Democrats Still Won A Mandate In The Popular Vote

I know we just suffered a humbling defeat. However, as Democrats digest the ugly election results they should be celebrating the popular vote total. Even though Hillary Clinton lost the election based on the electoral college, she won the national popular vote total. As of Wednesday afternoon Clinton is leading with 47.6% and Trump has 47.5%. Clinton is leading by nearly 207,000 votes nationwide. Clinton has accumulated 59,786,125 while Trump is behind at 59,578,670. In addition, counting is still continuing and most experts agree it appears Clinton will win the national popular vote when all the votes are counted.

Let me repeat that, Clinton won the majority of the national popular vote. If we didn’t use an antiquated electoral college, she would be President.

Can you imagine if the reverse were true? Suppose Hillary Clinton had won the electoral college vote and the presidency while Trump won a majority of the popular vote. Republicans would be in the streets screaming a “rigged election.”  Trump would very likely demand the results be overturned.

Why point this out? It’s not to make you feel worse or to point to a rigged election. There isn’t anything we can do to change the results. We can’t contest the Trump presidency or overturn the electoral results. However, the fact that Hillary Clinton won the votes of more Americans than Donald Trump gives us power. It gives us power because we can argue that Trump has no mandate. Even though Republicans control the presidency, the Senate and the House, they lack a clear majority mandate of American voters.

Democrats have suffered through this before. Losing the election while winning the popular vote is pretty hard to swallow. This is similar to the 2000 election when Gore received 48.4%, which was the majority of the popular vote, Bush received less with 47.9% but won the electoral vote and the presidency. Democrats accepted the results in 2000 because this is the agreed upon American electoral system.

So why dwell on this now since it just seems to increases the pain of our loss? Because this gives Democrats negotiating power and leverage in preventing the Trump Administration from reversing the Obama legacy. Democrats can legitimately argue that more of the American people voted for a Democratic agenda.

In every upcoming political policy debate, Democrats must use the one most important tool we have, the support of the majority of the American people. Americans believe in majority government, they believe in fairness and they want to be heard. Democrats must hammer this message; the majority of the American people must be respected even though they lack a fair representation in exercising the power in Washington. Democrats will be in the minority in both Houses of Congress but they must continually remind Republicans that Democrats have the majority of Americans supporting them. We can’t allow our majority support by American voters to become just a forgotten footnote of this election.

We must use every tool we have to fight Trump and the Republican congressional control as they attempt to undo Obamacare, the Iran deal, Dodd-Frank and the climate agreement. Democrats are licking their wounds and trying to digest this huge loss and rightfully so. However, we must not accept this loss as a rejection of our message. We must not lose sight of the fact that our agenda was not rejected by a majority of Americans but rather was a result of the quirks of the electoral college.

You can expect Trump and the Republicans will attempt to call their win a mandate from the American people. They will contend the American people have spoken and they will claim to have unlimited power to push through their most radical agenda. Democrats must push back on that with the fact that Republicans lack a clear majority supporting their agenda.

Here in Iowa, we have a similar power of persuasion by pointing out vote totals in our most populous counties. Trump and Republicans clearly won Iowa by a large margin. However, that margin is only evident in the least populous parts of Iowa. Clinton won the six counties in Iowa with the greatest population.

In the largest Iowa counties Clinton won the majorities.

Polk County, (Des Moines) Clinton won 54% vs. Trump 42%.

Linn County (Cedar Rapids) Clinton won 53% vs. Trump 43%

Scott County (Quad Cities) Clinton won 48% vs Trump 47%

Blackhawk (Waterloo) Clinton won by 52% vs. Trump 44%

Johnson County (Iowa City) Clinton won 68% vs. Trump 28%

Story County (Ames) Clinton won 53% vs. Trump 40%

These six largest counties represent 33% of the Iowa voting returns. These counties/cities represent the heart of Iowa manufacturing, finance, banking and insurance. Clinton won all these by big margins. Trump won in rural Iowa.

Iowa Democrats have a powerful message to the Republicans in control of Iowa state government. Democrats won in the counties most critical to building Iowa’s future. The rest of Iowa with the exception of a few small Iowa cities represents primarily agricultural interests. The farm economy and agricultural interests are important but Iowa’s largest cities are the centers of Iowa business.

Iowa Democrats must constantly remind our fellow Iowans that their future can’t be controlled solely by Republican/rural interests. Iowans’ future depends on educated, vibrant, and growing urban centers and Democrats own that demographic. Republicans in rural Iowa don’t represent nor will they work for our crucial urban interests. We must continually remind Iowans their future is dependent on a balance between urban and rural interests. That will be a strong argument in building support for adequate education funding, cleaning up Iowa’s environment and driving a progressive urban agenda.

Here’s Democrats’ messaging heading into 2018. Nationally, Democrats won the popular vote in 2016 and we must hammer that in every debate between now and the next election. In Iowa, the urban centers support the Democratic agenda and we won’t allow these critical Iowa economic drivers to be ignored or short changed.


by Rick Smith
Posted 11/11/16

15 Comments on "Democrats Still Won A Mandate In The Popular Vote"

  • If you think we live in a Democracy, it easy to understand why you think our Presidential Election is determined by a majority vote. Sorry, we live in a Republic, a representative form of government that was set up to prevent tyranny by heavily populated states over a greater number of lesser populated states. That’s why a state’s vote in the Electoral College is the number of House of Representative districts (based on population) and the number of Senators (based on 2 per state). It’s still possible for only 11 states to determine the outcome. Fear not, Democrats, the Republican percentage in Texas was only 52.5%, so you are getting closer to having a majority in Texas, which would virtually guarantee you the presidency into the future forever. A few thousand more folks coming over the border should insure your victory four years from now. And you have a great party chair in Texas with years of experience in churning out the votes.

    • Being a constitutional republic does not mean we should not and cannot guarantee the election of the presidential candidate with the most popular votes. The candidate with the most votes wins in every other election in the country.

      Guaranteeing the election of the presidential candidate with the most popular votes and the majority of Electoral College votes (as the National Popular Vote bill would) would not make us a pure democracy.

      Pure democracy is a form of government in which people vote on all policy initiatives directly.

      Popular election of the chief executive does not determine whether a government is a republic or democracy.

      The presidential election system, using the 48 state winner-take-all method or district winner method of awarding electoral votes used by 2 states, that we have today was not designed, anticipated, or favored by the Founding Fathers. It is the product of decades of change precipitated by the emergence of political parties and enactment by states of winner-take-all or district winner laws, not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution

      The Constitution does not encourage, discourage, require, or prohibit the use of any particular method for how to award a state’s electoral votes

    • With the current state-by-state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states), it could only take winning a bare plurality of popular votes in the 11 most populous states, containing 56% of the population of the United States, for a candidate to win the Presidency with less than 22% of the nation’s votes!

      A presidential candidate could lose, winning 78%+ of the popular vote and 39 states.

    • You must be implying that anyone coming over the border as cheap labor in Texas, without becoming citizens can vote in any election they wish. Just can’t wrap my head around the idea that Texans are so greedy for cheap labor, that they just stand back, and let the illegals vote. Perhaps as a conservative geedy state they’ve outsmarted themselves!

  • The real issue is that progressives represent majority public opinion on issues Trump will trash. Our job is translate this public opinion into election results.

  • This is one of the most tone deaf things I’ve read. So Hillary won the six most populated counties. There are 93 other counties. This ridiculous reasoning from party leadership is why we are a red state.

    • Jason,
      You totally missed my point. I wasn’t bragging about winning just the six most populous counties. It was a warning to Republicans that Democrats have the support of more Iowans in these crucial counties. When Republicans try to push their radical agenda in the legislature We must argue that these largest cities don’t support their far right measures. This is the only power we have left after losing all control in the Iowa state government. They will argue they have a mandate to do as they please.

      • They do have a mandate to do as they please. They control all the branches. You wrote this to make yourself feel better. It doesn’t matter that the Democrats won the popular vote. Any argument about a mandate is merely a semantic one. We don’t have any power. It doesn’t matter that the largest cities reject their agenda if they can still pass their agenda. I hope you will take a critical look at things and ask yourself the tough questions. If you don’t, it’s only going to get worse. I didn’t miss your point. I’m saying your conclusions are incorrect.

      • Winning the popular vote in a republic is for losers.

        Across the nation Democrats control a small percentage of governorships and legislatures. That happened because the Democratic Party isn’t talking about issues that people care about or ones that affect their lives.

        The Clinton campaign reenforced this narrative by making the campaign about personalities. Clinton lost because she enabled Bill Clinton’s sexual predation, created a private email server to deceive the people and lied repeatedly about it while committing multiple crimes against society.

        People like to holler at the refs but they know changing the rules is not the problem. The Democratic Party is no longer the party of the people, its a party about lefty ideology.

    • I could agree with the deafness of democratic leadership, they’ve been using the old playbook way too long, they need to pass the keys to the party on to the next generation with some real ideas, and who know how to throw normal, out the window.

  • A survey of Iowa voters showed 75% overall support for a national popular vote for President.

    The National Popular Vote bill is 61% of the way to guaranteeing the majority of Electoral College votes and the presidency in 2020 to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the country, by changing state winner-take-all laws (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states), without changing anything in the Constitution, using the built-in method that the Constitution provides for states to make changes.

    All voters would be valued equally in presidential elections, no matter where they live.

    Every vote, everywhere, for every candidate, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election.
    No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps of predictable outcomes.

    The bill would take effect when enacted by states with a majority of the electoral votes—270 of 538.
    All of the presidential electors from the enacting states will be supporters of the presidential candidate receiving the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC)—thereby guaranteeing that candidate with an Electoral College majority.

    The bill was approved this year by a unanimous bipartisan House committee vote in both Georgia (16 electoral votes) and Missouri (10).
    The bill has passed 34 state legislative chambers in 23 rural, small, medium, large, red, blue, and purple states with 261 electoral votes.
    The bill has been enacted by 11 small, medium, and large jurisdictions with 165 electoral votes – 61% of the way to guaranteeing the presidency to the candidate with the most popular votes in the country


    • Pure nonsense.

      Iowa is relevant as First in the Nation because of the Electoral College. Want to kill that? Change the rules so only popular votes counts – where do you think the campaigns will go? CA, TX, OH, NY, FLA.

      Iowa won’t be in play with its 6 electoral votes because the population isn’t large enough to move the margin.

      This idea disenfranchises voters and states across the US.

      Further it shows a bias mis-understanind of the US Constitution and how the form of government works to support people at all levels. We do not need a dictatorship in DC which is what this would create.

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