Popular vote

Yesterday, I wrote about living in deep blue Massachusetts. Consider this. In the post Reagan-era (1988), only two Democratic candidates for the presidency have lost the popular vote – and they’re both from Massachusetts. (That’d be Dukakis and Kerry, for the curious.) Every other Democratic candidate (B. Clinton x2, Gore, Obama x2, H. Clinton) has won the popular vote. It’s perhaps another clue as to how out-of-sync the Commonwealth is with the rest of the nation.

To many, the Al Gore and Hillary Clinton electoral college losses are also a sign that the electoral college is a poor way to elect a president. Those are the two only candidates to win the popular vote and lose the election since 1988. And I agree that the electoral college process is broken, but not for reasons of partisanship. Frankly, I just think it makes what should be a simple process – one person, one vote – into a bizarrely complicated ritual, with different rules in different states. I’m not reflexively  in favor of the popular vote; I’m sympathetic to the federalist design, in which citizens of states with lower populations have a slightly higher influence than citizens of states with higher populations. But surely, the process could be improved.

And, at this point, a popular vote would be superior to the current electoral college process. Today, I signed up for updates with National Popular Vote. Apparently, according to the site, “the National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It has been enacted into law in 11 states with 165 electoral votes. It will take effect when enacted by states with 105 more electoral votes.” Of course, Massachusetts is already among the 11.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Michael Rheaume February 8, 2017, 12:50 am

    This is a fascinating idea. So in essence, because the states are able to assign their electoral votes however they want according to their individual state law, if 270 electors’ worth of states sign on to this they can have a sort of end-around into a popular vote?

    Personally I’m also torn with the Electoral College. I think one could argue pretty convincingly that this most recent election showed how flawed it is, while on the other hand faithless (or rational in this case) electors could have used the system itself to prevent Trump’s ascension to the White House. The fact that (most? all?) electors are Dem or GOP party members doesn’t help things in that regard however.

    Simplicity does have its merits.

    • One Civic Act February 8, 2017, 7:30 am

      That’s the idea, yes. A little convoluted in itself, but the end result is essentially a popular vote.

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