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Trump Wins Electoral College Votes; Clinton Has More Popular Votes


This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne with David Greene.


And I'm Steve Inskeep. Let's remember that we have done something a little like this before. In the year 2000, a Democratic presidential candidate, Al Gore, won the popular vote but lost to George W. Bush on the electoral map after a passionate battle.

MONTAGNE: Let's emphasize a little like this. There really has never been anything entirely like the scene this morning after Donald Trump said early this morning, he'd received a phone call from Hillary Clinton conceding the race.


DONALD TRUMP: I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans. And this is so important to me.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Thank you, president.


TRUMP: For those who have chosen not to support me in the past - of which there were a few people...


TRUMP: I'm reaching out to you for your guidance and your help so that we can work together and unify our great country.

INSKEEP: Let's talk about what happens now with NPR congressional correspondent Susan Davis, who's in our studios, along with Democratic pollster Margie Omero - she's back again. And NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson is on the line. Good morning to all of you.

MARGIE OMERO: Good morning.


SUSAN DAVIS, BYLINE: Good morning.

INSKEEP: And maybe we'll start with you, Sue, and with the electoral map, the NPR electoral map that I'm looking at here. It shows Donald Trump with 276 electoral votes, which is enough, and a few states not entirely with the results in. But it looks like he's going to get a good deal more than 276. What else can you say about the results overnight here?

LIASSON: Uh-oh, no back feed. Oh, here it is.

DAVIS: Well (laughter), I mean, down the ballot, we can say that this was an incredibly good night for Republicans. The expectation for Democrats to take over the Senate was pervasive, including among Senate Republican leaders and Senate Republican strategists. Democrats right now are on track to net gain just one seat, perhaps two.

New Hampshire is still not called, that's Incumbent Senator - Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte. But the Republican governor won there. And she is in good position to win there. If she holds, that is just a one-seat pickup in the Senate.

In the House, Democrats are only expected to pick up single digits. Right now, they've net gained seven seats. I talked to House Republican strategists this morning who say they expect to hold that number within single digits, even though nine races are still not called.

INSKEEP: So we're looking at a situation where President Trump will have the same political setup that President Obama had the first couple of years of his presidency. He will have a Congress, both Houses, on his side.

DAVIS: Exactly. And it could be hugely consequential legislatively. Three things that I immediately think about that could happen - well, one, obviously, Donald Trump is going to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court. He will nominate a justice. That will be one of the first orders of business in the next Congress.

In terms of legislative agenda, you know, Republicans for the past five years have campaigned on repealing and replacing President Obama's health care law. They have voted more than 60 times in Congress to do that, although those were symbolic votes. Now that they control the levers of the legislative and executive branches, there is a narrow but real legislative path to get that done.

INSKEEP: Now, with all that said, Donald Trump has won here. But the popular vote is going the other way. What's happening?

DAVIS: Well, you know, that's not surprising, particularly when you have strong Democratic vote in places like California, where you're going to see a higher turnout of the popular vote, but it doesn't change the electoral vote. She's got a lead right now of about 133 thousand votes.

What that does do, realistically, is - I've already talked to Democrats on Capitol Hill who have planted the seeds to say this does not give Donald Trump a mandate, that the people that he's going to nominate to fill his cabinet are going to meet with swift resistance by Democrats in the Senate, that the, you know, Democratic - Democrats who have questioned the use of the filibuster may now become its biggest champions in the Senate, as they seek to be a blockade for Donald Trump's agenda. And it could potentially be a very confrontational Congress, particularly in the Senate.

INSKEEP: Let's try to figure out what happened here though, Margie Omero. There were some signs of this beforehand. If you read some of the people who were trying to make odds - FiveThirtyEight, for example, make odds in the election. They were pointing out that Hillary Clinton was leading in national polls, but seemed to be gaining voters in the wrong places. What happened in the states where she really needed them, like Michigan, for example, or Pennsylvania?

OMERO: Well, it's going to take us a while to really get a sense of where the polling miss was. You know, while the polls were tightening in some of these states, they still overall painted a picture that looked favorable to Clinton. Some prognosticators were more bullish on Clinton than others. But still, all the signs were pointing basically in the same direction.

So this was a pretty widespread polling miss. And it's going to take us a while to figure it out, whether it is a factor of people hurting, so people not wanting to release a poll that looked different from other people's polls, whether it's new voters, people who showed up for the first time, although exit poll suggests that they actually broke a little bit toward Clinton, whether it's people who don't vote very often, so they weren't first-time voters but they surged and said, OK, this time I'm coming out, whether it's people lying to pollsters or lying less if they were taking a poll online about whether or not they were going to vote for Trump. There's going to be a whole variety of different potential factors.

And like we saw in 2012 with Gallup, like we saw in the U.K., it's going to take a lot of effort to really study and figure it out. And it's probably more than one of those things, not any one thing.

INSKEEP: Let me bring in now NPR's Mara Liasson into the discussion. I think her line has been fixed. And let me put a big question on the table for you, Mara, and our colleagues here may weigh in as well. What does this mean for the country?

LIASSON: Boy, that's a question that a lot of people are asking today. Something like this has never happened before. This is someone who two-thirds of voters said was unqualified to be president, yet a certain number of those people voted for him.

INSKEEP: People who said he was unqualified voted for him?

LIASSON: Yes. We think maybe about 16 percent of the people who said he was unqualified - we're not sure of the exact number, but we know it was a fair amount...

INSKEEP: A number, yeah.

LIASSON: ...Because two-thirds of voters said he was unqualified. We also have a number of people who approved of President Obama but voted for Trump. And part of the aftermath of this election in terms of figuring out what it means for the country is figuring out what message the voters were sending.

I agree with Sue. I don't think this adds up to a mandate necessarily for Donald Trump because he was much more about an attitude and a kind of anger at the establishment than he was about specific policy ideas. You know, his vote has been described as kind of a middle finger pointed at the elites.

And this also was an extremely divisive election. You know, Donald Trump used the metaphor of Brexit a lot, a revolt of the working-class against elites and globalization and immigration. But I see the metaphor of Brexit a little bit differently. Brexit was an extremely divisive vote in England. It separated rural from urban, young from old, educated from uneducated. And I think that's what you're seeing in the results here, big, deep divisions. Now, Donald Trump said he wants to unite the party.

INSKEEP: We heard that.

LIASSON: And part of the secret sauce of American democracy is we give the winner a clean slate and a clean shave. And he's going to get a chance to show exactly what he means by those remarks.

INSKEEP: Margie Omero, you mentioned it's hard to figure out what exactly this means. And this is a candidate who is more, as Mara Liasson pointed out, about attitude than about issues necessarily. But he had some issues. He had some big issues.


OMERO: I'll say he had issues.


INSKEEP: You mean that in a different way than I do.


INSKEEP: But in any case, this is someone who stood for certain policies that when we interviewed voters across the country - build a wall, they knew about that, getting illegal immigrants out of the country.

OMERO: A crispness to his message.

INSKEEP: People knew about these short, direct sentences. And people who were voting for Trump liked those things. Do you feel that you have a clear sense of what the mandate is here for Donald Trump?

OMERO: Well, I think it's not just about race alone because Trump did better with Latinos than Romney did. Clinton underperformed relative to Obama in 2012 with Latinos, with white men considerably and also with African-Americans, perhaps. But that's just - that is self-evident. And so I don't think it's just about race. And I think it's also about wanting something drastically different.

And that would explain why, as Mara pointed out, you have folks who, you know, did not think that Trump was qualified or had the right temperament, but voted for him anyway. There's - the natural strengths of Clinton and the natural weaknesses of Trump ultimately calcified. And you had this sense where people said, look, I want something drastically different, even though I know who's better-qualified.

INSKEEP: OK. We had Jonah Goldberg and John Feehery, who were on opposite sides of the question earlier today. And we were asking about a possible civil war in the Republican Party. And Jonah, fairly enough, says, what about the civil war in the Democratic Party? Is there going to be a civil war in the Democratic Party?

OMERO: You know, there's been a lot of talk over the last few years about Republicans internally and, I guess, publicly saying, we can't continue to try to win a national election by just looking at white voters. We have a similar, perhaps less-public conversation on the left, where we say, we can't - you know, we need to keep on addressing the needs of white voters. We can't simply wait for demographics to catch up. And so I think you see a lot of those factors. Although that's not the only factor, I think that's a little bit of a factor going on here, too.

INSKEEP: Wasn't this an obsession of Bernie Sanders? He would say privately and sometimes publicly, we're ignoring the white vote. We're blowing the white vote. This is a big deal. It really matters.

OMERO: Well, I think ultimately you want a successful, unifying candidate who's going to be exciting for voters across the spectrum. And whether it's right or wrong, that's not what we saw this time.

INSKEEP: Sue Davis, give us a sense of what we can expect to hear today. We haven't heard from Hillary Clinton yet, have we?

DAVIS: We have not heard from Hillary Clinton. She's expected to speak at 9:30 this morning, her campaign has announced. You know, Donald Trump last night in his remarks struck a very conciliatory tone and reached out to Hillary Clinton and praised her in this race. I think if - we don't know what Hillary Clinton will say. But if you look at her remarks and who she is, it is likely that she will try to seek a similar tone.

INSKEEP: Mara Liasson, about 20 seconds here.

LIASSON: Yeah, I think it will be interesting to see what she has to say. And don't forget, one of the many, many things he promised to do was to appoint a special prosecutor and put her in jail. So we'll have to see how he kind of follows up on those conciliatory words that he said last night.

INSKEEP: Kellyanne Conway, the campaign manager, was asked about that this morning on TV and gave, effectively, a non-answer. She said, I haven't talked to him about it lately. So we'll have to see what is said there. That's Democratic pollster Margie Omero. Thanks for coming by this morning.

OMERO: Thank you.

INSKEEP: Really appreciate it. NPR's Susan Davis - always appreciate your work, Susan.

DAVIS: Thanks, Steve.

INSKEEP: And NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson, thanks for your work throughout this election year.

LIASSON: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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