As the Washington Post’s Paul Waldman writes, we’re in uncharted territory:
As of the most recent count, Clinton has received 1.7 million more votes than Trump. In fact, she received more votes than any presidential candidate in history not named Barack Obama. And it’s not over yet.
On Friday, the California Secretary of State’s office reported that the state still has 2.8 million ballots left to count, mostly because mail-in ballots take time to arrive and there are significant numbers of provisional ballots to examine as well. Clinton won California by an almost 2-1 margin, and if the remaining ballots reflect the same split, her final popular vote lead over Trump could reach 2.5 million. That’s five times as large as the margin by which Al Gore beat George W. Bush in the popular vote in 2000.
Legally speaking, that fact is irrelevant. But the fact that a couple million more Americans chose Clinton to be their president is highly relevant to Trump’s legitimacy. [Pols emphasis]
There’s no question today that Hillary Clinton’s campaign was way off in their confidence in easy victories in the “Rust Belt” states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Wisconsin–states that slipped away from Clinton decisively while she was in retrospect foolishly trying to “expand the map” into red states like Arizona. As the margin of Clinton’s popular vote victory nationwide grows to historic proportions, the failure of Clinton’s electoral vote strategy, a.k.a. the only part that matters, stands out in sharper and more painful relief for Democrats.
But looking ahead, Donald Trump’s stunning Electoral College win may contribute to his swift undoing–especially if Trump doesn’t learn the humility that should come with being President despite millions more Americans voting against you than for you.
In normal circumstances, a minority president might take it as a strong suggestion to tread carefully — not just to “reach out” to the other party by appointing one or two of its members to his Cabinet or by inviting its congressional leadership over for dinner, but to govern with an awareness that most Americans still need to be convinced that his presidency will be something other than a disaster. That means moving carefully, making efforts to assure the people who voted against you that they won’t be victimized by your presidency, and not undertaking sweeping, disruptive changes that the public isn’t behind.
Unfortunately, all signs coming from the Trump presidential transition point to the most belligerently partisan and ideologically skewed administration in many years. Trump’s Cabinet picks so far have been the precise opposite of “reassuring” to the majority of Americans who voted against him.
Donald Trump has risen to power by disregarding every bit of political conventional wisdom, but that doesn’t mean he can do that forever as President. Trump does not have anything like a mandate to carry out the radical agenda he ran on. He has the power, and he has the votes in Congress, but he does not have the electorate behind him.
If he ignores that–and we’re guessing he will–2018 could be a big, big year.