Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election.
As of this writing, Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump by 798,000 votes. Approximately 4 million votes remain to be counted, largely in blue states like California.
It’s estimated that when the dust settles Hillary Clinton will have beaten Donald Trump by some 1,700,000 votes. Yes, Donald Trump won the election. And voters in America preferred Hillary Clinton by 1.7 million votes.
Two hundred and seventy Electoral College votes are required to win. Donald Trump rather brilliantly stitched together an Electoral College victory, knitting together an odd coalition of soccer moms, angry old white men, alt-right scary nationalist folks, economically struggling types, and ordinary Americans simply looking for a much-needed movement in American politics.
So an honest “congratulations” to Mr. Trump on this win. To Trump’s credit, he rightly saw what others did not and demonstrated cunning and foresight. We hope his keen skills of insight into human nature serve our country for good and not for ill.
So congratulations. But please, don’t call Donald Trump’s victory a mandate. And surely, do not call it a movement.
Donald Trump scored his win by one of the narrowest margins ever. Hillary beat him soundly in the popular vote, and, counting third-party candidates, some 8,000,000 more Americans voted against Trump than for him.
Nearly 10 percent more voted against Trump than for him. Hillary and “others” were roundly preferred over Donald Trump. Statistically, Trump has far from national or majority support.
Trump’s victory gets even thinner looking at how narrowly he won two key states to capture his Electoral College win. He won Florida’s 29 Electoral College votes by 120,000 popular votes.
He won Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral college votes by 68,000 popular votes. For the 188,000 popular votes in these two states, Hillary Clinton lost 49 Electoral College votes and thus lost the presidency. And this, opposed to her win of over 1,700,000 popular votes, overall.
Call this a victory by America’s quirky Electoral College election system. But there’s no sour grapes about it – this was a well-calculated achievement by Donald Trump.
He shot, he scored, he won by the rules of the game as they exist. But do not call this a public mandate or more – a movement. This is one of the most fragile victory and victory coalitions assembled in modern times.
Just 188,000 voters in two states have completely changed the course of the country and perhaps the course of the world.
That’s 188,000 votes in two states, versus 1.7 million across the nation, that have selected the next Supreme Court justices.
Just 188,000 geographically constrained votes, as opposed to the entire nation’s will, have determined America’s action on climate change. This tiny, tiny minority – as opposed to the overall will of the people, will determine the fate of millions of Hispanics and others.
This tiny minority will determine women’s access to personal choices. This tiny minority, this unintended quirk of the system, will dictate more wars or less, more freedom or less, more civility or less.
Trump won the Electoral College because 188,000 voters in two states went for his pitch. Because of quirks in the Electoral College system, .0014 of all voters overturned the overwhelming popular vote of the American public.
A mandate this is not. A mistake it likely is.
Still, we have been a nation of laws and we hope we shall remain so. President Obama has been most gracious in supporting President-elect Trump, and he has urged all Americans to follow his example and to support Trump and the office of the presidency with all good will.
And I will, and I hope you will. We want our president to succeed, as his success in moving America forward is all our successes. And this is regardless of party affiliation. We all want to move the country forward.
Trump has many good ideas and has many troubling ones. He has good advisers and shockingly frightening advisers. Few know exactly what the future may bring through a Trump presidency, and perhaps Trump himself still hasn’t figured it out.
We can only hope that, once in office, the weight of that office will temper his judgment, steady his hand, and that the promise of history will convince him to do the right thing for all Americans – not just for the consumers of his nationalist rhetoric, that odd tipping point in an odd election where 188,000 Floridians and Pennsylvanians overrode the overall will of the country.
May Donald Trump succeed. His plans for infrastructure and business tax code revisions may truly propel the country forward.
And, with a Republican Congress on his side, he won’t face the obstructionism that Obama fought for six years. This is a unique chance to finally get positive things done if Trump acts positively. And we hope this unique man can envision the potential and build a great future.
But Trump should remember as far as a mandate goes, most Americans opposed him. He should remember his election was tenuous, at best.
Graciousness and thoughtfulness would seem to be the best approach forward.
Gary Horton is a Santa Clarita resident. “Full Speed to Port!” appears Wednesdays in The Signal.