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



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You are watching: Hillary clinton lost the popular vote

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

Many american wonder why Donald Trump ended up being president after the 2016 election, since Hillary Clinton got more votes overall.

In fact, Clinton gained as many votes in 2016 together Barack Obama did in 2012. Hair were focused in fewer states, however, which renders all the distinction in the American politics system.

I’m a professor who researches the presidency. To define why Trump won we need to go earlier to the starting of the joined States.

What is the Electoral College?

In the joined States, something dubbed the Electoral college determines how plenty of votes a presidential candidate gets in an election.

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

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

But the rules likewise say each state must have at least one representative and there can only it is in 435 members of the House. Because of the means those easily accessible seats are split up, certain states have actually fewer representatives per human than in other states.

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

This way the national popular vote – i m sorry goes come the candidate that 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 says voted because that Clinton, offering her the many votes nationally.

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

Where did the come from?

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


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

In 1787, the establishing Fathers worried that the civilization might selected a demagogue, or someone that would appeal to your emotions and also facilitate the creation and execution the laws based on fear or anger. The co-founder assumed the electors in the Electoral college would simply be “unfaithful” to the voters if castle voted because that someone unqualified.

In modern times, civilization in all 50 states vote in November and those decisions are conveyed come the electors. The electors fulfill in mid-December to actors the official ballot for president.

Almost always, they adhere to the votes of the people, however every so frequently an unfaithful elector votes for a various candidate. Electors are typically chosen through the party – Republicans and Democrats – yet each state determines because that itself exactly how it choose electors.

In the case of the 2016 election, electors mostly voted v their states, electing trumped president.

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