The 5 US presidents who won the election but lost the popular vote

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

While three of the last seven presidential elections were won by Republicans, on six out of the last seven votes, a Democrat won the popular vote share.

In 1992, Democrat Bill Clinton won the presidency with the highest number of electoral college votes, as well as the popular vote. In 1996, he did repeated the feat.

Four years after that in 2000, Republican George Bush won the presidency, but lost the popular vote to Al Gore. In 2004, Bush managed to win in both arenas, marking the only Republican win in terms of popular vote in the last two and a half decades.

Then, in 2008 and 2012, Barack Obama won both the popular votes and both electoral college contests. Four years later, Republican Trump won the electoral college vote, but not the popular vote.

In six out of the last seven elections, the Democrats have won the popular vote. This is a striking fact, but the popular vote counts for nothing in a presidential election.

In fact, when critics pointed out Trump’s popular vote loss in 2016, 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?

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