Republican President-elect Donald Trump claimed to win the November election in a landslide, prompting the New York Times to publish a study that asserts Trump’s win wasn’t very Democratic Sunday, but the Times didn’t quite realize just what their list said about the electoral process.
The Times ranked Trump’s victory as the 46th highest win out of the 58 total presidential elections in U.S. history. The Times published the study and framed the article in such a way as to reduce the strength of Trump’s win, following the footsteps of the countless articles that assert the popular vote is much more important than the results of the Electoral College.
The rankings come from the percentage margin that each president won with respect to the Electoral College. A president with a high ranking won with a larger lead than a president with a lower ranking. President George Washington tops the list with 100 percent, and President John Quincy Adams rounds out the pack with only a 32.2 percent lead.
If the ranking in Electoral College votes offers any conclusions about legitimacy, then Trump is in good company. Democratic President John F. Kennedy ranks behind Trump, as do former presidents Thomas Jefferson, Woodrow Wilson, and George W. Bush.
Surprisingly presidents seen throughout history with negative legacies rank much higher than Trump on the list, with Republican Herbert Hoover ranked 16 on the list, Woodrow Wilson is ranked 18. Wilson oversaw the U.S. during the first World War, and was unable to force his League of Nations on the American people.
Andrew Jackson, the president famous for the Trail of Tears and his multiple refusals to support Supreme Court decisions, has a higher ranking, earning 31st place on the list of democratically elected presidents.
The simple fact is, that the margin of victory isn’t a reliable indicator of presidential performance. Attempts to delegitimize Trump based on the actual vote count miss the point of the election: Trump won the electoral college by a wide margin, 306 to 232.
Furthermore, recent polling suggests that voters aren’t united behind a push to overturn the electoral college. Until the movement gains an overwhelming majority in support of amending the Constitution, any serious attempt to change the way the United States elects presidents will be struck down early in the legislative process.
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