In 2016 President Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton with 304 electoral delegates to her 227, despite the fact he received about 63 million votes compared to her approximately 66 million. This discrepancy has led to demands for electoral reform in this country, mostly among Democrats.
In a CNN town hall at Jackson State University in March 2019, presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said, "Every vote matters, and the way we can make that happen is that we can have national voting, and that means get rid of the Electoral College."
Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-NY) shares this view. She tweeted on Oct. 6, 2018, “It is well past time we eliminate the Electoral College, a shadow of slavery’s power on America today that undermines our nation as a democratic republic.”
State legislators in places such as Oregon and California are already pushing legislation that would force their electors to allocate their votes for the winner of the national popular vote, no matter the results of the vote in their home state. People who are pushing for a national plebiscite, however, miss the big picture and advocate for exactly what the electoral college was designed to protect against.
The electoral college gives a proportional voice to all people in the United States. The system is designed to protect against a situation where the president is elected solely on the votes of the large cities with huge population density. New York City alone has a population nearly equal to Hawaii, West Virginia, Alabama and South Dakota combined. Under a national popular vote, cities with the largest media markets would be the only ones candidates would attempt to appeal to in order to garner votes due to their huge population concentration.
From a utilitarian perspective, why waste time campaigning in areas that have a spread-out population when you could simply appeal to just as many, if not more, voters by focusing on large metropolitan areas?
The United States is a huge country with a variety of different and diverse needs based on a number of socio-economic factors. In order to be elected, a candidate should have to consider the many different needs of the electorate. Adopting a national popular vote and abolishing the electoral college would only disenfranchise large swaths of the country completely, and allow the large cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City, Miami and Chicago to almost single-handedly decide the fate of the country.
Coincidently, all of these areas are very deep blue on an electoral map, which I am certain relates directly to the Democratic consensus to allow for a popular vote.
The adoption of a national popular vote would empower a small, heavily concentrated area of the country, but disenfranchise huge swaths of the country in the process.
Relating back to Representative Ocasio-Cortez’s argument regarding slavery and racial inequality being founding components of the electoral college, it is simply untrue. Under the electoral college, all groups are empowered, and their votes go to who wins the state with no racial provisions, whereas under a national popular vote, minority voters could experience a tyranny of the majority, losing their voice wholesale.
Overall, abolishing the electoral college would be a major loss for all Americans, concentrating 100% of the power in the hands of only 50% of the population who live in small, densely populated geographic areas. The electoral college is the ultimate great-equalizer in politics.