Thursday, January 19, 2017

How Trump Won 2016 Presidential Election

[ here is the video on YouTube: https://youtu.be/P_PpL9FJ7h0 ]

[ and here is the full text for the video (that i was unable to embed in said video) plus the links: ]

Hello, and welcome.

There are many people in the United States of America [as well as other countries] who do not understand the 2016 presidential election and how Donald Trump won.  This video will cover the basics, complete with numbers and pictures, to make it a little easier to understand.  

There were basically four candidates in the election, meaning names on the ballot to select.  There is the option to write in a name that is not on the ballot, but that will not be covered here.  There is more information at this link if you want to read more.

Some people were surprised to see more than two names on the ballot.  The four most popular candidates in the election and on the ballot were:

Jill Stein, Green Party
Gary Johnson, Libertarian Party
Hillary Clinton, Democratic Party
and Donald Trump, Republican Party.

Also appearing on ballots:
Evan McMullin, Better For America Group
Darrell Castle, Constitution Party
and many others.

This is how many ballot votes the top four got, from least to most:
Jill Stein got a total of 1,457,044 votes.
Gary Johnson got a total of 4,488,919 votes.
Donald Trump got a total of 62,979,879 votes.
And Hillary Clinton got a total of 65,844,954 votes.

Since Hillary Clinton got the most ballot votes, many people would therefore think that she would be the next U.S. president.  She won what is called the popular vote, meaning the most ballots.  But the voting citizens of America do not elect the president, at least not directly.  Rather the states elect the president, with a vote by designated people called electors.  This is called the electoral system.  And Donald Trump won the electoral vote.


A ballot vote is the piece of paper or electronic document where a registered voter checks a box stating who they want as president and vice president.  An electoral vote is something that people called electors from the fifty states plus the District of Colombia cast, more than a month after the election, and it is these electoral votes that decide who becomes president, not the ballots.  Whichever candidate receives the most electoral votes becomes president.    

The way the electoral system works is the government of each state plus the District of Colombia, acting like a state, has a certain number of electoral votes, based on a number of rules, the most important being population.  Here is a graphic of how the electoral votes are divided.  When the ballots are counted, they are counted based on where a person is registered to vote, meaning what state, or the District of Colombia.  If an American lives in a part of the USA that is not a state, like Puerto Rico or Guam, they are not able to vote, even though they are American.  This also can cause trouble for other people, such as Americans who live in another country.  The result is about four million Americans are not able to vote for president, and others might have trouble voting, even though they are eligible.  


In most states the ballot vote is counted, and whoever gets the most ballot votes wins all of the electoral votes.  This is called ‘winner take all’.  There are two exceptions, Maine and Nebraska, who can split their electoral votes, rather than give them all to one candidate.  This happened in the 2016 election, with Maine splitting their 4 electoral votes, 3 for Clinton and 1 for Trump.  It does not matter how many people actually cast a ballot within a state, whether it was only one person or millions of registered voters, the result is the same.  There are a total of 538 electoral votes split among the 50 states and the District of Columbia.




Here is a graphic with all of the states’ votes counted for the four parties.  The way to read it is pick a state like Rhode Island:  they counted 14,746 ballot votes for Johnson, 6,220 ballot votes for Stein, 252,525 ballot votes for Clinton, and 180,543 ballot votes for Trump, and then gave all 4 of their electoral votes to Clinton (instead of 1 to Trump and 3 for Clinton if the electoral votes had been cast proportionately).  It would take too much time to read all of the states’ numbers out loud here, so if you do want to read them, just pause the video at this point.

If all of the states cast their electoral votes proportionately instead of ‘winner take all,’ third party candidates would have received 5 electoral votes (3 in California, 1 in Utah, and 1 in Texas), Trump would have received 265 electoral votes,  and Clinton would have received 268 electoral votes and she would have won the election.  But 48 states have followed the ‘winner take all’ rule for electoral votes since the 1880s, and so Trump won the 2016 election because of it.

The United States of America is the only country with this particular system to elect the president, and the only country where a candidate can lose the popular vote but become president anyway.  Donald Trump is the fifth person to lose the popular vote and become president.  There is a long list of controversies that result from this which will not be covered in this video.  If you want to research these topics on your own, here are some subjects to search for:  swing states versus non-swing states, voter turnout, voter suppression, disenfranchising, electoral votes per capita, exclusion from debates, and marginalizing third parties.

Thank you and good-bye.

[text by Joshua Pierce, editing by Derek McCarthy]

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