It was an easy victory for President-elect Donald Trump, belying the hype built around the electoral college vote--mostly a formality--by detractors who had mounted one last attempt to stop him. He won with 304 votes, way above the threshold.
There was no revolt, only some desertions. But even that set a record of sorts, at seven, which was the largest number of so-called “faithless electors” in the history of US presidential contests, beating the previous high in 1808.
But only two of them were Republicans, who did not vote for Trump. The other five were Democrats, who voted against Hillary Clinton, in a sign of continuing discomfort about her in the party. She ended the vote with 227.
The official result will be announced on January 6, after a state-wise count taken at a joint session of Congress with Vice-President Joe Biden in the chair, as Senate president. But that will be a mere formality now.
Trump will be inaugurated on January 20.
Calling the victory a “historic electoral landslide”, Trump said in a statement, “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.”
He added: “I will work hard to unite our country and be the President of all Americans. Together, we will make America great again.”
The electoral college vote is mostly a formality, but it was thrust into the limelight this year by continued unease about Trump, the man and his temperament, Hillary Clinton’s lead of nearly 3 million in the popular vote, and the Russian meddling.
Republican electors were under tremendous pressure to switch their vote. Ash Khare, an Indian American elector from Philadelphia, for instance, received up to 5,000 emails, letters, and phone calls a day from all over the country and abroad. He didn’t budge, and voted Trump.
The president-elect needed 270 to win in the 538-member college — with each state assigned a number that is the total of elected federal House and Senate lawmakers, with three added on for DC — but was comfortably home with 304.
Electors are nominated by the their respective parties, and can include elected officials but not necessarily. Former President Bill Clinton is in an elector from New York state, and voted Monday, for, no prizes for guessing, his wife.
“I’ve never cast a vote I was prouder of,” the former president told reporters in the state capital Albany. “I watched her work for two years … I watched her battle through that bogus email deal, being vindicated at the end.”
No one gave Clinton much of a chance of winning the Monday vote, but protestors and Trump detractors lobbied Republican electors, braving sub-zero December temperatures in some states, to vote for anyone else. Anyone.
Hollywood star Martin Sheen, whose celebrity has more to do with his role as President Bartlet in TV drama West Wing than Captain Willard in Apocalypse Now, cut a video tape with other celebs last week urging Republicans to dump Trump. They didn’t.
And Trump, who is holidaying with his family at his resort in Miami, Florida, ran one more victory lap, topping it with what he likes doing best, trashing media: “We did it! Thank you to all of my great supporters, we just officially won the election (despite all of the distorted and inaccurate media),” he wrote in a tweet.