Politics 2016: Trump Officially Wins Presidency

Donald Trump’s victory was made official on Monday as electors gave him more than the 270 votes needed to win the presidency.

The meeting of the Electoral College–at statehouses across the country–is a formality. But this year was different as a concerted campaign took place among activists and even celebrities to convince electors to vote their conscience.

Their efforts failed.

Trump, who won 30 states with a total of 306 electoral votes, amassed enough votes on Monday afternoon when Texas electors cast their ballots, according to an Associated Press tally.

In fact, the electors who switched their votes as were more at the expense of Hillary Clinton. Four electors in Washington state, which she won handily, cast their ballots for someone else. Three went to Colin Powell and one for “Faith Spotted Eagle.” One elector in Hawaii, which she also won, voted for Bernie Sanders. In Texas, Trump lost two votes: one elector cast his ballot for John Kasich and another for Ron Paul.

The effort to convince electors to vote against Trump was motivated in part by concerns over Russian influence in the electoral process. U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia was behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and of John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman, in an effort to tilt the election toward Trump. Some activists pointed to the words of Alexander Hamilton, one of the founding fathers, and his intent for the Electoral College to be a guard against foreign influence of elections.

“Today marks a historic electoral landslide victory in our nation’s democracy,” Trump said in a statement. “I thank the American people for their overwhelming vote to elect me as their next President of the United States. The official votes cast by the Electoral College exceeded the 270 required to secure the presidency by a very large margin, far greater than ever anticipated by the media.”

Trump’s electoral college margin ranks 46th out of 58 elections, according to a New York Times analysis. Recent candidates with larger margins include Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, Bill Clinton in 1996, George H.W. Bush in 1988 and Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984.

Though Trump won the electoral vote, after breaking through in traditionally Democratic states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, he fell far short in the popular vote. Clinton won more than 2.8 million votes, and was more than two percentage votes ahead of Trump. Protesters gathered in some state capitals.

Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, was an elector in New York, which cast all of its 29 votes for her. He told reporters afterward, “I’ve never cast a vote I was prouder of.”

He blamed his wife’s loss on Russian hacking and FBI Director James Comey’s letter, which came 11 days before the election, that it was looking into a new batch of emails in its investigation of her use of a private server. Two days before the election, Comey informed members of Congress that the investigation had turned up nothing.

The results will be officially announced in a special joint session of the Congress on January 6.