This all sounds very intimidating (to someone who never passed a Calculus test), but it seems that…
Amber Lisa
11

Hi Amber Lisa… you got it right. Though there’s a danger that people don’t turn out if they think it’s over early (an old but good article on it: http://articles.latimes.com/1988-11-08/news/mn-313_1_exit-poll). However, I’d argue it’s disingenuous to pretend something is close when it’s isn’t.

There’s actually four cases in history where the popular vote did not choose the winner…

— John Quincy Adams (1824). Andrew Jackson got the most electoral votes AND the most votes in a 4 way race, but the House elected Adams instead. It’s an interesting story… if you think people complain about a fixed system today, the House ignored the popular vote and used a poor interpretation of the 12th amendment to hand the election to Adams.

— Rutherford Hayes (1876)

— Benjamin Harrison (1888)

and, of course… — George W. Bush (2000)

Mathematically, it’s not likely it will actually be decided before the West Coast polls close. But barring a literally unprecedented change, like the west coast falling into the ocean or get shifted into Bizarro-Earth, California, Oregon and Washington will go Democratic and their 74 electoral votes will push Clinton over the top. The news (and everyone) will assume those votes are Clinton’s, as they do now, simply because those states are as solid blue as Massachusetts or New York.