Irrelevant Popular Vote

To those people who say Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, and, therefore, should be our next president: that’s irrelevant.  It’s a little like saying that the Cleveland Cavaliers should have won the World Series because the Cavs had more three pointers than the Cubs.  The World Series wasn’t determined based on basketball prowess, and the race for President didn’t hinge on popular vote. 

In addition, please consider this.  If the contest were for popular rather than electoral votes, the two candidates would have campaigned differently.  The outcome might have been the same or different, but I guarantee you that one way or another the vote totals would have changed.

You may ask why.  It’s simple, the two candidates’ campaigns would have concentrated more on population centers.  In 2016, New Hampshire with its three electoral votes was a battleground state.  With such a small population, do you think either candidate would have spent any time in New Hampshire if it were the popular vote that counted?

Except for a small handful of states that have changed the way they distribute electoral votes (Maine is one), in all the other states, whichever candidate wins the popular vote in the state gets all the electoral votes.

So, under the current system, Hillary Clinton got all the electoral college votes from California, Illinois, and New York; Donald Trump got nothing.  If the popular vote counted, Hillary would have gotten the majority of votes from these three states, but votes Trump received would have counted too.

Then, there’s the issue of voter motivation.  If you think your candidate is going to win in a landslide, you might not bother to vote.  If you think your candidate has no chance, you might also stay home.  If the national vote totals counted, you’d be more likely to vote for your candidate, even if the other candidate were stronger where you live.

The founding fathers deliberately created a system that didn’t rely solely on the popular vote.  The Electoral College is one example.  The Senate is another.  They intended to limit the strength of the masses and to increase the influence of the less populous, more agricultural states.  Should we change it?  Maybe, but it’s not easy, and it would take a long time.  It would require a constitutional amendment.  Should we also change the Senate for the same reasons?  Would that ever pass the Senate?

Had popular vote counted in the just completed Presidential election, the vote totals would certainly have changed and the change would not have guaranteed that Hillary Clinton would now be President-elect.

Author: Tom

I know by ABC's, I can write my name, and I can count to 100.