Trump took to Twitter this morning to refer to the Electoral College as “genius” because it forces candidates to pay attention to all states, even ones that would presumably be ignored in a popular vote-based campaign.
The Electoral College is actually genius in that it brings all states, including the smaller ones, into play. Campaigning is much different!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 15, 2016
Some critics are arguing this is an about-face from a 60 Minutes interview that aired Sunday night where Trump said, despite winning, he had issues with the Electoral College.
“I’m not going to change my mind just because I won,” said Trump during the interview. “But I would rather see it where you went with simple votes. You know, you get 100 million votes and somebody else gets 90 million votes and you win.”
The president-elect made an even more important point in the preceding tweet.
If the election were based on total popular vote I would have campaigned in N.Y. Florida and California and won even bigger and more easily— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 15, 2016
A lot of Trump-haters are criticizing Trump for winning the Electoral College, but not the popular vote. Some are even saying his victory is illegitimate because he did not win over the majority of voters.
However, this is an accusation based on assumptions. We don’t know if Trump would have won the popular vote because the campaign was not based with that objective in mind. Neither Trump nor Clinton ran the 2016 election with the goal of winning the majority of voters. They ran to win the Electoral College. Trump prevailed in that pursuit.
If we lived in another universe and the 2016 election began with all candidates vying for the popular vote – the campaign would have been run entirely differently. Clinton would have made many more stops in Texas. We would have seen Trump camping out in highly populated states (and dark blue) states such as California and New York. These are two states that have no chance of going red statewide, but still contain a bountiful amount of red voters. In a popular vote-based election, it would make total sense to campaign in those places. In an Electoral College-based election, that would be a complete waste of campaign resources.
Understanding this concept explains why criticism of Trump being awarded the White House should be considered unfair. The objective of the game was to win 270 Electoral College votes or more. Trump did this. Fair and square.