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Hillary Clinton 1.7 million votes ahead of Donald Trump

Democrat pulls ahead as last remaining votes counted - despite losing overall election to billionaire businessman 

Benjamin Kentish
Monday 21 November 2016 14:42 GMT
Hillary Clinton received more votes than any US presidential candidate in history except Barack Obama
Hillary Clinton received more votes than any US presidential candidate in history except Barack Obama (JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

Hillary Clinton’s lead in the US presidential election popular vote now stands at more than 1.7 million – despite the Democrat losing the overall election to Donald Trump.

With the last remaining ballots being counted, Mrs Clinton so far has 63.6 million votes compared to 61.9 million for her Republican rival – meaning she has received more votes than any other US presidential candidate in history except Barack Obama.

The Democrat has received 48 per cent of votes counted so far compared to Mr Trump’s 46.7 per cent, according to figures compiled by the Cook Political Report.

President Obama suggests Hillary Clinton didn't work as hard on campaign trail as he did

However, Mrs Clinton's sizeable lead in the public vote has little bearing on the result of the election because she lost the Electoral College tally that ultimately determines who becomes President.

This system sees each state assigned a number of college votes that go to whichever candidate wins the public vote in that state. Mr Trump has currently banked 290 electoral college votes compared to Mrs Clinton’s 232. More than 270 are needed to win the presidency.

The Republican won the Electoral College after taking the battleground states of Florida, Ohio and North Carolina and unexpectedly snatching victory in states, such as Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, that had previously been part of the Democrat’s “firewall” of safe states.

Mr Trump looks set to extend his lead further, with Michigan soon to declare its final result. The businessman is currently ahead in the previously-Democrat state, albeit only by a narrow margin of around 11,000 votes.

The other candidates in the election, Jill Stein of the Green Party and the Libertarian's Gary Johnson, picked up more than 7 million votes between them. Had those votes instead gone to Hillary Clinton, she would likely have won the presidency.

The votes still being counted almost two weeks after polling day are a combination of postal votes and ballots cast by people whose voting eligibility could not be verified on election day.

Mr Trump appeared to have been angered by people pointing out he had lost the public vote - and suggested he could have won it had he wanted to.

He tweeted: “If the election were based on total popular vote I would have campaigned in N.Y. Florida and California and won even bigger and more easily.

“The Electoral College is actually genius in that it brings all states, including the smaller ones, into play. Campaigning is much different!”

The victory for a candidate who received fewer votes than his rival has led 4.5 million people to sign a petition calling on the delegates that each state sends to vote in the Electoral College to defy the instructions given to them by the electorate in their state.

There have been 157 of these so-called “faithless electors” throughout history but they have never overturned an election result and it is unlikely to happen this year.

The petition states: “Secretary Clinton won the popular vote and should be President. The only reason Trump ‘won’ is because of the Electoral College.

“But the Electoral College can actually give the White House to either candidate. So why not use this most undemocratic of our institutions to ensure a democratic result?”

The result has also fuelled calls for the Electoral College system to be abolished and replaced with a entirely first-past-the-post system. Mrs Clinton is the fourth presidential candidate in history to lose the presidency despite winning the popular vote.

Mr Trump himself had previously called the electoral college “a disaster for democracy” after mistakenly thinking that Barack Obama had lost the public vote in 2012 but retained the presidency.

One reason the Electoral College was created was to ensure no single region of the US could dominate the election, such as the North out-voting the South along old Civil War lines.

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