EMOPALOOZA 2.0: Electoral College

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The Founding Fathers got it right, and California is proof.

Consider this: Hillary Clinton’s 2.3-million-popular-vote plurality over Trump depends on the votes in a single state.

 writes: Shocked and appalled by the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency, some supporters of Hillary Clinton have turned to minimizing and even delegitimizing Trump’s election. In an era of severe political polarization, in an election with two candidates seen from the outset in highly unfavorable terms, after the most brutal campaign in modern history, and with an outcome that astonished just about everyone, these reactions are understandable, but wrong.

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Many diehard Clinton supporters cannot bring themselves to believe their candidate could lose to Donald Trump. They think: How could such a crude and inept con man be elected president? Even after it has happened, it is unthinkable, a nightmare. So, the election must not have been fair.

[MORE: Lobbied, pressured, even threatened: What life has been like for Electoral College voters]

Those on the fringe raise the specter of diabolical Russians hacking away at our democracy. More grounded Clintonians have less malevolent bogeymen — our Founding Fathers. As they see it, the election’s outcome should be blamed on a dysfunctional and archaic electoral-vote system. Hillary won the national popular vote. She should be president. It is as simple as that. The Electoral College should go the way of Trump University.

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They are right about one thing: Clinton did win the popular vote, by some 2.8 million votes, as the most recent data show.

Yet Clinton has only 232 electoral votes (in 20 states plus Washington, D.C.) to Trump’s 306 (in 30 states plus one from Maine), making him the president-elect. So Trump’s election without a popular-vote plurality is regarded as an 51obn4k-t2l-_sl250_injustice. Some Democrats claim a moral victory as victims of an electoral-vote system that once again horribly “misfired.” Their claim, however, neglects two facts.

[Order James E. Campbell’s book “Polarized: Making Sense of a Divided America” from Amazon.com]

First, had the election been conducted with rules awarding the presidency to the popular-vote winner, the candidates and many voters quite probably would have acted very differently, and the popular vote might not have been the same. Trump and Clinton would have campaigned in the “safe” states. Potential voters in those states would have felt more pressure to turn out and to vote for “the lesser of two evils” and not to waste their votes on third-party candidates. Some additional Clinton voters would probably have shown up, but gains on the Trump side would probably have been larger as more reluctant Republicans would have been pushed to return to the fold, particularly in big blue states like California, New York and Illinois.

In short, a comparison of the national popular vote as cast and the electoral-vote division is no simple matter. This is particularly true in our age of pervasive polling in which people should have a good idea about whether they live in a state where their presidential vote might make a difference…(read more)

Source: MarketWatch

James E. Campbell is a UB distinguished professor of political science at the University at Buffalo, SUNY, and is the author of Polarized: Making Sense of a Divided America.

 



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