A bunch have heard my arguments before, so I’ll present them again in a novel way. The following are the purported benefits of the Electoral College, with my debunkings to follow.
The Electoral College ensures that a President will have a majority. Yeah, right. A majority of an artificial institution that serves no other function than to elect the President. Artificial, since it’s just derived from popular pluralities anyway. It would be much simpler and no less logical just to have a single Electoral College constituenies, and give all 538 votes to the nationwide plurality winner.
And a majority isn’t even assured. We haven’t had a “hung College” since 1824, but that’s mainly been serendipitous.
When nobody has a majority in the College, the pain really begins, in the House. Each State votes as a bloc, one vote per State. Furthermore, this isn’t the incoming House voting, it’s the lame ducks. So to solve a no-Electoral-majority situation in 2000, the Representatives from each state elected in 1998 will sit down and try to agree on a candidate, from among the top three vote-winners in the College. If none of these candidates gets a majority within a State (hard to do in small delegations, evenly split between parties), that State casts no vote.
The Electoral College filters out minor “fringe” candidates No, the Electoral College crushes minor national candidates. Minor regional candidates can do just fine. Take the cases of Strom Thurmond and Henry Wallace in 1948. Thurmond got several electoral votes, Wallace got none; their popular totals were almost equal. In 1960, Harry Flood Byrd got several Electoral votes without even being on the ballots; he won slates of unpledged Electors in the deep South. Why discriminate against minor national candidates and in favor of minor regional candidates? What’s so great about sectionalism? Stephen Douglas came in second in popular vote in 1860, and fourth in Electoral vote. He would (and did) say that sectionalism was a dangerous tendency that might even spark a civil war. (I would have voted for Lincoln but that ain’t the point.)
The Electoral College forces candidates to ensure that they have national appeal I hope I’ve at least partly put this one to rest above. But let me add, nothing about focussing on states per se makes your campaign national. What if, instead of trying to win CaliforniaTexasIllinois, you tried to win, say, the middle class? Would this be a narrow, regional, divisive campaign? Only if the middle class is a narrow regional demographic. It isn’t. I’ve never seen a shred of evidence that 51% of the popular vote is likely to be less “national” in character than 51% of the Electoral vote, or majorities 26 state delegations to the U.S. House.
The Electoral College helps to avoid run-offs, which are horrible traumatic events that would extend the campaign season by several weeks at least What’s another couple of weeks (three, IIRC, in the case of France) to a 12-month-plus election cycles? Schedule the run-off for the end of November. Big deal. If somebody wins at the first ballot then there’s no run-off. Big deal. If you think there are too many elections, cutting out one every four years for the President isn’t the place to start. Eliminate annual bond levies, run-off primaries (the ones between the initial primary and the general, to make sure the Democratic nominee has a majority in one-party Southern states); set Presidential primaries for the same day as the other primary, or hold caucuses not at public expense.
The Electoral College helps keep whackos from winning power Curtis “Bomb them Back to the Stone Age” LeMay won more Electoral votes for Vice President in 1968 than major-party nominees in 1944, 1972, and 1984.
The Electoral College simplifies the process You mean the very same process that no one understands? I’m recommending we change to the very same process we used to elect Class President back in High School.