The Electoral College’s Real Problem: It’s Biased Toward the Big Battlegrounds

A winner-take-all system within states can produce results counter to the majority for no high-minded reason.

Comments: 271

  1. This article like most on the electoral college ignores the reason that the electoral college was created in 1787: To protect the power of the slaveholding class, by giving it an undemocratic leverage in selecting the president. The anti-democratic electoral college exists now as a legacy of the power of enslavers, like James Madison.

  2. There are several provisions related to slavery in the constitution, such as the 3/5 compromise, but few scholars would include the electoral college. As with state legislatures electing senators, the electoral college was meant to reduce the chances of the lower classes electing dangerously unqualified politicians to the federal government. The framers of the constitution wanted intermediaries to temper the mob rule element of democracy. Which is why at the time of ratification the House of Representatives was the only part of the federal government directly elected by the people. If you don’t like the electoral college, you can always try to amend the constitution. Direct election of senators was achieved with the 17th Amendment over a century ago. So it can be done.

  3. @Mark Higbee You are basically right, especially since the 3/5 rule inflated the southern states' congress delegations (and thus the number of electors). However, you could have chosen a better witness for the prosecution. James Madison was actually in favour of directly electing the president.

  4. @H. Slaves were counted as 3/5 of a person for the census, which determines the apportionment of congressional representatives, which in turn determines the apportionment of the electoral college. But those slaves could not vote, so slave holding states had disproportional representation in the House of Representatives, in the Senate (because their populations were smaller) and in the electoral college. Difficult to perceive these facts any other way.

  5. The electoral college limits the impact of fraudulent votes to the state in which they are created, rather than awarding the entire presidency to the party which can create the largest number of "votes" in the areas it controls. Additionally, under the electoral college, the fraud that counts most is that which tips battleground states -- see Florida in 2000 -- but in those large, urban states there is plenty of opposition and exposure available, which mitigates the fraud itself.

  6. @ddr - With the current system, a small number of people in a closely divided “battleground” state can potentially affect enough popular votes to swing all of that state’s electoral votes. 537 votes, all in one state determined the 2000 election, when there was a lead of 537,179 (1,000 times more) popular votes nationwide. The current system maximizes the incentive and opportunity for fraud, mischief, misinformation campaigns, coercion, intimidation, confusion, and voter suppression. A very few people can change the national outcome by adding, changing, or suppressing a small number of votes in one closely divided battleground state. With the current system all of a state's electoral votes are awarded to the candidate who receives a bare plurality of the votes in each state. The sheer magnitude of the national popular vote number, compared to individual state vote totals, is much more robust against manipulation. The closest popular-vote election count over the last 130+ years of American history (in 1960), had a nationwide margin of more than 100,000 popular votes. The closest electoral-vote election in American history (in 2000) was determined by 537 votes, all in one state, when there was a lead of 537,179 (1,000 times more) popular votes nationwide. For a national popular vote election to be as easy to switch as 2000, it would have to be 200 times closer than the 1960 election--and, in popular-vote terms, 40 times closer than 2000 itself.

  7. When one reads this article, the feeling immediately arises that one should read the article again, since it really makes no sense at all, is so convoluted, and so anti-intuitive, that ridding ourselves of the Electoral College seems like a no brainer. I do not see how a "democracy" can rely on something other than the popular vote to select representation. No where, other than for the Presidency, is there a similar dynamic/practice. The "one man one vote" concept is obliterated by the Electoral College, as is representation in the Senate (which not so coincidentally is carried over in to the Electoral College). In this past election, it is reported that a difference of 70,000 votes separated the winner from the loser, when the looser had at least 3 million more votes than the winner. One should be able to conclude from this that the Presidential election can be easily manipulated by someone with the right data, such as Russia for example. If the targets are few, how much easier is it to focus ones attention and effort on these alone. And as apparent as it is that the Russians interfered with the election, it is even more obvious that it was designed to benefit Trump. This would be the more obvious reason to eliminate the Electoral College.

  8. @Reuben: Manipulate our election such as Russia or manipulate the masses through the expenditure of 3 billion dollars both parties paid to elect someone. Seriously? Tut tut, this isn't a board game named Morality. Everyone's trying to manipulate someone around here.

  9. @Reuben Thanks for your comment. Boy, your opening paragraph was like looking inside my brain because that is exactly how I felt and what I was thinking. While your analysis was articulated extremely well, I am still puzzled and confused how and why "the looser [who] had at least 3 million more votes than the winner" still lost. This just strikes me as wrong and insane. If a president is elected from members of the Electoral College, why do Americans even bother to vote in the first place? Was there ever a case in which a president was elected by the voters alone and NOT the Electoral College? Apologies for sounding dense, I'm simply asking because I don't fully understand this aspect of American government. And here I thought rocket science was complicated.

  10. @Marge Keller Its not that complicated. The number of electoral votes is equal to the number of Representatives and Senators each state sends to Washington. All of these these votes (with the exception of Maine and Nebraska) are cast in favor of the candidate that wins the popular vote in the state, even if the margin of victory is only one vote. Hence all the campaigning is done in the"battleground" states and the one party states are largely ignored .

  11. "In fact, there is no reason that Mr. Trump, who has complained about how he did in California, needs to put his name on the ballot there at all." Since California is, in fact, a solidly blue state, there is no need for either democrat or a republican to vote there at all. In one instance, it wouldn't be necessary, and in the other instance it would be futile. In further fact, if it weren't for its Electoral College votes, California is superfluous in a presidential election. I have actually witnessed more than several presidential elections decided even before our polling places closed.

  12. Probably many people agree that it would be a good idea to dispense with the Electoral College. But the Electoral College is not going anywhere because to remove it from the Constitution would require amending the U. S. Constitution. To do that would require that the Democrats control the U. S. House of Representatives, have a filibuster proof majority in the U. S. Senate, and be able to get it passed by the legislatures in 3/4 of the states. I am not sure that at this point the Democrats can get their act together to retain control of the House and elect a Democratic President in 2020. Individual states can tinker with how electoral votes are awarded -- winner take all, proportionally, etc. But most of the legislatures are controlled by republicans and they probably don't want to change the system. The Democrats need to get serious about showing up for and winning elections before they start thinking about changing the methods of election. It is ironic that the founders who wrote the Constitution wanted to, in the words of H of NYC in comments below, "keep dangerously unqualified politicians" from being elected. In the case of our present President, that motive failed miserably since not only is he dangerously unqualified but is also a known con man. In our elections , the people who get elected reflect the electors. In our last Presidential election, the flimflam candidate won.

  13. @Aubrey - The National Popular Vote bill was approved in 2016 by a unanimous bipartisan House committee vote in both Georgia (16 electoral votes) and Missouri (10). Since 2006, the bill has passed 37 state legislative chambers in 23 rural, small, medium, large, Democratic, Republican and purple states with 261 electoral votes, including one house in Arizona (11), Arkansas (6), Maine (4), Michigan (16), Nevada (6), North Carolina (15), and Oklahoma (7), and both houses in Delaware (3), and New Mexico (5). The bill has been enacted by 13 small, medium, and large jurisdictions with 181 electoral votes – 67% of the way to guaranteeing the majority of Electoral College votes and the presidency to the candidate with the most national popular votes.

  14. @mvymvy I am glad to hear this; I hope that it is successful. Thanks for your comment and best wishes.

  15. The argument about regionalism is pretty thin stuff. Fully one third of California's electoral votes would have gone to Trump under a proportional system. How is a winner-take-all Electoral College diffusing coastal regionalism then? Quite the opposite. Winner-take-all exaggerates the perception of regional differences which polarizes voters. Californians are branded coastal elites and liberal hippies. Well, 30 percent of the population apparently does not conform to that stereotype. You can make a similar argument about Texas or Utah. Proportional allocation would change attitudes toward national differences even if they didn't have a material effect on the election result. Proportional allocation also makes statewide office holders more accountable to the electorate. There's a very clear reason why Susan Collins and Ben Sasse are regularly among the names willing to challenge or break with Republican leadership. They do not operate in a winner-take-all political system. Honestly, states shouldn't even have a say in how federal elections are orchestrated. State authority over federal election practices violates the principle of separate sovereignty. States have the constitutional authority to determine their own elections. True. However, that power does not extend to national elections. Technically speaking, the federal government should hold elections independently of any state political apparatus.

  16. @Andy - "Proportional allocation also makes statewide office holders more accountable to the electorate." Exemplified in 2019 when UT's legislators repeatedly, blithely (and safely) ignored clear direction from voter initiatives, eh Andy?

  17. @Andy "states shouldn't even have a say in how federal elections are orchestrated" Article I, Section 4 of the constitution: "The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof...."

  18. @Miss Anne Thrope You must know the initiatives were only safely ignored as a result of partisan gerrymandering, right? The state legislature couldn't safely alter constitutional law without a super majority. Republicans don't have a super majority without the gerrymander. If Utah were proportionally represented, the ballot initiatives would most likely stand unchanged.

  19. If we were truly a democratic nation and the forces of manipulation and greed were not governing factors, it would be quite simple to elect a president. Registered citizens go to the polls and cast their paper ballots, votes are counted by an honest and trustworthy committee. Vote totals are collected from states, the person with the most votes wins and becomes president. Our problem seems to be the lack of trust and honesty in what could be a true democracy.

  20. @hdw That's hardly simple. To begin with, who and what is "an honest and trustworthy committee" would be constantly questioned and requestioned.

  21. I feel that one of the biggest issues with the Electoral College is that the House has been capped at 435 members for over 100 years now. If it were allowed to expand and keep district sizes the same (as they were back in the early 20th century), we'd probably have a more even (and fairer) distribution of electoral votes.

  22. @David C Expanding the size of the House would minimize the impact of two senators per state but wouldn't change the winner take all system. You would still have battleground states determining the outcome and one party states being left out.

  23. @David C - We don't need to aspire to just settle for "a more even (and fairer) distribution of electoral votes." The National Popular Vote bill is 67% of the way to guaranteeing the majority of Electoral College votes and the presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the country, by changing state winner-take-all laws (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states), without changing anything in the Constitution, using the built-in method that the Constitution provides for states to make changes. It simply requires enacting states with 270 electoral votes to award their electoral votes to the winner of the most national popular votes. All voters would be valued equally in presidential elections, no matter where they live. Candidates, as in other elections, would allocate their time, money, polling, organizing, and ad buys roughly in proportion to the population

  24. @David C--If it's still winner take all in most states, this will do next to nothing to change what has been going on. We need to either go along with the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which when passed by enough states (states with a total of 270 electoral votes or more), will ensure that all of those electors go to the national popular vote winner, or we need to convince states to allocate their votes proportionately between (or among) candidates. The first one is more foolproof and on its way to becoming a reality. Otherwise we need to change the Constitution, which is not easy.

  25. Those who seem ready to dismiss the Electoral College without much consideration seem also to confuse democracy with republic (maybe just some simple word play at work?) and also have little regard for the significance of the States. Ruling by simple majority sounds great, until the majority over-rules foundational principals (minority rights, anyone?). And direct democracy perhaps could be achieved--how about replacing elected representatives with a phone app, where we could all vote several times each hour to decide issues great and small. By definition, a republic means that many of us, at any given time, will be represented by officials we did not vote for. If we accept that States have any legal and social significance, then discussions about "unbalanced" representation, in both the EC and in Congress, have to account for the interests of States as separate entities. And the recognition that the President represents States as well as people. One option: instead of eliminating the EC, increase the number of Representatives in the House to restore proportionality.

  26. @Bob Krantz - Restoring proportionality would not make every vote, everywhere, for every candidate, politically relevant and equal in every presidential election, or guarantee the presidency to the winner of the national popular vote. The National Popular Vote bill would. States have the responsibility and constitutional power to make all of their voters relevant in every presidential election and beyond. Now 38 states and their voters are politically irrelevant in presidential elections. Unable to agree on any particular method, the Founding Fathers left the choice of method for selecting presidential electors exclusively to the states by adopting the language contained in section 1 of Article II of the U.S. Constitution— "Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors . . ." The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly characterized the authority of the state legislatures over the manner of awarding their electoral votes as "plenary" and "exclusive." The powers of state governments are neither increased nor decreased based on whether presidential electors are selected along the state boundary lines, or national lines (as with the National Popular Vote). Being a constitutional republic does not mean we should not and cannot guarantee the election of the presidential candidate with the most popular votes. The candidate with the most votes wins in every other election in the country.

  27. I believe the real problem is the bias of small states in the Senate. California has two senators and Wyoming has two Senators. An answer would be big states should bust themselves up smaller states. They could combine services to maintain some of the advantages of size. I know many would not like losing their identity with the big state but the change would not require Constitutional amendment.

  28. @Larry This idea and costs of breaking up large states is about the same as performing surgery on the foot to make it fit the shoe. Abolish the Electoral College. Have a uniform minimum national standard to guarantee that citizens are not subject to voter suppression. Political parties would have more incentive in states to make sure it's electorate came out in force to vote. This is not 1789 with an electorate that is largely uneducated, scattered in remote places with little communication, and limited travel mobility. It is 2019 with a diverse, literate electorate and mass communication.

  29. @Larry "the change would not require Constitutional amendment." No, but it would require Congressional approval, which is highly unlikely.

  30. @Dave Which is precisely why Puerto Rico and other territories will not become states, despite voting for it. Republicans in congress will never allow the addition of more democratic leaning states.

  31. We will have to agree to disagree. The real issue with the electoral college stems from the failure of proportional representation in the house and senate which determines the number of electoral votes. The artificial limit of 435 combined with how much actual population is represented by two senators is the problem. Just in the House alone, it ranges from 400,000 per representative to over 750,000. That is the core reason for the sparsely populated state bias. Add to that the gerrymandering as to which populations are served by which representative, that is a recipe for problems. If we fixed the proportional issue, the electoral college would take care of itself.

  32. @tom - Fixing the proportional issue, would not make every vote, everywhere, for every candidate, politically relevant and equal in every presidential election, or guarantee the presidency to the winner of the national popular vote. The National Popular Vote bill would.

  33. @tom Did you miss the part where he said that the small-state bias cost Clinton ~4 EC votes?

  34. The only time people get mad at Electoral College is when there candidate losses.

  35. The electoral college is a problem in every election for precisely the reasons the article sets out: that every campaign is fought in a limited number of battleground states so that the vast majority of voters have no electoral significance. California is so large that despite its solid blue status there are more California Republicans that there are Republicans in most or every red state, yet no one pays any attention to California Republicans. All the attention is on a few swing voters in a few swing states.

  36. @lalo - In Gallup polls since they started asking in 1944 until the 2016 election, only about 20% of the public supported the current system of awarding all of a state's electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states) (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). Support for a national popular vote for President has been strong among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group in every state surveyed. In the 41 red, blue, and purple states surveyed, overall support has been in the 67-81% range - in rural states, in small states, in Southern and border states, in big states, and in other states polled. More and more voters realize their votes do not matter. Voters want to know, that no matter where they live, even if they were on the losing side, their vote actually was equally counted and mattered to their candidate. Most Americans think it is wrong that the candidate with the most popular votes can lose. It undermines the legitimacy of the electoral system. We don't allow this in any other election in our representative republic. Since 2006, the National Popular Vote bill has passed 37 state legislative chambers in 23 rural, small, medium, large, Democratic, Republican and purple states with 261 electoral votes.

  37. The one good thing about DJT's election is that most American citizens are at least a bit more aware how policy is made and executed in the US, regardless of which state you live in. Even though the original role of a presidential elector was to overrule the mob to prevent the election of a highly-unqualified candidate, that's merely ceremonial now - in fact, a few electors even switched their vote +TO+ DJT in the 2016 election. What's more important to realize is that the Congress truly controls much of what our government really does, and the judiciary makes sure that unjust laws are picked apart and halted based on precedence and common sense. That's what's really stymied DJT's administration on several fronts, as well as the massive federal bureaucracy that knows what their job is and how to do it reasonably well. Let's consider DJT what he really is: a fluke, elected by < 80K people, and move on to his indictment while in office (remember, it's just a DOJ policy!) and imprisonment for any number of crimes committed while in office, including violating campaign finance laws and the emoluments clause of the Constitution, as well as high treason for conspiring with known elements of the Russian intelligence service (see: Mueller Report, soon to come).

  38. The Electoral College was born out of slavery because white southerners, with a lack of voters, came up a compromise towards counting slaves as 3/5 of a person while not specifically giving them the vote. It has nothing to do with proportional representation. It should have been abolished years ago as it is a cancer on American democracy. It only perpetuates corruption in our elections and helps to make those elections vulnerable to exploitation from foreign governments. It has failed in its desire to keep the process equitable. It needs to be abolished.

  39. @H. Haskin - Now we just need to urge state legislators, in states with the 81 more electoral votes needed, to enact the National Popular Vote bill. There have been hundreds of unsuccessful proposed amendments to modify or abolish the Electoral College - more than any other subject of Constitutional reform. To abolish the Electoral College would need a constitutional amendment, and could be stopped by states with as little as 3% of the U.S. population. Instead, state legislation, The National Popular Vote bill is 67% of the way to guaranteeing the majority of Electoral College votes and the presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the country, by changing state winner-take-all laws (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states), without changing anything in the Constitution, using the built-in method that the Constitution provides for states to make changes. It simply requires enacting states with 270 electoral votes to award their electoral votes to the winner of the most national popular votes. All voters would be valued equally in presidential elections, no matter where they live. Candidates, as in other elections, would allocate their time, money, polling, organizing, and ad buys roughly in proportion to the population

  40. @H. Haskin Indeed it is the last lingering most enduring legacy of American slavery and needs to be abolished. Slavery has been abolished. Suffrage has been expanded beyond wealth, white landowners to include EVERY citizen of 18 years of age or older. And yet, the electoral college remains.

  41. @H. Haskin This is a myth. It was the only way small states were going to approve the Constitution as a protection against dominance by Virginia and New York, which together had half the population and the lion's share of the wealth and national leaders.

  42. The main point here is that the electoral college acts to disenfranchise the minority party/opinion in the “unbalanced” states. States which are essentially split 60/40 like Alabama, California, Mississippi, South Carolina and New York. That is the problem, upstate New York or North West California on one side and blacks and Hispanics in the South. Their votes are flushed. That is the one unequivocal argument against the electoral college. Invented by Madison and the drafters to ensure the states power and mainly that the uneducated riffraff didn’t vote in a fool who would attack the 1% it is a strange anachronism of history. But NOT an overwhelming factor for the small states, a real bias yes. Very doubtful we can get our act together to change it. As noted it does give advantage to one party and to small states, just a lot less than we think. Getting 34 states alligned is pretty difficult, especially given our perceptions here.

  43. @HJR - The National Popular Vote bill was approved in 2016 by a unanimous bipartisan House committee vote in both Georgia (16 electoral votes) and Missouri (10). Since 2006, the bill has passed 37 state legislative chambers in 23 rural, small, medium, large, Democratic, Republican and purple states with 261 electoral votes, including one house in Arizona (11), Arkansas (6), Maine (4), Michigan (16), Nevada (6), North Carolina (15), and Oklahoma (7), and both houses in Delaware (3), and New Mexico (5). The bill has been enacted by 13 small, medium, and large jurisdictions with 181 electoral votes – 67% of the way to guaranteeing the majority of Electoral College votes and the presidency to the candidate with the most national popular votes. When enacted by states with 270 electoral votes, it would change state winner-take-all laws (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states), in the enacting states, without changing anything in the Constitution, using the built-in method that the Constitution provides for states to make changes. Based on the current mix of states that have enacted the National Popular Vote compact, it could take about 25 states to reach the 270 electoral votes needed to activate the compact.

  44. @HJR WRONG!!!! Uneducated, misinformed "rif-raf" were not allowed to vote in Madison's day. And those rich, white, property-owning men who WERE the ONLY ones allowed suffrage at the time were the ones writing the rules, and would never have referred to themselves as "rif-raf." The electoral college was a give-away to the slave owning states who got to count their slaves at 3/5 of one person in order to reach parity in population with non-slave states, which had more people. That false parity gave slave states more representatives and thus, more electors since the number of electors are derived based on a states total number of congressmen. The over-bred their slaves in order to continue to boost their false representative numbers until they started a war over slavery, and lost. The electoral college is the last, most enduring legacy of slavery in the USA and needs to be abolished, just like the 3/5 compromise was.

  45. In 2016, Donald shouted that the Electoral Collge System is rigged. That's because he would lose less than half mpre popula\ous states toHillary and lose, wvwn if he were to win more "states". Now his tone has reversed and he sees the beauty and rightousness os the system At the same time the Democrats including Warrn and others are claiming that the electoral system is flawed because it led elections of the candidates who received less votes of the US citizens yhan the opponent. They want to eliminate the electoral College System and replace it with Populae Vote. It is true that the electoral College system was introduced in the horse and buggy days when communications and transportation was primitivve and voting was left to the states. Changing it will require constitution amendment which is all but impossible because 75% of the sates will not agree. A simpler solution is to allocate the electoral collge votes oin proportion to the votes the candidate receives in each state. Thias way, Republicans in Blue states will count as well as the Democrats in the Red States. We need to replace the "winner takes all" with proportional allocation of the electoral College votes.

  46. @Wonderfool - Again, There are good reasons why no state awards their electors proportionally. Electors are people. They each have one vote. The result would be a very inexact whole number proportional system. Every voter in every state would not be politically relevant or equal in presidential elections. It would sharply increases the odds of no candidate getting the majority of electoral votes needed, leading to the selection of the president by the U.S. House of Representatives, regardless of the popular vote anywhere. It would not accurately reflect the nationwide popular vote; It would reduce the influence of any state, if not all states adopted. It would not improve upon the current situation in which four out of five states and four out of five voters in the United States are ignored by presidential campaigns, but instead, would create a very small set of states in which only one electoral vote is in play (while making most states politically irrelevant), It would not make every vote equal. It would not guarantee the Presidency to the candidate with the most popular votes in the country. The National Popular Vote bill is the way to make every person's vote equal and matter to their candidate because it guarantees the majority of Electoral College votes to the candidate who gets the most votes among all 50 states and DC.

  47. Not a fan of the shot at Trump supporters. "Whiter and less educated"

  48. @Peyton As a general pattern, isn't that factually correct?

  49. How do define “educated”? Having a degree? Please! We are long way past considering anyone with a degree as automatically “educated”. That ship sailed a long time go.

  50. @Peyton This is demographic statistic, not an insult.

  51. One thing both conservatives and liberals agree on is to apply the Wyoming rule. Expand the House so it accurately reflects the different population sizes of states today. It was artificially capped at 435 in 1911. That will take care of the big state-small state problem. But as this piece makes clear, the only real answer (if we keep the Electoral College) is to go to a proportional allocation system. It would encourage candidates to compete for an extra EV in all states and not swing states only.

  52. @Elrod I can't speak to the Wyoming rule - I haven't given it any thought myself - but as to the point about having to do proportional allocation if we keep the EC, that's not true. We can go with the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which would ensure that the candidate who got the most votes would get enough electoral college votes to win. The Electoral College would remain, but in much the same vein as the House voting to certify the election results, it would become a formality, more a ceremonial part of the process than anything else.

  53. @Elrod Agreed--the membership of the House could be doubled, or even tripled. It is hard to imagine the Founders accepting each Representative with a cohort of three quarters of a million constituents--the Constitution actually mentions no less than 30,000, but not a maximum. Expanding the House would help to dilute the Senate bias of 2 Electoral votes each that less populous states now use to advantage.

  54. @Elrod - There are good reasons why no state awards their electors proportionally. Electors are people. They each have one vote. The result would be a very inexact whole number proportional system. Every voter in every state would not be politically relevant or equal in presidential elections. It would sharply increases the odds of no candidate getting the majority of electoral votes needed, leading to the selection of the president by the U.S. House of Representatives, regardless of the popular vote anywhere. It would not accurately reflect the nationwide popular vote; It would reduce the influence of any state, if not all states adopted. It would not improve upon the current situation in which four out of five states and four out of five voters in the United States are ignored by presidential campaigns, but instead, would create a very small set of states in which only one electoral vote is in play (while making most states politically irrelevant), It would not make every vote equal. It would not guarantee the Presidency to the candidate with the most popular votes in the country. The National Popular Vote bill is the way to make every person's vote equal and matter to their candidate because it guarantees the majority of Electoral College votes to the candidate who gets the most votes among all 50 states and DC.

  55. The United States of America is not a democracy. It is a republic often masquerading as a democracy on the world stage and in election campaigns if it suits the candidate. Having said that, I think that most Americans WANT to live in a democracy. They want to believe that their vote and that ALL votes count. The reality is that the electoral college winner-take-all system disenfranchises every vote after 50%+1. We are seeing very real damage being done in this country today from a very vocal minority of people that just happened to be geographically positioned to garner a "win" for the current president. It is time to directly elect our presidents. We MUST get this done in order to restore any semblance of confidence in our system.

  56. @Steven American is a federal republic, which is the only way such a large and diverse country can cohere. If you think there's too much spent on national campaigns now, wait until candidates have to cover every major market in the country instead of a few states. No, once you fundamentally alter an essential component, the entire system starts to break down in way no one can think of.

  57. Every gubernatorial and senatorial candidate campaigns knowing that when and where every voter is equal, a campaign must be run everywhere. Presidential candidates currently do everything within their power to raise as much money as they possibly can from donors throughout the country. They then allocate their time and the money that they raise nationally to places where it will do the most good toward their goal of winning the election. Money doesn't grow on trees. The fact that candidates would spend their money more broadly (that is, in all 50 states and DC) would not, in itself, loosen up the wallet of a single donor anywhere in the country. Candidates will continue to try to raise as much money as economic considerations permit. Economic considerations by donors determines how much money will be available, not the existence of an increases number of places where the money might be spent. Presidential candidates concentrate their attention on only a handful of closely divided "battleground" states and their voters. There is no incentive for them to bother to care about the majority of states where they are hopelessly behind or safely ahead to win. That's precisely what they should do in order to get elected with the current system, because the voters of 38+ states simply don't matter. When every voter matters equally throughout the United States, as it would under a national popular vote, candidates would reallocate their time and the money they raise.

  58. @HKGuy EVERY vote should count. It's an easy concept.

  59. The EC is not going away. I hate it, but the barriers of the constitutional amendment rules will block this route for change. The interstate pact idea is interesting but I doubt that it will take hold across enough states to solve the problem.So what is the answer? Look to and support efforts similar to what Gillum is attempting in Florida. Register voters in the millions and encourage a massive voter turnout. Trump wins with a 50 to 60 percent turnout, he loses with 70 to 80 percent turnout.

  60. @KJ Peters - States with 81 more electoral votes are needed to enact the National Popular Vote bill. The bill was approved in 2016 by a unanimous bipartisan House committee vote in both Georgia (16 electoral votes) and Missouri (10). Since 2006, the bill has passed 37 state legislative chambers in 23 rural, small, medium, large, Democratic, Republican and purple states with 261 electoral votes, including one house in Arizona (11), Arkansas (6), Maine (4), Michigan (16), Nevada (6), North Carolina (15), and Oklahoma (7), and both houses in Delaware (3), and New Mexico (5). The bill has been enacted by 13 small, medium, and large jurisdictions with 181 electoral votes – 67% of the way to guaranteeing the majority of Electoral College votes and the presidency to the candidate with the most national popular votes.

  61. The margin of Clinton’s 2016 national vote plurality was made up entirely of millions of CA provisional and harvested ballots, the first of which is a tiny percentage of every other state’s ballots and the second of which is considered voter fraud in other states. Thus, the electoral college essentially saved us from CA voter fraud choosing our POTUS.

  62. @Bart DePalma she also won by 1.5 M votes in NY.

  63. @Bart DePalma -- you just repeat a sour-grapes myth that has been thoroughly debunked: neither provisional votes nor "ballot harvesting" materially effected the California vote ... and Republicans did it too. I do agree though that the california provisions on ballot delivery need to be changed, as they are now very vulnerable to fraud.

  64. @Bart DePalma - Share the verifiable documented evidence of all your claimed voter fraud. Successful prosecutions?

  65. Winner take all please. The biggest problem with our elections is that too few people vote. And they are perhaps correct to feel that their vote doesn't matter - in most states and contests, that's true. With winner take all, voters might feel that they have a shot at having an impact. With the present system, it feels like fuzzy math.

  66. @Cousy This makes no sense. I live in Hawaii 60-70% of people vote Democrat. Why should I bother to vote? The outcome is not in question. Same thing in California. Why wait in line to vote if 55-60% of the vote gets all the EC votes. But if it's not winner-take-all then I'm more likely to go vote because the margin actually matters.

  67. @Cousy--Do you mean winner take all when it comes to apportioning electors to each state's candidate, or to the election as a whole? I think few people want a candidate who wins a majority to lose, but to change the elaborate system prescribed by the Constitution would be a long and arduous endeavor. If you want the winner to actually win, support the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact in your state legislature. (You may already be covered, as I see much of New England is already on board.)

  68. @Cousy: "Winner take all please." Irrespective of the size of the win? How is that working out for Brexit?

  69. Amending the Constitution to eliminate the Electoral College will be very difficult. A different approach: dramatically increase the number of representatives in the House (into the thousands). This would not only make running for office less expensive, make representation more "personal", make representation much more in line with the ratios envisioned by the Framers, AND make the Electoral College outcome (where each state's number of electoral votes equals its sum of Congressional representation) much more closely reflect the popular vote.

  70. @J. Adams - We don't need to aspire to just settle for "much more closely" reflecting the popular vote. The National Popular Vote bill is 67% of the way to guaranteeing the majority of Electoral College votes and the presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the country, by changing state winner-take-all laws (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states), without changing anything in the Constitution, using the built-in method that the Constitution provides for states to make changes. It simply requires enacting states with 270 electoral votes to award their electoral votes to the winner of the most national popular votes. All voters would be valued equally in presidential elections, no matter where they live. Candidates, as in other elections, would allocate their time, money, polling, organizing, and ad buys roughly in proportion to the population

  71. @mvymvy You made your point the first 14 times this was pasted into the comments section.

  72. Thank goodness we have someone to tell us the *real* problem with the Electoral College, which anyone who can divide two numbers can easily determine: It is biased, with the vote of a person in a small state (especially one with only one representative) counting much more than votes in large states.

  73. @polymath Kind reminder, Canadian votes do not count, you are all still subjects of one Queen.

  74. Nate Cohen makes several good points; I want to address one he missed: how the two states that apportion Electoral college votes do so. Nebraska and Maine both award one elector to the winner of the vote in each congressional district; the remaining two go to the winner of the state-wide vote. The serious problem with this formula is that it supercharges the gerrymandering of state congressional districts (a favorite pass time almost everywhere) into a way to gerrymander the vote for the president. If states simply apportioned all the electoral college votes by rounding from the statewide election there would be no means of rigging that vote. The apportionment of votes can be done by any state at any time; but it is unlikely that there would be a nationwide shift to do so without some national impetus. The National Popular Vote interstate compact seems more likely to me, because it doesn't require universal agreement.

  75. @Lee Harrison--Even if we could agree that states would apportion their votes by percentages who vote for each candidate, there is a margin of error in each state that could, in total, mess up the final outcome. Plus each state gets to decide individually how to do this. And it can't resonably be done by Congressional districts because then we still have the two senator electors per state. And a further complication is that electors are not bound to vote for the candidate they are pledged to, although almost all do. Adopting the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact would fix all of this as well, while leaving the Constitution alone.

  76. Every four years, my brother in Ohio and mother in florida are inundated with ads, mailing, door knockers and visits from the candidates, whereas I, living as I do in solid-blue New York, am completely ignored. So for me, it works fine. Let them deal with the madness. I'm happy I'm left alone.

  77. @HKGuy - Because of state-by-state winner-take-all laws, not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution. . . Issues of importance to 38 non-battleground states are of so little interest to presidential candidates that they don’t even bother to poll them individually. Charlie Cook reported in 2004: “Senior Bush campaign strategist Matthew Dowd pointed out yesterday that the Bush campaign hadn’t taken a national poll in almost two years; instead, it has been polling [the then] 18 battleground states.” Bush White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer acknowledging the reality that [then] more than 2/3rds of Americans were ignored in the 2008 presidential campaign, said in the Washington Post on June 21, 2009: “If people don’t like it, they can move from a safe state to a swing state.” When and where voters are ignored, then so are the issues they care about most.

  78. Of the world's 125 democracies, the U.S. is the only one to rely on an electoral college to determine who becomes president. If each vote truly counted, as one might hope it would in a democracy, then candidates for the presidency would campaign strongly even in states that favor their opponents, very much in the spirit of democratic elections. Any chance we could finally do away with this 200-plus year old electoral college anachronism?

  79. Most of the other democracies use Parliamentary process with a prime minister elected by (drum roll please), Electoral votes. Some have proportional representation that translate to electoral votes. MPs elect prime minister in most countries.

  80. @Garry "Any chance we could finally do away with this 200-plus year old electoral college anachronism?" Yes. Search for the site on the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. It is working its way through the states right now.

  81. @Garry We are not a democracy... The founders were very clear on what they thought of 'pure democracy' We could always reduce the power of the federal government so no one cares who is in charge.

  82. I'm surprised that you would write that the U.S. is not as divided as before. I feel completely alienated from all Republicans and DINOs. Their love of oligarchy, race hatred, brutality and economic terrorism is completely repulsive and I cannot relate to them in any way; as far as I'm concerned, I don't consider them to be part of the same country as I.

  83. @Eugene Debs 'I'm surprised that you would write that the U.S. is not as divided as before'. Before, some states had a flag, some had another, some states had slaves,. some was illegal, some states wanted to be a different country, some wanted to keep the nation whole, some states would shoot visitors from other states, and some states were willing to go to war with the others. Right now: NONE OF THAT IS HAPPENING. And this jewel: 'I don't consider them to be part of the same country as I.' Is your country the USA? then Trump is your president no matter what you say. This is stillone country with freedom of speech for all, and is not the 'US of Eugene Debs'. It's Liberals like you that give the whole left a terrible name. Sorry, you are not better than the rest of humanity.

  84. @Eugene Debs You're forgetting about the Civil War.

  85. "If states chose to, they could ... award their electors in proportion to the statewide popular vote..." I've long argued that the best thing for the Nation would be for each State to allocate its electors according to that State's popular vote. Such a move would guarantee that candidates would work hard for every elector and devote much more attention to the entire nation. And it's the only option that would truly respect the integrity of the States as distinct entities and fully address the Federal nature of our Union.

  86. @ODIrony There is a better way: the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. It was not directly mentioned in the article. It was only mentioned in the link "as some states have sought to do through an interstate compact." Search for the National Popular Vote site and check it out.

  87. The EC is not proportional California has a population of 40 million, 68X that of Wyoming (579 thousand). Both have 2 Senators. Every 191,000 Wyoming citizens has a Rep in Congress. Every 719,000 citizens in Cal has a Rep.

  88. @Fred Except for the fact that it isn't 719,000 citizens, it's more like 550,000 citizens because California has nearly 10 million non-citizens who are counted for apportionment. California should only rightfully have about 40 electoral votes, it has more because it counts non-citizens. So you're wrong and fail to understand why we have apportionments in the first place.

  89. @Steve According to the Henry J. Kaiser Foundation the proportion of California non-citizens to citizens is 1 to 8 and not as you suggest 1 to 4. You may recall that non-citizens are counted because the constitution demands that they be counted. The 3/5 compromise of 1787 ensured that southern slave holding states would join the 1st confederacy of American States. By including so many non-citizens (most often called slaves) in the apportionment calculations the framers bound slave holding states to the American project. Today "Stateless individuals" living in the states bound to the Union are counted by the Census Bureau in order to provide funding for infrastructure and social services. Some argue that they drain resources while others point out that they offset their costs to the social safety net by contributing to the economy. Whatever your view on the benefits of hosting "stateless people" in our communities the constitution demands that they be counted and that political representation and social safety net expenditures be divided based on those numbers.

  90. @Steve 10,000,000?!?! Where did you get that number?

  91. Just curious, does anyone know what the outcome would have been if votes went by the Maine/Nebraska model of awarding votes based on congressional victories by presidential candidates.

  92. @Jay Mr. Trump won about 230 House districts in 2016 out of a total of 435, Mr. Trump would have won the election.

  93. @Jay Probably Hillary Clinton. Just my guess based on the popular vote. Trump won 3 or 4 states by a total of 100,000 votes (sum of the difference in all these states) Hard to see how he would have held on.

  94. Judging from this article, in 2020 the Democrats need to win most of the toss-up states-- the states that could vote for either party-- to win a majority of the electoral votes. To win the toss-up states the Democrats need a presidential nominee who is a moderate. Whether the Democrats will nominate a moderate seems to be a toss-up.

  95. @PeterE Good thing the Democrats aren't going to nominate a moderate. I still want to see Bernie get nominated but it's hard to tell who the corporate media will back at this point. You will probably end up with Kamala Harris representing your party according to the betting odds.

  96. It's nice to hear from a columnist who actually appreciates *some* of the justifications for maintaining the Electoral College. But some of the counter-arguments deserve to be addressed with a realistic look at the math. There are two arguments being advanced by those who want to abolish the Electoral College. One is that it's unequal and therefore undemocratic. This is a somewhat abstract argument; nobody seems to be arguing that the Senate needs to be reapportioned by population as well. One of the compromises the Founding Fathers struck in order to unify the country under a single Constitution was to balance the power of small or rural states with those of the more populous ones. But the difference isn't nearly as big as some of the other comments suggest. My state, West Virginia, has five electoral votes, while California has fifty-five: eleven times as many. California has a huge impact on elections because its population is so huge. If you redistributed votes by population alone, California's share of the vote would go up to sixty-six votes, while West Virginia's would shrink to three. Our votes as individuals do count slightly more than someone's in California, but California's priorities swamp ours in Congress. The other justification is that candidates supposedly ignore states that they don't expect or need to win—but reducing the voting power of smaller states only makes that problem worse. People in poor, rural states need the nation's attention too!

  97. @Paul - With the National Popular Vote bill, when every popular vote counts and matters to the candidates equally, successful candidates will find a middle ground of policies appealing to the wide mainstream of America. Instead of playing mostly to local concerns in Ohio and Florida, candidates finally would have to form broader platforms for broad national support. Elections wouldn't be about winning a handful of battleground states. Fourteen of the 15 smallest states by population are ignored, like medium and big states where the statewide winner is predictable, because they’re not swing states. Small states are safe states. Only New Hampshire gets significant attention. Support for a national popular vote has been strong in every smallest state surveyed in polls among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group Among the 13 lowest population states, the National Popular Vote bill has passed in 10 state legislative chambers, and been enacted by 4 jurisdictions. Now political clout comes from being among the handful of battleground states. 70-80% of states and voters are ignored by presidential campaign polling, organizing, ad spending, and visits. Their states’ votes were conceded months before by the minority parties in the states, taken for granted by the dominant party in the states, and ignored by all parties in presidential campaigns.

  98. @Paul I'd have a lot less trouble giving attention to small states if small state politicians didn't appear so bent on holding their religion over my head.

  99. @Paul, you left out one of the primary reasons the founding fathers developed the electoral college: namely, they did not trust the electorate with a presidential election.

  100. One problem with allocating electors relative to the vote margin by state is that it is extremely rare for a presidential candidate to get over 50% of the national vote, meaning, getting a required majority of electors would not happen, thus putting the outcome of the election in the hands of the current house of representatives.

  101. @Jason -- you're confused about how the electoral college works. They get more than one vote if no one wins outright on the first round, and electors are only bound (if they are at all) to their identified candidate on the first vote. Further, in all but the largest states (thus having a lot of electors) minor candidates will not get enough votes to get even one elector ... if they are apportioned by rounding. And perhaps yet further if you are thinking about the contested 1876 presidential election (that resulted in Rutherford B. Hayes, after congressional action) the problem was not any failure of the Electoral College per se, but rather the fact that the electors of three southern states were contested. That is a very different problem.

  102. You have confused Democratic Party Convention processes with Constitutional processes. Electors vote once on a separate ballot, no official tabulation is done at state level, the ballots go to the Senate, and sometime in December the VP opens the envelopes and counts them. The Senate verifies and reports the totals in special session. That is the real election per the Constitution. If no one gets 270, then the House elects the President, and the Senate the VP, each state getting one vote.

  103. @Lee Harrison As it is now, by federal law, electors are not "bound" to vote for any candidate. As the system was originally created, they are only bound to vote by their conscience to prevent demagogues from attaining the office. It is not working.

  104. The Electoral College unquestionably induces Presidential candidates to ignore states in which the winner is not in doubt. For example, a Democratic candidate won't spend much time in, say, KS or WY or SD, and a Republican candidate won't spend much time in NY or MA or CA. The "swing states" get nearly all of the attention. The parties may disagree over what is or is not a "swing state" (for example, the DP occasionally described Texas, Arizona and Georgia as "swing states" in 2016) but there is no disagreement that "swing states" get virtually all of the candidates' attention. Whatever its faults, the EC system has helped and hurt both major parties. Sometimes it helps the Republican candidate, as it did in the 2000 and 2016 elections. Sometimes it helps the Democratic candidate. For example, even though Hubert Humphrey lost to Richard Nixon in the 1968 election, Humphrey won many states with a minority of votes in the state (for example, New York, Connecticut, Texas, Pennsylvania, Michigan). Bill Clinton was elected twice with a minority of the popular vote. Some have argued that it's hypocritical to argue that the EC system should be abolished but the Senate's disproportionate representation should not be. That may be, but it doesn't mean EC opponents must fight the Senate-representation battle as well. They can pick their battles. The much more serious obstacle for EC opponents is that a Constitutional amendment would be required. That's not going to happen.

  105. @MyThreeCents - The National Popular Vote bill is 67% of the way to guaranteeing the majority of Electoral College votes and the presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the country, by changing state winner-take-all laws (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states), without changing anything in the Constitution, using the built-in method that the Constitution provides for states to make changes. It simply requires enacting states with 270 electoral votes to award their electoral votes to the winner of the most national popular votes. All voters would be valued equally in presidential elections, no matter where they live.

  106. It is the United STATES of America, not the United CITIZENS of America. A group of States came together to form this union, so the States must decide who they want to be their leader. This is the reason for the Electoral College. If you want to govern, you should be able to convince more States to vote you as their leader.

  107. @Sam - With statewide winner-take-all laws, a presidential candidate could lose despite winning 78%+ of the popular vote and 39 smaller states. With the current state-by-state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states), it could only take winning a bare plurality of popular votes in only the 11 most populous states, containing 56% of the population of the United States, for a candidate to win the Presidency with less than 22% of the nation's votes! States enacting the National Popular Vote bill " have made a policy choice about the substantive intelligible criteria (i.e., national popularity) that they want to use to make their selection of electors. There is nothing in Article II (or elsewhere in the Constitution) that prevents them from making the decision that, in the Twenty-First Century, national voter popularity is a (or perhaps the) crucial factor in worthiness for the office of the President.” - Vikram David Amar

  108. The NEW ELECTORAL COLLEGE ought to be the general voting populous of each state. Each state elects their candidate for the presidency. Each state's vote counts as one. DC's votes count as Maryland. Senators and Representatives cast votes in the states that sent them to Congress. Each state gets one vote. The candidate with 26 state votes wins. If it is a direct tie the House of Representatives elects the President on December 1. The winner is declared the President of the United States, not just of California and New York and Illinois. Everyone's president elected from all across the country. Every state is equally represented in the election--but 3.5 million "surplus" California votes cannot negate the entirety of Wyoming's ballot.

  109. @David Len Allen That seems to be taking us even further away. Why should Montana (population 500,000) get the same number of votes as California (39,500,000)?

  110. @David Len Allen "surplus"?

  111. @David Len Allen In a sense, you're saying that land should vote.

  112. This article is spot on in identifying the problem with the winner-take-all approach. But I disagree that changing the status quo would lessen a state's influence. If non-competitive states like New Jersey or Utah divided their electoral votes proportionately to their popular vote, candidates would have more reason to campaign there. That would make issues important in non-competitive states more relevant instead of only the issues of the large swing states. I propose that the candidate who wins the vote in a state receive two electoral college votes for its senators. The remainder of the electoral college votes should be divided proportionately according to the popular vote in that state. This would preserve some of the current tipping-point effect, but would also more fairly represent the disenfranchised California conservatives and Texas liberals.

  113. @Nate Or you could just do the smart thing, outlaw gerrymandering, and make it so each congressional district elects an elector with the two "state electors" going to the winner of the state. This would create a situation where Trump would be incentivized to campaign in NYC, because that city is currently gerrymandered so only staten island's district occasionally votes republican- however data from the city indicates up to 30% of the city's population leans republican, they're just so badly gerrymandered they have no incentive to turn out in 80% Democrat districts leading to the abysmal 18% of the vote Trump got in 2016. But if it wasn't gerrymandered, he'd have a shot at winning 3-5 districts (assuming some moderate working class Democrats can also be won over) incentivizing a Republican to campaign there. Rural areas are trickier for Democrats because they aren't usually gerrymandered. But there are many suburban areas they currently avoid that become competitive in a presidential election. Devolving power to the local level will inevitably drive up turnout.

  114. @Nate And, of course, this gets to the crux of the matter. In theory, California could become a more important force in politics (a "battleground state") by divvying up its electoral votes by Congressional district, thus ensuring that Trump "pays attention" to it in trying to fight for every vote he could. But the Democrats running the state haven't made that change -- Why not? The answer is obvious: "Better representation" and "power in terms of attention from the candidates" are not the goals -- Winning is the goal, by any means necessary. Democrats want to win, and thus they will only enact reforms -- no matter in what flowery language they've rationalized it to themselves by -- that will help them win elections. Maybe instead of demanding reforms that very obviously won't happen, Democrats should understand that geographic distribution is an (emergent) feature, not a bug, of the system. Want to get more power, California Progressives? Start moving en masse to the heartland and turn more states (that is, your new neighbors in those states) blue. That's it. That's the secret.

  115. @Cameron - No American voter should have to move to another state to be politically relevant in presidential elections. The National Popular Vote bill is 67% of the way to guaranteeing the majority of Electoral College votes and the presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the country, by changing state winner-take-all laws (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states), without changing anything in the Constitution, using the built-in method that the Constitution provides for states to make changes. It simply requires enacting states with 270 electoral votes to award their electoral votes to the winner of the most national popular votes. All voters would be valued equally in presidential elections, no matter where they live. Candidates, as in other elections, would allocate their time, money, polling, organizing, and ad buys roughly in proportion to the population The National Popular Vote bill was approved in 2016 by a unanimous bipartisan House committee vote in both Georgia (16 electoral votes) and Missouri (10). Since 2006, the bill has passed 37 state legislative chambers in 23 rural, small, medium, large, Democratic, Republican and purple states with 261 electoral votes, including one house in Arizona (11), Arkansas (6), Maine (4), Michigan (16), Nevada (6), North Carolina (15), and Oklahoma (7), and both houses in Delaware (3), and New Mexico (5).

  116. Why Should Republicans want the popular vote - everyone talks about at least 2 elections they would have lost. Unless you can answer that question this is a pipe dream about dominating your political adversary by shaping the election to favor your party. Which is exactly what happens with all that Gerrymandering we hate so much... I think the answer is to be bold and push to change the Primary process as well - push for instant runoff voting in primaries and general elections. No more state by state Primaries either.

  117. When this system was designed, the president didn't matter very much. The states ran themselves. The federal government didn't do much beyond national defense, the currency, and foreign treaties. Within the small federal government, the congress was the most important branch. The president was most important during wartime, as commander in chief. Over the decades we have moved vast power from the states to the federal government, and within the federal government, from the congress to the president. It didn't used to matter very much how we picked a president, as the people didn't think about the president very often in their day-to-day lives. Now that we have super-elevated the importance of the presidency, there is a strong focus on how we select the president. Perhaps we should shift our focus to returning power to the states, and returning federal power to the congress. Then we can go back to not caring much about how we pick the president.

  118. Your analysis simultaneously illuminates one issue while obscuring another very important one. Democracy requires that each vote should have an equal weight. Yet votes from Wyoming residents count roughly 76 times as much as those from California. This is unacceptable for the so-called world's oldest democracy!

  119. @A Joseph--I think it's more like 3.5, but still.

  120. @A Joseph We are not a democracy... The founders were very clear on what they thought of 'pure democracy'

  121. @A Joseph just as a point of fact we are not a Democracy, we are a Republic which as a form of government uses representatives as the voice (and choices) of the people

  122. The real issue is the fact that the electoral college system tries to play God with democracy; it is catch 22 that both embraces democracy and distrusts it. As a project to ‘manage’ that process by its own admittance it acts in a undemocratic manner and has failed in it’s stated aims. Why should we live by something that does these things, massively complicating and rarely enhancing equity?

  123. @Thomas Wright you are completely ignoring the reality that in 1776 there was no other practical way to communicate the vote results in a timely manner and with no standing army at the time no way to transport the votes securely from the distant states for counting. with electors it was a more controlled, relevant and timely process. Also consider that most people then could not read or write so if ballots were transported long distances before they were counted there were more opportunities for fraud to be injected into the system.

  124. @Thomas Wright The electoral college was created to prevent demagogues in the presidential office. Obviously, it is way past its use by date and is no longer working. It has moved far beyond its originally useful context.

  125. @Thomas Wright We are not a democracy... and have therefore not "failed in it’s stated aim". The founders were very clear on what they thought of 'pure democracy'

  126. Every vote for Mayor counts equally. Every vote for State Representative counts equally. Every vote for State Senator counts equally. Every vote for Governor counts equally. Every vote for U.S. Representative counts equally. Every vote for U.S. Senator counts equally. Every vote for President and Vice President SHOULD count equally. The Electoral College must be eliminated. Voter suppression, gerrymandering, and unequal representation in the state or U.S. House or Senate are separate issues to be dealt with.

  127. @Mr Rogers Great summary. The other powerful argument against uneven voting power is in the words of the 14th amendment. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

  128. @Mr Rogers..... admirable thought, but wouldn't proportional allocation of votes achieve the same end [except for the rather small error arising from the Senate 2-fers in the electoral vote count]...... and do so without a constitutional amendment

  129. @Mr Rogers Though the issues are not separated when the electoral college votes are awarded by the popular votes -- winner take all -- in gerrymandered congressional districts.

  130. There’s no way you will ever eliminate the Electoral College. But the geographical bias would be greatly reduced if, as this article recommends, the winner-take-all system, which is not even in the constitution, were eliminated and replaced by a proportional distribution of the electors within each state.

  131. @Bob C - There are good reasons why no state awards their electors proportionally. Electors are people. They each have one vote. The result would be a very inexact whole number proportional system. Every voter in every state would not be politically relevant or equal in presidential elections. It would sharply increases the odds of no candidate getting the majority of electoral votes needed, leading to the selection of the president by the U.S. House of Representatives, regardless of the popular vote anywhere. It would not accurately reflect the nationwide popular vote; It would reduce the influence of any state, if not all states adopted. It would not improve upon the current situation in which four out of five states and four out of five voters in the United States are ignored by presidential campaigns, but instead, would create a very small set of states in which only one electoral vote is in play (while making most states politically irrelevant), It would not make every vote equal. It would not guarantee the Presidency to the candidate with the most popular votes in the country. The National Popular Vote bill is the way to make every person's vote equal and matter to their candidate because it guarantees the majority of Electoral College votes to the candidate who gets the most votes among all 50 states and DC.

  132. @Bob C Given how the EC is defined, i.e., 1 vote per House seat an 1 vote per Senate seat, why wouldn’t awarding them on the same basis be the most “democratic”? Win a House district’s popular vote, win that EC vote. Win the State’s popular vote, win 2 Senate EC votes, or divide them by most districts won gets 1 vote, State’s popular vote winner the other.

  133. @Bob C provided, however, if all states changed to proportionality at the same time.

  134. Another commenter pointed out that his mother (FL) and brother (OH) are inundated with ads every four years (being residents of fly-over states during the other three years), whereas he, a New Yorker, is ignored. He says he's happy with this, and I am too (living, as I do, in CA -- no more a "swing state" than NY). All true -- indeed, I have a sister-in-law who lives in OH and was the principal subject of a Washington Post story in 2016 -- entirely (she recognizes) because she lives in a swing state. Fair? No. Likely to change? No. Abolishing the Electoral College would require a Constitutional amendment, which isn't going to happen. Like it or not, the EC is here to stay. Sometimes it helps the Republicans; sometimes it helps the Democrats. In 2000 and 2016, for example, the Democratic candidate won the popular vote but lost the EC vote and, hence, the election. Just the opposite happened in Bill Clinton's 2 elections (1992 and 1996). He won both of them with a minority of the popular vote. Hubert Humphrey wasn't so fortunate, of course, losing to Richard Nixon in 1968. The EC nevertheless enabled Humphrey to win many states despite receiving only a minority of the votes in the state (for example, New York, Connecticut, Texas, Pennsylvania, Michigan). All in all, whether the EC stays (highly likely) or goes (unlikely), it's less important than either it's opponents or its proponents insist.

  135. You are mistaken when you claim that Democrats benefited from the Electoral College in 1992 and 1996. In fact, Bill Clinton won a plurality of votes in a somewhat competitive three-way race -- he would have been the winner in a popular vote scenario just as he was the winner in the Electoral College; there was no difference in the possible outcomes. Bush and Trump, on the other hand, benefited from the quirks of the Electoral College; in those cases, the Electoral College produced a different outcome than a reasonable interpretation of what a democratic republic ought to produce.

  136. @MyThreeCents " Abolishing the Electoral College would require a Constitutional amendment, which isn't going to happen." Wrong. You didn't click on the link in the article: "as some states have sought to do through an interstate compact." The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is working its way through the states. It does not take a Constitutional amendment.

  137. @Don Wiss The Compact does not remove the electoral college, it steps around the small state bias and puts more states into the "competitive" column. If enough states totaling 270 EC votes pass the legislation, the compact mandates that all EC votes go to the winner of the PV. That means a candidate in any given election must court all voters in all states because the 270 EC votes needed are already set to go to the victor of the popular vote,, no matter the party they are in. Even a Jill Stein type candidate (third party) can win if they get the popular vote.

  138. Here's the thing -- a "state" is not an interest group. Interest groups nclude: economically-displaced Rust Belters; struggling immigrants and mistreated minorities; people who fear drugs and crime in their neighborhoods; people who fear what climate change has in store for us; flooded farmers and hurricane victims; those who face social injustice; etc. These concerns, the reasons people vote for a president or a party, may have a regional locus but they have nothing to do with state lines. Our arbitrary state borders are the real anachronism when it comes to electing national leaders. There is no logic in respecting the desires of "states" in this context. I do not enter the ballot box thinking, "As a citizen of North Carolina, which candidate is the best choice for me?" and I doubt that few others vote on that basis.

  139. @Craig "I do not enter the ballot box thinking, "As a citizen of North Carolina, which candidate is the best choice for me?" " you may not, but that would make you the odd man out. Political parties are literally built on the foundation of what I want the Government to do that will benefit me and my state. Few voters care what happens for other states as long as my chosen one is doing for me in my state.

  140. I think Nate Cohn is quite correct that it is the "winner take all" system that really creates the potential for a candidate to win battlegrounds by a slim margin and lose other states by a large margin and still take the Presidency. This only an issue with the Democrats because they loss in 2016. Interesting to contemplate what would have been the GOP bellyaching if they had lost. It seems like a rather odd with Democratic criticism of Trumps "trampling of the Constitution" that Democratic candidates are seriously talking about removing the electoral college and packing the Supreme Court. I'll be honest these kinds of moves are so Trump-like, I'm wondering if the both US political parties has been fatally destabilized by Trump. It's amazing to me that the these Democratic may soon be leading the effort to fragment the US political system.

  141. @Pat - In 1969, The U.S. House of Representatives voted for a national popular vote by a 338–70 margin. It was endorsed by Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and various members of Congress who later ran for Vice President and President such as then-Congressman George H.W. Bush, and then-Senator Bob Dole. Past presidential candidates with a public record of support, before November 2016, for the National Popular Vote bill that would guarantee the majority of Electoral College votes and the presidency to the candidate with the most national popular votes: Bob Barr (Libertarian- GA), U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R–GA), Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-CO), and Senator Fred Thompson (R–TN). Most Americans don't ultimately care whether their presidential candidate wins or loses in their state or district. Voters want to know, that no matter where they live, even if they were on the losing side, their vote actually was equally counted and mattered to their candidate. Most Americans think it is wrong that the candidate with the most popular votes can lose. It undermines the legitimacy of the electoral system. We don't allow this in any other election in our representative republic. The bill, since 2006, has passed 37 state legislative chambers in 23 Democratic, Republican and purple states with 261 electoral votes. The bill is 67% of the way to guaranteeing the majority of Electoral College votes and the presidency to the candidate with the most national popular votes.

  142. @Pat If Dems were able to eliminate the electoral college, it would be through amending the constitution. As you probably know, the constitution itself has provisions for amendments, and it has been amended many times. So that would not constitute a "trampling." As to the "court packing" the constitution does not specify the number of justices. So, changing the number of sitting justices would also not be a trampling. You know what is a trampling? When the senate refuses to advise and consent after the president nominates a person for an open seat. The constitution does NOT say you can "advise and consent, um, if you fee like it." Sure, the senate would have been in its rights to vote down Garland. But the process of nomination and consideration is still mandated, and even if Garland was never going to get senate approval, the process has meaning and the politics accruing from denial of the elevation are part of our system. So, you are aiming at the wrong evil doer, Pat.

  143. @Pat: Hmmm No POTUS (or presumptive candidate) can remove the EC. Nor can s/he pack the SCOTUS. Look past Trump on that issue and see McConnell and his 50+ senators, and then look to Dixie and the new Confederacy where many of those originate. And BTW, the GOP have been "bellyaching" ever since 2016 about voter-fraud. which is inconsequential.

  144. Right. Either with or without the Electoral College some folks end up feeling that others got the say in the election and they didn't. When voters lose an election, especially if they were enthusiastic about their candidate and, therefore convinced that she/he would win, they often look for what must have been "unfair" in the election. The more conspiracy minded will look for some cabal which cheated them. Others will look at the rules written to find how the deck is stacked against them. I have long lived in a state considered non-competitive, i.e., not a swing state. Election after election I am told that the states to watch, the states that matter, the states that "will decide the election" are other places. I always vote, but often with a sense that my vote is irrelevant. (Interestingly, Illinois is as blue as it is mostly because of Chicago; there is a lot of red downstate). I would prefer a system where every individual voter's vote counted equally. Those who think regionally will always think in terms of those terrible big states dominating. I'm betting folks in those red counties in downstate Illinois would prefer something different - something where their votes were not gobbled up by the presence of a big, blue city on the shores of Lake Michigan. I would prefer a direct popular vote; they might, too. That said, I don't see it happening any time soon.

  145. @Anne-Marie Hislop - The National Popular Vote bill was approved in 2016 by a unanimous bipartisan House committee vote in both Georgia (16 electoral votes) and Missouri (10). Since 2006, the bill has passed 37 state legislative chambers in 23 rural, small, medium, large, Democratic, Republican and purple states with 261 electoral votes, including one house in Arizona (11), Arkansas (6), Maine (4), Michigan (16), Nevada (6), North Carolina (15), and Oklahoma (7), and both houses in Delaware (3), and New Mexico (5). The bill has been enacted by 13 small, medium, and large jurisdictions with 181 electoral votes – 67% of the way to guaranteeing the majority of Electoral College votes and the presidency to the candidate with the most national popular votes.

  146. I think Nate glossed over the election of electors by the state legislators. In 2000 Republicans in Florida discussed having this done as a way of getting around the vote counting problem. This could easily happen in Florida and Texas in 2020 if it looks like Trump were losing.

  147. @Richard - It was not possible in 2000 in Florida, after Election Day. It would only be possible if the law existed prior to Election Day. Existing federal law requires that presidential electors be appointed on a single designated day in every four-year period, namely the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. An attempt by a governor and legislature to change the “rules of the game” between Election Day in November and the mid-December meeting of the Electoral College would violate the Impairments Clause and be invalid because it would violate existing federal law. The U.S. Constitution (Article II, section 1, clause 4) grants Congress the power to choose the time for appointing presidential electors: “The Congress may determine the Time of chusing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.” Existing federal law (section 1 of title 3 of United States Code) specifies that presidential electors may only be appointed on one specific day in every four-year period, namely the Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

  148. In 2004, John Kerry lost Ohio by just 118,601 votes. Had he won the Buckeye State, he would have carried the Electoral College, and the presidency, even though he lost the national popular vote by 3,012,166 votes. Given that we are deadlocked on the EC issue largely because Republicans feel advantaged by it and Democrats disadvantaged, I've often wondered whether there would be any controversy at all today had Kerry eked out a win in Ohio. I don't think so. The EC, exposed as a problem for both parties given GW Bush's "election" in 2000, would be long gone and Trump never would have been "elected."

  149. The Electoral College was created in part to insure that large states small states could not control the choice of President by creating an incentive to pay attention to small state electors. By linking the number of electors to the number of Representatives and Senators given to each state, electors from large states represent a greater number of citizens than do electors from small states. This inequality has exacerbated the "small state bias" of the Electoral College. This bias can be reduced by awarding electors based on the number of House Districts won by each candidate with the 2 additional electors (representing those linked to Senate representation) being awarded to the candidate who wins the total state vote as Maine and Nebraska currently do. However, an even fairer system would be to calculate the number of electors given to each state based on a set number of citizens and then awarding 1 additional elector (rather than 2) to whomever wins a state's popular vote. Currently, Wyoming is the least populous state with approximately 500,000 residents. If this were the basis for an elector, there would be 703 electors for president (650 based on population + 50 for individual states + 2 for Washington DC); 352 would be required for election. Such a system would reduce any "small state bias" without allowing candidates to ignore small states. Candidates would be incentivized to run a truly national campaign as each electoral district would have equal importance.

  150. @Bob Parker your suggestion, exactly like the removal of the EC all together, requires a constitutional amendment. That is unlikely to happen in this highly partisan environment. I would prefer 1 vote for 1 voter being the measure of whom we elect as President. Since that is unlikely to happen the Compact is the next best alternative to the current biased system. The reality that only the "battleground states" matter has long been a problem but it is one that can be conquered through the Compact.

  151. @Bob Parker Gerrymandering and self-sorting make election-by-House-district a non-starter. It would not surprise me if someone has challenged or will challenge these arrangements in court in the two states that do that.

  152. @Bob Parker is it that complex? The president (unlike Senators) represent the entire country. One person, one vote. The end.

  153. Designing a system to replace it that is agreed-upon and is robust to manipulation may be harder than it looks. Part of the reason is that hyper-partisanship leads to both camps being distrustful of any effort to change institutions - sometimes correctly, of course, but sometimes it seems like it is just a habit. This is how zero-sum games work, especially those transaction costs like the costs for changing a system. The proportional allocation used in two states can be affected by gerrymandering, so this is out until we find a way to minimize gerrymandering in every state. The NPV encourages and is affected by voter suppression and other intentional distortions everywhere. It also would lead to a gigantic cost of campaigning which may end up being its own distortion. An interstate compact of states with 270+ votes can exclude everyone else and might do just that if it suits them. The underlying issue is there is so little trust that bipartisan agreement on such questions is approximately impossible. No matter how sincere someone is about the injustice of the EC, they come across as purely partisan sore losers and lacking in self-awareness. The parties have to agree on a budget when power is split and a handful of other issues. They do not have to agree on much else and usually don't. This will not be an exception anytime soon.

  154. The compact of states with 270+ votes would not exclude anyone else. Any state may join it. Every voter, in every state, for every candidate, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election. Every vote would matter equally in the state counts and national count. 537 votes, in one state determined the 2000 election, when there was a lead of 537,179 (1,000 times more) popular votes nationwide. Presidential candidates currently do everything within their power to raise as much money as they possibly can from donors throughout the country. They then allocate their time and the money that they raise nationally to places where it will do the most good toward their goal of winning the election. Money doesn't grow on trees. The fact that candidates would spend their money more broadly (that is, in all 50 states and DC) would not, in itself, loosen up the wallet of a single donor anywhere in the country. Candidates will continue to try to raise as much money as economic considerations permit. Economic considerations by donors determines how much money will be available, not the existence of an increases number of places where the money might be spent. Presidential candidates concentrate their attention on only a handful of closely divided "battleground" states and their voters. When every voter matters equally throughout the United States, as it would under a national popular vote, candidates would reallocate their time and the money they raise.

  155. @mvymvy Anyone may join the pact now, as it has less than 270 votes and is in a recruiting phase. What happens after that, and what mechanism exists to police it? These behaviors are usually determined by incentives, and not many people vote to diminish their own influence. It is common to assume that something gains power as it scales up, like Facebook and FedEx, but not everything works that way. Campaign money spent in any one location almost certainly has diminishing returns after a certain point. Advertising every 5 minutes on every channel probably is not much better than advertising every 20 minutes in terms of voters won over. So while the total money available might not seem likely to change much, the effect of that money almost certainly will grow because it will be spread across every media market in the country - the party with better fundraising will enjoy a bigger advantage from that fundraising, even in the unlikely event that the total amount of funds does not change.

  156. @Alan This is why the whole fundraising/donation scam needs to stop. From Congress to the Presidency, they should get a set budget from the gov't and not be permitted to go over it by even one ream of paper. No more buying influence or favors with huge donations. I also don't believe that the best candidate is necessarily the one who can raise the most money.

  157. There is a need for consistency among the arguments on both sides here. If we don't want the Electoral College to determine the winner of a national election, the argument would naturally flow to getting rid of the concept of states. If we really are one country, then state borders shouldn't matter. If we decide to move in that direction, I'd be fine with that. On the flip side, if we decide that we are a national conglomeration of states, then there needs to be a bit more state autonomy. That also means fewer tax subsidies flowing from high tax states to lower tax states. If we decide to move in that direction, I'd be fine with that also. In my mind, the problem resides in that the current generation of living Americans hasn't decided what it wants to be when the country (or the states that call themselves a country) grows up. (It is heading toward 250 years old, and the only real debate, unfortunately uncivil, was over 150 years ago.) It is unfortunate that we are living with some of the worst of both scenarios.

  158. @chandlerny Even with greater state autonomy, we are the UNITED States. I see no contradiction that higher tax states should contribute to the lower tax states. It is the same with income; those who make more should pay more to contribute fairly for the good of the whole country. Lifting those states or people who could use the help makes us all stronger. We can stand together or we will fall.

  159. @chandlerny- States have the responsibility and constitutional power to make all of their voters relevant in every presidential election and beyond. Now 38 states and their voters are politically irrelevant in presidential elections. Unable to agree on any particular method, the Founding Fathers left the choice of method for selecting presidential electors exclusively to the states by adopting the language contained in section 1 of Article II of the U.S. Constitution— "Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors . . ." The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly characterized the authority of the state legislatures over the manner of awarding their electoral votes as "plenary" and "exclusive." Federalism concerns the allocation of power between state governments and the national government. The National Popular Vote bill concerns how votes are tallied, not how much power state governments possess relative to the national government. The powers of state governments are neither increased nor decreased based on whether presidential electors are selected along the state boundary lines, or national lines (as with the National Popular Vote).

  160. @chandlerny The federal government serves as a check on the states, and the states serve as a check on the government. The more checks in the system, the less potential for abuse. This conflict is the price we pay for maintaining those checks. If, hypothetically speaking, one's own state or local government becomes intolerably corrupt, one can freely move to another state. California became as successful as it is largely because of federal efforts and from importing labor from other states, not because of the innate superiority of Californians. For the rest of the country to make those investments only to be told it is suddenly unfair that net federal taxation is unequal is absurd.

  161. One thing the electoral college does that isn't brought out by the article is that it forces candidates to pay at least some attention to the smaller states. Without it, the interests of urban centers will dominate elections and rural voters will essentially become disenfranchised.

  162. @PWR actually if every vote counted candidates would have more incentive to speak in more places. There are some 200 million eligible voters in this nation, half don't vote even in Presidential elections unless spurred by some unusual event or candidate or social upheaval. That is salient because even in the large states, half the population not voting means the candidates will need to pick up numbers using the smaller states. Big states will still be important, but a candidate who does moderately well in one or two big states but works the smaller states and takes their majority votes will definitely have an advantage. In many ways that is a more desirable situation than having "battleground" states be the deciding voters.

  163. @PWR But aren't Californians disenfranchised now? Yours seems to be an argument in favor of a government by the minority. Why is that better than a government by the majority?

  164. The electoral college has reversed the popular vote twice in the last 16 years. In 2000 and 2016, the candidate who lost the popular vote won the election. That is all the reason we need to get rid of the electoral college entirely. If we're going to have a real democracy, every vote should count regardless of state boundaries. That would motivate candidates to visit every state even if they know they wouldn't win the state; they could still win votes that matter. Another option is to eliminate the electoral votes each state has for its two senators. That's where the distortion comes in. Either reform would require a constitutional amendment. Unfortunately, as long as the flaws in the system favor the republicans, that will never happen.

  165. California has the largest population; 39,200,000 people. With 55 electoral votes, California has 1 electoral vote for every 713,000 people. Wyoming has the smallest population; 586,100 people. With 3 electoral votes, Wyoming has 1 electoral vote for every 195,000 people. In other words, a person in Wyoming has more than 3.5 times the voting power in the Electoral College than does a person in California. Is this democracy?

  166. That distortion is curable by repealing the freeze on the size of the House imposed by Congress in the 1920s. By setting the size of House districts to the population of the smallest state the size of the house would increase as would the number of Electors with most of them going to the largest states. Because this freeze was imposed by Congress it can be repealed by Congress.

  167. State lines, geographical boundaries, also heavily influence culture—including politically, the way people vote. The Electoral College helps eliminate the dominance that predictably red or blue behemoth states such as California, New York, or Texas would otherwise possess in these elections. Each individual vote certainly still counts, only toward the electoral votes of each individual’s respective state. What if, one hundred years from now, imagining that we still have the same fifty-state union, California and New York had somehow become conservatively Republican? Would you still advocate a democratic system wherein the most-populated conservative states determined the elections for, perhaps, years to come? Until any of us can answer positively to that question, we must consider the possible consequences of true democracy, which our country currently is not.

  168. @Steve954 Our constitution was very specifically written to keep the most populous states from exerting their will over the smaller states. That is the difference between our particular form of government and other democracies. If the founders hadn't come up with this compromise, the USA would never have come into being. Sorry if you have a problem with that; you are free to try to change the constitution. Good luck.

  169. Although Mr. Cohn's article helps to shine light on many aspects of the Electoral College, the only problem I see with his explanation is that this is but a snapshot of state-based national voting trends as they exist at this time. The fact is that the populace of this country will never stay rooted in specific regions, nor will areas of the country remain economically or culturally static in future--two usual aspects of our national life that determine much of our politics. To my mind, these facts eliminate much of the argument toward giving the Electoral College credence in its necessity, now, or in elections to come. Also, when we elect NATIONAL political figures, we should vote as a population of the entire nation, with "one vote by one person" which is not diluted in effect by the throwing in of the numerical machinations of a non-direct voting system. We have elections to reflect our choices at the various parts of the state level (city, county, state) without any other electoral system in place--similarly, we don't need a two-tiered system at the national level either.

  170. Bill Clinton/Al Gore did not win a majority of the popular vote in 1992 or 1996 [43%] Al Gore did not win a majority of the popular vote in 2000 Hillary did not win a majority of the popular vote in 2016. When people talk about the electoral college and making modifications to it, they need to be very careful about what they propose to replace it. A plurality in the popular vote is not the same thing as a majority. Democrats have been pretending that Hillary won a majority when in fact she won a plurality in 20 states plus DC that contain 44% of the population while Trump won a plurality in 30 states containing 56% of the population.

  171. @ebmem you either miss the point or are trying to spin the reality that individual votes don't actually count under the electoral college system. Getting rid of the electoral college, or at least neutering it, would bring the vote back to the people as individuals. The EC was understandable in 1776 due to the lack of instant communication, today it has no value.

  172. @mike It was created to specifically prevent a president such as we have now. Federal law gives the electors the right to vote for any candidate they choose. They failed at the job entrusted to them.

  173. While Mr. Cohn is technically correct that the real issue here is winner take all, not so much the electoral college per se, I believe he fails to realize that eliminating the electoral college would simultaneously eliminate the winner take all system. If that's true, then Mrs. Warren is actually not off base. Why? Because without the electoral college, there would be no "all", i.e., electors, to "take." While technically, in a system without an electoral college, if a candidate won Texas by 55%, that candidate could be awarded 100% of actual votes (i.e. not voting power based on the population of the state- again, there would be no electors acting as a proxy for the state's population) -- that outcome would be so undemocratic as to be silly. So, as it is now, the electoral college system is inextricably linked to the winner take all system. While it's true that Maine and Nebraska don't have a winner take all system, it only proves that WITH the college, you can modify to accommodate the popular vote. WITHOUT the college, you pretty much have simply a popular vote system unless you devise something essentially comparable to the electoral college. So, eliminating the electoral college gets you to a popular system, and eliminates what Mr. Cohn says is 19% bias of electors not based on population. (Though I don't think Mr. Cohn factored in that given a state has to have at least one Representative, population doesn't exactly correlate to the number of Reps.)

  174. The simplest answer is for states to pass proportional allocation of electoral college votes based on congressional district or a simple percentage of the vote. This allows for true democracy. I doubt the current Democrats (CA, NY) or Republicans (TX, FL) would be willing to dilute their power, but this would be the simplest and most effective option. There are many, many conservative leaning people in CA and liberal leaning people in TX that have no voice in the current system. A liberal state like CA, NY, or MA (Warren) should take the lead and pass this to show a true commitment to democracy. Otherwise, this is political bellyaching about not winning.

  175. @Steve this is a fact rarely mentioned by the E.C. haters. There are more Republicans in CA than there are in Wyoming (red state) and more Democrats in TX than in Massachusetts (blue state). All of them are essentially disenfranchised, not just blue state voters as so many liberals would have you believe.

  176. Mr. Cohn points out that the actual advantage small states have in the electoral system is small. That is certainly true but perhaps the more important point is that small states have a huge advantage in the process of deciding whether to keep the electoral collage or to abolish it. The electoral college can only be abolished by an amendment to the constitution and such an amendment would have to be ratified by 38 states. For that purpose, Wyoming's decision on whether to ratify is exactly as important as California's. IMHO, that simple fact makes the whole discussion of whether the electoral college should be kept or abolished pointless. There is simply no way to come up with a list of 38 states that would ratify a constitutional amendment to abolish the electoral college in the foreseeable future. To quote from the show "Evita": "Politics is the art of the possible."

  177. @David Friedlander - Unable to agree on any particular method for selecting presidential electors, the Founding Fathers left the choice of method exclusively to the states in Article II, Section 1 “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors….” The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly characterized the authority of the state legislatures over the manner of awarding their electoral votes as "plenary" and "exclusive." The National Popular Vote bill is states with 270 electors replacing state winner-take-all laws that award all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who get the most popular votes in each separate state (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states), in the enacting states, to guarantee the majority of Electoral College votes for, and the Presidency to, the candidate getting the most popular votes in the entire United States. The bill retains the constitutionally mandated Electoral College and state control of elections, and uses the built-in method that the Constitution provides for states to make changes. The bill has been enacted by 13 small, medium, and large jurisdictions with 181 electoral votes – 67% of the way to guaranteeing the majority of Electoral College votes and the presidency to the candidate with the most national popular votes.

  178. I would add to my previous comment the fact that the least democratic part of the Constitution of the United States is also the most unchangeable part of the constitution. This is not the electoral college but the process by which the constitution can be amended. Any group of 13 states can block any proposed amendment. However, the 13 least populous states have less than 5% of the total population of the country. Those 5% have the absolute power to block any attempt to amend the constitution.

  179. @David Friedlander - Unable to agree on any particular method for selecting presidential electors, the Founding Fathers left the choice of method exclusively to the states in Article II, Section 1 “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors….” The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly characterized the authority of the state legislatures over the manner of awarding their electoral votes as "plenary" and "exclusive." The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the majority of Electoral College votes and the presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the country. It does not abolish the Electoral College. The National Popular Vote bill is states with 270 electors replacing state winner-take-all laws that award all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who get the most popular votes in each separate state (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states), in the enacting states, to guarantee the majority of Electoral College votes for, and the Presidency to, the candidate getting the most popular votes in the entire United States. The bill retains the constitutionally mandated Electoral College and state control of elections, and uses the built-in method that the Constitution provides for states to make changes.

  180. The author of this article ignores the pragmatic reason for the existing system with winner takes all rules in most of the states. It reduces the probability of having no candidate receiving a majority of the electoral college and having an indeterminate election. The state compact, where states containing 271 electoral votes select the candidate with the PLURALITY in the national election is going to lead to unpredictable results. Bill Clinton won a majority in the electoral college with 43% of the popular vote, to Bush 37% and Perot 17%. But Perot did not take a single electoral vote.

  181. @ebmem - With the National Popular Vote bill, the winner of the most national popular votes (Clinton) would win at least the 270+ electoral votes of the enacting states, and be guaranteed the Presidency. Bill Clinton would have won a majority of the electoral votes.

  182. Michael Blazin Dallas, TX March 22 wrote: "Most of the other democracies use Parliamentary process with a prime minister elected by (drum roll please), Electoral votes. Some have proportional representation that translate to electoral votes. MPs elect prime minister in most countries." Thank you Michael Blazin. The U.S. is the oldest "democracy". It was intended to be a Representative government of the people. The founders did their best but all the other democracies after WWII have developed better ideas on how to empower their citizens. The problem is not the Electoral College. Spending this much time, energy and attention on it is a foolish waste of time. Even the "The National Popular Vote bill" that attempts to make a compact between states to assure 270 electoral votes are cast for the candidate with the most popular votes is NOT going to end up with more representation. The more serious problem than the existence of the Electoral College is gerrymandering and Citizens United declaring money is "free speech" and Corporations are people! If each state would use the same formula for their districts, determined by geography of watersheds instead of shifting populations, it would increase the number of Representatives in the House because there would exist more districts in each state. Gerrymander by watersheds would make water the most valuable resource in every state. It would also emphasize equal value for natural resources as population.

  183. The Founders feared democracy. They were taught it doesn't work in a large nation so they created a limited republic. Making America more democratic is good-- to a point. The closer you get to it, their original fears seem more accurate- the potential tyranny of a majority, a shattering of the nation due to factions, successive parties taking revenge on outgoing party (see G. Washington's Farewell Address) representatives who would not feel subject to the will of their constituents. Call me cynical, but I can't help think they were right. We have been gradually becoming more democratic, but if we remove all institutional limitations, we become subject to the good will of our leaders not to abuse power. And people, as the Founders knew, are not angels. A tyranny of the majority will always be able to call itself democratic. It does not make it any less a tyranny. These proposals are technically democratic, but would seem to bring us closer to some legitimate fears being realized.

  184. @Adriana Matiz - Being a constitutional republic does not mean we should not and cannot guarantee the election of the presidential candidate with the most popular votes. The candidate with the most votes wins in every other election in the country. Guaranteeing the election of the presidential candidate with the most popular votes and the majority of Electoral College votes (as the National Popular Vote bill would) would not make us a pure democracy. Pure democracy is a form of government in which people vote on all policy initiatives directly. Popular election of the chief executive does not determine whether a government is a republic or democracy. It is not rule by referendum. We would not be doing away with the Electoral College, U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, state legislatures, etc. etc. etc.

  185. Nowhere do you mention the real problem with the electoral college is that it disenfranchises cities. Globalization is pushing our population to a few coastal cities diminishing their votes. The electoral college is not updated often enough to accurately reflect these demographic shifts.

  186. @Fish Your right about the need to change the balance of the Electoral College. I think the most effective way to do that is to increase the size of Congress so that every congress member represents close to the same number of people. To do this we would need to know how many people are represented by the one congress member in the least populous state. Use census data. Then assign enough congress members to each state to make there districts have about the same population, maybe 5% more to allow for growth. The increase in congress members would fix the imbalance.

  187. Assuming that the US adopts the National Popular Vote proposal for electing the president, how will we handle the situation where the popular vote differential between the 2 leading candidates is is less than that which, e.g 0.5% in Florida, would currently trigger an automatic recount? How do we recount 130+ million votes in 50 states? How do we reconcile the claims of voter fraud, suppression etc. on a national basis in a close election? Broward County in Florida is not unique in election mischief - just ask Stacey Abrams.

  188. Federal law (the "safe harbor" provision in section 5 of title 3 of the U.S. Code) specifies that a state's "final determination" of its presidential election returns is "conclusive"(if done in a timely manner and in accordance with laws that existed prior to Election Day). No statewide recount, much less a nationwide recount, would have been warranted in any of the nation’s 58 presidential elections if the outcome had been based on the nationwide count. The 2000 presidential election was an artificial crisis created because of Bush's lead of 537 popular votes in Florida. Gore's nationwide lead was 537,179 popular votes. Given only an average of 274 votes are changed by a typical statewide recount; no one would have requested a recount or disputed the results in 2000 if the national popular vote had controlled the outcome. No one would have cared that one of the candidates happened to have a 537-vote margin in Florida. Recounts are far more likely in the current system of state by-state winner-take-all methods. No one has ever suggested that the possibility of a recount constitutes a valid reason why state governors or U.S. Senators, for example, should not be elected by a popular vote. The question of recounts comes to mind in connection with presidential elections only because the current system creates artificial crises and unnecessary disputes. We do and would vote state by state. Each state manages its own election and is prepared to conduct a recount.

  189. Although eliminating the EC would be ideal, it will take a Constitutional amendment to do it. That isn't going to happen any time soon (ask supporters of the ERA). Until that happens, a system like Maine's or any alternative that makes the EC more democratic than winner-take-all woould be a step in the right direction.

  190. The EC, as I read the history, was a direct result of the large state-small state divide at the Constitutional Convention (there were other divides). It was a power-sharing compromise in that the large states would propose the candidates and the small states would end up electing them. But really, states do not vote. People do, as in "We, the people." We elect people to representative offices, the House and the Senate, by lines of political subdivisions, but the presidency is not a representative position, and America is not a subdivision. The president is the president of all of us, and thus should be elected by all of us as a body, analogous to the way states elect their governor. There is no need to delve into the game theory of electoral politics. The basic principle instead is simple. Every voter should be able to vote directly for the candidates for office of the political unit they are running for. Every voter inside a congressional district directly elects their representative. Every voter in a state directly elects their senators. Every voter in the nation directly elects their president. It's a logical progression observed by every country I can think of except ours.

  191. What about this? If you live in a very red state and you are a Democrat, why bother voting in a Presidential election? It will never count. Do you honestly believe Louisiana would vote for a progressive Democratic? For the love of God 2 years ago we had a state legislator propose a weight limit on strippers! As long as the EC stays in place, people like me have no voice in Presidential voting. None.

  192. What Mr. Cohn does not discuss in this column is the current campaign in numerous states to support the National Popular Vote bill, which has already been approved in 22 states representing 181 electoral votes. It is pending gubernatorial signatures in 2 more states (Delaware and New Mexico). [Source: https://www.nationalpopularvote.com/written-explanation] The National Popular Vote interstate compact would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The bill ensures that every vote, in every state, will matter in every presidential election. The National Popular Vote bill preserves the Electoral College and state control of elections. There is no current Constitutional provision on how states must allocate their votes in the Electoral College votes. Thus the National Popular Vote compact could be implemented by the next election. The National Popular Vote bill would take effect when enacted into law by states possessing 270 electoral votes (a majority of the 538 electoral votes). So it is already 2/3 of the way there. It would be interesting to see Mr. Cohn's analysis of the National Popular Vote compact's effect if enough states sign on to it by the Nov. 2020 election.

  193. Very good analysis, this also clears up narratives used by both sides to justify the results. Maybe Elizabeth Warren should learn from Nate about how elections actually work. Maybe she would stop making statements that show her ignorance. Or maybe a savvy candidate could use this info to undermine her. The only issue I see, is that people convinced that she was robbed because she won the popular vote, and people convinced the Democrats have it rigged in the favor, are the people who already decided their vote. Those with some analytical skill left can read this and inform ourselves, but that group shrinks more every day. What I think should be abolished is the Super Delegates, those guys in the pocket of the DNC who are told how to vote by the likes of Debbie Waserman, who make the whole candidate selection a sham the likes of a Mexican PRI election in the 80’s. Last time she gifted the Super Delegates to HRC, giving her a head start that was impossible to beat. Right now you know very well they already know who they will elect, just they are keeping it quiet until Super Tuesday. The result is the same, the anointed candidate as decided for you by the DNC. That has to stop.

  194. How about discussing the US senate which is essentially gerrymandered.

  195. The debate has started again as to whether the US Constitution should be amended in order to change the presidential election process. Some promote eliminating the Electoral College in favor of a direct popular vote for president while others believe the Electoral College should remain unchanged. Just as compromise solved the initial problems of the framers so it is that compromise can solve this problem. The solution is to change the electoral votes to electoral points and reward each candidate a percentage of points based on the percentage of popular votes received in each state. This would eliminate the “winner take all” system thus allowing for all the votes to count. A voter is more apt to believe their vote counted when a percentage of popular votes are taken into account rather than the “all or nothing” system currently in existence. Further, this new system would integrate the desire for a popular vote for president with the need for the individual states to determine who actually gets elected. As for political primaries the number of delegates awarded in each state should be determined by the percentage of votes won by each candidate. For 2016 multiplying the percentage of votes each candidate received {in each state} times the number of electoral votes {in each state} results in the following: Clinton 256.985 and Trump 253.482.

  196. Sorry Nate but your math is wrong. Election 2000: Take two votes from each state (the two votes they get from their senators) and Al Gore wins even in Bush carries Florida. No need for COTUS to intervene and give new meaning to "one man one vote." BTW this happened also in 1916. You can do the math.

  197. The electoral college puts the fate of the country in the hands of the uninformed, the inexperienced, and the prejudice. Since when does a miner in Montana know anything about inner city crime? The electoral college was set up to give southern slave owners, who were the rich of their day, more rights than they deserved.

  198. @Rocketscientist Oh, c'mon. I am a Democrat and a liberal (usually), originally from the NYC area. If a miner in Montana is uninformed about life in the inner city (accepting that premise without proof, for argument's sake), then neither does a psychiatrist in NY or a real estate agent in Chicago or LA know anything about issues that affect Montana mining interests and the needs of the people in that industry. Let's not be guilty of the same behavior as we think we see and criticize in others.

  199. To reiterate something I wrote in a previous post on this subject: New York state has 29 electoral votes. Montana, Wyoming, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Iowa together have 29. New York's population (when I wrote this) was 19.65 million. Those seven states together had 11.01 million. Add Idaho, Utah and Oklahoma and you still haven't equaled New York's population but that adds another 17 electoral votes. If New York has more people than 10 other states combined, why should those states have more voting power? California alone has more people than the bottom 20-ranking states. If those states want more of a voice, they should produce more people. How did the election result represent the will of the people or the majority? The Electoral College was created at a time when candidates could not easily reach or campaign in every area of the country. Today, that is moot; mass media and the Internet make the farthest, most remote and sequestered areas instantly reachable. It's conceivable that candidates will someday never even have to leave their headquarters to campaign or reach every voter, making them probably even more out of touch than they are now. The Electoral College should be abolished, but at the very least, the winner-take-all system should be, in favor of a proportional system.

  200. If your bothered by the Electoral College, why aren’t you bothered by the US Senate? The geographical bias in the Senate, where Wyoming gets exactly the same number of votes as New York for example, is an order of magnitude huger than in the Electoral College.

  201. Mr Cohn writes: "There are legitimate arguments to keep the present winner-take-all system, even arguments that today’s progressive opponents of the Electoral College could appreciate. In the 1880s, for instance, it limited the electoral gains that white supremacist Democrats reaped by disenfranchising black voters." Huh? That's a reason for "keeping" this system? And how in the world did that system "limit" the gains by white supremacist Democrats"? Let's be clear: Republicans want to keep this system because it minimizes the votes of Black voters. That's why they always refer to "the cities", a euphemism for Blacks, when contending that the electoral college should be maintained: they don't want "the cities" to determine our elections. In the South where Whites comprise the majority, they effectively eliminate the votes of Blacks, whose minority of the vote is essentially wiped away. And it maximizes the votes of rural Whites in places like Wyoming and the Dakotas and Utah. Pretty simple, actually.

  202. Electoral College is a rigged system. The American government has always been a rigged system. And who benefits from this system? Let's see... George W. Bush and Donald J. Trump, the 1%.

  203. Unintended consequences ....... What I have always found interesting is how the battle ground changes somewhat every election ..also, the percentage of voting within each state is often very different .. higher in those contentious states. It's as if the most important issue affecting those voters pulls them out -- they end up having a greater effect on the election. Elimination of the EC will also bring out the voting irregularities in each state that are now safely contained. It will now require counting all provisional and absentee ballots that are often not required when they can't change an outcome in a given state -- Unintended consequences -- don't mess with something that works

  204. @GT - From 1992- 2016 13 states (with 102 electoral votes) voted Republican every time 16 states (with 195) voted Democratic every time Many states have not been competitive for more than a half-century and most states now have a degree of partisan imbalance that makes them highly unlikely to be in a swing state position. • 38 States Won by Same Party, 2000-2016 • 29 States Won by Same Party, 1992-2016 • 13 States Won Only by Republican Party, 1980-2012 • 19 States Won Only by Democratic Party, 1992-2012 • 7 Democratic States Not Swing State since 1988 • 16 GOP States Not Swing State since 1988 In 2008, voter turnout in the then 15 battleground states averaged 7 points higher than in the 35 non-battleground states. In 2012, turnout was 11% higher in the then 9 battleground states than in the remainder of the country. In 2016, in battleground states, turnout was 5 points higher than in non-battleground states. All provisional and absentee ballots are counted. With the current system (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution) a small number of people in a closely divided “battleground” state can potentially affect enough popular votes to swing all of that state’s electoral votes. 537 votes, all in one state determined the 2000 election, when there was a lead of 537,179 (1,000 times more) popular votes nationwide. The sheer magnitude of the national popular vote number, compared to individual state vote totals, is much more robust against manipulation.

  205. I don't understand why this system "discourages regionalism." I don't get the implications of all the math. I guess I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed.

  206. All of Mr. Cohn's comments are beside the point. The president and the vice president are the only two officials who are elected to represent all US citizens. They are not elected to represent to state or to represent a congressional district. There is no legitimate reason why any citizen's vote for president and VP should count more than any other citizen's vote. All votes for president and VP should have equal weight.

  207. The popular vote argument is pushed by liberals reading poor data. In reality if we did it by popular vote, Republicans would win every election. In the current climate the Democrats spend massive amounts of money in red-leaning states like Florida, Arizona, Texas and Georgia in hopes of flipping them. Most of the time this does not occur. However the net effect of taking a +10 R state and making it a +5 R state is that Democrats do better in the popular vote than they otherwise would. However Republicans have no incentive to invest in New York or California. The result of this is that no one bothers to turn out, and moderates don't vote R because Republicans promise them nothing. If it was done on the basis of popular vote, there are literally millions of latent Republicans in deep blue states waiting to be activated like sleeper agents. California alone should have about 3 million who don't vote but would vote R based on underlying voting stats. New York state should actually be a swing state based on exit polls- Evangelical New Yorkers are the only major evangelical population to vote Democrat. Why? Because the Republicans never campaign there and promise them nothing. The popular vote would be the death of the Democratic party. The fact is the electoral vote which disincentivizes blue state Republicans from turning out is the only scenario in which Democrats win. But they aren't smart enough to realize that, since they only look at half the data.

  208. Those who state that Clinton won the popular vote and that it is *unfair* that Trump won the election, Clinton had $500 million more than Trump, a significant amount of money, to campaign to voters. We don't legislate that Democrats and Republicans *must* spend the same amount of money on their campaigns. Adjusted for money spent per vote, Clinton far outspent Trump. The last thing we want is for billionaires and the wealthy to purchase elections. The "Blue" coasts that voted for Clinton have far greater wealth than the interior of the nation and the south. Clinton lost to Trump precisely because she was giving talks to Goldman (3 for $675,000), the icon of Wall Street and the financial crisis, *in private without the media being invited* suggesting purchasing her influence. Clinton totally ignored the plight of the working class in industrial states of Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin (the last state *she did not visit once after the nomination*) who complained about the export of their jobs to Mexico and China and who complained about the immigration of cheap labor to compete for those jobs that remained. Instead of marching with labor and fighting to help them keep their jobs, she instead called these people "deplorables." The Democrats can win, but they have to care about the needs of the people between the two coasts and in the south, something they seem loathe to do.

  209. @David MD No hiding the fact she is right they are deplorables. As for their jobs lost here to cheap labor are you in favour of Unions Trump and the Republicans have crushed them and could care less. As for the cheap labor I go to California and Florida and must have missed it those nasty Hispanics take jobs from Americans. In the meat plants in Iowa it was Hispanic and now Somilias. The point I mike is these jobs are below American workers who feel it is beneath them. What is America has become the Trump followers who had limited education - never went back to school to upgrade and still expect $25 an hour. On the other hand they love cheap products which are cheap because of labor costs and machines. Like the Leave Group in the UK they want it both ways - guess what life does not work out that way. I in a way are starting to enjoy the recession has started early yet, gee all those Trump deficits Republicans don't seem to care who will pay for them. In the South where I lived they love to whinne about their lots in life, but try bringing in a union that is socialism. Iowa farmers don't say anything about Trump tariffs and the fact that had to plow their crops under, but they take $6.5 billion from the taxpayers and yet they will attack anyone that says to them that is socialism. Sadly America has become the land of the stupid and they love it. Time for people to look in the mirror there is the real problem. Jim Trautman

  210. @trautman Try to imagine you are a working class father and mother working in a factory and you have two young children to support: to feed, to clothe, to shelter, to save money for university education. Now a company like Carrier Air Conditioners wants to close down your Indiana plant and save your "high paying" $20 per hour jobs to Mexico to save even more money. These are not "deplorables." Try to imagine a scenario where they have a job working in a food plant and people living in the country illegally take their jobs because they take lower wages. These are not "deplorables." Factory owners use immigrants legal or not to drive down wages so that they have more profits. Why do you think that both the Koch Brothers and Clinton and the Democrats want to import more cheap labor from Mexico. It is so wealthy factory owners or construction companies can make more money. Yet, Clinton called these American workers whose jobs were being displaced deplorables. This is the same Hilary Clinton who took $675,000 for 3 talks to Goldman and refused to invite the press. She gave talks to many other bankers and other special interest groups for her fee of $225,000. Now, please explain why this electing such a person is a good thing. Please. The Democrats ran nominated her despite the obvious conflict of interest with Wall Street and the special interests. Why would they do that?

  211. @trautman I voted for 'the other woman'. Does that make me a Deplorable ? Or, just destined for a 'special place in Hell', as per Ms. Albright ? Equally as lamentable as Herself's actual 'deplorable' comment was her casual admission to her habit of mentally consigning us to 'baskets' like we were so many potatoes.

  212. "If states chose to, they could devise an electoral system that better reflected the popular vote. They could award their electors in proportion to the statewide popular vote, or to the winner of the national popular vote, as some states have sought to do through an interstate compact." If blue states were principled they would show the strength and courage of their convictions by individually changing their electoral votes to reflect the popular vote absent of what others do. Instead they're opportunists clinging to the present system until enough states join a pact to reach 270 electoral votes because it still gives a Democrat the best chance to win the presidency. Their hypocrisy is on full display and well noted. Lets face reality. This push by blue states to change who their electoral votes go to isn't motivated by a newfound belief that the winner of the national popular vote belongs winning the presidential election. It's motivated by losing two elections that they won the popular vote but lost the electoral college and the presidency as a consequence. Their response is submitting electoral votes in whatever manner gives a Democrat the best chance to win the presidency. At the end of the day that's their true motivation. They're no different than Republicans in trying to gain electoral advantage.

  213. This reveals how little the author knows about Trump: "In fact, there is no reason that Mr. Trump, who has complained about how he did in California, needs to put his name on the ballot there at all." That Trump would let ANY votes for himself go uncounted is inconceivable. He's obsessed with NUMBERS; TV ratings, crowd sizes, and surely the number of votes he gets. After all, he tried to discount the 3 million more votes Hillary got by claiming that there were 3 million illegal votes cast!

  214. If it takes this many column inches to justify the Electoral College, then it's not a good system. The best system is the KISS approach, one person, one vote, end of story.

  215. The Electoral College anti-majority outcomes in 2000 and 2016 hardly represent a crisis. Both Al Gore and Hillary Clinton were weak and ultimately unelectable candidates. Gore failed to win his home state of Tennessee, stunning for someone who held statewide office for many years as a senator. Tennessee would have put him in the White House in 2000, and we have been spared the preppie rebellion and hanging chads. The Clinton campaign carelessly gave up solid blue states to Donald Trump. This is far from a crisis. The Democrats just need better candidates.

  216. @Nick Lewis So they can what get six million more votes and still lose. You miss the whole point in a DEMOCRACY ONE VOTE PER PERSON COUNTS THE SAME AS ANYONE ELSE, With the famous Electoral College it does not work out that way. In a true democracy which the US is not funny we send poll watchers to other countries to make sure the elections are fair. You forgot what I mention also the election of 1968 and the Nixon win - at 73 how did that work out. Bush and Trump less votes jam through tax cut for the rich and corporation try discussing that the rigged elections have no impact on the average American. Bush started a massive war which continues on till today draining money from health care for what purpose does anyone even remember do they even care. I served in the Marines in the Vietnam do people remember or even care here is one tidbit more men and women were killed after Nixon won the rigged election of 1968. What is coming is the same thing as in the UK with BREXIT a major explosion of those that have been cheated which happen to be the Blue states the ones that provide Mississippi with 19 dollars for every 1 Mississippi put in. People in the Blue states are fed up with paying for the deadbeats in the nation. Miss. there are no drivers lic. inspectors since they won't raise taxes to fund them now there is a safe drive on the road. My point is strange Republicans always seem to be the loser who wins Tired of the right wing whinners making like poor them. Jim Trautman

  217. Because of statewide winner-take-all laws, 2 of the 3 most recent presidents entered office without winning the most national popular votes. A recent study warns that 1 out of every 3 presidential elections where the popular vote margin is within 3% will feature a mismatch between the popular vote and the electoral college. There are several scenarios in which a candidate could win the presidency in 2020 with fewer popular votes than their opponents. It could reduce turnout more, as more voters realize their votes do not matter. The precariousness of the current state-by-state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes is highlighted by the fact that a difference of a few thousand voters in one, two, or three states would have elected the second-place candidate in 5 of the 16 presidential elections since WWII. Near misses are now frequently common. There have been 8 consecutive non-landslide presidential elections since 1988. 537 popular votes won Florida and the White House for Bush in 2000 despite Gore's lead of 537,179 (1,000 times more) popular votes nationwide. A difference of 60,000 voters in Ohio in 2004 would have defeated Bush despite his nationwide lead of over 3 million votes. In 2012, a shift of 214,733 popular votes in four states would have elected Romney, despite Obama’s nationwide lead of 4,966,945 votes. Less than 80,000 votes in 3 states determined the 2016 election, where there was a lead of over 2,8oo,ooo popular votes nationwide.

  218. The reason for the Electoral College was not discussed. Prior to the new Constitution there were the Articles of Confederation that did not work due to the simple fact one state could stop any legislation. Then the new model which is undemocratic was chosen to basically keep the states which would become the Confederacy happy and on board. Namely the Electoral College since they felt they would never get to elect a President in the old system. Now, they hold the upper hand. Forgotten seems to be in the article the election of 1968 and Nixon is in there along with 2000 and Al Gore and the 2016 election. Elections where because of the Electoral College the loser became the winner. In a "true" democracy one vote counts the same no matter where or who casts it. In the US not the case and in reality the system is rigged. Go back to the old news programs of the election of 1968 where every commentator says "This is the last election with the Electoral College". It is a undemocratic system which still continues. Hillary received three million more votes and lost, Al Gore lost, and so did Humphrey interesting in each case a Republican was the loser who won. To me the argument that California or New York has more population and employing the raw votes is not fair since they are not a farm state. Please both those states are a mix of cities and rural check voting patterns. In 2020 if Mr. Trump wins again with less votes watch for the explosion. Jim Trautman

  219. "If states chose to, they could devise an electoral system that better reflected the popular vote. They could award their electors in proportion to the statewide popular vote, or to the winner of the national popular vote, as some states have sought to do through an interstate compact." If blue states were principled they would show the strength and courage of their convictions by individually changing their electoral votes to reflect the national popular vote absent of what others do. Instead they're opportunists clinging to the present system until enough states join a pact to reach 270 electoral votes because it still gives a Democrat the best chance to win the presidency. Their hypocrisy is on full display and well noted. Lets face reality. This push by blue states to change who their electoral votes go to isn't motivated by a newfound belief that the winner of the national popular vote belongs winning the presidential election. It's motivated by losing two elections that they won the popular vote but lost the electoral college and the presidency as a consequence. Their response is submitting electoral votes in whatever manner gives a Democrat the best chance to win the presidency. Poetic justice would be served if they ever got the 270 votes necessary for their pact to go into effect and a Republican won the popular vote. Seeing them forced to submit their votes against the majority in their states would be a real pleasure.

  220. What an excellent, informative article! Thank you.

  221. however you parse the reasoning the Electoral College should be done away with. One person, one vote. Wherever you live, who ever you are, your vote should county equally to elect the leader of all of us. and the candidates spend all their time in the swing states thinking and talk about the issues that are important to THEM rather than all of us. the political will of the sparsely populated states are way over represented....why is there north and south dakota, with 4 Senators while Cali has 2 representing milliions more people. this is one reason why congress does not reflect the will and interests of most Americans. this will be hard to change...but what out the primaries? why are the voters of Iowa the gatekeepers every single time? their interests also do not reflect the interests and concerns of most of us. The states order of primaries should rotate. this is up to the political parties of course.

  222. I honestly changed my view of the "small-state over-influence" theory based on the simple math about the electoral college itself which Mr. Cohn did here--though this doesn't touch the absurdly disproportionate power of such states in the U.S. Senate, and the way that fact substantially impacts the character and distribution of political influence in U.S. party politics. Also, the electoral college itself is one of the causes of the negative aspects of regionalism that he deplores in other respects--and helps empower the swing-state influence in presidential elections. It seems to me that nobody can deny the synergy of all of these things in helping to promote the dangerous polarization of U.S. politics that the Trump presidency has promoted and aggravated. How we get out of this conundrum, however, is utterly beyond me. The current structure of U.S. political power is simply impotent to rectify its obvious defects and dangers.

  223. The Electoral College vote can be won by winning only the 12 largest states and 27% of the popular vote. Or by winning the 40 smallest states and 23% of the popular vote. (New Jersey with 14 electoral votes is included in both the largest and the smallest). These results are only theoretically possible. The Electoral College cannot be defended as an instrument of democracy and good government. Since 2000, states representing 374 electoral votes have voted for the same party in each of the five presidential election sand states representing 164 electoral votes have shifted allegiance in at least one presidential election. That pretty well defines a red state - blue state divide, if not precise geographical regionalism (North Carolina, Virginia, Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania are among the states that have flipped). It also defines the battleground states. The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is the only viable path to ending the Electoral College. To date 12 states and the District of Columbia representing 181 electoral votes have enacted the compact. The governor of Delaware (3 votes) is poised sign legislation adopting the compact on March 28. Legislation has passed both houses of the New Mexico legislature and is awaiting the governor's signature there (5 votes). The compact will take effect when adopted by states representing 270 electoral votes. That would effectively end the Electoral College.

  224. The problem is not with the college per se. The problem exists with choosing the electors. As it turns out, forty eight out of fifty states utilize the winner take all system. Contrary to Mr. Cohn’s assertions, proportional allocation of votes would eliminate most of the imbalances caused by winner-take-all.

  225. @just wondering - Again . . . There are good reasons why no state awards their electors proportionally. Electors are people. They each have one vote. The result would be a very inexact whole number proportional system. Every voter in every state would not be politically relevant or equal in presidential elections. It would sharply increases the odds of no candidate getting the majority of electoral votes needed, leading to the selection of the president by the U.S. House of Representatives, regardless of the popular vote anywhere. It would not accurately reflect the nationwide popular vote; It would reduce the influence of any state, if not all states adopted. It would not improve upon the current situation in which four out of five states and four out of five voters in the United States are ignored by presidential campaigns, but instead, would create a very small set of states in which only one electoral vote is in play (while making most states politically irrelevant), It would not make every vote equal. It would not guarantee the Presidency to the candidate with the most popular votes in the country. The National Popular Vote bill is the way to make every person's vote equal and matter to their candidate because it guarantees the majority of Electoral College votes to the candidate who gets the most votes among all 50 states and DC.

  226. Sorry, Mr. Cohn, the Electiral College's problem is that it exists. It's archaic and inherently unequal. One person, one vote, period.

  227. Nate Cohn writes, “In the 1880s, for instance, it limited the electoral gains that white supremacist Democrats reaped by disenfranchising black voters.” But did it? Congressional representation (and hence electoral votes) are determined by the number of people in a state and not the number of registered voters. Was this not the case back in the 1880s?

  228. Clinton's gains in Utah? That ignores the McMullin factor that split the GOP vote.

  229. Many commentators on this forum have advocated for The National Popular Vote Bill .....(https://www.nationalpopularvote.com) One way to recruit more support for ideas and reforms like this would be to pursue an election strategy designed to flip Texas from the Republican column to the Democratic column. If Democrats successfully capture Texas' 38 electoral college votes then Republicans would be forced to seriously consider reforming the EC. The only question remaining after such a feat is..... would Democrats give up their electoral college advantage? And for those who are unfamiliar with how soft Trump's numbers are in Texas and for how strong Beto's numbers are in the Lone Star State I encourage you to watch closely during this 2020 election cycle and consider Harry Enten's essay on the 538 Blog in which he discloses that Gallup finds.... "Trump managed only a 39 percent approval rating in Texas; 54 percent of Texans said they disapproved of Trump...." Beto has far better numbers in Texas and he may be the best bet for all those interested in structural reform of the electoral college system b/c a Beto victory would push Republicans to the realization that they cannot rely on the winner take all system to secure Texas' 38 electoral college votes any longer.

  230. @Perren Reilley The polls in 2016 made a win by Hillary Clinton appear to be a slam dunk, and then look what happened. Since then, I take polls with a grain of salt. Regarding the Texas polls - what's the sample size, which areas were polled, etc. Texas is a big place. Not sure I would put too much faith in the polling.

  231. The EC was created to prevent Trumps and others clearly unfit for office from being installed where a President should be. They failed spectacularly. Those in the EC who conspired to install Trump must be rounded up and deported back to Russia.

  232. @Tankylosaur The problem is that the EC has no true mechanism when there are two incompetent and unfit people running for office. Best hope is that neither gets to 270 at which point there can be an election in Congress that can lead to a dark horse candidate who was not voted on by the people. By the way, the EC is composed of all Senate and House members. I'd gladly send them all someplace.

  233. This is a lot of hot air. The problem with the electoral college is that some people effectively get more votes than others. One human, one vote, or your Republic is a fraud. Writing long columns like this only obfuscates this elementary injustice.

  234. Wikileaks (provided presumably by Russians) did a great service to this country providing transparency where I and others wanted to know what Clinton was saying in private (without the media being invited) in 3 talks to Goldman for $675,000. I felt the funding of Goldman and other banks and special interests were buying off Clinton and with the transparency provided, my thoughts and those of others were confirmed. I wouldn't exactly call transparency manipulation. For example, if the NYT had found out the information, would that be considered manipulation? No, it would be considered a great public service. If the NYT disclosing transparency of the Clinton campaign would be a great public service, it should be no matter who provided the information. Perhaps, just perhaps, Clinton shouldn't have been making speeches to Wall Street and other special interests for $225,000 per talk. Blame her actions which she did not want us to find out about and not the transparency provided by others. In the end, Wikileaks provided information so that *voters could make an informed decision* about who would be best for President. And they did. Perhaps someone would explain why it was bad that we found out about the truth about Clinton. I would really like to know.

  235. @David MD It isn't possible to make an "informed decision" when you only possess information about one of your options.

  236. The Electoral College is not going to be abolished any time soon (since that would require a Constitutional amendment, which isn't going to happen), but it's impossible to disagree with the argument that the EC system treats voters differently -- and, therefore, unfairly. While some might argue that an additional 3,000,000 votes in CA shouldn't matter, why shouldn't they? Why should a vote in CA matter less than a vote in any other state? Fair or not, though, the EC is here to stay. Sometimes one party's supporters complain about that; sometimes the other party's supporters complain. For example, it's often pointed out that the Democratic candidate got more of the popular vote in both the 2000 and the 2016 elections and yet the Republican candidate was elected both times. That's true, but some of us remember well the arguments made during the summer of 2000, when it appeared that Bush might win the popular vote but Gore might win the EC vote. Though the opposite ended up happening, that did not seem likely during the 2000 campaign. Bush opponents argued, essentially, that Bush should just "suck it up" and recognize that that's how we pick our Presidents here. Bush supporters responded that this was terribly unfair to Bush. And so on. The question "Should the Electoral College be abolished?" is by far the most common question in high school and college debates over the past 50 years (perhaps longer). For better or worse, though, the EC is here to stay.

  237. anyway you look at it. It's a convoluted, stupid system, and should be scrapped.

  238. @George Murphy There is a process for it. I wouldn't hold your breath hoping states will give up their power in a union of states.

  239. I agree that states should award their electors proportionately. But this statement - "The Electoral College’s small-state bias had essentially nothing to do with Donald J. Trump’s victory. In fact, he won seven of the 10 largest states, and Hillary Clinton won seven of the 12 smallest states." - then only serves as evidence that the EC is even MORE screwed up than just its small-state bias.

  240. If EV's were awarded proportionately by state, I get the following electoral vote totals for the 2016 election: Clinton - 256.903 Trump - 250.436 Others - 30.661. The House of Representatives would have had to decide the winner, since no one got a majority. The fact that there is no such thing as .661 of an elector would be irrelevant, since there would only be electoral votes, not electors. How often would the House be deciding, given the polarization and relative balance of the electorate? What if a passel of favorite sons/daughters or billionaires decided to run, resulting in the electoral vote leader having only 150 EV's? You'd not count the votes of other candidates in determining the electoral vote winner? Only the votes of Republicans and Democrats? Then you don't actually believe in one person, one vote. You'd allow a winner with less than a majority of the electoral vote? One of the points in favor of the Electoral College is that someone has to get a majority of something to win. This adds legitimacy to the win. Usually the electoral vote simply magnifies the size of victory of the popular vote winner. However, as we all know, that has not been the case in two of the last five elections. As a result, this discussion of alternatives is necessary. We should be diligent in attempting to form a more perfect union. As always, when talking about process, the devil is in the details. We need to come up with a system that not only sounds better, but works better.

  241. @Gnirol Or if a 3rd party generated such a result, you run the election again after removing the candidates who did not cross some threshold - until one candidate has 270. Runoff elections are done elsewhere. Which if in fact voting was proportional electors we might find to our surprise there might be more 3rd party candidates as the math changes if winner takes all goes away. winner takes all makes anything other than a 2 party winner unlikely.

  242. There's a glaring omission from this essay - it doesn't mention the Permanent Apportionment Act. Signed June 18, 1929, this Act established a permanent method for apportioning a constant 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives according to each census. US population in 1929: 121.9 million US population in 2017: 325.7 million So, "representation" has gone from one house member for every 209,447 people in 1910 to one for every 747,184 as of 2017. Without this act, there would be approximately 550 members of the house today, most of the additions from the most populous states.

  243. @Shiloh 2012 Very true, though in practice, we only have two votes (Dem or GOP)....the party system has obliterated any notion of lots of independent votes, and it's really just down to who belongs to which of the 2 voting factions.

  244. "Most states didn’t award their electors on a winner-take-all basis in the first presidential elections" While that may be true in a strictly procedural sense, in fact most states awarded all their electors to a single candidate for president in the earliest presidential elections. In states where the legislature chose the electors, the party in control of the legislature awarded all the electors to the party's candidates. In 1788-'89 and 1792, Washington was elected unanimously. In 1796, twelve of the sixteen states awarded all their electors to a single candidate and three of the remaining four only awarded only a single electoral vote to the second candidate. Only in Maryland was the vote substantially split between Adams and Jefferson with six electors voting for Adams, three for Jefferson and one for both of them. In 1800, thirteen of the sixteen states awarded all their electors to a single candidate. In 1804, only one of seventeen states cast votes for two presidential candidates. In 1808, three of seventeen states split the electoral vote. In 1812, one of eighteen states split the electoral vote. In 1816 there were no split states and in 1820 there was only one candidate for president, although one elector chose to vote for someone else splitting New Hampshire's vote.

  245. The majority in the 2016 voted against liberals/progressives. Trump plus Johnson out polled HRC plus Green party. Trump clearly represents the "anti-liberal" majority. More importantly, if the rules of the election were changed, NO ONE can predict results because the campaign strategies would shift (perhaps transform) candidates, issues, even the electorate themselves.

  246. The majority in 2016 voted against liberal/progressive. Trump plus Johnson (libertarian) won more than 50 % of vote (HRC/Green. The majority prevailed with a Trump presidency.

  247. @Gerry Professor That's just false. Trump/Johnson did not win a majority of the vote. Not using mathematics, anyway. And if you add Never-Trump McMullin, it's even worse. Your style of disingenuous argument is, however, exactly the kind of thing we've come to expect.

  248. Everybody, like this columnist, dances around the enduring, central assumption behind the Electoral College: that the 50 states are in fact autonomous little countries, each with its own culture, history, economy, and a particular sense of peoplehood. Perhaps this was true to an extent in the 18th century and, for many people, until the post-war era. But it's not remotely true right now, not even for the few states that nurture their own old-timey traditions. My own state used to be home base for five major corporate employers but now, none. Odds are most Americans have more in common with their peers in other states than the elites who run their own.

  249. @Bob T Well, they are far less autonomous than originally designed with a limited federal government. You are right that as the American governing system was destroyed over time by corrupted politicians and the donor class, states have been homogenized, even though people pretend to prefer diversity.

  250. @Bob T That is actually part of the overall disconnect. Yes, many people are mobile and move among states as the follow opportunity. And those people often don't feel any particular connection to the state in which they reside. But other people are not so mobile and never move far from where they were born. Those people tend to self-identify as much or more with their state allegiance as with their American allegiance. I will go out on a limb and make two assertions based only on anecdotal evidence from my own experience, having lived in a variety of states and interacted with people from many more: 1) There are a lot more people in the latter group than people in the former group typically realize or acknowledge. 2) People in the former group tend, on the whole to be more 'liberal' in their outlook and people in the latter group tend to be, on the whole, more 'conservative' in their outlook. Which might explain why 'liberals' tend to dismiss the idea of states as autonomous political units and 'conservatives' tend to take that idea seriously.

  251. The EC is a good system for a large federal country such as the USA. It has well served the stability of the system, it should be kept as well as the representation of the states in the Senate. This is not perfect but the best system for a federal country.

  252. Why not let the president be chosen by a vote of Congress?

  253. You will never convince me the Electoral College is faulty. It kept corrupt Hillary out of office. It is a success.

  254. The biggest problem is the Senate. Now, 35 states and 70 Senators represent a minority of the country. The SCOTUS is moving hard right, and Mitch is packing district courts (see Linda Greenhouse’s latest columns). The Court was out of step in the 1850s—think Rodger Tawney— and in the 1920s until 1936–think of the Lochner era.

  255. @James Rush Unfair, we don't need a president or congress and we should just rule ourselves because that's the most democratic. Representation is a fantasy; I've yet to speak to any congressional or president in my life, but somehow they represent me?

  256. One note and discusional "miss". The EC can be maintined in a more equitable fasion as states do not have to be "winner take all". Most just choose to do so. A state can choose any of a number of methods it wants to select or apportion it's electors. For exapmle today Maine and Nebraska use a 'congressional district method', two electoral votes go to the state popular vote winner (i.e. the number of US sentators per the state, always =2), and then one electoral vote to the popular vote winner in each Congressional district (minmum 1).

  257. Dividing more states’ electoral votes by congressional district winners would magnify the worst features of the Electoral College system. If the district approach were used nationally, it would be less fair and less accurately reflect the will of the people than the current system. In 2004, Bush won 50.7% of the popular vote, but 59% of the districts. Although Bush lost the national popular vote in 2000, he won 55% of the country's congressional districts. In 2012, the Democratic candidate would have needed to win the national popular vote by more than 7 percentage points in order to win the barest majority of congressional districts. In 2014, Democrats would have needed to win the national popular vote by a margin of about nine percentage points in order to win a majority of districts. In 2012, for instance, when Obama garnered nearly a half million more votes in Michigan than Romney, Romney won 9 of the state’s 14 congressional districts. Nationwide, there were only maybe 35 "battleground" districts that were expected to be competitive in the 2016 presidential election. The district approach would not provide incentive for presidential candidates to poll, visit, advertise, and organize in a particular state or focus the candidates' attention to issues of concern to the state. Awarding electoral votes by district could result in no candidate winning the needed majority of electoral votes, with Congress to decide the election, regardless of the popular vote

  258. @mvymvy As noted, only an illustrative example of one of many ways to apportion. My personnnel take is that the constitional framers espically those original "small" states were leary of large states dominance (rightly so). The compromise to balance this was Sentate and the EC. And if no candoate has a majoriy of the EC, then pehaps congrees should pick.

  259. @mvymvy Citizens vote ZERO times on all issues made into law (well, except for lame initiatives, like Brexit for Brits), but somehow if they just did for the president (but nothing else), then America would be great? As mentioned, states can decide, and we live in the United STATES of America.

  260. It’s a bit more than speculation that the Electoral College was hatched as a way to address the problem of southern states not being able to take advantage of their slave populations. Slaves counted toward Congressional seats but were unable to vote, so any president directly elected by the people would have an automatic advantage from northern states.

  261. All you need to know is the following: Colorado with roughly 5.7 million people has 9 electoral college votes. Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Alaska with roughly 5.8 million people combined have 24 electoral college votes.

  262. Would the 2016 election have produced another result of EC wasn’t a winner take all? For example of HRC got her share of CA based on her percentage of that vote, and likewise Trump on Fla and Tx and so on?

  263. Wouldn't it be interesting if the Supreme Court ruled that one part of the Constitution, the Electoral College, violated other parts such as the Fifth Amendment and the Equal Protection Claus of the 14th Amendment as well as the concept of "one person, one vote", and therefore must go? The present makeup of the Court itself is a result of the advantage the Electoral College (and creative gerrymandering) has given the Republican Party, thus reinforcing their advantage and perpetuating the problem. No, the reason the Electoral College is so pernicious an institution is because SOME Founding Fathers did not trust the common man to begin with, a self-fulfilling prophecy which now permits candidates, as a matter of political strategy ONLY, to write off whole states and sections of the electorate or, as in the case of the ill-advised Hillary Clinton, to assume that they have those states already in their win column (which might be even a worse sin, sorry Hillary).

  264. @Chevy So you agree that the Electoral College is a good idea. It can't be pernicious AND then you say how we can't trust the common man. No, the real issue is that the Feds rule over 50 states; states matter.

  265. A policy examination of the merits of the electoral college system is always appropriate. But lately it comes up only as a way to de-legitimize Trump's election by pointing out that he did not win the popular vote. A fair point, but a popular vote is not, and never has been, how Americans elect our President. If Trump is to be beaten, it will have to be through the electoral college system. Like or not, that's reality.

  266. @MR - Trump, October 12, 2017 in Sean Hannity interview “I would rather have a popular vote. “ Trump, November 13, 2016, on “60 Minutes” “ I would rather see it, where you went with simple votes. You know, you get 100 million votes, and somebody else gets 90 million votes, and you win. There’s a reason for doing this. Because it brings all the states into play.” In 2012, the night Romney lost, Trump tweeted. "The phoney electoral college made a laughing stock out of our nation. . . . The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy."

  267. Irrelevant to the point of the article, and most of the discussion it has generated, is how much different, and how much more expensive, modern POTUS elections would be under a different system. Advertising in NYC, CA and Tx major markets to get every last vote out would be quite an undertaking.

  268. @Tom Gavin - Presidential candidates currently do everything within their power to raise as much money as they possibly can from donors throughout the country. They then allocate their time and the money that they raise nationally to places where it will do the most good toward their goal of winning the election. Candidates will continue to try to raise as much money as economic considerations permit. Economic considerations by donors determines how much money will be available, not the existence of an increases number of places where the money might be spent. Presidential candidates concentrate their attention on only a handful of closely divided "battleground" states and their voters. There is no incentive for them to bother to care about the majority of states where they are hopelessly behind or safely ahead to win. 10 of the original 13 states are ignored now. Four out of five Americans were ignored in the 2012 presidential election. That's precisely what they should do in order to get elected with the current system, because the voters of 38+ states simply don't matter. Candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or care about the concerns of voters in states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind. When every voter matters equally throughout the United States, as it would under a national popular vote, candidates would reallocate their time and the money they raise.

  269. @mvymvy ....no a national popular vote would mean only the cities/dense population centers matter.