The electoral college outcome is a foregone conclusion, but they’re still counting votes.
Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report has the latest numbers: Hillary Clinton‘s lead in the popular vote is now 2.7 million, giving her a 2 point advantage over Donald Trump. That counts for exactly nothing in deciding who will be in the Oval Office come January, but it’s worth keeping in mind when we gussy up our narratives about what the election means and what the American people want. Both of these things are true: 1) The rules are the rules and Trump is the president elect, fair and square 2) Millions more Americans voted for Clinton, by a substantial margin.
Trump sometimes appears wounded by fact #2 and claims that somehow he would have won the popular vote if he had strategized to do so. Nonsense. That’s an enormous margin to make up. Trump’s notion that he could turn out more supporters in deep blue states like New York could simply be countered by more efforts from Clinton in a deep red state like Texas (not to mention anti-Trump voters in deep blue states who lodged low-stakes protest votes for a candidate other than Clinton, or didn’t bother voting at all). If anything, Clinton’s strength in more densely populated cities likely would have made it easier for her to run up the score even more if both campaigns strategized around the popular vote instead of the electoral college. In any case, such counterfactuals are silly. The campaign would have been different in a universe without the electoral college, but there’s no reason to think Clinton’s enormous advantage in the popular vote would have been overcome. Clinton won more votes because more voters preferred Clinton.
Wasserman points out that Clinton is about 400,000 votes behind Barack Obama’s 2012 tally (65.9 million) and may well surpass it — though she won’t reach his big 2008 figure (69.4 million).
But again, Trump won the actual contest we use to determine the leader of the free world. The popular vote win and two bucks will buy you a PBR at the White Water Tavern.