Joe Biden may win the popular votes but lose the presidency
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - September 17, 2020 - 12:00am

Like the millions of Filipino Americans in California, Hawaii, New York, Texas, Washington, New Jersey and many other states, I would hate to say the day when Joe Biden would win more popular votes but the paradoxical system in the US electoral college would most probably award the presidency to Donald Trump again.

This would be a repeat of the 2016 phenomenon when Democrat's Hillary Clinton had more than 2.8 million votes more than Republican's Trump but she only got 227 electoral votes while Trump, the loser, was granted 304 votes by the electoral college. Clinton won more than 4.3 million votes in California, and some large chunks of majority in the states of Illinois (President Barack Obama's home state), and also in her own home state of New York. But Trump managed to edge her out by the slimmest plurality in most districts and cities in the states of Texas, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Washington, as well as in the swing state of Virginia. Trump won big in Florida, North Carolina, Missouri, Ohio and Tennessee. Overall, Clinton won 65, 853,514 votes over Trump's 62,984,828.

That was an exact repeat of Democrat Al Gore's fate in 2000 when he garnered 50,999,897 votes while Republican's George Bush had 50,436,002. Yet Bush got 277 votes and Gore only 266 in the electoral college. The decisive state was Florida, where George Bush's brother Jeb was the state governor. In Florida, where more than 6 million votes were cast, Bush edged Gore by the slimmest plurality of only 551 popular votes. In the recount, Gore was winning, and the Florida Supreme Court favored Gore. But the Supreme Court awarded the electoral votes to Bush. Thus, it was said by one Filipino in Tampa, Florida that Gore was the president of the people while Bush was the president of the Supreme Court and the electoral college.

In 1888, Republican Benjamin Harrison, who was a US senator from the state of Indiana, challenged the incumbent Democrat's Grover Cleveland. The incumbent won in the popular votes by a plurality of more than 90,000. But the electoral college awarded 233 votes to Harisson and only 168 to Cleveland. Thus, he lost in 1888 but he came back in 1892 and won over Harisson. He was the only person who was elected twice as President but not consecutively. He was the twenty-second president as well as the twenty-fourth. The same thing happened in 1876. Samuel Tilden, a Democrat from New York, won the popular votes with 4,288,546 compared to Rutherford Hayes who had only 4,034,311. In the electoral first balloting, Tilden won 184 votes and Hayes only had 165. Tilden lacked one vote to win and there were 20 contested electoral votes. It was Congress which gave the ultimate ruling by giving the 20 votes to Hayes. Thus, Hayes got 185 and Tilden 184.

In 1824, John Quincy Adams got 114,023 votes while Andrew Jackson got 152,901. There were other bets: Henry Clay who got 47,251 and William Crawford, 46,979. In the electoral college, the votes were: Jackson, 99, Adams, 84, Crawford, 41 and Clay 37. No one got at least 131, the required number to win. The 24 states then each decided through Congress. The following votes resulted: Adams, 13; thus, winning the presidency. All the supporters of Clay shifted to Adams, and the winner rewarded him later with an appointment as Secretary of State. Jackson had more Americans behind him but Adams was a better political strategist. And so, in US politics, just like in our own, it is not the best man who always wins. The one who schemes and does a lot of backroom maneuvers does.

I am thus afraid that Biden, this year, may suffer the fate of Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, Rutherford Hayes and Samuel Tilden. I hope I am wrong. The Filipinos in the US will be better off with a Democrat in the White House. God knows if they can suffer another four years of Trump.

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