How people elect parliaments
Over the space of the past 16 years, US Democratic politician Hillary Clinton ran for five major public elections – including two party presidential nominations – in none of which was she ever outvoted by a rival candidate.
Clinton ran for a US Senate seat for the state of New York in 2000, and sought and won re-election to the seat in 2006.
New York state is very safe for all statewide candidates of Clinton’s Democratic Party.
In the 2000 Senate party primary, Clinton easily defeated internal rival Mark McMahon, winning 0.56 million votes (82%) to 0.12 million (18%).
Clinton went on to defeat her Republican rival congressman Rick Lazio at the November 2000 election, 3.74 million votes (55%) to 2.91 million (43%).
Running for re-election to the Senate in 2006, she also easily accounted for her sole rival for the party nomination, labour advocate Jonathan Tasini, winning 0.64 million votes (83%) to 0.12 million (17%).
In the final election, she easily defeated Republican candidate John Spencer, 2.69 million votes (67%) to 1.12 million (31%). 2006 was a mid-term election, so turnouts were significantly lower than they had been in 2000.
In 2008 Clinton made her first run for her party’s nomination for US president.
After what was – and remains – the largest turnout in history for a party primary (over 35 million votes cast for the Democratic nomination), she narrowly outpaced her rival Barack Obama, 17.86 million votes (48.0%) to 17.58 million (47.3%). Her vote total still holds the record for the most votes ever won by a primary contestant for a presidential nomination.
But in a foretaste of what was to happen eight years later, Clinton lost the party’s nomination to her rival because Obama had won more party delegates across a wider range of states.
In 2016 Clinton fought her second campaign for the Democratic party presidential nomination. Winning 16.91 million votes – thus giving her both first and third places in the all-time scoreboard of nomination votes – she overcame Senator Bernie Sanders’ 13.09 million votes, 55% to 43%.
Hillary Clinton after winning the New Jersey Democratic party primary, 2016
The final contest of her electoral career was last months’ presidential election. As the final vote counts settle into place this week from California and other late states, Clinton appears to have won a total of 65.24 million votes – the second-highest raw vote total ever won, behind Obama’s 69.3 million votes in 2008 (although other past presidential candidates have won elections by larger proportions of the population).
Clinton defeated Republican candidate Donald Trump four weeks ago by at least 2.5 million votes, with Trump scoring 62.69 million votes. Clinton won 48.1% of the votes cast to Trump’s 46.2%.
(The above 2016 presidential election results are for all states as at 3 December. Some states are still adding small amounts to the vote tallies, with one media report today estimating Clinton’s lead slightly higher at 2.7 million votes).
As happened when Barack Obama secured the Democratic nomination in 2008, Trump will be US President from next January because the election is subdivided into 51 separate state results, and Trump secured a points victory in the presidential Electoral College by winning by less than 1% in three very close state contests.
The Clinton/Trump presidential ‘popular vote’ inversion will overshadow much future analysis and discussion of the 2016 election outcome. It is one of only five times in US history that the ‘winning’ president has not won the popular vote.
This year’s inversion result is easily the one with the largest historical margin. Al Gore lead by 0.5 million votes in 2000, and the other three such results in the 19th century are not comparable as they were not conducted under a universal franchise.
Of course Hillary Clinton was defeated by Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump in numerous individual state contests in nomination primaries in 2008 and 2016 and in the 2016 final election.
And ironically, despite a historically large positive following, opinion polling in 2016 also showed Clinton’s level of antipathy among US voters to make her the second-most disliked major candidate ever polled (behind only Donald Trump).
But it will remain a curious fact that Hillary Clinton was never out-voted by anyone in an overall election in any of her political campaigns from 2000 to 2016.