On Tuesday morning, I waited dutifully in line and voted here in NYC. I put in my meaningless vote for president, saw for the first time this year that Chuck Schumer was running for reelection to the Senate, and then flipped the ballot over. We were supposed to choose judges, none of whose names I recognized. The instructions: “Choose any nine.” The kicker: you were supposed to choose nine out of a possible nine!
I could not help thinking, “Why the f*** did I bother showing up?” And if I was thinking that, I am sure that tons of voters on the other side of the aisle, in upstate NY, perhaps, made a right turn to their favorite bar when driving home rather than the dutiful left turn to the voting booth.
I have heard various hues and cries about the Electoral College by all the people disappointed with Tuesday’s result. Clinton supporters have been sipping the weak comfort tea of “she won the popular vote.” (A result that may not hold up when all the absentee military ballots are counted.) I keep hearing people say, “If we didn’t have an Electoral College, Hillary would be president.”
I will do my best Trump impression, lean in to my microphone, and say, “Wrong!”
It is possible that without an electoral college, Hillary could have won, but the whole game would be so incredibly different that it is impossible to say. In fact, an election without an electoral college would be, if you can believe it, far worse than what we have today.
Look at the map (above, from 2012) that shows results by district across the United States. There are huge swaths of red and dense areas of deep blue. The country is divided by geography: the cities, the West Coast, and the Northeast consistently and reliably vote Democrat.
Right now, the campaigns are focused on relatively few swing states, like Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, which have a healthy mix of demographics, industries and living situations rare in today’s horribly divided country.
If the vote were simply majority rule, these would be the very areas the campaigns avoided. The concept of a “swing state” would disappear. The election would turn into a “get-out-the-vote” operation focused on each side’s base. There would be no need to try to win voters over.
In this imaginary universe, Trump would spend most of his time in the center of the country and in rural areas of large population states, like California. Hillary would stay only in coastal urban areas. The alternate realities that already exist in media would metastasize as there would be no need to check each other’s arguments. There would only be a need to gin up various fears and conspiracies.
It is hard to say who would have had better turnout last Tuesday in the imaginary universe, but the red areas typically have relatively higher turnout (with some caveats).
So, it seems, again, that our Founding Fathers were wise. The Electoral College forces the candidates into diverse areas, creating dialogue and making the candidates persuade voters on the issues. Keep it.
I'm an entrepreneur and I teach math, history, economics, and fitness. I'm looking for arguments.