For the past 5 days many people have asked me this same question “How come a candidate with the majority of the popular votes doesn’t get to be the winner? So I will try and explain as simple as I can.
The U.S. election system is fairly complicated: the winner is not merely decided by popular vote and this is confusing to many people even among some citizens of the United States as well LOL!! so,you are not alone. For example in Africa, Asia and majority of Europe, the presidential election is won by the candidate having the highest vote simple. In the United state, there is something called “Electoral College”. The Electoral College is not some kind of university or school. It is a system in which each U.S. State is given a certain number of voting representatives to cast ballots during an election. The number of electors has varied throughout American history but in recent elections there have been a total of 538 electors divided up between the states. ( Note electors are people not a phrase or anything strange. So there are 538 people making up the Electoral College.)
The number of electors a state gets depends on their population. For example, California has 55 electors due to it size and population,Vermont having a small population, has only 3 electors while Texas, a big state with a large population, has 34 electors. When you carefully look at it, the total number of Electors that make up the Electoral College is the sum total number of the members of US Congress which is 100 senators and 435 Representatives. To win a US presidential election, a candidate must receive a majority of electoral votes of 270. In the event no candidate receives a majority, the House of Representatives chooses the president and the Senate chooses the vice president.
One might asked Why do the US use such a roundabout way to select a president? It is tradition mostly. There are some pros to the Electoral College, as states with small populations don’t get wholly ignored. It is still possible to win an election without winning any of the most populated states. Most major presidential candidates make a point to visit as many states as possible, even those that don’t hold many electors. Perhaps in a strict popular vote system, candidates would spend most of their time visiting large cities and metropolitan areas, ignoring those living in rural areas or less densely populated towns.
There are criticisms of the Electoral College. The main one is that it allows for a scenario where a candidate can win the most individual votes but still lose the election. This is how George W. Bush defeated Al Gore in the 2000 election for U.S. President. Mr. Gore won 50,999,897 million total votes but only gained 266 electors. President Bush only won 50,456,002 total votes but finished with 271 electors and was therefore elected president. Same thing occurred in the 2016 presidential election. Hillary Clinton got almost 3 million more votes than Donald Trump. However, Trump won where it counted: he beat Clinton by just 80,000 votes, spread across three Midwestern states. Winning these states gained him enough Electoral College votes to win in spite of Clinton’s lead in the national popular vote. In total, 4 Democratic Presidential candidate has won the popular votes but lost the election as a result of not gaining 270 Electoral College vote needed to seat in the Oval office as the most powerful man on earth.
But in this year 2020 US presidential election, Joe Biden, did not online gained the Electoral College vote of 270, he gained 290 and counting, and more importantly, won the election with more than 5million extra vote, making him the first Presidential candidate in all of United state history to win with such amount of votes. So for those who are hoping that Donald Trump will reclaim victory through legal means, I like you to know that it’s just not possible because the Electoral College votes difference and the popular votes margin of Biden against Trump is too big to overturn.
Hope this was helpful. Great Igwe