America’s presidential election is decided by the electoral college rather than the popular vote, but on five occasions they have not been the same.
In general, the candidate that wins the popular votes also wins the electoral college so there is usually no questioning of the results, however, there have been five occasions in US political history where a candidate has become president without winning the popular vote as well as the electoral college vote.
1. John Q. Adams – the election of 1824
In this election, most states allowed the voters to elect the president through the electoral college, but some still allocated their votes via the state legislatures. Andrew Jackson won the most votes, but John Q. Adams won more electoral college votes, however, he failed to win a majority, something which led the House of Representatives to decide the president.
In the end, they picked the Democratic-Republican candidate John Quincy Adams, who became the country’s sixth president.
His opponent, Andrew Jackson, went on to become the seventh president of the United States four years later.
2. Rutherford B. Hayes – the election of 1876
At this controversial election, Democratic candidate Samuel J. Tilden won the most votes, but his Republican opponent, Rutherford B. Hayes won the most electoral college votes.
The final result was agonisingly close, with Hayes winning 185-184.
3. Benjamin Harrison – the election of 1888
Four years earlier, Democratic candidate Grover Cleveland became president of the United States; he stood for re-election in 1888. This time around, Cleveland won popular vote, but Harrison secured the presidency by winning the electoral college.
However, the 1888 election did not mark the end of Cleveland’s time in office, for he returned in 1892 to become the only US president win two non-consecutive terms, making him both the 22nd and 24th president of the United States.
4. George W. Bush – the election of 2000
The 20th century was absent of this anomaly, however, the dawn of the 21st brought the issue back to life in the form of the battle between George W. Bush and Al Gore in 2000. After a controversial – and extremely close – count in Florida, Bush was declared the winner of the electoral college.
Gore won the most votes, but it was his Republican opponent who took the White House that year.
5. Donald Trump – the election of 2016
Almost one year ago, Donald Trump surprised his nation – and the wider world – by beating Hillary Clinton to become the 45th president of the United States. Trump may have won the electoral college vote, but his Democratic opponent won the popular vote by almost 3 million votes.
What will happen in 2020? Will Donald Trump – or whoever replaces him if need be – beat the Democrats in both the popular vote and electoral college arena, or will the election be the sixth to be added to this list?