Elizabeth Warren is running for president but struggling to gain support. Her latest attention-grabbing idea is to destroy an important American institution: the Electoral College. It seems like a case of, if you can’t beat ‘em, change the rules.
This week, Massachusetts Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren told audiences during a televised townhall that “we should have national voting and that means get rid of the Electoral College.”
For those who need a refresher, the Electoral College is the system by which we elect the President of the United States. A body of 538 electors (or the combined total of U.S. senators and representatives) convenes every four years for the sole purpose of electing POTUS and Vice POTUS.
In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 3 million votes but lost the presidency because candidate Donald Trump won the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win.
Warren joins a chorus which calls for the death of the Electoral College every four years, usually because their candidate lost, claiming that your vote doesn’t count under this system. That’s untrue.
If I live in a very blue state, my vote for a red candidate counts but it’s outnumbered by the other votes for the blue candidate.
As National Review’s Rich Lowry explains,
“If it is the considered progressive view that this is tantamount to disenfranchisement, California could immediately mitigate the problem by splitting its electoral votes by congressional district the way Nebraska and Maine do. This would require no change to the U.S. Constitution, or elaborate schemes. Of course, California is loath to give up any of its solidly Democratic electoral votes.”
The Electoral College recognizes that ALL STATES MATTER and people in small states matter.
We elect the president by a mix of popular-based and state-based voting. As James Madison explained in the Federalist Papers, it was intentional. It gives less populated states a voice.
Otherwise, these states and rural areas wouldn’t be a consideration during the campaign at all. Why devote staff and resources to places with fewer voters?
Candidates would just have an incentive to run up the votes in densely-populated areas like big cities along the coasts and maye Chicago in the midwest. That is really a scenario in which your vote doesn’t matter.
President Trump tweeted a good explanation of this:
Donald J. Trump ?@realDonaldTrump:
Campaigning for the Popular Vote is much easier & different than campaigning for the Electoral College. It’s like training for the 100 yard dash vs. a marathon. The brilliance of the Electoral College is that you must go to many States to win. With the Popular Vote, you go to…. 10:05 PM – Mar 19, 2019
One of Hillary Clinton’s biggest mistakes in 2016 was not spending time in every state but focusing on turnout in big cities. That was a strategy her team thought would deliver the best outcome. It did not.
Blowing up the Electoral College in favor of a simple popular vote will only reinforce this strategy of concentrating money and time in populated areas as the key to success among candidates. Warmly courting coastal elites and urbanites works out great for those citizens but leaves millions of other citizens out in the political cold.