1. Votes aside, the electoral college has two additional undesirable results. First, it results in an increasingly smaller number of states, and their problems, receiving attention from the presidential candidates. Second, it disproportionately increases the influence of fringe candidates, as Florida in 2000 and Wisconsin in 2016 demonstrated.

  2. Clinton lost because she could not win states Democrats have been winning for decades. She is Wall Street. Average working class voter who voted for Kerry and Obama in the rust belt could not connect to her. Even former manufacturing towns in CT like Ansonia and Derby that voted for Obama twice voted for Trump. Places like Greenwich which is a Wall Street town that voted for Romney and McCain voted for Hillary because she is Wall Street and they never vote Democrat but voted for her.

  3. There is a reasonable, logical reason for the electoral college method. It is intended to ensure states with large voting populations do not completely dominate election results. Sometimes the electoral college tally and the popular vote do not agree. It has happened infrequently. It seems contrary to our concept of whom the winner is, but an understanding of its intent is important.

  4. Message, Organization and Money otherwise known as MOM on OIB were unusual this year in the Presidential race.

    For a variety of reasons I am interested in the way in which Trump found his way to electoral victory despite his unorthodox (according to the “experts”) campaign. Though acknowledged to be a television pro, how much did his staying in the news cycles with new furor regularly contribute? Though his campaign spending did not match the opposition, according to reports during the run-up to the election, how much did he actually spend, towards what type of publicity and in what markets? Though his campaign supposedly had no ground game, there were lots of people who thought they knew the candidate’s real message and acted on it. Was the intensity of their need for change the difference between the two candidates this year? Comparisons were mentioned on occasion about the different meetings held. Clinton with small groups and Trump with crowds with whom he worked up the emotions of participation. Will this method of operation be open for use by others in the future? Were there additional “significant differences” in the campaign operations this year that may portend use in the future? Interested in answers from those who care about such matters. Time will tell.

  5. Lennie, there was nothing wrong with the electoral college concept in this or other past elections. The Clinton campaign knew the states they had to win and the number of EC votes at stake. Ohio, Penn, NC, Florida, etc. They must have realized they had a problem on their hands earlier last month. The Clinton camp tried to plug the gaps by sending support such as Tom McCarthy of Bridgeport CT to Cleveland, Ohio. Where’s ACORN when you need them?

  6. There is a compelling argument to end the electoral college as swing states are limited and it allows the candidates to limit where they go, basically ignoring the majority of the country. Look back to 2012, if the election were based on the popular vote Romney would have gone to Staten Island or lower Fairfield county, Obama would have gone to Austin TX or Birmingham AL. Campaigns would have to be more of a marathon sprint as blue states would have red areas to mine, and flip that for red states. This would also cause them to be more expensive, injecting more money into politics.

  7. The Founding Fathers were probably the greatest collective intellect ever focused on the creation of a functional government. They were individually some of the greatest intellects of all time. And they had the shared experience of developing under uncertain, challenging circumstances that guided their self-education/intellectual/psychological development toward exceptional levels of survival and coping skills dealing with the gamut of human survival demands.

    Making assumptions based on the track records and intellectual capacities of the creators of the US Constitution, I believe there were/are abundant good reasons for the creation of the Electoral College system that need to be fully discerned and evaluated before we entertain notions of discarding it. And if we do discard it, it should be done by a national referendum authorized by 2/3 of the states.

  8. At the Philadelphia convention, the visionary Pennsylvanian James Wilson proposed direct national election of the president. But the savvy Virginian James Madison responded that such a system would prove unacceptable to the South: “The right of suffrage was much more diffusive [i.e., extensive] in the Northern than the Southern States; and the latter could have no influence in the election on the score of Negroes.” In other words, in a direct election system, the North would outnumber the South, whose many slaves (more than half a million in all) of course could not vote. But the Electoral College–a prototype of which Madison proposed in this same speech–instead let each southern state count its slaves, albeit with a two-fifths discount, in computing its share of the overall count.

    Virginia emerged as the big winner–the California of the Founding era–with 12 out of a total of 91 electoral votes allocated by the Philadelphia Constitution, more than a quarter of the 46 needed to win an election in the first round. After the 1800 census, Wilson’s free state of Pennsylvania had 10% more free persons than Virginia, but got 20% fewer electoral votes. Perversely, the more slaves Virginia (or any other slave state) bought or bred, the more electoral votes it would receive. Were a slave state to free any blacks who then moved North, the state could actually lose electoral votes.
    If the system’s pro-slavery tilt was not overwhelmingly obvious when the Constitution was ratified, it quickly became so. For 32 of the Constitution’s first 36 years, a white slaveholding Virginian occupied the presidency.

    Southerner Thomas Jefferson, for example, won the election of 1800-01 against Northerner John Adams in a race where the slavery skew of the electoral college was the decisive margin of victory: without the extra electoral college votes generated by slavery, the mostly southern states that supported Jefferson would not have sufficed to give him a majority. As pointed observers remarked at the time, Thomas Jefferson metaphorically rode into the executive mansion on the backs of slaves.


      1. Ron, I appreciate we don’t always agree.

        In my humble opinion, it’s not always about race.

        We are all humans in a multicultural, multi-ethnic, and multiracial world. We need understanding and respect to progress together.

        As President Eisenhower said in his farewell address on Jan 17, 1961:
        “Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose.”

        More palpably and recently, Hillary Clinton put it this way:
        “What we have to do … is to find a way to celebrate our diversity and debate our differences without fracturing our communities.”

        1. Pete, what someone said is one thing but what is real is what the law of the land states.

          “What we have to do … is to find a way to celebrate our diversity and debate our differences without fracturing our communities.” Those are nice words and a feel-good statement but it has no weight unless the law is behind it.

          After President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act, he famously said he’d lost the South to the GOP for a generation. Sadly, he was right. Here is the map of the states of the old Confederacy. Now look at the political map today. For just the second time since the Civil War, Republicans control the legislature in every Confederate state.

    1. Stunning information, Pete. I honestly was unaware of this. Thank you for educating those of us who were completely unaware of the basis of the electoral college.

      Are those in prison today counted towards the number of state reps, senators, U.S. representatives, and electoral votes?

  9. The original constitution was ratified by 9 states.
    Should we bring back that number if it was so good way back then?
    It’s a different country and a different world. Modernizing a few processes won’t destroy the original framework.

  10. Thanks Peter for that eye-opening black history moment. At 65 I still continue to learn how blacks played an important part of the founding of the United States of America and I will forever cite this example of how America used blacks for its own devices above and beyond slavery.
    Thanks again Peter, I guess I have some studying to do because I need to know more about this.

    1. Chief Supreme Court Justice, Roger Taney, in the Dred Scott decision in 1857 said blacks “had no rights which the white man was bound to respect, and that the Negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit.”

      1. … Dred Scott may have been more a symptom of something deeply pathological in American life than a cause of that pathology, and it may be that larger pathology–a republic built around appeasement of slaveholders–that ultimately brought on the payment enacted on Americans in blood and treasure. That, at least, was Lincoln’s analysis in his second inaugural address. Slavery, Lincoln argued, was an “offense” that brought its due punishment from a just God. “[I]f God wills that” the Civil War must continue, Lincoln wrote, until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

        In his address, Lincoln does not single out the Supreme Court for particular blame for the war, even though he had excoriated Dred Scott in the years immediately after the decision. Surveying the wreckage of the country in 1864, he did not focus on Taney or the Justices in the majority or the counter-majoritian difficulty. He blamed the country and its people, both North and South.

        From Balkin and Levinson’s article “Thirteen Ways of Looking at Dred Scott”

        1. Richard Nixon, the 37th United States president, made use of a successful “Southern strategy” to win enough electoral votes from the southern states to defeat Hubert Humphrey, his 1968 Democratic election opponent. Until the 1960s, the southern states had traditionally voted against the Republican “Party of Lincoln” since the Confederate States’ loss of the Civil War. By appealing to the anti-integration, states’ rights and law-and-order sentiments of many Southerners of the time, Nixon was able to sway enough voters to the Republican ticket and win the election.

          1. Lee Atwater’s Infamous 1981 Interview on the Southern Strategy

            You start in 1954 by saying ‘Nigger, nigger, nigger.’ By 1968 you can’t say ‘Nigger.’ That hurts you. It backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states rights and all that stuff and you get so abstract. Now you talk about cutting taxes and these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that’s part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract and that coded, we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. Obviously sitting around saying we want to cut taxes and we want this, is a lot more abstract than even the busing thing and a hell of a lot more abstract than nigger nigger. So anyway you look at it, race is coming on the back burner.

  11. It would seem the reason why the northern states accommodated the southern proposal for an electoral college system of presidential election was to provide assurances to the less “voter populated” southern slave-holding states that their statehood would be as potent as that of the more populated northern states and that a unified (federalized) government would thereby provide assured political equity for all the member states (realizing that “no union–no country”).

    Underlying southern motives and effects notwithstanding, that “fairness” argument still holds some water today. Small-population states are still accorded two senators and at least one House representative who also serve as Electoral College voters for these small states. Without added assurances of political equity such as the electoral college, the small states would be severely marginalized and politically hobbled in a de facto, systemic manner. If there is to be a stable union there must be political equity.

    The consequent quirks in the presidential electoral process allowed by the electoral college system would seem to be artifacts of the underlying political themes of given elections. For instance, in the 2016 presidential election, the themes of family income distress/anxiety, the pursuit of dangerous, expensive militaristic foreign policy, and concerns about homeland security in the face of jihadist terrorist threats, were strongly presented by the electorate during the primary season. The establishment wings of the major parties arrogantly, and stupidly, and wrongly, chose to sidestep, ignore, and restate those issues in self-serving, distorted manners, thus defying the efforts of the people to have their interests represented by the candidates. Only Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump provided acknowledgement and affirmation of these voter concerns as well as plans to address the problems therein.

    The Democrat Establishment undermined and sabotaged the “other” Democratic candidate in order to promote the candidacy of the “entitled” Establishment candidate. The Establishment Republicans refused to look beyond their dream of a resurrection of the antiquated Reagan agenda, as well as displaying utter denial of the catastrophe unleashed on the country and the world by the Establishment Bush-43 presidency, and clung, perseveringly to the promotion of their Establishment candidacy and its antiquated platform, and wound up with a wild card, anti-establishment candidate when the people overwhelmingly rejected the Party’s standard fare.

    The “quirk” in the electoral process in this election year was the result of tone-deaf establishment candidates who failed to hear the distress calls coming out of the majority of states of this union. The small difference in popular vote separating the candidates would hardly justify ignoring the major portion of the country sending out distress signals. And, if children and others ineligible to vote were counted with the voting population in the politically disparate portions of the electoral college map, it might very well be found there are actually more Americans (albeit, not voting eligible) residing in the electoral-college majority area of the map that gave Trump his win. (In 2000, we have to remember Bush did better than expected because of the dot-com crash and Clinton sex scandal effects. The electoral “quirk” that set us up for the Bush disaster was really traceable to bad Clinton behavior and economic policy, which Al Gore wound up paying for. In this election, the “quirk” is due to an arrogant, tone-deaf Democratic Party Establishment. We shouldn’t necessarily blame the Electoral College system as much as a Democratic party that largely lost touch with its base. Let’s just hope we don’t have a collection of disasters of the same collective magnitude from the Trump “quirk” as we did from the Bush “quirk.” But really, Democrats can only blame themselves for failing to support the right candidate in this case. Especially in the context of lessons that should have been learned over the past five decades.)

  12. The electoral college was set up because the founding fathers did not fully trust the people. Only members of the House were elected directly. Senators were not directly elected until 1911, having previously been chosen by state legislatures. The intent of Hamilton and Madison was for people to elect electors to the electoral college who would then each decide who should be President. This then turned into bound delegates. This is the one piece of our constitution that hasn’t been copied by other countries. It is worth noting in other countries the popular vote is referred to as the vote.

  13. Senators are now elected directly. More checks and balances “protection for the interests of the people” are in place now. The Electoral College still needs reform. But the Primary Process, with its premature commitment of Super Delegates to “anointed” candidates sets the stage for the malfunction of the Electoral College system and should be examined and reformed pursuant to Electoral College reform.


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