Small Shifts, Big Facts

In What Happened, at page 406, Hillary Clinton wrote that “if Comey caused just 0.6 percent of Election Day voters to change their votes….only…in the Rust Belt, it would have been enough to shift the Electoral College from me to Trump.”

This deserves unpacking.

She meant that the margins of the Trump plurality in the swing states were so narrow that a shift of six-tenths of one percent in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin would have caused all the 46 electors in these three states to come from the Democratic slates instead of the Republican slates. Trump’s 304 electoral count would have been reduced below the requisite 270. (He actually won states with 306 electors, but two cast protest votes against him.)

However, Donald Trump had a rock-solid plurality in enough states to total 230 electors. In Florida, not in the Rust Belt, he picked up another 29, leaving him only 11 electors short of the requisite 270.

If Minnesota and New Hampshire votes had shifted slightly from Clinton to Trump, he would have won 14 more electors from these two states, and won the Electoral College without getting any electors from the three states identified by Clinton.

If we are talking about shifts, Trump easily could have won by even a bigger margin of electors.

The fact is that Donald Trump had multiple ways to win 270 electors.

Because her base of “blue” electors was smaller, Hillary Clinton was the underdog in the election.

Clinton won the national vote, but it was not contested. Neither candidate ran a national election. Neither pursued a national majority. The system provides no reward for any candidate to appeal to all or even most Americans. This is not the way to obtain the consent of the governed, and to make candidates listen to everyone. That is why states should change the way they choose electors.