One of the common mistakes people seem to make around now, in every Presidential election year, is to become fixated on nationwide popular vote polls.

The problem is that these are rather meaningless in telling us much at all about who will win the election.  That is because we elect a President using the ELECTORAL COLLEGE, not by popular vote.  Why this simple fact seems to be lost on the media is beyond me.  I can understand more why the public is confused by this we do such a poor job of teaching history and civics.

Here is a simple example to show you why this can matter.

Let's suppose that instead of 51 states with electoral votes (including DC), we had three states with an equal number of 180 electoral votes each, so 540 electoral votes total (just to make the math easy).  And let's suppose the states break down this way on election day:

State 1: Popular Vote (Hillary 51%, Trump 49%), Electoral Votes 180, Hillary
State 2: Popular Vote (Hillary 51%, Trump 49%), Electoral Votes 180, Hillary
State 3: Popular Vote (Trump 60%, Hillary 40%), Electoral Votes 180, Trump

What does this mean in terms of final split:

Popular vote: Trump 53%, Hillary 47% (assumes each state has same population size)
Electoral vote: 360 Hillary 180 Trump

Obviously this is just a hypothetical example.  And it won't break down this way.  

On the other hand, it has commonly been the case that the Republicans win by big popular vote margins in the states they win (usually in the South and Plains States), and the Democrats win by closer margins in the swing states (OH, PA, MI, etc.) and even in some of the state they almost always carry.

The main point is that is, like it or not, we elect our Presidents using the ELECTORAL COLLEGE.  Many of us have problems using the Electoral College to choose the President.  But the math cannot be denied.