Since it would take a constitutional amendment to accomplish, with just two months until the next Presidential election, talk of getting rid of the Electoral College, which has long been a “white whale” for much of the Democratic Party, is a ploy to plant seeds for future claims that “it’s not democratic”. The left, including Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), alleges that this body, which the founders wisely laid out in Article II of the Constitution, is not fair because it causes some people’s votes to “count less” than others.
It’s not surprising once again we’re again hearing these calls of abolition leading up to another Presidential Election. In 2016, the Electoral College was the reason why Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton lost the Presidential election despite getting nearly three million more votes than now-President Trump. If the “national popular vote” determined the winner as Warren and her supporters advocate, Clinton would be running for a second term right now – not Trump. Along with blaming the debunked theory of “Russian collusion”, Democrats trash the electoral college as just one more reason why Mrs. Clinton was “robbed” of the Presidency.
If anyone has a reason to be angry about the results of the 2016 Election, it is me. The candidate I supported in that race was not even invited to the debates. Pushed vigorously by the committees of both parties, debate qualification rules effectively eliminate anyone without a “D” or an “R” next to their name from the American political process. I definitely did not want either Trump or Clinton to be president, so my stance on the Electoral College is not clouded by my personal politics. So, take it from me, someone who voted third party because of my centrist views: the county needs the Electoral College. If we abolish it the United States will be gone forever.
While the left would like to convince you that our age-old system denies the country of electing the person who “the people” want, in practice this cannot be further from the truth. The Electoral College system splits the nation’s Presidential election into 55 smaller popular vote contests. Every state awards a certain number of electors, based on population, for the candidate who wins the plurality of electoral votes locally. Forty- eight states are winner-take-all, meaning that the party’s nominee who finishes on top wins all of the state’s electors. Therefore, in all but two states, if a candidate loses by even just a few votes, they fail to win any electoral votes from that state. In 2000, Vice-President Al Gore lost the state of Florida by a mere 537 votes – which cost him the Presidency despite narrowly winning the national popular vote over George W. Bush. Maine and Nebraska are unique in that they each allot two electoral votes to the winner of the statewide popular vote but split the rest of their collective five votes among the winners in each of their Congressional districts. This is why there are 55 popular vote contests, not 50.
Perhaps the main objection to the existence of the Electoral College is the fact that it’s perceived to be “undemocratic.” Yes, the system we use absolutely makes it possible for a candidate to win the most nationwide votes and lose the election. This has occurred five times in American history, or in nine percent of Presidential Elections – like the aforementioned cases of Gore and Hillary Clinton. However, the framers of the Constitution knew this would inevitably happen. They designed America’s unique form of government (which like in every other “democratic” nation is really a representative republic) to maximize personal liberty by instituting an elaborate system of checks and balances between three branches of the federal government and each state government. Our country is literally called the United States, because that’s what we are – 50 distinct states united by one powerful, but not too powerful federal government. Abolishing the Electoral College would destroy this very fabric and significantly strengthen the federal government. Without the Electoral College, presidents no longer have to appeal to a majority or even a plurality of states – they can win by simply gaining enough votes in several highly-populated urban areas of ten states [63% of Americans live in less than 4% of our land], while completely ignoring the other forty.
Having one popular vote contest instead of 55 also would make it much easier for corrupt election officials to rig the election and much harder to recount in the case where the vote is extremely close. It’s therefore no surprise that Russia is one of the few countries to use a national popular vote system to elect their president. In fact, most other western “democracies” have the legislature, not the people, elect their leader. This parliamentary system was the main alternative to the Electoral College the framers considered, and by any measure is a less “democratic” system than the Electoral College, as the British or Canadian Prime Minister’s name does not even appear on ballots nationwide.
Clinton lost the 2016 Presidential Election, not because the Electoral College was “rigged against her,” but simply because her campaign strategy of turning out votes in highly concentrated urban areas was inferior to Trump’s successful strategy focused on flipping rust belt states, which were for a long time part of the Democrats’ “blue wall.” One of these states was Michigan, which Clinton took for granted and did not invest any resources in, allowing Trump to pull off a stunning victory there by a margin of 10,000 votes.
At a time in 2012, there was even much discussion among pundits that, based on the polls, it was possible that Republican nominee Mitt Romney could win the popular vote and lose the election, so this thing can swing both ways. Foreseeing this could happen, one staunch Romney-backer tweeted that “the Electoral College is a disaster for democracy.” This person was, of course, none other than Donald Trump – see how things go full circle. In the end, this proves that opposition to the Electoral College has nothing to do with it being “undemocratic” and everything to do with people not getting their way politically. In 2016, the Republicans’ strategy was all about winning the Electoral College. In 2020 the strategy becomes even more vital with states like Georgia and Texas gradually coming into play for the Democrats. So in the future we may see Republicans calling for abolition, while the Democrats, and possibly even Senator Warren, would be saying that keeping the Electoral College is crucial for us to preserve “democracy.”
While it’s not perfect, I hold steadfast in my support for the Electoral College without which the voice of the heart of the country would be silenced when it comes to choosing our president.