July 20, 2019 | 78° F

Trump wins electoral college, loses popular vote

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump gestures as he speaks at election night rally in Manhattan, New York, U.S., November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Just four years ago, President-elect Donald Trump (R) tweeted, “The Electoral College is a disaster for democracy.” Little did he know in 2016, the electoral college would give him the 270 votes needed to win the United States presidency.

Trump won the presidency early Wednesday morning after swing state Wisconsin put him over the top with 276 votes. In the end, the business man won 289 electoral college votes, while former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton earned 218.

Yet, the popular vote is coming in steady for Clinton, who won with 59,739,870 popular votes as Trump took 59,520,472 votes. About 48 percent of American voters chose Clinton, but Trump won the electoral college. This is the fifth time in American history the electoral college has gone against the popular vote.

Times have changed since the Electoral College was instituted in 1787, and some students say the system is outdated, needs to be reformed and may not properly reflect what the people want.

The fact that Trump won over Clinton even though she won the popular vote shows the democratic voting system needs to be improved, said School of Environmental and Biological Sciences junior April Rastaetter said.

“The system definitely needs fixing, especially in the case of close call races like this one,” she said.

She said the Electoral College is an old-fashioned system and does not properly represent what the people want. 

“In close elections like this with the popular vote, I think if the Electoral College worked the way it was intended, it would be great. But it’s also a problem that it is a winner-takes-all for a state,” she said.

The winner-takes-all system can make it more difficult for candidates to gain the votes they need when half the state voted for them, but the whole state goes to their opponent, she said.

The only two states without a winner-takes-all system are Maine and Nebraska.

Virgil Grimaldi, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, agrees the Electoral College does not have a place in modern politics.

“It was created as a way to give some type of equal representation to states back in the early days of the country, but now it is irrelevant because the number of voters in the country is large enough where the popular vote is enough to gauge what the majority of voters want,” he said.

If a candidate wins the popular vote, Grimaldi said he or she should win the presidency. The winner should be based off the popular vote.

“Personally, I’d like to see the system change to a system where the winner is whoever wins the popular vote,” he said, but he does not believe it will change any time soon.

People are reluctant to change the constitution to reflect the changes the country has undergone over the last 200 years, he said.

“It’s only happened to Democratic candidates where they win the popular vote but lose the Electoral vote so until it happens to a Republican candidate, I don’t think we’ll see a change to the Electoral College,” he said.

Rastaetter said the Electoral College should be disbanded and the popular vote needs to count as a total citizen decision. Another solution could be restructuring the electoral votes each state holds.

“Hillary won the majority but lost by more than 50 electoral votes. That’s a big discrepancy,” she said.

The two students agree Trump won the presidency fairly.

Trump won based on the current system in place, so Grimaldi said the results must be respected.

“The political system works this way, and so he did win fairly, or at least as I can see it,” Rastaetter said.

But she believes the system is flawed, and the election should have gone a different way.

“The people have spoken,” Rastaetter said, “but the electoral college spoke louder.”

Sophie Nieto-Munoz is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in journalism and media studies and Italian. She is an associate news editor for The Daily Targum. You can find her on Twitter @snietomunoz for more.

Sophie Nieto-Munoz

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