When it became clear around 1 or 2 a.m. on election night and into Wednesday morning that Donald Trump was going to win the presidency, I turned over to MSNBC to watch the coverage for the remainder of the night. I couldn’t resist watching their self-righteous smugness and superiority dissipate into hopelessness, despair and confusion. I have to admit that I smiled the whole time.
Trump’s victory, which shocked most of the nation and the world, came not just against Hillary Clinton, but also against the national mainstream media, which was doubly enjoyable. Trump won in spite of the overwhelmingly negative coverage he received and the unprecedented open support of Hillary.
Naturally, there are Hillary supporters constantly reminding us that she won the popular vote. That is completely irrelevant. Hillary supporters worried going in that while she would almost certainly win the electoral vote, Trump might win the popular vote. They weren’t making any arguments then that the popular vote should matter. They are now, of course.
The fact is, if the president was elected by national popular vote, both candidates would have campaigned entirely differently. If Trump wanted to run up the popular vote, he could have gained millions of more votes from Texas and across the south. But all he needed were enough votes to win each state.
You don’t win more electoral votes from Texas by running up the vote count. Whether you win with 4 million votes from Texas or 6 million votes, you still get the same amount of electoral votes. If total votes mattered, we never would have seen Hillary outside of California or New York, or Trump outside of Texas and the Deep South. Trump likely could have won the popular vote if the popular vote mattered and if the candidates had campaigned under those rules.
I wrote a column in 2012 defending the Electoral College, noting, “While some state populations might indeed be small, their interests and concerns were intended to be recognized and protected by the Electoral College against mob rule. Regional interests and concerns remain important under the Electoral College in a way they never would without it.” I will always support the Electoral College, no matter who it benefits.
The fact is, Donald Trump won the popular vote that mattered – state by state, 30 states for Trump, 20 for Hillary at the current count, although Michigan (Trump) and New Hampshire (Hillary) are not official yet as of this writing.
I noted before the election that The Times-Gazette was being noted (ridiculed) nationally for being one of just six newspapers in the nation to endorse Trump. While that would have been fine no matter how the election turned out, Trump’s victory was gratifying, a reminder of how out of touch most of the media was with the electorate they cover.
In Highland County, a Republican county, Trump’s dominance was even more pronounced than that received by most GOP presidential candidates. Overall, there were actually fewer votes cast here for president than in 2012, when 17,879 presidential votes were cast. This year, there were 17,166 votes cast for president, according to unofficial totals.
Mitt Romney got 11,413 votes in Highland County four years ago, about 64 percent. This year, Trump got 13,005, nearly 76 percent.
The fact that the turnout for Hillary was depressed everywhere was reflected here, too. In 2012, Barack Obama won 6,054 votes here. This year, Hillary managed only 3,436, accounting for her shellacking. Trump voters were motivated, Hillary’s were not, here and elsewhere.
Finally, not only were the Democrats shocked at Tuesday’s results, but so were the NeverTrump Republicans. That was also a joy to behold. The elitist wing of the GOP — which decided during the primaries that democracy is fine unless the voters get out of control — are left hoping The Donald doesn’t hold grudges. It appears that he doesn’t, based on outreach he has already done to Mitt Romney and others.
But still looking for a cleansing agent strong enough to wipe the egg from his face is Ohio’s own governor, John Kasich, whose state not only voted for Trump, but did so by a margin no one predicted. Kasich announced before the election that he wrote in John McCain’s name for president. Let’s wish Gov. Kasich and President McCain a happy partnership.
Gary Abernathy is the editor at the Times-Gazette in Hillsboro, Ohio. He can be reached at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.