Friday, November 18, 2016

The worst argument for the Electoral College

The weakest argument for the Electoral College goes something like this:

The top ten states population is about 165 million total. 119 million people counted so far as of today voted in the 2016 presidential election. This is why the electoral college was created. So that the other 40 states matter! Otherwise the candidates just go to where the biggest populations are.
Yeah. Otherwise, we'd have candidates spending all their time in Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio — the fourth, sixth, and seventh-most populated states, respectively. 

Oh. Wait. 

The truth is already this: Kansas never sees a presidential candidate during the general election campaign. New York and California do, a little bit, but only because those are great places to raise funds. Otherwise, they're so solidly Democratic that it's not worth the time or money to bother with them.

What's more likely is this: Abolishing the Electoral College opens up the map. A Democratic vote in Kansas becomes meaningful — it won't be wiped out by the state's winner-take-all method of distributing electoral votes. A Republican vote in New York, similarly, would also be more valuable, for the exact same reason.

Candidates would have to go where the votes are; in a popular vote system, the votes are everywhere. Yes, there are more votes in the cities, so candidates would naturally gravitate there, but smart candidates would think in Moneyball terms, trying to find votes where their opponent might not. So maybe you start seeing smart campaigns target Latinos in Western Kansas and other groups in rural areas, people whose votes didn't really matter under the Electoral College, but might be vital under a popular vote system. 

It's too late to fix this year. But it's not too late for next. 

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