Posts surfaced on the internet within days of the election claiming that the “final election 2016 numbers” showed that Donald Trump had won both the Electoral College and popular vote. While not all absentee votes have been counted and Michigan’s vote count is still incomplete as of this writing, it appears that Hillary Clinton will have received more popular votes than Donald Trump when the final count is made.
At present, all major news sources agree that Hillary Clinton is leading Donald Trump in the popular vote. A check of Fox News and CNN showed identical vote tallies for the two candidates. Donald Trump is credited with 60,834,437 votes and Hillary Clinton has 61,782,016. The reported returns give Clinton a lead of almost a million votes.
The claims that Trump received more votes seem to stem from a blog post on Nov. 12 that claimed Trump had won 62.9 million to 62.2 million when the “final election 2016 numbers” were in. The blog cites an unsourced Twitter post for its claim.
The author of the blog updated his post on Nov. 15 to argue that his unsourced numbers were correct. “The popular vote number still need [sic] to be updated in Wikipedia or MSM media – which may take another few days because the liberals are still reeling and recovering from Trump-shock victory,” the blog states. The blog also says that 3 million votes “should be removed from Hillary Clinton” because of voting by illegal aliens and voter fraud. “Trump by default is the winner in the popular vote,” the site exults.
Different states have different rules and deadlines for counting votes, but they all face a common deadline in the meeting of the Electoral College. Members of the Electoral College meet in their states on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December. This year that date falls on December 19. The final, official popular vote tallies should be available by that date.
It is possible that recounts could flip some states. According to the International Business Times on Nov. 14, Trump currently leads Michigan by just over 13,000 votes and Clinton’s edge in New Hampshire is only 2,700 votes. Nevertheless, it would take the reversal of more than one swing state to change the Electoral College outcome.
It is somewhat of a mystery why the popular vote is such a contentious issue. Above state level, it matters only for bragging rights. Popular vote is only used in determining the winner of each state’s electoral votes. If the current trends continue, Trump would not be first president to win with a minority of the popular vote. Factcheck.org reports that it has happened four times previously in U.S. history, including George W. Bush’s 2000 victory over Al Gore.