I’m amazed–but not really–at the continued fixation on the disparity between the popular vote and the electoral count. Not really, because I have spent the better part of the last decade studying the ‘left.’ The Democrats thrive on mob movements, so losing the election while winning the mob is perceived by them (accurately, perhaps) as a stake through the heart of their guiding principles. They can be expected to harp on the disparity between the popular vote and the electoral count, tossing it like so much red meat to their base, while they unleash an unrelenting attack on Trump that will make Bush Derangement Syndrome look like no more than a nervous tic by comparison. Watch for it.
Now, before I go further, let me say that I am sympathetic to the idea of getting rid of the electoral college. I could get behind a national popular vote, provided that there were certain checks and balances. For example, the power of the office of the presidency would have to be radically scaled back. If a majority did elect someone nasty, it would be nice to know that there were limits to the damage that person could do. (One wonders when the ‘left’ is going to see the value in such an idea!) Or, the repeal of the 17th amendment, to give states back their ability to exert their influence more directly on the Federal government.
People on the ‘left’ are almost certainly not going to want to enact certain measures as part of an effort to dissolve the electoral college for the same reasons that they want to get rid of the electoral college in the first place, so, at least for now, I am thankful for the modest ‘check and balance’ provided by the electoral college.
All that said, with the system being the way it is at present, the national popular vote is meaningless. It is a mere curiosity. Whether that is good or bad is not my concern for this essay. (I would lean towards ‘bad.’)
All these articles and comments saying that Hillary ‘won’ the popular vote are ridiculous and thoroughly misleading.
The problem is that the national popular vote does not give us a true measurement of what it is said to measure. As with many other aspects of the real world, the measurement tool itself affects the results.
Much hay is being made over the fact that the voters in states like California and New York, where the largest margins for Hillary were run up, had their will ‘swamped’ by the voters in the rest of the country. Well, I’m sure that the millions of Republicans in California know a thing or two about having their votes ‘swamped’, having watched every one of their state’s electoral votes go to Democrats over and over. After all, California does not have a proportional system for allotting their electoral votes.
So, what happens when a Republican voter in California considers his plan for election day? He knows that his vote is not going to mean anything, outnumbered, as he is, by countless Dems. Perhaps he figures he can ‘vote his conscience’ and throw in with Stein or Johnson. Perhaps he decides not to vote at all.
If, suddenly, his vote did matter on a national scale, perhaps he decides to put his vote for Trump. Heck, maybe a California voter who voted for Hillary now re-considers. In any case, the fact that it is not a national popular vote and is instead a ‘winner take all’ electoral allotment, affects the decisions that people make.
The same kind of considerations apply in every state. In a state where there is no question that Trump is going to win, perhaps a GOP voter again decides to ‘vote his conscience,’ knowing he does not put anything at risk. But if it were a national popular vote, he suddenly decides the stakes are too high, and he throws in his lot with Trump. Or, a GOP voter who wasn’t going to vote at all, knowing his vote won’t change the outcome in a popular vote scenario, now decides to cast a vote.
And of course, these same kinds of factors are in mind for Democrat voters, too.
If the election were decided by a national popular vote rather than the electoral process, this would radically change the actual numbers because it would radically change voting behaviors. It is entirely conceivable that in such a system, Trump would have still won. (He has boasted that he would have, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he was correct.)
Again, it is not my purpose to say whether or not this situation is good or bad. It is my purpose to point out that the national popular vote is a meaningless measurement tool in our current system, and as such provides no basis whatsoever for cries that Trump is not legitimate, or whatever other claim will be made by those rapidly acquiring acute cases of TDS to justify their perpetual ‘outrage.’
It is worth mentioning that it is still the case that Trump’s national popular vote numbers are far better than we may ever know. In some jurisdictions, absentee or mailed in votes are not even counted if it has been determined that they cannot possibly affect the outcome. (Eg, Trump is winning by 100,000 votes and there are 50,000 votes still to be counted; these jurisdictions may not count them because even if Hillary got 100% of them, it would not matter). And lets not forget the entirely plausible possibility that Hillary’s present lead is built on the votes of illegal aliens or some other fraudulent scheme. The Democrats are known for such things, after all.
If ever the election were determined by a national popular vote, there would have to be significant introductions of checks and balances throughout the entire system in order to ensure that even that was a genuine representation of the ‘will’ of a majority of Americans.
In the current environment, you would be a fool if you thought that the results of even a national popular vote would be accepted.
By the ‘left,’ I mean.
It is sad, and more than a little disturbing, that the apparent disparity between the national popular vote and the electoral count is nothing more than a pretext for people who would have found some other pretext to justify their hostile actions and attitudes.
That is our current environment.