When Donald Trump won the 2016 election, the first few days and weeks saw liberals beset with howling about how the Electoral College needed to be done away with.
Sure, the whole point of the election was to win 270 electoral votes, which is why the candidates allocated campaign resources the way they did. Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote must have been salve to her ego, but that and $11.99 could have bought her a 12-pack of Yuengling.
She also had twice as much money as Trump to blow over the course of the campaign and couldn’t win Michigan, Wisconsin or Pennsylvania, states that hadn’t gone red since the Nintendo Entertainment System was considered high tech.
The bleating over the Electoral College eventually morphed into different forms of whining, first alighting on fake news before finally settling on “the Russians done did it” and settling there for the next few years. That didn’t mean that the attempt to cripple the Electoral College ever really went away, however.
This past week, Colorado became the 13th state to pass a bill that would give its electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote, no matter who won the state. According to OregonLive, the states’ compact doesn’t go into effect until it has enough members to deliver the 270 electoral votes to the popular vote winner. They’re less than 100 votes short of that.
Most of the states that have passed the legislation generally go blue in presidential elections. But therein lies the eventual problem for Democrats here: The number of states that are truly, reliably liberal is actually quite small.
A Gallup study released Friday shows that only six states qualify as “more liberal than conservative.” This is compared to 25 states that are “more conservative than liberal,” including 19 where the gap is so large they’re considered “highly conservative.”
“These findings are based on aggregated data from Gallup’s 2018 tracking poll in which respondents were asked to indicate whether they describe their political views as liberal, moderate or conservative,” a Gallup news release stated.
“States in which the conservative-liberal gap is 20 points or greater are considered ‘highly conservative.’ The ‘more conservative than average’ states have gaps of between 15 and 19 points. ‘About average’ states’ residents prefer the conservative description by seven to 14 points, and those with gaps of zero to six points are considered ‘less conservative than average.'”
Perhaps most alarmingly for the left, no state could be considered “highly liberal.” The closest was Massachusetts, where 35 percent of respondents described themselves as liberal and 21 percent as conservative. That’s a gap of only 14 points in a state where Ted Kennedy could dependably be returned to the Senate each electoral cycle — no matter what rank public dissolution he had engaged in over the past six years.
Compare this with the opposite end of the spectrum: “Mississippi ranked as the most conservative state in 2018, with 50% of residents identifying as conservative and 12% as liberal, for a gap of 38 points. Twenty-nine percent of Mississippians said they are moderate, and 9% had no opinion.”
In addition to the six states where the gaps were “more liberal than average” (Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and Washington) nine states qualified as “less conservative than average” (California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Maine, New Jersey, Oregon and Rhode Island).
Great news! Gallup poll shows 19 States lean highly #Conservative compared to only six States leaning highly #Liberal. One would never know from highly Liberal & Biased #MSM
Rejoice #PJNET #TCOT #CCOThttps://t.co/c43BTKLJA1 pic.twitter.com/VlQVWUao0Q
— Bill Boynton (@wjboynton) February 26, 2019
Now, granted, there are plenty of moderates out there, but looking at the map above, you can see the problem with abandoning the Electoral College, at least at the moment: A small number of states, mostly agglomerated in two regions at polar ends of the continent, could theoretically be given control over a nation where the vast majority of the geography is dominated by conservatives.
“California, Texas, Florida, and New York are the four most populous states in our union. They are rightfully awarded more electors than a state like Colorado and have more say when it comes to electing the president,” Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner wrote in an opinion piece for the Denver Post after the Colorado popular vote bill passed the state legislature.
“It wouldn’t make sense for Colorado to have the same number of electors as any of these states, but that does not mean it makes sense for Colorado to cede its influence and allow the population hubs of our country to choose the president. This would decimate smaller states and allow a presidential candidate to ignore parts of the country during an election. This shouldn’t be about ‘red’ or ‘blue’ states. It should be about making sure every state has a voice.”
Now, let me here state that I’m personally skeptical of the theory that, had the popular vote model been in place in 2016 (or in 2000, when Al Gore won the popular vote but lost the electoral vote), Republicans would have automatically have lost. Their campaigns simply would have spent their resources courting voters in a different manner.
Consider, too, the fact that conservatives hold a nine-point edge nationally in the Gallup study. I’m also highly skeptical this latest attempt to subvert the Electoral College is even remotely constitutional. Neither of these, however, is the point.
The Electoral College is a grand compromise. It’s meant to elegantly balance population with polities. The Founders realized that a straight-up popular vote to elect our executive, in a country that was comparatively large in a time it was a fraction of the size that it is now, was a highway to regional discontent, disunity and potential separation.
Plus, the arguments to move away from the system are feeble at best. The Electoral College forces candidates to spend an inordinate amount of time in swing states, opponents say. All right — as opposed to spending an inordinate amount of time in 10 to 12 large population centers, most of which don’t share the values of the country at large?
The left says the system is an anachronism and that it gives small states too much say in who becomes president. I’d argue it’s more relevant than ever when you consider that if we followed the popular vote, we’d have elected a president who only carried the counties marked here in blue:
Massachusetts and Hawaii were the *only* two states to have every single county vote for Clinton 8n 2016. Even Vermont had a Trump county. Would love to see a map of current approval rating polling by county for today. pic.twitter.com/obko2Lwn8j
— J. P. Gownder (@jgownder) May 20, 2018
And even beyond that, conservatism hasn’t faded in the interim, either:
“The number of states in which more residents identify as liberal than as conservative is down slightly from nine in 2017,” Gallup said in the poll release. “Many of the changes are within the margin of error for the state’s sample — states that barely tilted liberal in 2017 barely tilted conservative in 2018 — so it is unclear how meaningful these changes are.”
While this may be minor, the trend isn’t toward liberalism. And that could spell disaster for the Democrats.
So therein lies the problem for the left: Since it’s currently a losing bet for the Democrats, they think they need to do something to change the electoral landscape when it comes to the president. If the Electoral College can’t be done away with via a constitutional amendment — which would be totally impossible — why not try an end-run around the Constitution by pledging states to give their electors to the popular vote winner?
If that doesn’t work, other treachery might do the trick: Delegitimize the president with constant, unproven Russia innuendoes. Use an iffy application based on a sketchy dossier to get a warrant under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act against a campaign staffer for the Republican nominee. Array the media establishment against him if he gets elected. Make sure voter ID never gets fully implemented.
I mean, I’m purely talking hypothetically here. Not that any of this would ever happen or anything.
Conservatives don’t trust liberals for a reason: When liberals lose under the rules of the game, they want the rules of the game changed. Thankfully, they likely can’t change them anytime soon, particularly before 2020.
In the case of doing away with the Electoral College, however, it would do a massive disservice to our great union. After all, the fact that so many states are so overwhelmingly conservative isn’t the fault of the Republicans or some flaw in the system.
It’s the Democrats who have drifted so far to the left and neglected “flyover country” for so long that their policies simply don’t resonate there anymore.
Instead of changing the Electoral College, maybe they ought to consider changing their platform to fit our whole country, not just geographical pockets of it.
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