The Importance of the Electoral College

In light of the Presidential election, many claim the electoral college should be abolished — primarily because Clinton won the popular vote, yet lost a great majority of electoral votes Trump. This case was also relevant in the 2000 election when Al Gore won the popular vote but lost the electoral vote to Bush.

Though Clinton won the popular vote, it is important to take into account that each candidate would have entirely changed their campaign strategy if our electoral system was popularity based. For example, Trump would have spent more time campaigning in large, red states like Texas, and would put little to no effort in the smaller swing states, such as, New Hampshire.

A critical reason the electoral system is not popularity based is to protect the rights of minorities. While drafting the Constitution, federalist, James Madison, expressed a fear for the “tyranny of the majority”. This fear was derived from the idea of factions, where one group of people would grow so large that it encompasses a majority in the U.S. at the expense of other citizens and their rights.

While the electoral system protects minority rights, it also promotes the rights of states thorough federalism. The electoral system is a winner-take-all system, thus the nominee who wins the most electoral votes in each state, wins the entirety of the state. While the system protects the states, it also takes popular opinion into account. Each state is allocated electoral votes based on the number of seats it has in the House of Representatives, plus two senators. Additionally, for a candidate to become president they must win at least 270 electoral votes.

The electoral college system has been successful for 200 years in America and should not be abolished solely because the person you wanted to win lost. Please note, this post is about our current system of government as a whole, and is unrelated to your political opinion regarding the candidates in the race.