Could the president lose the popular vote by 10 points In November and still win the Electoral College?

6 Answers

  • Anonymous
    1 month ago

    Yes. Populous states like New York and California do not and should not be the only ones to decide elections.

  • Tmess2
    Lv 7
    1 month ago

    In theory, it is possible since you only have to win a state by one vote to get all of its electoral college votes.  In practice, it is very hard to get that kind of gap for two reasons.

    First, a double digit win is a rare event in modern politics.  It hasn't happened since 1984, and only has only happened three times in the last sixty years (out of fifteen elections) -- in 1964, 1972, and 1984.  Second, the difference between the total popular vote result and the result in the the "tipping point" state (the state that in terms of margin of victory puts one candidate over the top) tends to be very small.  Neither party actually has a permanent advantage in terms of the tipping point state being more favorable for them than the national popular vote.  Over the past sixty years, the gap between the margin in the tipping point state and the margin in the popular vote has always been less than 5%.  In 2016, the gap was about 3%.  So while you could construct a theoretical result in which a candidate could win the electoral college while losing the national race by double digits, that simply has never happened.  A double digit win in the national vote has typically translated into an electoral college landslide.

  • Clive
    Lv 7
    1 month ago

    Of course.  It depends on which states he wins in and by how much, especially as most states give all their electoral votes to the winner even if it's by only one vote.  The popular vote doesn't count at all.

    Remember that the US constitution doesn't even require a popular vote - it very clearly says that the president is elected by electors chosen by the states, and says nothing about how the states should choose them.  They could not hold an election at all and have the state legislature choose the electors.  Some states did exactly that in the early days.  It wasn't until 1868 that all states held a presidential election.If states actually did it sensibly and allocated their electoral votes by proportion of how people voted, then you would always get a result closer to the popular vote.  But it's not done that way.

  • 1 month ago

    It is possible--Lincoln could have won the Electoral College despite losing the popular vote by 20%, if the opposition to him had been united. However, the country would have to be highly polarised for that to be plausible. And I know it feels highly polarised, but in 1860 a bunch of states were willing to secede if one candidate won the presidency.

    To give an idea of how daunting a task it would be for Trump to win the EC despite losing the popular vote by 10%, we can look at how much redder or bluer than the country a given state was in 2016. For example, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 2.09%, she won New Hampshire by 0.46%, so New Hampshire was actually 1.63% redder than the country overall.

    To win the election in 2016, Hillary Clinton would have had to win Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin (in order of how close they were). She lost Wisconsin by 0.78%, so it was 2.87% redder than the country. Pennsylvania was 2.81% redder than the country. So this means Trump could have been losing the national popular vote in 2016 by up to about 2.86% or so and still been winning the Electoral College--but not by any more than that. Now, of course, things change, but it's hard to imagine things have changed to the extent that the GOP advantage in the Electoral College has gone from being able to win it despite losing the popular vote by 2.86%, to being able to win it despite losing the popular vote by 10%, in just four years. It's probably increased somewhat--California was the biggest drag on Trump's popular vote numbers, and his disapproval there has only increased. But it's probably increased to just something like 3% or 4%, which is not historically all that unusual. (Truman nearly lost the Electoral College in 1948 despite winning the popular vote by 4.5%.)

    But mathematically, it's certainly possible.

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  • 1 month ago

    Yes.  Many pro-Trump states are making it difficult or even dangerous to vote, so the popular vote (for both candidates) will be less there, but the electoral vote will be the same.  In theory, if there were 49 states where only one person voted, and the person voting in each other those states voted for him, but the normal number of voters voted in one state, and all voted against him, then he'd lose the popular vote by more than 99 points and still win the electoral college.

  • 1 month ago

    Theoretically, yes.

    But realistically, no.

    Theoretically, let's say CA and NY vote like 90% Biden and 10% Trump, that's millions of more votes needed to win those electoral votes, and that would really pad the popular vote totals, but would make no difference in the electoral college.

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