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EXPLAINER: They lost the popular vote but won the elections

Five times in U.S. history, candidates have lost the popular vote but won the presidency — most recently in 2016.

Five times in U.S. history, candidates have lost the popular vote but won the presidency — most recently in 2016. Could Donald Trump be the first to do it twice?

A look at an American political anomaly:

—1824: Andrew Jackson won pluralities of both the popular vote and the Electoral College, but not a majority, sending the election to the House of Representatives. There were three other candidates, like Jackson members of the Democratic-Republican Party — John Quincy Adams, William Crawford and Henry Clay. Clay threw his support to Adams, sealing the victory for Adams, who made Clay his secretary of state. Irate at this “corrupt bargain,” Jackson quit the Senate and ran again for president in 1828. That time, he won easily.

—1876: Democrat Samuel Tilden beat Republican Rutherford B. Hayes by more than 200,000 votes. But he needed 185 Electoral College votes and got only 184 to Hayes’s 165; 20 votes in Florida, Louisiana, Oregon and South Carolina were disputed. Congress set up a commission composed of representatives of both parties to decide the winner; on March 2, three days before the inauguration, they chose Hayes — a compromise the Democrats agreed to in exchange for a promise to pull federal troops from the South, ending Reconstruction.

—1888: The campaign was riddled with corruption, including charges that votes were bought and Black votes suppressed. It ended with Democratic President Grover Cleveland winning the popular vote by more than 90,000 votes over Republican Benjamin Harrison, but losing the electoral vote 233 to 168. Cleveland would take back the office in the next presidential election.

—2000: Republican George W. Bush lost the popular vote to Democrat Al Gore by more than 500,000 votes. But the Electoral College vote was tight, and it all came down to Florida, where a recount devolved into disputes over the markings on individual ballots. On Dec. 12, the U.S. Supreme Court stopped the recount with Bush ahead in Florida, giving the election to the former Texas governor. Bush won 271 electoral votes, Gore 266.

—2016: Trump won the Electoral College, 304 electoral votes to Hillary Clinton’s 227 — but lost the popular count by 2.8 million votes. Though the electorate has of course grown over the years, Trump lost the popular vote by a greater margin than anyone ever elected president.

Jerry Schwartz, The Associated Press

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