Hillary Clinton got hundreds of thousands more votes than Donald Trump in the presidential election

The electoral college system means that the popular vote is essentially meaningless

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Hillary Clinton got hundreds of thousands more votes than Donald Trump, the new President-elect of the United States. And just as many people are calling on the result to be changed.

By the time all of the votes have been counted, Ms Clinton is likely to have received over two million more votes than Mr Trump. It has been clear since early in the counting that she would likely win the popular vote, but the scale of that win is on a level not seen in modern elections.

Ms Clinton is on track to win the votes of 63.4 million people, compared with 61.2 million for Mr Trump.

If Ms Clinton does end up with such a wide margin over Mr Trump then it will be wider than the controversial 2000 election that saw Al Gore win the popular vote but not the election. It will even be wider than those scored by highly-popular presidents that were actually elected, like Richard Nixon in 1968 and John F Kennedy in 1960.

The scale of that popular vote is one of the things encouraging the protests and unrest across the United States. Many – including Donald Trump in 2012 – argue that the electoral college is broken because it fails to reflect the will of the electorate properly, and that as a result the election of Mr Trump is illegitimate.

But Mr Trump easily won the election because he managed to score those votes in the right places. The electoral college system means that all that matters is who wins each state – and since Ms Clinton’s votes were more concentrated in specific states, she didn’t get enough electoral college votes to win the presidency.

Some have suggested that those electoral college voters should change their mind and vote for Ms Clinton on the basis of the popular vote, but it is almost impossible that would ever happen.

The Democrats also won the popular vote in the Senate, but didn’t win control of that either. Preliminary results show 45.2 million votes cast for Democratic Senate candidates, compared with 39.3 votes for Republican ones. But the Republicans retained control because, as with the presidential election, it matters less how many voted than where those votes came from.