More Americans voted for Hillary Clinton than any other losing presidential candidate in US history.
The Democrat outpaced President-elect Donald Trump by almost 2.9 million votes, with 65,844,954 (48.2%) to his 62,979,879 (46.1%), according to revised and certified final election results from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Clinton’s 2.1% margin ranks third among defeated candidates, according to statistics from US Elections Atlas. Andrew Jackson won by more than 10% in 1824 but was denied the presidency, which went to John Quincy Adams. In 1876, Samuel Tilden received 3% more votes than Rutherford B. Hayes, who eventually triumphed by one electoral vote.
Though the legitimacy of his victory has never come into serious doubt, Trump has repeatedly argued, usually via Twitter, that he would have won the popular vote, too, if that had been his focus.
“I would have done even better in the election, if that is possible, if the winner was based on popular vote — but would campaign differently,” he tweeted as recently as Wednesday morning, more than six weeks after the election. In late November, Trump also falsely claimed that “millions” of Clinton voters had cast ballots “illegally.”
Meanwhile, high-profile Clinton supporters have held up the dissonant results as an argument for fundamentally changing the system.
A week after the election, retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat and vocal Clinton backer, introduced a bill to abolish the Electoral College.
“This is the only office in the land where you can get more votes and still lose the presidency,” Boxer said in a statement. “The Electoral College is an outdated, undemocratic system that does not reflect our modern society, and it needs to change immediately.”
Two days later, New York Congressman Charlie Rangel put forth companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
Measuring the electoral margin
In the final count, Clinton surpassed President Barack Obama’s 2012 total by 389,944 votes, but narrow losses in key battleground states meant Obama won 100 more electoral votes on Election Day.
Trump’s victories in swing states like Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida — all carried by Obama four years ago — gave him a comfortable edge in the Electoral College. Still, Trump’s claims of a “massive landslide victory” are belied by past statistics, which place his win among the narrowest.
If all the electors had voted in accordance with their states’ results during meetings on Monday, Trump would have garnered 56.9% — or 306 — of the 538 available electoral votes. Two defections lowered his final share to 56.5%. Clinton won 232 electoral votes on November 8, but “faithless electors” also brought down her total.
The 2016 electoral votes will be counted on January 6 by a Joint Session of Congress, with Vice President Joe Biden presiding over the largely symbolic meeting. Trump will be inaugurated on January 20 in Washington.