In the last eight presidential elections, dating back to 1992:
Democrats have won five, Republicans have won three.
But, of the three that the Republicans won, they won the popular vote in just one, the 2004 re-election of George W. Bush over John Kerry, by 50.7 percent of the popular vote to 48.3 for Kerry.
In other words, the Democratic presidential nominee has won the popular vote in seven of the last eight elections but, in two instances, Republicans “won” the presidency while losing the popular vote. Those were:
- 2000, when Bush “beat” Al Gore, while losing the national popular vote by half a million votes, amounting to half of one percentage point. Gore got 48.4 percent, Bush 47.9. (Most of the rest went to Ralph Nader, running on the Green Party ticket)
- 2016, when Donald Trump “beat” Hillary Clinton while losing the national popular vote by more than two full percentage points, 48.2 to 46.1.
In a powerful column in yesterday’s New York Times, Jamelle Bouie argues that the lesson Republicans have taken from this tale is that they have “no way to win the White House in a diverse electorate with high turnout,” and therefore “Republicans have made it their mission to restrict the vote as much as possible,” in ways that will disenfranchise more Democrats than Republicans.
This is being done in ways that are fairly blatant. Crack down on methods of voting that exist to make it easier to vote but which, Republicans believe, make it too easy for Democrats to vote, things like early voting, no-excuse-necessary absentee voting, voting by mail.
Although they occasionally waste a few syllables pretending that their goal is to make voting more secure, the real strategy is simply to restrict the vote. This is fairly obvious, and Republicans have trouble defending it as an effort to cut down on fraud since they can’t show that the various ways of making voting easier have led to any significant amount of fraud. But they just assert it, and, in states they control, are now proceeding to make voting harder, especially for Democratic-leaning constituencies.
In states that have a Republican governor and a Republican-controlled legislature, the measures to make voting harder are thriving. To someone sufficiently cynical, I suppose this makes sense. But it is despicable.