I’ve been up at the Capitol Hill Hotel since precisely 7am, woken by the dirge of church bells, ringing out in a deathly quiet town which overwhelmingly (93%) sent three electoral votes for Hillary Clinton. For all the good it did. And it wasn’t the only irony. I’ve been in the tristate area since Thursday and the weather here has been astounding for November – close to 20ºC, not a cloud in the sky, and dry as a bone. This morning is grey and rainy. Go figure.
As I wrote last night, I was getting strong déjà-vu as the results rolled in. When I covered the East of England count in the EU referendum, I was surrounded by politicians and journalists smugly confident of victory to begin with, only for the enthusiasm to slowly wheeze out like air out of a balloon, and panic to set in as things started to go wrong. Everyone has been comparing a possible Trump win to Brexit here, which I found quite offensive, but while you can pull the antiestablishment card to justify this, there are important differences.
For one thing, while the reaction online to blame ‘stupid people’ and somehow disenfranchise them is also familiar, there’s an important difference. A million more people voted for Brexit than voted to remain in the EU, which was a decisive win for the Leave campaign. But, with five states still to confirm, Trump has lost the popular vote (by 131,565 votes). All but one of those states are currently being called for Trump, so this may change by the end of the day, but it’s guaranteed to be tight. Despite this, Trump has 289 Electoral College votes to Hillary’s 218, which is likely to move to 306-232 by the time all 50 states are called.
As Maria-Rebecca Murphy argued for two days ago, this immense discrepancy is likely to bolster calls for a constitutional amendment to scrap the Electoral College system, which at best has massively inflated an incredibly narrow win, and at worse handed victory to the popular loser twice in the space of 16 years in favour of direct election of the president à la française. Secondly, this is being talked about as the lowest turnout in 20 years, and Trump reportedly gained fewer votes than both Romney and McCain’s losing campaigns in 2012 and 2008. I’ve been telling people all week that, if Trump wins, it will be because he’s reached out to people who don’t usually vote. But, if this is the case, it means millions of people who usually vote stayed at home – perhaps out of disgust at both candidates.
How much popular dissatisfaction will manifest itself over the next few days remains to be seen. We’re hearing there has already been a pathetically British-esque protest – some idiot failing to set a Trump hat on fire outside the White House – but this could be ramped up with Trump visiting the White House tomorrow and better weather forecast. One thing’s for sure: we’re all going to get wet today and DC is going to stay miserable. It wasn’t meant to rain today but, then, Trump wasn’t meant to be President-Elect either
This article originally appeared on Conservatives for Liberty.