Can You Believe All Those Trump Voters Think Their Guy Got the Most Votes?

The Internet is full of stories today expressing disbelief that so many Americans think President Trump won the 2016 popular vote. Most of the I’m-shocked stories, and Twitter comments, are from big city journalists. From Politico:

Roughly half of voters who said they voted for Donald Trump last November, 49 percent, believe Trump won the popular vote, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll. That’s compared to 40 percent who say Democrat Hillary Clinton won.

Overall, a majority of voters, 59 percent, believe Clinton won more votes than Trump, but 28 percent believe Trump won more votes.

The president himself asserted in late November that he won the popular and the electoral vote. “In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally,” Trump tweeted.

Why do so many Trump votes think their candidate won the popular vote? For starters, they probably don’t live in the Northeast or on the West Coast. Or in big cities where most of the journalists are.

The numbers: Hillary Clinton won nationally by 2.9 million votes—a point emphasized ad nauseam by those making fun of Trump voters. But the Clinton votes weren’t spread out across the country. Clinton won California by 4.3 million votes, New York by 1.7 million votes, Illinois by almost 1 million votes. The DC vote? Clinton 282,830, Trump 12,723.

You can see why journalists in those heavily Democratic areas can’t believe those 49 percent of Trump voters can still think their guy won the popular vote.

Those deluded Trump voters probably live in the 31 states won by Trump. Those states are in middle America—take away the West Coast and the Northeast and Trump appears to won more than 80 percent of the country’s land area. If you live in that big swath of middle America and your state and the adjoining states were won by Trump, you might think he must have won the popular vote.

See the Cook Political Report for maps and numbers.
The 2016 election showed the divide between big cities and the rest of the country. Here’s Ron Brownstein in the Atlantic with an explainer.

Could presidents be elected by popular vote? A backgrounder from Politifact.



  1. Tom Mcandrew says

    This corresponds with research on American reading habits. I suspect Trump supporters by large are non-readers.

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