Electoral College Redux
I want to make one observation about the result on Tuesday. You all know that Hillary Clinton is on track to win the national popular vote (by how much is still unclear). You also know that this has occurred before. What you may not know, though, is that this result is somewhat unusual.
Here’s why. Since the Twelfth Amendment reformed the Electoral College in 1804, there have been three types of elections where the popular vote winner lost. One was in 1824, when four candidates won electoral votes. This is unlikely to happen again (indeed, no third-party candidate has won a state since 1968). The second involved some angry dispute over the result in one or more states that cost the national popular vote winner the election. Hayes beat Tilden in 1876 on the basis of the disputed electoral votes in Florida (and two other Southern states), and Bush beat Gore in 2000 based on a dispute over Florida.
In this election, there is no dispute over the result in any state. The popular vote winner in what was essentially a two-person race just lost. The only time this happened before was 1888, when Grover Cleveland won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College. I don’t know enough about that election to explain why that happened then (strangely, Cleveland lost his home state of New York, which was decisive), but perhaps there is something to learn there.