The general election process is quite complicated. What a lot of people don’t understand is the way that the electoral college plays in to who gets elected.
Every four years, on the first Tuesday after the First Monday in November, there is an election held for the President of the United States. The election process involves primary elections and caucuses, and then there is the nominating conventions, which are used to allow each political party to select a nominee that they will unite behind. At this point, the nominee announces their Vice Presidential companion, and then the national campaigns begin, as well as debates with rivals from other parties.
During the elections, citizens will cast their votes. The tally of those votes gives the “popular vote” but the popular vote does not always indicate the winner of the election. The Electoral College meets in January to decide who will actually be nominated as the winner. If there is no candidate that earns a majority of the votes in the electoral college, then the House of Representatives will choose the President, while the role of choosing the Vice President will go to the Senate.
This means that it is possible for someone to earn the popular vote, but fail to get elected, although this is an exceedingly rare thing to happen. For the most part, the general election process can be considered to be completed with the tally of the popular vote, since the popular vote determines who gets in to the electoral college. Only in instances where the election was very close, and there were a handful of marginal seats, would the electoral college be expected to go against the will of the people. The primaries and caucus system help to make sure that the most qualified candidates are put forward.