California is Unusual

There is an underappreciated reason for the arguments about the electoral college: California is so unusual in how partisan it is.
If California were not part of the United States, Trump would have won 58,501,018 votes, which is roughly 47.74% of the popular vote, and Hillary Clinton would have won 57,099,726, or roughly 46.61% of the popular vote. There would be no controversy about the mismatch. George W Bush would have won the popular vote in the 2000 election with 45,888,573 votes to Gores 45,138,694, although the state hadn’t swung as much to the left, then.
If California were slightly liberal, as liberal as the popular vote for the United States, that would have meant 4,219,326 votes for HRC, and 4,035,496 votes for Trump. So the popular vote for the nation would be 62,536,514 for Trump, and 61,319,052
for Hillary, still a Trump win.
Hillary’s margin in California was her greatest in any state in the continental US (the only larger margins were in Hawaii, and Washington DC.) If California were as liberal as Oregon, Trump would beat Hillary in the popular vote narrowly (64,542,377 VS 64,296,806.) You’d have to get California to match more liberal states for a win. If California were as liberal as Delaware, Hillary would win narrowly (64,525,309 VS 64,314,053.) If California were as liberal as Illinois, Hillary would beat Trump in the popular vote by over a million votes (64,928,676 to 63,910,588) but not nearly three million.
The point of this exercise isn’t to argue that California is somehow illegitimate, or to attack the electoral college. There’s an obvious argument that because California is so large and likely to go for the Democratic nominee, it would have been foolish for the Republicans to spend any effort on the state, which helped Hillary run up the numbers. If the popular vote mattered, the Clinton campaign would have spent more time in urban Texas and big southern cities, while Trump would have more rallies in Orange County and Upstate New York, which might have helped in the 2018 midterms.
However, there are some implications. A large chunk of the country could feel out of place. There may be a loss of national cohesion.

About Thomas Mets

I’m a comic book fan, wannabe writer, politics buff and New Yorker. I don’t actually follow baseball. In the Estonian language, “Mets” simply means forest, or lousy sports team. You can email me at
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