Much has been written about Donald Trump’s “post-truth” world, wherein Trump’s personal convictions are more important than facts. If it’s true, it’s certainly not a phenomenon that he created. Politics has been dominated by spin for decades. But Trump seems to take it to a new level.
Trump is now claiming that he could have won the popular vote as well as the electoral vote, if he had just tried harder. But he didn’t really want to. He launched a salvo of tweets today that portrayed his loss of the popular vote as a strategic decision to focus on the campaign tactics that would win him the electoral college.
“Campaigning to win the Electoral College is much more difficult & sophisticated than the popular vote. Hillary focused on the wrong states!” Trumo went on to tweet, ““I would have done even better in the election, if that is possible, if the winner was based on popular vote — but would campaign differently,” / “I have not heard any of the pundits or commentators discussing the fact that I spent FAR LESS MONEY on the win than Hillary on the loss!”
Trump’s win of the presidency was verified this week when the Electoral College declined to scuttle his victory by voting against him. But what looks like a landslide victory based on the electoral college is less favorable towards Trump when seen from the popular vote, which he lost to Clinton by a margin of about 3 million.
And, of course, Trump has also previously contested the validity of that popular lead. He tweeted, “In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally,” / “Serious voter fraud in Virginia, New Hampshire and California — so why isn’t the media reporting on this? Serious bias — big problem!”
On Monday, Trump won the presidency with 304 of his 306 designated electors voting for him. Two betrayed him, casting their votes defiantly for John Kasich and Rand Paul. Clinton, who spearheaded the effort to cajole the electors into giving her the win, actually lost further electoral votes in the process.
So does a popular vote victory really mean much? Apparently, it does to both Trump and Clinton. And it especially matters to Clinton supporters, who are still wailing and gnashing their teeth over what they see as an unacceptable election outcome. Hillary won the popular vote thanks to her support in California, the most populous state in the country and also one of the most Democrat-leaning.
Newt Gingrich claimed on Fox news that Trump made no effort to campaign in California because he understood it was a liberal stronghold and his time and money would be wasted. Not a bad point, actually.
Said Gingrich, “Look, this is the football season. A team can have more yards and lose the game. What matters is how many points you put on the board. The Electoral College is the points. Ironically, the amateur understood the Electoral College mattered. The so-called professional forgot the Electoral College mattered, and that’s what mattered.”
While Trump did win the electoral college decisively, it’s not the landslide that he would have you believe it is. PolitiFact claims that the percentage Trump won of the electoral college was lower than twelve presidents after WWII and larger than only five.