I just watched a discussion on "Meet the Press" about the "failed" Clinton campaign of 2016 in which various persons blamed Hillary for the "failure" of the campaign.
With a nearly 3 million Popular vote lead over Trump, it is difficult to call Hillary a "loser" in the campaign.
Yet, corporate talking head shills found a way to rationalize such a fluke as if it were under the control of the politicians involved.
Some of the participants put down Hillary's bringing in anti-woman sentiments as a factor, but, the truth is, even doing that is putting the outcome on a level of discussion it doesn't really deserve.
The political career of President Grover Cleveland is the best illustration of what is really involved when there is a gap between Electoral and Popular vote.
In 1884, Cleveland was elected President, in both the Popular and the Electoral vote.
In 1888, he was up for re-election, but failed to achieve a lead in the Electoral College, though a modest lead in the Popular vote.
Cleveland came back in 1892 and won election again, in both the Popular and Electoral vote. In each case, historians and journalists found that the whole thing was best explained by FLUKES in the election system--oddball failures of election machines (newfound gadgets) and election clerk errors around the nation, but most especially in one or two states.
The real lesson in 2016, has also been that--as, indeed, errors or manipulations best explained the outcome in the other three Electoral gap elections since our two parties have existed, 1876, 1888 a and 2000.
In 1876, even many Republicans have acknowledged that a fishy "Electoral Commission" which worked in several ways to ensure the election of "Rutherfraud" B. Hayes, by shifting a single Electoral vote to Hayes, a Civil War general opposed to slavery versus Tilden a Democrat who had advocated removal of US troops from the Reconstruction South.
In 1888, flukes and errors explained the Electoral/Popular gap.
In 2000, a complex failure by the news media in "calling" Florida too soon for Gore, caused some w. Florida panhandle voters to leave the poll lines a bit too early, while a computer in s. Florida was videotaped "counting backwards" to favor W. Bush. And the counts got down to as low as 34 votes in later media recounts using each of the four "ballot interpretation" methods in Florida that were forbidden of carrying forward when the Supreme Court, dominated by Republican appointees, shut down any future recounts in Florida and gave the Electoral College--though not the Popular vote--to W. Bush.
Ironically, in 2004, Bush seems by many new and old pieces of evidence to have similarly won a lead in the Popular vote--partly in the wake of 911--but possibly failed to legally win the Electoral College, as Kerry got an apparent lead in Exit polls in Ohio, which, combined with data now about uncounted Provisional ballots and some locked up voting machines in Cuyahoga County there (which resulted in some OH election officials being convicted of violating the Voting Rights Act) strongly suggest Kerry was the first and thus far only Democrat to win the Electoral College but lose the lead in the Popular vote, with Bush playing Gore's role in an even bigger Popular vote lead over Kerry while losing in the Electoral College. (That, in turn, might be a cautionary tale to the GOP as to whether they should support efforts to abolish or amend interpretation of the Electoral versus Popular vote).
Now, in 2016, we see a series of odd looking failures to adequately examine ballots in at least 5 states, Florida, North Carolina, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, deprived America of an accurate election outcome.
Was Russia involved? Perhaps, we don't know but it's looking like it. But key here, is understanding that, when one candidate fails to achieve the Popular vote, they have likely failed in the Electoral College and an adequate examination of the outcomes after the fact has repeatedly revealed that.
There is no "failure" by a candidate to explain this, it is a product of flukes and fishiness.