Donald Trump is celebrating a big win on Election Day. But the Electoral College victory may be a bit deceptive — because Trump looks poised to lose the popular vote.
Back in 2012, Trump would have hated this turn of events. After Mitt Romney lost to President Barack Obama, Trump tweeted that the Electoral College was “a disaster for democracy.” (Trump apparently believed that Obama lost the popular vote, but Obama won the popular vote as well as the Electoral College.)
The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 7, 2012
Trump, in other words, just benefited from a system that he at least used to despise.
What’s more, this kind of victory — an Electoral College win, popular vote loss — could become more common. As Alvin Chang explained for Vox, it’s possible that Democrats will continue to gain ground in states like California, which are already going Democrat anyway, and states like Texas, which are so firmly Republican that they would require a lot more movement than Democrats seem likely to see in the next few years. And that could be compounded if Democrats continue losing just a little ground in swing states, as Clinton appeared to on Election Day.
All of that is to say that Trump in 2016 benefited from a system he previously hated — and he could benefit from it again in 2020.