The Left certainly was hammering this point home after President-elect Donald J. Trump’s upset win over Hillary Clinton on November 8 and now The New York Times has joined the “let’s abolish the Electoral College because our gal lost” bandwagon. Again, the op-ed by the publication’s editorial board has no sense of history. Yes, the reasons for changing it are crap. And yes, there is zero chance that the Electoral College will ever be abolished:
By overwhelming majorities, Americans would prefer to elect the president by direct popular vote, not filtered through the antiquated mechanism of the Electoral College.
And so for the second time in 16 years, the candidate who lost the popular vote has won the presidency. Unlike 2000, it wasn’t even close. Hillary Clinton beat Mr. Trump by more than 2.8 million votes, or 2.1 percent of the electorate.
The Electoral College, which is written into the Constitution, is more than just a vestige of the founding era; it is a living symbol of America’s original sin. When slavery was the law of the land, a direct popular vote would have disadvantaged the Southern states, with their large disenfranchised populations. Counting those men and women as three-fifths of a white person, as the Constitution originally did, gave the slave states more electoral votes.
Today the college, which allocates electors based on each state’s representation in Congress, tips the scales in favor of smaller states; a Wyoming resident’s vote counts 3.6 times as much as a Californian’s. And because almost all states use a winner-take-all system, the election ends up being fought in just a dozen or so “battleground” states, leaving tens of millions of Americans on the sidelines.
Conservative opponents of a direct vote say it would give an unfair edge to large, heavily Democratic cities and states. But why should the votes of Americans in California or New York count for less than those in Idaho or Texas? A direct popular vote would treat all Americans equally, no matter where they live — including, by the way, Republicans in San Francisco and Democrats in Corpus Christi, whose votes are currently worthless. The system as it now operates does a terrible job of representing the nation’s demographic and geographic diversity. Almost 138 million Americans went to the polls this year, but Mr. Trump secured his Electoral College victory thanks to fewer than 80,000 votes across three states: Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
First, let me kill this thing with a sledgehammer—the GOP domination at the state level would almost assure that an amendment to abolish the College would fail the three-fourths threshold. Moreover, with a Republican Congress, there’s no way two-thirds of both houses would ever vote in support of this measure. So, politically, it’s not going to happen.
Second, it’s a rare occurrence that the winner of a presidential election wins the Electoral College and not the popular vote. It’s happened five times in our 240-year history. That’s, uh, not very common. The elections of 1824, 1876, 1888, 2000, and 2016 ended this way, so everyone chill out; the country has survived these moments. Also, Clinton will now be in the history books, so you’d think liberals would be happy. In all, expand the timeline—it’s really nothing to fuss about. Also, enough with the slavery talking point. You can talk about it all you want. It won’t change anything; slavery was also never law of the land. Second, Jefferson won 1800 because he won New York state and the cities. If Adams had won the state that has traditionally been the beacon of progressivism and anti-slave, despite New York City being engulfed in what became a race riot over the draft during the Civil War, then he would have won re-election. It wasn’t due to southern skewing.
Also, no one is saying that New York or California voters don’t count, but they’re in states where the concentrations of population and power would overwhelm the rest of the country if it were changed to a direct election. There is no way we can remain a united country if the snobs on the coasts dictate the agenda. The coasts are not the majority of America, though I’m sure they think they are. In the Electoral College, these two deep blue states still have an enormous amount of power. They’re the two largest bloc of guaranteed electoral votes for Democrats—84 in total. These states are powerless now because Clinton showed she was so terrible that she couldn’t win an election? Oh, and The Times cares about Republicans in San Francisco? Don’t make us laugh. In fact, that’s probably one of the most disingenuous claims in the entire op-ed—The Times wanting to give a voice to Republicans in deep blue areas.
And this passage shows why this whole notion of destroying America’s electoral process is stupid: “Almost 138 million Americans went to the polls this year, but Mr. Trump secured his Electoral College victory thanks to fewer than 80,000 votes across three states: Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.”
Breaking news: if Clinton has actually cared about white working class voters and, you know, showed up in these three states—she might be president right now. It wasn’t because of the Electoral College, my dear, dear New York Times. Your gal just sucked at campaigning for president, the same way she did back in 2008. You just can’t win with her. Period. For god’s sake, Trump won with white women. All of you on the Left thought she had this in the bag. Even Clinton thought she had it sewn up. She was wrong. Trump won the majority of the states, he campaigned in areas where people thought he was nuts, like Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin. In the end, he won the latter two and came within 1.4 points of winning Minnesota. Clinton couldn’t get her side energized. Voters didn’t trust her. She only won more popular votes than Trump because of California.
If you remove California, Trump wins more popular votes by 1.4 million. A silly trolling exercise, yes, but one that surely drove some on the Left insane. It just shows that the most insufferable state in the country is the reason why Clinton won the plurality, not the majority of popular votes. She wasn’t even good enough to win that contest outright.
Also, regarding swing states, they change too. In 2000, if Gore had won Tennessee, Arkansas, and West Virginia, he would’ve been president—even with Bush winning Florida. Those three states aren’t exactly powerhouses when it comes to Electoral College commentary.
Jeffrey Anderson wrote in The Weekly Standard some excellent points as to why the Electoral College is a fantastic system:
It requires a candidate to have cross-sectional support. The Electoral College makes it hard for a candidate to win who is not supported by large swaths of the country, from sea to shining sea. In this way, it is a nod to—yes—diversity. A presidential candidate cannot easily prevail by dominating just a few heavily populated regions or municipalities. He or she must appeal to the nation as a whole.
Barack Obama was something of an exception, as he twice won despite losing the vast majority of counties and winning only five states not bordering either coast or the Great Lakes. But Hillary Clinton stretched this parochial strategy to the breaking point. Just 20 years after her husband won almost half of all counties nationwide, Hillary won less than one county for every five won by Donald Trump. One could drive from coast to coast without going through a single Hillary county, while the farthest one could get from the coastal states without going through a Trump county would be from the Pacific to Nevada, or from the Atlantic to Pennsylvania or New Hampshire. Not coincidentally, that's about as far inland as candidates would regularly venture under a national popular vote, as they would spend most of their time flying back and forth between the I-95 and I-5 corridors.
It almost always produces a clear winner. A national popular vote would at times result in razor-thin margins, but the electoral vote has rarely been close. Over the past century, the presidency has been decided by fewer than 100 electoral votes only five times and by fewer than 50 only twice. (It was decided by 77 this year.) The median margin of victory across the past 100 years has been a whopping 277 electoral votes. This has certainly added to the president's perceived legitimacy.
It reduces the influence of fraud. With many Democratic-leaning states adamantly refusing to check voters' IDs, or relying almost exclusively on mail-in ballots, a nationwide popular vote would be an open invitation to fraud. Even if more Democratic-leaning states started ID'ing voters, many of them—such as California—give driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, so checking their IDs would largely be pointless. Such states would pad their votes and illegitimately alter the national tally.
It is weighted just like Congress. If the Electoral College is illegitimate, then so is the Senate, with its equal-state representation (the only part of the Constitution that the Constitution itself says cannot be amended). When critics of the electoral vote complain about its departure from the supposedly sacrosanct principle of "one person, one vote," they seem oblivious to the fact that each state's number of electoral votes is simply equal to its number of representatives (population-based) plus its number of senators (two per state). In other words, representation in Congress "violates" this same principle—and by exactly the same amount as the Electoral College does. Smaller states didn't want to be entirely dominated by larger states in the union they all agreed to form. The same motivation underlies the Electoral College.
The Left wants to abolish the College because it’s old and Hillary Clinton lost. I think the latter is the main reason. In a federal constitutional republic like ours, in election, some times the other guys wins. In this case, it was Donald Trump. He won. No one is really disputing his win. Democrats just need to deal with it. And they need to stop blaming the Electoral College, or racism, or sexism, or misogyny to explain why their crappy candidate lost. She was terrible. Maybe have that honest discussion if you can still have those without some precious snowflake running to their safe space because they felt triggered by real life.