Joe Biden Is Now Winning the Popular Vote by 3.9 Million

John Nacion/NurPhoto/AP

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As battleground states race to tally the final votes and determine which candidate will win the Electoral College, one thing is almost certain: Former Vice President Joe Biden will win the popular vote, which he currently leads by 3,886,875 votes.

As you surely know by now, the United States does not determine its president through a direct popular vote, but through an electoral system that weighs votes differently depending on which state they come from. And since the candidate with the most votes in a state wins all of that state’s electors (in most cases), there’s no difference between winning 51 percent of a state’s vote and winning 70 percent of the vote. This makes it possible to win the presidency while losing the popular vote.

The Electoral College was a boon to Southern states during slavery, because the three-fifths compromise boosted slaveholding states’ electoral clout even though enslaved people couldn’t vote. Southern states have remained the system’s staunchest defenders; in 1970, southern lawmakers were responsible for upending an effort to abolish the Electoral College.

Cries for abolishing the Electoral College have grown stronger following the recent elections of two presidents who lost the popular vote: In 2000, Al Gore won the popular vote by a margin of 543,895, and in 2016, Hillary Clinton won it by a stunning 2,868,686 votes. Sixteen states—most recently, Colorado—and the District of Columbia have already joined the National Interstate Popular Vote Compact, which is intended to essentially nullify the Electoral College if more states eventually sign on. Still, it remains unclear how exactly the compact would go into effect without congressional approval.

Any effort to undo the Electoral College would have to overcome fierce opposition from Republicans, who are well aware of how much it has helped them in recent decades. Of course, people’s views on this matter have been known to change over time:

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Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

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