The Russian economic development minister, Maxim Oreshkin, asserted falsely on Monday, March 4 that U.S. President Donald Trump won a majority of the votes cast in the 2016 election.
Oreshkin made the comments at the Kommersant publishing house Journalism Academy in Moscow amid his wider analysis of the last U.S. presidential election and the next one, coming up in 2020, but his claim regarding the popular vote is simply not true.
Trump’s main political opponent, Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton, ran a better funded political campaign and led in the public opinion polls much of the fall of 2016.
In the final election results Clinton won the nationwide popular vote, receiving 65,853,516 (48.18%) vs Trump’s 62,984,825 (46.09%). Trump however, beat Clinton in electoral votes 304 to 227.
Electoral College - Explainer
A brief aside on the way the U.S. chooses its presidents: The Electoral College was established in 1787, "As a compromise between election of the President by a vote in Congress and election of the President by a popular vote of qualified citizens," according to the National Archives and Records Administration.
There are 538 total electors. A candidate must win at least 270 to become the next president. Electors are assigned to states according to the number of representatives the state has in Congress, plus two for the senators, says the National Archives and Records Administration.
Oreshkin on the ‘Trump Phenomenon’
Oreshkin made this false statement while speaking of the “Trump phenomenon” as not being “a coincidence” but a “direct aftermath” of global trends. He described a deeply divided United States suffering from an economic distress and social inequality.
“America is not a society of equal opportunities anymore,” Oreshkin said, the state news agency TASS reported, adding: “America’s shattered stability is visible in its economic performance.” While the wealth in the U.S. is “concentrated in the hands of just 20 companies and 1 million people working there,” the rest of the American population is “lost in this process” and “dissatisfied,” Oreshkin said.
He concluded that Trump succeeded because he addressed the problems of that “cast aside” majority, predicting the same electorate will re-elect him again in 2020.
We make no judgment on the Russian minister’s political and socio-economic analysis, other than to point out that the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis latest statistical reports show a gap in personal income, especially seen in state by state analyses amid a persistent slow growth.
Regarding the 2020 election and his prediction – that is the province of political analysts. We do note the non-partisan Pew Research Center in Washington, DC reports the electorate’s demographics are shifting. A Pew report finds it is “unclear how these patterns might factor into the 2020 election,” an indication that Oreshkin’s analysis on this count might be extreme.
Whether Oreshkin’s analysis and his 2020 prediction is accurate, is not for this fact check to decide. But his characterization of the popular vote in the U.S. in 2016 was wrong.