Why the 2016 election won’t go away

But Trump also does something much less common for Oval Office holders: crow about his electoral victory. One of Trump’s favorite lines in speeches last spring was some version of, “We may not have had a path to 270, but we had a path to 306.” (Trump’s claims to an electoral mandate have themselves had some unusual elements — he incorrectly stated that he had the largest Electoral College victory since Ronald Reagan. And, technically speaking, he received 304 Electoral College votes, not 306.) He has also brought up the election in some odd contexts, like a speech at the Boy Scouts Jamboree and in response to a question about anti-Semitism during a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Why has Trump’s attention remained on his election longer than his predecessors’? Trump’s idiosyncrasies are surely part of the story. But also, defining the meaning of an election gains special relevance when the legitimacy of the presidency, and the political system in general, is in question — even, possibly, for the president himself. Trump, and Democratic primary candidate Bernie Sanders, spent much of 2016 calling the system “rigged,” and Trump won the White House while losing the popular vote. In the face of those factors, it shouldn’t come as a shock that Trump would want to reinforce his win.

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