Trump has the 3rd worst margin of victory in American history

Donald Trump may have won the election, but he lost the American people. Trump comes to office with no mandate.

To date, Trump is behind Hillary Clinton in the popular vote by over 2.2 million votes: the worst absolute margin of victory in all of American history. The runner-up? George Bush losing the popular vote by over 500,000 in 2000.

And it’s just as bad for Trump where it really counts, in his percent of the total vote. Trump lost the popular vote to Hillary by 1.63 points (1.63%), and growing. Hillary currently has 47.97% of the vote, while Trump only has 46.34%.

That means Donald Trump won the presidency by the 3rd worst margin in American history. Let that sink in a moment.

Historically, only two presidents fared worse than Trump in the percent difference in the popular vote: Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876 and John Quincy Adams in 1824.

Trump’s abysmal showing in the popular vote is small comfort to Democrats who fear the far-right kleptocracy that is coming to Washington in Trump’s wake. But Trump’s lack of a mandate matters, as it will severely hamper the Republican Party’s efforts to drastically change the country.

Look at the list of elections below. Note that the handful of elections in pink are those in which the winner lost the popular vote. The orange/yellow highlight is Trump v. Clinton. I have ranked the elections according to the percentage difference in the popular vote. You’ll see that in every single election, save two, the winning candidate did better than Donald Trump . (Below the image, further discussion about why this matters.)


As I noted above, our president is picked according to Electoral College rules rather than the popular vote. But, presidents like to claim mandates in order to push their agenda, and you do not win a mandate when you lose the popular vote. And you really don’t win a mandate when you have the third-weakest victory in all of American history.

Quite simply: The American people did not vote for Donald Trump; they voted for Hillary Clinton. Trump’s loss in the popular vote isn’t just indicative that Trump has no mandate, it’s a truly unprecedented rebuke of an incoming president.

Keep these numbers in mind as Donald Trump, Paul Ryan, and Trump’s stand-in as president, the ultra-far-right Mike Pence, try to implement their radical un-American agenda, starting with the abolishment of Medicare.

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Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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16 Responses to “Trump has the 3rd worst margin of victory in American history”

  1. Ryan Johnson says:

    Donald Trump supports transgender bathroom rights, yet he is a threat to the LGBT. LOL.

  2. Tina says:

    Democrats hold the demographic advantage as the country is only becoming more diverse over time — research shows whites will no longer be the majority by 2050 — but Republicans hold the geographic advantage. But because Democrat-likely citizens are typically huddled in major population centers moreso than smaller rural areas, what this all means is that we’re likely to have popular vote/electoral college splits more often as the Democratic candidate racks up big numbers in states that will make no difference to their electoral college tally. Hillary Clinton won California by a million more votes than Obama did against Mitt Romney, but it made no difference — it’s still worth the same 55 votes. Trump won Texas by half a million fewer votes than Mitt Romney, but he won nonetheless and got the same 38 votes.

  3. mikeyDe says:

    Re. Medicare. The GOP will definitely dismantle it. Medicare as it stands is the best argument for socialized medicine. Get rid of it now and there will be no argument for single payer system for the rest of us. This week my husband paid a bill for a sonogram (kidney). He $30 when the hospital’s bill was $760. The reductions came mostly from Medicare disallowing deliberately higher charges from the hospital. That is the cost containment everyone says the American medical system needs. It is also the feature the GOP (as well as doctors, hospitals, insurance companies) hates the most about Medicare.

    Re Future of Republican Party. I wish I had a nickel (okay, a dollar) for every time I heard someone in 2012 say the party will never win another national election, demographics are against it. Truth is the Republicans control the rural states which give them better representation in the Senate and the Electoral College. Truth is the Republicans could hold the demographic advantage for decades to come (national popular vote notwithstanding.) Democrats have to work harder in competitive districts, which is why I’m depressed Peolsi, who has a safe seat in liberal SF, won House leadership today. No change in strategy is what we can expect.

  4. Matildambroome says:

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  5. BidensHairPlug says:

    LOLOLOL – I LOOOVE you liberal hipsters. Get a binky and hold on for the ride, cupcakes.

  6. ComradeRutherford says:

    I excoriate all gerrymandering. My state doesn’t have that problem.

  7. Arthur Conrad says:

    Explain how state Democrats could stop gerrymandering when they are the minority party?

    And you can’t ignore the gerrymandering Democrats themselves engage in.

  8. Arthur Conrad says:

    Simply not true.

    Raising the cap on SS will make it solvent in perpetuity.

  9. ianharwood says:

    Medicare and Social Security are going to run out of money regardless of any action taken

  10. Demosthenes says:

    An excellent piece, John. I hope all Democrats understand your point. The lack of a mandate is why, I believe, any GOP effort to destroy Medicare and Social Security will not only fail, but allow the Democrats to begin the arduous task of retaking the states and Congress in 2018.

  11. keirmeister says:

    Here’s the thing: the 3rd worst margin of victory is STILL a victory – especially with control of Congress. Republicans understand this and couldn’t care less about a “moral” win. If such things mattered to them, they wouldn’t spend so much time suppressing the vote in the first place.

  12. Colin says:

    They are going to go after everything first just as fast as they can get there.

  13. Abra says:

    Good lord, don’t say that, it is way too early in the morning for horror stories.

  14. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    Abolishing Medicare is certainly something that the Repuglians are eyeing, but I think they will go after the ACA first.

  15. ComradeRutherford says:

    Yeah, but in Real Life, Trump DOES have a mandate, AND the House and Senate AND the Supreme Court. AND, no Serious Democrat is really going to do anything to actually stop him. So, Trump DOES have a mandate and he and the extremist reactionaries are going to use it to their greatest advantage.

    Further, because the Democrats didn’t try to stop the gerrymandering, they will lose even more seats in 2018, and by 2020, something will have happened to convince the Republicans that elections have to be suspended. Trump will be President-For-Life.

  16. Stanley_Krute says:

    Mandate shmandate. It doesn’t matter. The GOP will have the power to roll back most legislation from FDR onwards. And there is very little the Dems can do to stop that. That’s the reality.

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