Since its establishment, there has always been a debate over whether the electoral college should play a role in presidential elections. Republicans usually say it should, while Democrats seesaw depending on whether their candidate won the last election.
Since 2016, those on the left have become proponents for abandoning the electoral college. This current belief has manifested itself in a bill introduced in the by Tennessee Democrat Steve Cohen to dismiss the electoral college.
Cohen claims the electoral college “distorts” the election and says “It is past time to directly elect our President and Vice President.”
Cohen is absolutely right the Electoral College does distort the election, and that’s why it is imperative we keep it.
The way it “distorts” the election is by making it more inclusive.
The electoral college assigns a numerical value to each state as to how many delegates they can send to elect a president. This quantifies each state’s political power in an election cycle. California, for instance has 55, while Tennessee has just 11. Whoever wins that state, whether by one vote or a million, wins all the delegates.
Presidential campaigns normally feature a candidate focusing on a group of states which have anywhere from 10 to the 30 electoral points and do not have a solid majority of either party in them. The candidates will then cater to those six or seven states.
The chief complaint against this campaign process stems from the viewpoint that candidates do not address everybody, whereas a popular vote would force candidates to address the nation. The opposite is actually true.
North Carolina, Florida and Pennsylvania, for instance, are geographically distinct and are considered battleground states. Each of these states faces different issues. For example, since Florida has a large senior citizen demographic, issues such as Medicare which concern senior citizens come to the forefront in every election.
This way an elderly person in Nebraska has their issues addressed, even though they do not live in Florida. Since a politician is catering to a person in Florida, he or she is by extension helping that voter in a state like Nebraska.
In a popular vote system, this wouldn’t happen. Nobody cares what an 80-year-old Nebraska woman would feel because there is a single county in California with a higher population than the entire state of Nebraska. Since there is a much smaller group of seniors in California, a politician can just ignore those issues, knowing that by winning one county they can get more votes than an entire state.
In the last cycle, Hillary Clinton lost Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Why? Because she barely made any campaign stops there. In 2020 Presidential candidates will have to travel there to vie for votes since over 30 electoral points will be up for grabs.
In a popular vote system, nobody would care what those states want or need since they wouldn’t need to win them in order to win the White House.
In terms of population those three states barely hold a candle to California, but in the electoral system they hold almost as much power. Due to this, voters from vastly different regions are catered to. This balance is the beauty of the electoral system and why we should keep it.