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posted on 09 November 2016

A Candidate Losing The Popular Vote By 10 Million Could Become President

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There have been four occasions where the candidate with the largest popular vote did not become president, most recently in 2000 when Al Gore won the popular vote by more than half a million votes but George W. Bush was elected president when the Supreme Court halted a Florida recount. The first two cases saw significant percentages, but the last two (1888 and 2000) saw popular vote margins well under 1%. But a significant percentage popular vote margin losing the election is theoretically possible today.

political.party.symbols.boxing.ring

All votes in the U.S. for president are not valued equally. A vote in Vermont or Wyoming is worth as much as 3.5x as a vote in California or Texas. See table below.

electoral.votes.pt.1electoral.votes.pt.2

It is theoretically possible for one candidate to win the 10 most populous states (California through North Carolina), representing 171 million people and 256 electoral votes and another candidate winning the remaining 40 states plus the District of Columbia representing 145 million people and 282 electoral votes. The second candidate will be elected president by the electoral college.

The population difference between the two groups of states is 26 million. If 40% of the population voted in each state, that would correspond to a popular vote plurality for the loser of approximately 10 million.

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