Thursday, November 17, 2016

Electoral College not to blame for Clinton loss

I received a group email from a LinkedIn contact today asking me to sign a petition to have the electors of the Electoral College make Hillary Clinton president when they meet on Dec. 19 because, after all, she won the popular vote.

Yes, it's true Hillary received more votes overall than President-elect Donald Trump. But most of that is because Hillary won the states of New York and California, both of which have enormous populations (and, it's no secret, are very blue states). Trump won key states like Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Fewer votes by population, perhaps, but a larger total of electoral votes. And that is a good thing, because it underscores that we are a Federal Republic, not a democracy. 

If we were a pure democracy that elected presidents based on popular vote only, those who live in smaller, less populated states would essentially have no say in a national election since the more populous states like New York and California could easily sway the election simply by their large numbers of voters. Candidates would focus all their attention only on those large states that could garner them the most votes, while ignoring the rest of the country. I don't know about you, but I'd prefer not to have our national elections decided largely by California and New York only.

For those blaming the Electoral College for Hillary's loss, think again. When you look at the country map after the election, it's a sea of red, punctuated by blue, heavily populated urban areas. What the Electoral College does is balance the influence of big and small states. The Founding Fathers did not want mob rule or "popular vote" elections for president. That would ensure the big states would elect the president. It is the same argument for having two houses of Congress: one voting by population, the House, and one voting by state with all states equal, the Senate. 

Think about it this way. If the Cleveland Indians won three games in the World Series by a 20-0 score in each game, and the Chicago Cubs won four games 1-0, by "popular vote" standards, the Indians should have been World Series champs. But it's not about how many runs you score, it's how many games you win that counts. With the Electoral College, the rural Kentucky voter has just as much chance of helping his preferred candidate win the state of Kentucky as the wealthy liberal Manhattan voter has of helping his preferred candidate win New York. And isn't it liberals who claim they are for all people, especially the "little guy"? Then they should celebrate the Electoral College for giving everyone equal power in the national election system.

Rest assured, Republicans have also questioned the Electoral College when it hasn't suited them. Nobody likes to lose, but if we were to base our elections just on where most people live, then we all lose because we are no longer a nation grounded in equality in one of the truest senses of the word: that everyone's vote counts. Why would we ever want to change that - unless we're all willing to move to places like California or New York. I'm happy where I am, thanks. 


  1. Great explanation on a concept that too many people don't understand. We can't leave national elections to just the most populated states!

  2. thankfully our founders opposed democracy. They feared the tyranny of the people and thus created the system we have. But they wanted more representation than we have today, which is why the House of Representatives was much larger until congress stopped it from growing. 100 years ago each house member represented about 200,000 citizens, while today it is closer to 800,000. We should double the members of the House to get closer the the vision of our founders.

  3. Under pure democracy, said majority could declare that murder is no longer a crime or that nobody any longer has the freedom of speech. Or a whole list of other terrible things that the majority could suddenly change simply because they are slightly greater. It's the reason why you have to have super majorities (not simple majorities) in the House and Senate to pass bills without any support from the opposition. THe left right now is just having a temper tantrum because their corrupt candidate didn't win. Candidates compete to win electoral votes. the popular vote is just a by-product of that.

    They need to grow up and accept life doesn't always go our way. I don't recall violent protests when obama won a second time and I know there were many many people not happy about that!