Closing the Book

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 23, 2016 — Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season. This will be the final update of the 2016 election cycle. We will return at the beginning of 2017. Thank you for being a loyal Ellis Insight follower.

With the final election numbers having been reported in every state, we can now begin to delve below the numerical surface in order to highlight certain key electoral facts.

Despite the news media reporting on Election Night that the 2016 presidential turnout was low, the post-election data reveals a completely different story. With over 14 million votes received, counted, and recorded after Election Day, turnout swelled to 136,645,381 voters, the highest raw number count in American history. This shatters the previous record set in 2008 of 131,426,292 participating individuals.

Election Day, turnout swelled to 136,645,381 voters, the highest raw number count in American history.

The 2016 total doesn’t include participating individuals who failed to vote for president. Adding those voters mean that 138,884,863 people came to the polls or mailed a 2016 general election ballot.

The first presidential campaign to draw over 100 million voters was the 1992 contest featuring Bill Clinton, then-President George H.W. Bush, and Independent Ross Perot. The electorate dropped back to 96 million in 1996, and then soared to over 105 million in 2000. Sixteen years later, the turnout would swell 29.5 percent even though the US population grew 15.2 percent during the same time span.

It appears that Colorado had the highest turnout percentage of its registered voter population: 84.9 percent. New Hampshire was second with an 81.0 percent registered voter participation rate. Maine scored a 77.4 percent turnout factor, while Minnesota recorded 74.1 percent.

On the other end of the spectrum was West Virginia, which recorded the lowest turnout factor from its registered voters pool, a participation percentage of 55.9 percent. Hawaii was second lowest at 58.4 percent, and Texas third from the bottom with a 59.4 percent registered voter participation figure.

As has been routinely reported, despite losing the Electoral College vote, Hillary Clinton carried the national popular vote by 2.833 million votes. This figure is a bit misleading. Removing only New York City and Los Angeles County from the national total reveals that Donald Trump “won” the rest of the country by 531,466 votes.

Such an outcome demonstrates why the Electoral College exists. The founding fathers designed the system to ensure that all regions and population sectors have a voice, therefore having the foresight to not allow the major cities to dominate an election. The 2016 presidential contest may be the best example in all of American electoral history to provide support for employing such a system. In this election, the small states and rural areas mattered greatly, thus reinforcing the founding fathers’ belief that the election system must protect the rural states from being engulfed by the population centers.

Often times people believe that the candidate who spends the most money in an election, wins. Not so in 2016. Hillary Clinton and her outside allies, according to the Open Secrets post-election calculations, spent $703,718,750, virtually 2.2 times the amount Donald Trump and his supporters expended ($322,446,734).

Clinton’s 65,844,919 voter base is the largest ever recorded for a losing candidate. With Trump trailing in the popular vote but winning the Electoral College, he became the fifth president to be elected in such a fashion. The others were John Quincy Adams in 1824, Rutherford B. Hayes 52 years later, Benjamin Harrison in 1888, and George W. Bush 16 years ago.

Here are their finishing totals:

1824
John Quincy Adams 113,122 30.9% 84 EV 13 House Votes
Andrew Jackson 151,271 41.4% 99 EV 7 House Votes
William Crawford 40,856 11.2% 41 EV 4 House Votes
Henry Clay 47,531 13.0% 37 EV 0 House Votes
1876
Rutherford B. Hayes 4,034,311 47.9% 84 EV 185 Electoral Votes
Samuel Tilden 4,288,546 50.9% 99 EV 184 House Votes
1888
Benjamin Harrison 5,443,892 47.8% 185 Electoral Votes
Grover Cleveland 5,534,488 48.6% 168 House Votes
2000
George W. Bush 50,456,002 47.9% 271 Electoral Votes
Al Gore 50,999,897 48.4% 266 House Votes
2016
Donald Trump 62,979,882 46.1% 306 Electoral Votes
Hillary Clinton 65,844,919 48.2% 232 House Votes

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