Sur­pris­ing elec­tion his­tory

Win­ning the U.S. pres­i­dency without a ma­jor­ity vote has been com­mon­place

The Washington Times Daily - - OPINION - By Richard W. Rahn Richard W. Rahn is chair­man of Im­prob­a­ble Suc­cess Pro­duc­tions and on the board of the Amer­i­can Coun­cil for Cap­i­tal For­ma­tion.

Do you know how many U.S. pres­i­dents won elec­tion with less than 50 per­cent of the pop­u­lar vote? Many are in a dither about Don­ald Trump hav­ing re­ceived less than a ma­jor­ity of the pop­u­lar vote, when in fact al­most one-third of all the U.S. pres­i­dents (14, to be pre­cise) did not re­ceive 50 per­cent of the pop­u­lar vote (be­cause of third-party can­di­dates) in one or more of their wins.

There were three two-term pres­i­dents, Bill Clin­ton, Woodrow Wilson and Grover Cleve­land, who failed to ob­tain 50 per­cent of the pop­u­lar vote for ei­ther term.

Eight pres­i­dents, in­clud­ing Bill Clin­ton in 1992, had a smaller per­cent­age of the pop­u­lar vote than Mr. Trump.

Many of those who com­plain about this be­ing un­fair ap­par­ently fail to un­der­stand that the United States is a con­sti­tu­tional fed­eral republic and not a direct democ­racy — by the de­lib­er­ate de­sign of the Amer­i­can Founders for many good rea­sons.

In the mod­ern era, Ron­ald Rea­gan (1984) and Franklin Roo­sevelt (1936) had both the big­gest pop­u­lar and elec­toral vote mar­gins. Rea­gan won by 525 to 13, and Roo­sevelt won by 523 to eight elec­toral votes. The all-time record be­longs to James Mon­roe who won by 231 to 1 in 1820.

There are al­ways claims of some voter fraud and elec­toral incompetence, and it is al­ways true. Most of­ten, the amount of al­leged fraud is too small to make a dif­fer­ence, but not al­ways. In 1960, Richard Nixon lost to John F. Kennedy by a mere 118,000 votes, and the al­leged fraud in Chicago was suf­fi­ciently large, which could have given Nixon Illi­nois and the elec­tion. Nixon de­cided not to con­test the re­sults.

There ap­pears to have been sub­stan­tial fraud in Detroit this year, where there were sig­nif­i­cantly more votes cast than reg­is­tered vot­ers, al­most all go­ing to Hil­lary. If Michi­gan had not gone for Mr. Trump, and in­stead he was down only a few thou­sand votes and the state was the key for the elec­tion, one can only imag­ine the na­tional drama that would now be play­ing out.

The es­tab­lish­ment me­dia has been telling every­one that Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin wanted Mr. Trump to win, and that is why the Rus­sians were al­legedly be­hind the rev­e­la­tions of the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee’s and Clin­ton cam­paign chair­man John Podesta’s emails. But if you were the leader of a coun­try that re­lied pri­mar­ily on oil and gas sales to cover your bud­get and pro­vide for­eign ex­change, why would you want the can­di­date of your big­gest com­peti­tor, who said he was go­ing to greatly ex­pand U.S. oil and gas pro­duc­tion, to win?

Rus­sia, for a num­ber of years, in­di­rectly funded, with tens of mil­lions of dol­lars, U.S. en­vi­ron­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions that ac­tively op­pose U.S. oil and gas de­vel­op­ment. This was ra­tio­nal for Rus­sia to do be­cause it re­duced the po­ten­tial for the U.S. oil and gas in­dus­try to com­pete with them. Hil­lary Clin­ton had made it very clear that she would side with the en­vi­ron­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions against those who wished to ex­pand U.S. gas and oil pro­duc­tion. By con­trast, Mr. Trump said he would do ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to en­cour­age U.S. do­mes­tic pro­duc­tion — and his new Cab­i­net ap­pointees show that he was very se­ri­ous.

Rus­sia is a very high-cost pro­ducer of oil and gas be­cause of the re­mote­ness of many of its fields and harsh cli­mate, as well as the fact that its in­dus­try is largely un­der state con­trol, with all of the at­ten­dant in­ef­fi­cien­cies. Many of the U.S. fields are rel­a­tively low-cost, par­tic­u­larly as a re­sult of all the new tech­nolo­gies. U.S. mar­ket share of global oil and gas pro­duc­tion will con­tinue to in­crease while Rus­sia’s will al­most cer­tainly de­crease. Cer­tainly, Mr. Putin un­der­stands this.

In ad­di­tion, the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion and John Podesta and his brother have all been re­cip­i­ents of sub­stan­tial Rus­sian-sourced money. In sum, Mr. Putin has made a very con­sid­er­able in­vest­ment in the Clin­tons and their al­lies — why throw all that away? There are for­eign lead­ers like Is­rael’s Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu, who may have wanted Hil­lary to lose as pay­back due to the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s overt at­tempt to help his op­po­nents in his re-elec­tion cam­paign. And it has been al­leged that there are peo­ple in the U.S. in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity who wanted to see Hil­lary lose, and would know how to make it look like a Rus­sian hack.

Those who ar­gue that Mr. Putin wanted Mr. Trump to win are im­plic­itly ar­gu­ing that the Rus­sian pres­i­dent is ir­ra­tional, and thus not in­ter­ested in pre­serv­ing Rus­sia’s long-term eco­nomic in­ter­ests.

I do not pre­tend to know who Mr. Putin wanted to win the U.S. elec­tion, but he had al­ready shown that he knew how to deal with Hil­lary, and he should have un­der­stood that Mr. Trump’s eco­nomic ac­tions are un­likely to ben­e­fit Rus­sia.

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