Trump lauds Electoral College as Clinton wins popular vote

Hillary Clinton addresses the Children's Defense Fund's Beat the Odds celebration at the Newseum in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Hillary Clinton addresses the Children's Defense Fund's Beat the Odds celebration at the Newseum in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

WASHINGTON (AP) — After losing the popular vote, President-elect Donald Trump has decided that the Electoral College is a pretty smart way to elect a president after all.

Despite losing the election, Democrat Hillary Clinton will win the popular vote by more than 1 million votes as she runs up big leads in the biggest, bluest states.

Democrats have used Clinton’s lead in the popular vote to downplay any mandate Trump might claim.

Trump has shot back, tweeting Wednesday: “If the election were based on total popular vote I would have campaigned in N.Y. Florida and California and won even bigger and more easily.”

With more than 130 million votes counted, Clinton leads Trump by more than 1 million votes. The Associated Press estimates there are more than 4 million votes left to be counted. The bulk of those votes are in California, so Clinton’s lead is likely to grow substantially.

If Clinton continues to receive more than 60 percent of the vote in California, her lead could grow to more than 2 million votes.

Most states count votes after Election Day. Often they are absentee ballots that arrive in the final days before Election Day. Some states, like California, count absentee votes that arrive after the election, as long as they are postmarked by Election Day.

Trump won the vote that counts, in the Electoral College. Trump has 290 Electoral College votes and Clinton has 232, with Michigan still undecided. It takes 270 votes in the Electoral College to win the presidency.

Trump leads Clinton in Michigan by about 13,000 votes, according to the Michigan Department of State. That’s less than one-half of 1 percent of the total votes cast. The state has until Nov. 28 to make the results official.

Trump would be the first Republican to win Michigan in a presidential election since George H.W. Bush won the state in 1988.

Under the Electoral College system, each state gets one vote for each member of Congress representing the state. California has the most, with 55. Seven states have only three. The District of Columbia has three, even though the nation’s capital has no vote in Congress.

There have been occasional calls to scrap the Electoral College, with no success. The latest push came after the 2000 presidential election, in which Democrat Al Gore lost to Republican George W. Bush, despite winning the popular vote.

Any calls to scrap the Electoral College aren’t likely to go anywhere this time, either, with Republicans controlling both the House and Senate.

In the past, Trump has been critical of the Electoral College. In 2012, he tweeted, “The Electoral College is a disaster for a democracy.”

Trump revised that assessment after this year’s election. This week he tweeted, “The Electoral College is actually genius in that it brings all states, including the smaller ones, into play. Campaigning is much different!”

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