As I wrote previously, the popular vote gap between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump has grown steadily since Election Day as the final votes continue to be tallied. As reported by USA Today, The Independent, TIME, Slate, and other news outlets, Clinton has received approximately 1.7 million more individual votes than Donald Trump in the 2016 Presidential election.
Of course, this does not change who will become the 45th President of the United States – the electoral vote count remains the same. There is no indication that any of the electors in states that went to Trump will change their votes; indeed, although electors can change their votes in some states, doing so would disenfranchise voters and undermine confidence in our free elections. Senator Barbara Boxer of California has introduced legislation to get rid of the electoral college, and a 2013 Gallup poll shows 63% of Americans would abolish it, but such a change would require a Constitutional Amendment. That’s not likely to happen anytime soon. More importantly, no matter what happens in the future, the electoral college was still in place on November 8th, 2016, so those are the rules that governed this election. Those are the rules that gave Donald J. Trump the 45th Presidency of the United States.
However, electoral votes alone do not give Donald Trump majority support for his policies and plans. The President-elect will not enter the White House with a “popular mandate,” meaning he must operate under the public knowledge that 1.7 million more voters supported his opponent’s agenda than his own.
That won’t limit Trump’s Constitutionally-granted powers, but it is likely to embolden his opponents and detractors, who will constantly point to Hillary Clinton’s substantial popular vote victory as evidence that Trump’s will is not “the will of the American people.”
So how does Donald Trump feel about the electoral college? Well, as with so many things, The Donald’s position appears to depend on whether or not he is getting what he wants. After Barack Obama won the 2012 election, Trump was under the mistaken impression that Romney had won the popular vote while losing the electoral college. He had this to say:
However, after Trump actually did lose the popular vote in the 2016 election, but won the presidency based on the electoral college, he had this to say:
And when people protested, similarly to what he explicitly called for in 2012, Trump said:
It seems that in Trump’s worldview, “fairness” depends on which side wins.