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American Democracy: Hillary Got More Votes!

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American Democracy: Hillary Got More Votes!

The Electoral College just screwed Democrats for the second time in 16 years. Donald Trump will be the next president of the United States. But Hillary Clinton got more votes!

With votes still trickling in, Clinton held approximately 200,000-vote lead in the popular contest, even as Trump appeared headed for a stronger Electoral College win than George W. Bush secured in his first election. And her lead is likely to increase after California submits its final vote count.

How could that happen? The short answer is key Democratic voters didn’t bother to go vote, while white Republican voters in rural areas of swing states did.

Just 55.7 percent of people eligible to vote ― about 128 million people ― showed up at the polls, according to early estimates. That’s a huge drop from President Barack Obama’s first election, when 131 million people ― 62.2 percent of eligible voters ― went to the polls. Even in the less-inspiring 2012 contest, 130 million voters turned out, or about 58.6 percent.

Exactly which populations didn’t show up, and where, is still somewhat uncertain, but some trends look pretty clear. White working-class voters in the rural areas turned out in huge numbers and voted even more heavily for Republicans than before. This is what made Virginia so close and tilted North Carolina to Trump.

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The Washington Post found that Trump ran up margins in small cities and rural areas in swing states like North Carolina, while Clinton merely matched Obama’s 2008 margins in the big urban areas. In Philadelphia, Obama got about 600,000 votes then. Clinton had about 560,000 Tuesday.

“Democratic voters engaged early, but in those rural and Midwestern areas, they disengaged later,” said Michael McDonald, who runs the United States Elections Project. “On Election Day, they didn’t show up.”

Why Democratic voters in those areas stayed home:

“Part of their apathy was probably a response to the FBI’s announcement late inquiry into Clinton’s emails,” McDonald said. But Democratic strategist and former Bill Clinton adviser Doug Sosnik said Hillary Clinton bears some of the blame.

“Hillary Clinton in many ways represents a world many people in this country would like to move on from,” he said, adding that young and minority voters were “unenthusiastic about Clinton.”

The Democrats’ popular vote streak underscores the impact that shifting demographics have had on the last few elections.

The U.S. population has been growing more diverse, more educated, younger and less religious for the last several years, all trends that favor Democrats. The 2016 electorate has been projected to be the most diverse in U.S. history.

It’s not just the country as a whole that’s growing more diverse. States that are critical to presidential elections, like Florida, Nevada, Arizona and Colorado, are also experiencing population changes. But this year, as in 2000, it wasn’t enough.

As The Huffington Post notes, one of the reasons the framers created the Electoral College was to protect the U.S. from demagoguery and authoritarianism.

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