Donald Trump’s Big Lies work. More than half of Republicans believe that he won the popular vote. In fact, he lost by a record 2.8 million ballots. His always frivolous claim that millions of people voted illegally — presumably for Hillary Clinton — has now been “unambiguously debunked.” The historical record is now complete: Trump’s popular vote performance was worse than many recent candidates who lost their elections.

Popular vote:

Trump: 46.2% — 8th lowest winning percentage in history

Clinton 48.3%

Trump’s total compared to modern losers:

Nixon: 49.5 (1960)

Ford: 48.0 (1976)

Gore: 48.4 (2000)

Kerry: 48.3 (2004)

Romney: 47.2 (2012)

TRUMP: 46.2

Dewey: 45.9 (1944)

Dukakis: 45.7 (1988)

McCain: 45.7 (2008)

Imagine Trump’s outrage if he had: won the popular vote by Clinton’s margin over him, lost in the electoral college by a mere 75,000 votes spread across three states (MI, PA, WI), and every U.S. intelligence agency subsequently concluded that Putin had interfered with the election specifically to help Clinton win.

On Election Night in 2012, when it appeared that Obama might lose the popular vote but win in the electoral college, Trump’s 45-minute rant included this tweet: “We should have a revolution in this country!”

Moral: Beware of authoritarian leaders who lie about non-existent popular mandates to justify extreme actions in consolidating and retaining power. The historical precedents are numerous and ugly.


  1. That you think that NYT article amounts to “unambiguously debunked” mostly indicates that you have never staffed the polls on election day. The NYT’s premise, that no complaints equals no fraud, is quite flawed. If a non-citizen is on the list and has proper I.D., assuming the state in question requires I.D., the people at the polls have no reason to complain because they have no reason to suspect anything. Legal immigrants have driver’s licenses. The problem occurs when the ineligible person somehow gets on the list in the first place. My wife is a naturalized citizen. I didn’t know her at the time but when she first registered she had to show her papers and after that she just registered, the folks in her new locale always assuming someone had checked the first time. If a non-citizen somehow gets on the list the people on the ground at the polls have no basis for suspicion. Ditto for people who are registered in two places. Our small state has a centralized system that is good at erasing you from your old precinct but I don’t know that everyone does that, and I don’t think anyone has a system that picks up on your being registered in two states.

    • Thanks for the comment, but I suggest that you read the article again.

      You suggest, “The problem occurs when the ineligible person somehow gets on the [voting] list in the first place.”

      How does that happen? It doesn’t. Voter registration laws prevent it. Trump has asserted widespread voter fraud at the polls — “people voting 10 times without IDs” — not fraud at the level of registering them to vote. As you note, your wife — a naturalized citizen — had to show her papers when she registered the first time. Requirements vary, but after initial registration, moving within some states requires only a change of address notice.

      Here’s what the study cited in the NYT article concluded about the non-existent problem of non-citizens somehow casting ballots:

      “As for noncitizens casting invalid ballots, Mr. Trump was right: It did happen. Not millions of times, but at least once. Tennessee is still investigating one allegation of noncitizen voting.”

      In the absence of any evidence proving widespread voter fraud, proponents of voter suppression efforts are left with the specious position articulated recently by Trump’s chief of staff-designate Reince Priebus, as he tried to defend Trump’s assertion that millions of people voted illegally for Hillary Clinton: “I don’t know that it’s not true.”

      Priebus — who has a JD degree — knows better. Courts have consistently rejected bogus voter fraud arguments on the grounds that the evidence does not justify them. To the contrary, such laws are merely a not-so-thinly-veiled excuse for Republican voter suppression legislation targeting specific ethnic groups that tend to vote — you guessed it — for Democrats. Here’s a link to my earlier post on that subject: “Big Law Resists the Assault on Democracy.”

      Repetition cannot convert a falsehood into a lie. Trump’s continuing suggestion that he has a popular “mandate” based on supposedly illegal votes cast for his opponent is a lie. Period. Why does he persist? Watch what happens during the first 100 days of his presidency, and we’ll all begin to find out.

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