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If 53,667 people had voted differently, Clinton would have keys to the White House

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Donald Trump is poised to win this election with 74 more electoral votes than Hillary Clinton, a fairly imposing margin, particularly considering how many pundits had predicted she would win.

His victory has given rise to the notion that the political leanings of our country have changed utterly from what they were before.

But if you look at it another way, the race was much, much closer.

If just 53,667 people who voted for Trump — or 0.045 percent of the 120 million people who cast a ballot nationwide — had voted instead for Hillary Clinton, she and her team would be the ones transitioning to the White House right now.


However, it’s not just any 53,667 people in the country. The voters would have had to switch in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.

If 5,919 Trump voters did that in Michigan, 13,629 in Wisconsin, and 34,119 in Pennsylvania, Clinton would have won each of those states by the slimmest of margins (a vote or two).

Wins in those states would have instantly swung 46 electoral votes from Trump to Clinton, giving her 278 in total, above the 270 needed to win the presidency, while he would hold the other 260. (Of course, this hypothetical doesn’t account for recounts, hanging chads, legal wrangling, etc.)

She could have won the election if a host of other combinations of states went her way, but all the other possible scenarios would have required a larger number of voters to have changed their mind.

Of course, there’s another much-remarked-upon indicator of how close this race was: While Trump won the election through the electoral college process, Clinton is actually on track to win the popular vote, as Al Gore did in 2000. She was ahead by more than 230,000 votes.

But there’s no doubt that the Clinton camp would have loved to have those 53,667 strategically placed votes.


Several things to note: the vote counts above are based on unofficial counts reported by The Associated Press just after noon Thursday. There are still some vote counts coming in for some states, including for Pennsylvania, so exact figures may change somewhat.

Also, the above electoral vote calculations are based on the assumption that the final three states that the AP has not officially called for one candidate or another will eventually be called for the candidate who is leading currently. Those states are Michigan and Arizona, where Trump is leading, and New Hampshire, where Clinton leads.

Finally, there were some votes for two other people in the race — Libertarian Gary Johnson, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein — along with write-ins and blank ballots. If enough broke for Clinton, they could have tipped the scales in her favor in those same three states.

... But that’s enough what-ifs for one article -- and plenty of reasons for Democrats to have “yuge” insomnia until the next election season begins.

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at matthew.rocheleau@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mrochele