WASHINGTON — Despite losing Tuesday’s presidential election, Hillary Clinton appears to be on pace to win the popular vote, an ironic twist in an election in which her opponent repeatedly said the system was rigged against him.
Just two days before Election Day, Republican businessman Donald Trump tweeted: “The Electoral College is a disaster for a democracy.”
As it turns out, without the Electoral College, Trump probably wouldn’t be the president-elect.
A day after Election Day, Clinton held a narrow lead in the popular vote, according to unofficial results tallied by The Associated Press. With nearly 125 million votes counted, Clinton had 47.7 percent of the vote and Trump had 47.5 percent.
That’s a lead of about 236,000 votes.
Many states count votes after Election Day, so Clinton isn’t guaranteed to keep her lead. However, most of the outstanding votes appear to be in Democratic-leaning states, making it very likely she will become the second Democratic candidate for president this century to win the popular vote but lose the presidency.
The biggest chunk of uncounted votes is in California. Washington State, New York, Oregon and Maryland also have large numbers of uncounted votes. Clinton won all those states, and if the trends continue, she will pad her lead by more than 1 million votes.
There are also votes to be counted in Arizona and Alaska, two Republican-leaning states. But they are far outnumbered by uncounted votes in Democratic states.
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.
It takes 270 Electoral College votes to win the presidency. Trump’s total stands at 279, with races in Michigan, New Hampshire and Arizona too close to call.
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.
Sen. Tim Kaine, the Democratic candidate for vice president, praised Clinton on Wednesday for winning the popular vote.
But when Clinton made her concession speech, she didn’t mention it.