I’ve written many times on the Electoral College. While there are problems we should address, I’m not for the wholesale elimination of the concept.
I’ll admit, I’m a center-left, cross-ballot voter. This year, my ballot looked like a Christmas tree, lit up with red, blue, and yellow blips of light that would drive any exit-pollster nuts — and as such, in the last 16 years I’ve been ‘burned’ twice by my presidential pick winning the popular vote while losing the Electoral College.
But enough is enough. We have to stop wailing on about winning the popular vote and still losing.
There are two primary reasons for this — and we really need to think about these reasons when we engage in discussions about the Electoral College.
First, candidates ‘play the game’ with the rules they are given. They are campaigning based on an Electoral College win — saying that Hillary Clinton would have won if the rules had been different is outright foolish. Both candidates would have changed their campaigning styles and strategies — who would really know what the outcome would have been?
Enough is enough. We have to stop wailing on about winning the popular vote and still losing.David Yee, IVN Independent Author
This is critical to understand and will eventually lead to the second point.
Both candidates spent the majority of their time in the battleground states, trying to woo those voters with the ideas (even if at times goofy from both sides) that they thought would win over those voters.
Each candidate started with a core number of states ‘in their pocket,’ and those states got a lot of attention during the primary as both candidates looked to secure their party’s respective nomination. And then they were mostly forgotten during the general election.
Now, for example’s sake, let’s assume a popular vote exists — now you would see Clinton jet setting to cities like Dallas/Ft. Worth and Houston, both very, very Democratic in overall votes, trying to drive more total votes from what was a ‘lost cause.’
And you would have also seen Donald Trump at a national level trying to woo over the voters in the rural, more conservative counties of the bluest of states.
The end result becomes the second point.
In the end, a popular vote would create such a paradigm shift that Republicans would be forced to become more moderate, to win over the conservative vote nationwide (let’s keep in mind that ‘red’ voters in California are not ideologically the same as ‘red’ voters in Texas or North Dakota). At the same time, the Democrats could hole up in the 30 largest metropolitan areas to campaign, giving them every reason to tilt further left in their campaigning — they no longer need swing state appeal.
If either of these things actually happened, would we still have the results we saw on November 8?
There would be no possible way of knowing this. The entire flavor of the election would be different — even the methods of selecting primary delegates would be up in the air. There is no clear-cut way of knowing what any outcome would be.
But in reality, any changes to the way we select the president can’t favor one side more than the other, or even create a paradigm so drastically different that it forces the parties to move ideologically in counterproductive ways.
The next time you’re tempted to think that Hillary Clinton would have won in 2016 election under a popular vote, ask yourself …
Would a more liberal Clinton still have won against a more moderate Trump?