Final vote tallies from the November 8 election show that Democrat Hillary Clinton out-polled President-elect Donald Trump by 2.8 million votes while losing the contest by a wide margin in the all-important Electoral College.Her upper hand with voters, however, came down to performances in New York and California that were far stronger than necessary. Clinton won California by 4.2 million and took New York by more than 1.6 million. The combined 5.8 million-vote advantage in just those two states was more than twice the size of her overall edge nationwide.
With every state and the District of Columbia having certified their election results, Hillary Clinton's sizable popular-vote win over Donald Trump appears to be official: 2.86 million more Americans backed the candidate who won't be inaugurated next month.In practical terms, this obviously doesn't mean much. Unlike every other democratic election, the American presidency can sometimes go to the candidate who receives fewer votes. But the embarrassment associated with such an outcome is proving difficult for Trump and his allies to spin.For example, the Republican president-elect argued in late November that it only looks like he lost the popular vote, when in fact, Trump secretly won the popular vote "if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally." It didn't take long to prove that Trump was shamelessly lying and the claim didn't make any sense.Since no one seems willing to push this talking point anymore, the right has apparently moved on to a new response to the popular vote: Trump's vote totals look better if you ignore huge chunks of the population. This Daily Mail piece is generating quite a bit of attention among conservatives today.
Drudge responded to this by insisting the "final tally" shows "Trump won by 3 million votes" -- so long as California and New York are excluded. A former Republican congressman made a similar pitch over the weekend.Republicans, I have some bad news for you: you're doing this wrong.There is no scenario in which it makes sense to look at a national election while excluding the country's' two most populous states. The right may not like California's and New York's political leanings, but pretending their votes didn't happen -- or worse, shouldn't really count -- is folly.In fact, it's counter-productive given the fact that the right has a far better option: stop pretending the popular vote matters. The more Republicans try to argue that Trump's popular-vote loss looks better if you tilt your head and close one eye, the more they bring attention to a metric that makes Trump look bad.Under normal circumstances, a president-elect and his/her supporters would say at this point, "My opponent did well, but we have an electoral system and it's important to honor the results. I look forward to trying to earn the support of all Americans, whether they voted for me or not."This is far more compelling than making up imaginary fraud and overlooking the nation's largest states for the sake of partisan expediency.