In the two weeks since the election, Hillary Clinton’s lead in the popular vote has steadily ticked upward. She now boasts some 2 million more votes than President-elect Donald Trump — and yet, thanks to our electoral college system, that “President-elect” is unexpectedly not in front of her name.
This is not the space for the nth rehashing of arguments for and against maintaining that institution, but suffice it to say I can appreciate why Clinton supporters would be a bit peeved at the situation. Were she my candidate, I would be more than peeved.
Rumors of faithless electors have been been swirling, but so far only six are committed to the plan, far too few for Trump’s presumptive win to be overturned. That prospect may be tantalizing, but so far it seems an unlikely gambit.
Perhaps slightly less of a longshot is a push from a group of “prominent computer scientists and election lawyers” to recount the votes in three swing states — Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania — where they believe vote tampering could have occurred. New York reports (emphasis added):
Last Thursday, the activists held a conference call with Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and campaign general counsel Marc Elias to make their case, according to a source briefed on the call. The academics presented findings showing that in Wisconsin, Clinton received 7 percent fewer votes in counties that relied on electronic-voting machines compared with counties that used optical scanners and paper ballots.
Based on this statistical analysis, Clinton may have been denied as many as 30,000 votes; she lost Wisconsin by 27,000. While it’s important to note the group has not found proof of hacking or manipulation, they are arguing to the campaign that the suspicious pattern merits an independent review — especially in light of the fact that the Obama White House has accused the Russian government of hacking the Democratic National Committee.
Now, the deadlines to request a recount in all three states are all within the next week, and it would take all three states shifting to Clinton for her to top 270. That means we’ll know quite soon whether the Clinton camp has decided to pursue this option. And early reactions from The New York Times’ Nate Cohn and FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver suggest there’s probably nothing worth pursuing.
It has been far too long since my last statistics class for me to add any data analysis to their remarks, so I’ll simply say this: The last thing I want is for this election not to be over. Still, it wouldn’t be the worst thing — with a popular/electoral vote imbalance this great — to do some double-checking.
Since all three states would have to flip for Clinton to win (extremely unlikely, by the sound of it), there’s little risk to Trump’s victory. And if Trump is at all serious about his newfound “president for everyone” shtick, being gracious about a recount of the sort he threatened to request on his own behalf would be a step in the right direction.