Presidents Who Lost The Popular Vote

The United States’ election system can be described as flawed at best. While the voice of the people is often heard, there have been a handful of times throughout history where the candidate with the most “popular votes,” which is the amount of votes casted, actually loses. This is because the US uses an electoral college, which groups voters into different counties and counts votes on a county-by-county and state-by-state basis, as opposed to simply choosing the candidate with the most votes. While it is a rare occurrence, here are some of the presidents who won the election while losing the popular vote.

1.Donald Trump

Donald Trump took the country by storm with his “Make America Great Again” campaign, which was an extremely polarizing tactic that made Americans either love him or hate him. He won the electoral college relatively convincingly (304-227), but those numbers don’t tell the whole story. In terms of the popular vote, Trump lost to Hillary Clinton by over 2.9 Million votes. That is largely in part due to Clinton’s dominance in New York and California, where the extra voters she received didn’t mean much, as she won convincingly in places she would have won anyway. Trump’s campaign focused on swing states, and it showed.

2. George Bush

The 2000 election was a crazy one, as many people went to sleep on Election Day thinking that Al Gore was going to be the next president of the United States. This race was much closer than Trump/Clinton in many respects, as Bush barely won the electoral vote (271-266), though Al Gore “only” won the popular vote by 565,000 votes. Gore ordered a recount on certain balloting stations where no votes were recorded due to “hanging chads” (ballots that were not fully punched), but was not granted such. Due to this, Bush was declared the president despite losing the popular vote.

3. John Quincy Adams

If you thought the Bush or Trump elections were unfair, wait until you hear about how John Quincy Adams was elected president. Andrew Jackson won the popular vote and the electoral vote, but he did not receive the amount of electoral votes needed to win the presidency. So, the decision was in the hands of the House of Representatives, who voted Adams into office. This is a firm reminder that, even if a candidate loses both the electoral and popular vote, the presidential race is not over until a president is declared.