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Could Donald Trump Lose the Popular Vote and Still Win the 2020 US Presidential Election?

| October 28, 2020 3:47 am PDT
Could Donald Trump Be Re-Elected After Losing Popular Vote

Donald Trump won the presidency in 2016 by way of more electoral votes, despite losing the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by around 3 million.

Could it be a case of deja vu in 2020’s US presidential election? I think the answer is yes, and I will explain why Trump losing the popular vote in 2020 doesn’t mean he won’t be re-elected.

Perhaps even more daunting for his detractors is the fact that he could lose the popular vote by a wider margin this time around and still secure a second term in office. Due to the way the political system works in the US, this is something that has a great chance of happening.

The approach to democracy in the United States tends to catch a lot of people out in other parts of the world. Rather than the people deciding who the next president will be, the Electoral College system — put in place by the founding fathers — determines that state-based electors have the final say. The idea was to prevent larger states from running roughshod over smaller states. Otherwise, candidates would simply focus all efforts on New York and California.

Trump is a president that has never had a positive approval rating by more than half of the United States. Yet, it is not farfetched to suggest he could defy the polls once more and win the 2020 presidential election.

Join me as I get to the bottom of how and why this could happen.

How the Popular Vote and the Electoral College Work

There have been five US presidents, including Donald Trump, that won an election despite losing the popular vote.

The first-ever recording of the popular vote was in the 1824 election. This example is notorious to historians for the fact that it was the first and only time that the result was inconclusive. In short, no candidate had won enough electoral votes. A contingent vote was held, under the provisions of the Twelfth Amendment, that eventually saw John Quincy Adams elected.

With Trump and Adams, Rutherford B. Hayes, Benjamin Harrison, and George W. Bush are the other three candidates to hold the distinction of being elected despite losing the popular vote. But what does this mean?

Well, if you’re not familiar with the popular vote in the US presidential election, it is essentially a general election. Votes are cast by the general public in the 50 states and Washington D.C. in favor of the candidate that they want to win.

Although this system continues to be derided, it doesn’t look like changing any time soon.

The popular vote does not determine who wins the election — that is a matter for the Electoral College to decide. The popular vote, however, determines the members of the Electoral College that will vote for the president. So, in theory, presidential elections are indirect elections.

Under the Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution, electors are appointed according to the legislature of each state. Then, the Electoral College will vote for the president. In short, the magic number when it comes to electoral votes required to win the election is 270. If that cannot be achieved by either candidate, a contingent vote — just like the one back in 1824 — will be used to determine who gets the gig.

Sure, the Electoral College is not popular with some. But to change it? Well, that would require changing the constitution. Some feel that abolishing the Electoral College is something that must be done.

All clear? Great. I want to discuss the fact that you can bet on a scenario where Trump loses the popular vote but wins the presidency. So, come along, and I’ll explain what I mean.

Odds for Trump to Lose Popular Vote But Win the Election

  • Trump to Lose Popular Vote and Be Re-elected (+200)

Of all the Donald Trump prop bets for the 2020 election, this one caught my eye straight out off the bat.

Not only are the odds for Trump losing the popular vote but being re-elected pretty good, but there is a strong chance of this scenario happening. What’s more, the average Trump detractor’s disdain for the incumbent president would lead them to avoid markets like this, and that’s a good thing for anyone betting on Trump to win the election.

For a man that has had the lowest approval ratings of any US president, the stability of his ratings is also highly unusual. About 4 in 10 Americans on average throughout his tenure feel that he is doing a good job.

If we argue that somewhere around 4 in 10 Americans went for Trump in the popular vote, what does that tell you? To me, it says that he’s probably not going to win the popular vote this time around either. So, unless something bats**t crazy happens to change the public’s view of Trump, that’s half of your bet nailed right there.

The other half, of course, is the tougher part. Before you put money down on political betting sites, you must be aware that Trump has to win the electoral vote. But as in 2016, I think he can do it in 2020.

Why Trump Could Win the Electoral Vote

One of the reasons why Trump’s win in 2016 was so shocking to the global audience was the fact that the media heavily pushed polls and data that told us Clinton would walk the election.

I recently posted a piece asking whether we can trust the polls ahead of the 2020 presidential election. One of the main points I made was that it’s difficult to have faith in the media and the polls this time around, due to how naively inaccurate and downright arrogant they were last time around. Keep that in mind for my next point.

So, Biden is apparently leading in key Midwest states like Michigan and is coming for once-Republican strongholds like Texas. Can we trust that data? 

One of the points made by many observers in recent times is one that I find head-scratching. The point is probably best summed up in the article above. It goes like this  — Trump’s shock win in 2016 was down to his status as an “outsider” who was “campaigning against the establishment,” according to J Miles Coleman, a data analyst at the University of Virginia Center for Politics.

Apparently, the most despised president in history is not an outsider. Ask his supporters, many of whom cannot even admit to voting for him. Or the mainstream media that have been bashing him relentlessly throughout his time in office. I’m sure anyone with knowledge of the US political landscape will see Joe Biden as part of the establishment, considering he was the Senator for Delaware for 36 years and the VP of the United States for eight. 

Trump has been hitting the campaign trail with a lot of energy of late. And that will not have gone unnoticed by the good folks of Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Trump can win this election. And his chances are probably higher than many of these inaccurate polls suggest.

More US Presidential Election Betting Material

The US presidential election is on the lips of everyone right now, and we’re doing our best to cover every angle out there.

I talked you through why Trump might win even if he loses the popular vote, but there are plenty of other interesting aspects about this election to understand. And many you can potentially make money from.

As such, my colleagues and I will continue to provide as much valuable material for betting on the 2020 election, and you can find everything on our politics blog. As a parting gift, I’ll leave you with a few links to some of our most popular pieces right now!

Adam Haynes
Adam Haynes

Adam is a sports writer and tipster with a strong background in MMA, boxing, and combat sports.

When Adam isn't writing about those, as well as politics, rugby, and Gaelic Games, he can be found working on methods and strategies to beat the bookies.

For his troubles, Adam is a fan of Leinster Rugby, Glasgow Celtic, and trusting the process.

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