Presumably there will be other candidates on the ballot in closer races, where your vote might matter.
But your impression is reasonable. The presidency will be determined in a relatively small number (<10?) potential swing states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida… If you don’t live in one of them, your impact on determining the presidency will be nil.
Some folk would say that the margin by which a candidate wins the popular vote might suggest the extent to which they enjoy a “mandate.” But IMO that is essentially just PR. Whoever takes office will be claiming a mandate.
Well, obviously if everyone has that attitude then it’ll never change. Virginia and North Carolina used to always go Republican. Now North Carolina is seen as a swing state and Virginia is practically considered blue. That only happens if people don’t say “Oh, Virginia always votes Republican so I’m staying home”
More immediately, there’s also down-ballot candidates. Congressional seats, state legislature, local positions, etc.
Your vote will still be reflected in the national totals. The electoral college has more than its share of detractors, but thanks to it, a relatively close race can be decided quite decisively. Imagine if it was scrapped and the national totals were within a few thousand votes. Imagine the chaos of a national recount. The electoral college helps us avoid these nightmare scenarios. So go ahead and vote for Trump (though seriously, why?) and take satisfaction in knowing that Hillary’s margin of victory in your state was somewhat smaller thanks to you.
There is also something called the National Popular Vote compact, which is a plan to get enough states to change their rules to give all of their electoral votes to whomever gets the most votes nationwide, that the popular vote winner would automatically get the 270 electoral votes needed to be elected. Right now, states with 165 electoral votes have this in their laws (note that it does not take effect until 270 electoral votes’ worth of states ratify it).
A “meaningless” vote that results in someone winning the popular vote but not the electoral vote could spark additional interest in this.
The electoral college is a good thing. You think your vote doesn’t matter now, wait until people in New York and LA make all the decisions for you and people in “flyover country” are effectively disenfranchised.
After Gore, I used to think the EC would be good to junk. But seeing how rarely a candidate who wins the most votes (plurality or majority) loses the election occurs (4 out of 57 elections in American history), it would just be a massive hassle to change it.
We’re kind of stuck here. A popular vote has problems of it’s own. Election strategy is based on the electoral map, if we switch to a popular vote we’ll see large geographic sections and demographic groups ignored leading to the same type of complaints. I’d say the best bet for short-term change is proportional allocation of electors in the states based on their individual popular votes, and proportional allocation of the electors based on the national population. That removes the electoral advantage of low population states and let’s the voters in each state feel like their vote counts.
On what grounds? “Each state shall appoint, in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a number of electors, equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress.”
Why, no, it doesn’t say anything about having to take any popular vote into account, now does it?
How would it be a massive hassle. I’m sure a Constitutional Amendment could be worded with fewer than 100 words and a lot of those would be extraneous. Now I agree there would be a lot of argument against it like from people living in Wyoming where each electoral vote represents some 170,000 people which is more than 3 times the average across the U.S. But there is a lot of argument about most proposed Amendments.
Even worse might be a “compromise” where each state assigned 1 electoral vote to each congressional district (plus 2 at large) as Maine and Nebraska do. If you think Gerrymandering is bad now think of what it would be like if those drawing districts knew it affected the Presidential election as well.
Honestly, there is no voting system that won’t make someone’s vote “meaningless” and the electoral college seems no better or worse than many of the options. As said, if we go with a purely population-based vote, we put more votes in play, but the smaller states’ interest could be overwhelmed by the interests of the states on either coast. The electoral college is a compromise system so that the states are more evenly represented.
The bottom line for me is:
many of the positions that really matter are local. Mayors, city council members, judges, prosecutors, water districts… think about how many national news stories of the last few years are issues that local politicians either caused or could have prevented. (Think Baltimore, Flint and Ferguson for starters).
no matter how little your vote is worth, it is always worth more when you cast it. Even if your vote does nothing but make your state 64% blue instead of 63%, that kind of thing is noticed.
This. I really don’t care about national politics that much. If Trump or Hillary are sitting in the oval office this time next year, I doubt that my life will be affected much at all either way, even if my vote made a difference.
I vote local. I vote for the guy that says he’s going to plow my streets in the winter, and as I live in a city of less than 10,000, my vote actually can matter. The last election came down to just over a hundred votes difference for mayor, some of the council seats were closer than that. School board is important to me as well. Levies for fire and parks and other services are worth voting on.
As long as I am there, voting on things that are important to me, I may as well throw a vote towards the national politicians that I favor as well.
I’m not seeing the problem – if there are more of them, they win.
Some issues are not within the legitimate scope of majority rule (either genuine majority rule or finagled “majority” rule rigged to make flyover dwellers more equal than others), but that’s a separate issue.
IANAL, but in the beginning the grounds will likely rest as much as “I lost unfairly and I’m going to do anything I can to change this” and “this is totally unprecedented - surely the USSC will have to have a say!” as it will on any specific legal principle.
Note that I’m not saying anything in regards to the quality of such lawsuits, just that they will happen if this compact actually comes into play in selecting Electors.