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Hillary Clinton is on pace to get more votes than Obama did in 2012

Former President Bill Clinton applauds as his wife, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks in New York, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, where she conceded her defeat to Republican Donald Trump after the hard-fought presidential election. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Conventional wisdom — on both the left and right — states that Hillary Clinton lost because she failed to motivate Barack Obama's voters to turn out and vote for her. There's just one problem with this analysis: It doesn't appear to be correct.

As of the last official vote tally, the former Secretary of State has received 63.6 million votes, with about 7 million votes left to be counted. Those votes are overwhelmingly from precincts in California, New York and Washington — states that Clinton won easily. Observers agree that it would be surprising if Clinton ended up with fewer than 67 million votes in the final tally.

Barack Obama's popular vote total in 2012 was 65,446,032.

It seems extremely likely, then, that Hillary Clinton will end up getting more votes than Obama did in 2012. It is extremely unlikely that she will pass President Obama's 2008 popular vote total of 69,498,516.

Moreover, it looks like the size of Clinton's popular-vote victory will be more similar to Obama's victory in 2012 than previously believed. Her current popular vote lead is about 1.3 percentage points over President-elect Trump. However, given the voting patterns of the districts yet to be counted, it seems likely that Clinton's popular vote lead will grow to about two points by the time the vote counting is finally completed. President Obama defeated Republican nominee Mitt Romney by about 3.9 points in 2012.

How, then, did Hillary Clinton lose the Electoral College vote so resoundingly, when Obama won it rather comfortably? The distribution of her votes played a key role. Clinton ran up the vote total in states like California and New York relative to Obama, but drastically underperformed in the rust belt states, losing Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin — states that Obama carried twice. The end result was a perfect storm that turned a popular-vote victory that will turn out to be almost exactly as large as George W. Bush's victory in 2004 into a crushing Electoral College defeat.

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