindsided by a Trump presidency.

Had the world known this was seriously going to happen, perhaps more people would have turned up to educate those who cannot fathom why a man who thinks climate change is a hoax, who does not have a plan in place to boost the economy or to create jobs, who is homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, trans-phobic; who does not recognise a woman's right to take decisions regarding her own body, who has not paid federal tax in 18 years or more, and who has fleeced students in the name of a fake university - is unfit to be the president of a first world country in an unstable, violent, nuclear world.

Had everyone not taken Trump's nomination as a cheap joke, perhaps women everywhere would not be feeling angry and betrayed that a man with over a dozen known accounts of sexual assault, including that of a minor, has become the commander-in-chief of one of the most powerful nations in the world.

With the result of the US elections, men who do not recognise consent, have been validated.

Yes, it was the electoral system that let Hillary down. But that Donald Trump was allowed to get so far as to become a presidential candidate, is a shame the USA will never be able to live down.

First published: 10 November 2016, 6:08 IST