With a projected win in Arizona and a nearly 14,000 vote lead in Georgia, President-Elect Joe Biden is on a path to win 306 votes in the Electoral College.* That happens to be the exact same total Donald Trump racked up after his state-by-state victories in November 2016.** And this makes Trump’s present refusal to concede to Biden darkly ironic, because Trump has spent much of the last four years touting his 2016 margin as a “landslide” bragging that he beat Hillary Clinton “easily,” “convincingly,” and “so badly.”
While 306 votes in the Electoral College is substantial, it is not a huge margin of victory, historically speaking. Nonetheless, Trump and his toadies have long touted it as exceptional. Although Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama all scored bigger Electoral College victories than he did, Trump touted his victory as “the biggest Electoral College win since Ronald Reagan.” Kellyanne Conway, who was a senior adviser on the Trump campaign and stayed on as the president’s most shameless spin doctor, celebrated his margin as “Historic” and a “Blowout” four years ago.
306. Landslide. Blowout. Historic. https://t.co/ObYZDo8cBq
— Kellyanne Conway (@KellyannePolls) November 28, 2016
Trump, who lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by more than 2 million, has clung to his Electoral College victory margin like a security blanket, invoking it especially when his legitimacy was questioned. From the beginning, Trump’s retort to the scandal of Russian interference on behalf of his 2016 campaign was that the Kremlin’s boost was “fake news” that the Democrats ginned up to avoid confronting how badly he beat Clinton.
The Democrats had to come up with a story as to why they lost the election, and so badly (306), so they made up a story – RUSSIA. Fake news!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 16, 2017
Just before the Mueller Report was released, Trump returned to this sort of bragging. “I had the greatest electoral victory — one of them — in the history of our country,” Trump said in March 2019. “I got 306 electoral votes against 223. That’s a tremendous victory.”
Trump has also wielded his Electoral College margin as a weapon, using it in 2018 to taunt Democrats that he’d be unbeatable in 2020:
The Dems have tried every trick in the playbook-call me everything under the sun. But if I’m all of those terrible things, how come I beat them so badly, 306-223? Maybe they’re just not very good! The fact is they are going CRAZY only because they know they can’t beat me in 2020!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 9, 2018
In the aftermath of his loss in the 2020 election, Trump has been unwilling to concede to Joe Biden, and is mounting an increasingly ridiculous legal campaign attempting to invalidate the will of the people. He should, perhaps, instead reflect on the congratulations he paid to the “deplorables” years ago for delivering him what he called a “MASSIVE… landslide victory.”
Congratulations to all of the ”DEPLORABLES” and the millions of people who gave us a MASSIVE (304-227) Electoral College landslide victory! pic.twitter.com/7ifv5gT7Ur
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 8, 2017
*Several networks and the New York Times and Washington Post have declared Biden the victor in Georgia; the Associated Press has not yet called that election, which is heading to a hand recount.
**To be technical, Trump ended up with 304 Electoral College votes after a pair of faithless electors from Texas cast votes for Ron Paul and John Kasich instead.