Wrong Winner Elections

Wrong Winner Elections

Because winner-takes-all systems like First Past the Post take place in single member constituencies it is possible for a party to win a majority even if it does not win the popular vote.

Often this is possible because of the distribution of the vote. If a party wins by a big margin in its safer seats (with its strongest supporters), then these additional voters will increase the party’s votes but not contribute to it winning any additional seats. Likewise, by targeting marginal seats and constituencies where the vote is split between multiple parties, it is possiblle to win seats on very low amounts of votes. Both these scenarios help to make 'wrong winners' a possibility. 

Wrong Winner Elections from Around the World

1948 South Africa's 1948 election saw The United Party ousted by the Reunited National Party even though the United Party had the most votes. This proved a turning point and led to the instigation of apartheid in South Africa.
1951 In the UK the Conservatives won more seats than Labour on a lower proportion of the vote
1952 Eisenhower's Republican Party gained 22 seats from the Democratic Party in the US House of Representatives, gaining a majority of the House. However, the Democrats had the most votes.
1974 The UK Labour party formed a government on a lower proportion of the popular vote than the Conservatives
1978 The governing New Zealand National Party retain office, although the opposition Labour Party won the largest share of the vote.
1981 The governing New Zealand National Party won a third term in office, although the opposition Labour Party, actually won the largest share of the votes cast.
1996 Clinton's Democratic Party won by almost 60,000 votes but the Republicans retained an overall majority of seats in the House.
2012 The US House of Representatives was won by the Republican Party even though the Democrats won the most votes.
2016 The US Presidency was won by Donald Trump in the electoral college even though Hillary Clinton won the most votes.