The Dems have been quick to blame the antiquated Electoral College for Donald Trump’s victory, claiming that Hillary Clinton would have won if the United States elected presidents by popular vote.
Some are calling to amend the system, and outgoing Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has even introduced legislation that would eliminate the Electoral College altogether.
As of October 19th, the Hillary Clinton campaign team had raised $1.3 billion. Donald Trump’s team had raised only $795 million. Stats like this certainly make it seem like the majority of America preferred Hillary (and she did win the popular vote), but what the Dems don’t seem to realize is that the campaigning process would change if America adopted a popular vote system.
The 2016 presidential election was a tight race. Much of the focus was on swing states like Florida, Ohio, and North Carolina.
In fact, over 50% of campaign events for Hillary Clinton, Tim Kaine, Donald Trump, and Mike Pence in the two months preceding the election took place in just four states: Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, and Florida.
Donald Trump won seven swing states as well as the popular vote overall when you look at all twelve swing states. In other words, he won where he needed to win.
In a popular vote election, candidates would focus on big cities and avoid large rural areas with low populations. Campaign money would have been shifted to get the vote out in friendlier states, and either candidate could have won.
The Electoral College is often criticized because it doesn’t give third party candidates a fair shot, and it certainly doesn’t encourage alternate parties to develop. The system isn’t perfect, but the Electoral College is an important check in our election system. It gives states more control in presidential elections, forces politicians to sell their wares to a more skeptical audience, and prevents candidates from focusing on population centers.
Without the Electoral college America would in fact be even more polarized than has become the case after a divisive Obama administration. Rather that having to convincing various parts of the country of your worth, and winning the swing states which seem to vary each election (in 1988 California was considered a reliable Republican state!), elections would focus on populations centers. The rest of the country would be ignored, giving a huge advantage of power to these areas.
As has been said, it would be like two wolves and a goat voting on what they will have for dinner.
Would Hillary have won without the electoral college? Probably not.
Motivating “any” voter is cheaper than motivating “certain” voters. Trump would have had to change his strategy and focus on the votes rather than areas, but with the money he was spending he could have motivated more voters in a dense population area rather than concentrating on the swing states that were less densely populated and more difficult to sway. Trump’s message was already resonating, he did what he did with considerably less money than Hillary.
If you really want to tear down an election ritual of archaic origin that would pave the way for a more just and equitable election, I highly recommend we all aim our fire at this absurd tradition that elections have to be held on a Tuesday in November, which well and truly sucks for minorities and working people,” writes Huffington Post’s Jason Linkins. “That’s a worthier idea for a piece of lame-duck electoral reform, and frankly, it’s more in tune with the mood of the country.”