Even though Donald Trump has won the electoral vote and, with it, the presidency, for days the national popular vote count has stood at right around 60 million – Trump with slightly less and Hillary Clinton with slightly more.
Consequently, much media hay has been made of the fact that this number falls well below voter turnout for both parties for the past four elections. The mantra has been that the only reason Democrats lost this go-round was because they didn’t get their base out, that they could easily win the next election and every one going forward if only they remember the lessons of 2016.
National Review columnist (and former #NeverTrump leader) David French, however, lays waste to this narrative in his latest column.
“Lots of pundits (myself included) may be seriously underestimating voter turnout,” French writes. “As of this moment, Donald Trump is sitting at 59.7 million votes while Hillary Clinton has 59.9 million. By contrast, George Bush had 62 million votes in 2004, John McCain had 59.9 million in 2008, and Romney had 60.9 million in 2012. That would make Trump the weakest GOP vote-getter since Bush in 2000. But that’s almost certainly not right. As Henry Olsen reminds us today on Twitter, millions of votes are still out there:”
There are still 8-10 millions vote left to count. When they are, Trump will easily pass Mitt and HRC will approach and maybe pass Obama. https://t.co/ByGPqtvEcE
— Henry Olsen (@henryolsenEPPC) November 10, 2016
French quotes a Huffington Post report four days after the 2012 election:
As of this writing, Obama had a 58,720,700 (50.1%) to 56,145,950 (48.4%) lead on Mitt Romney for the popular vote.
(UPDATE: As of 2:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Obama has widened his popular vote lead. He now leads 60,193,076 or 50.4% to 57,468,587 or 48.1% with nearly all precincts reporting. Still no official word yet, however.)
(UPDATE (2): As of Noon on Friday, with nearly all votes in, Obama assuredly will win the popular vote, leading Romney by a count of 61,173,739 or 50.5% to 58,167,260 or 48.0%. At this point, a few final votes are being counted and then all that’s left is for the results to be officially certified.)
French writes that, “assuming similar changes in 2016,” turnout could actually be more than it was in 2012, making Trump’s numbers stronger and “Democrats’ future a bit more bleak.”
“It’s one thing to look at extraordinarily low Democratic turnout and believe that a victory is just one better candidate away. It’s another thing to look at increased Republican votes combined with more or less static Democratic turnout and realize that perhaps Obama captured something in 2008 that’s not easily replicated…
It will take more time and more study before we understand the true dimensions of Trump’s victory.”
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