Three of the top Democratic presidential hopefuls – Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.), Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) – support abolishing the Electoral College, which was established by the Founders in the Constitution to determine how one wins the presidency in an election.
“The Electoral College artificially dilutes the power of minority communities and due to projected demographic trends, this problem is likely to get worse over time,” Buttigieg’s website reads. “We need to abolish the Electoral College and replace it with a National Popular Vote so that every citizen has a say in electing our president.”
“It’s time to elect presidents with a national popular vote, and that means getting rid of the Electoral College,” Warren wrote on her website.
Sanders has also tweeted in support of abolishing the electoral college.
Republicans, however, support the Electoral College. “Cities would end up running the Country. Smaller States & the entire Midwest would end up losing all power - & we can’t let that happen,” President Donald Trump tweeted last year.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) also tweeted in March 2019, “The desire to abolish the Electoral College is driven by the idea Democrats want rural America to go away politically.”
In 2000, Presidential Candidate Al Gore earned 500,000 more votes than George W. Bush but Bush won the presidency. In 2016, Hillary Clinton got 3 million more votes than Trump, but Trump won the presidency.
The loss of two presidential elections despite winning the popular vote apparently has prompted calls among the Democratic base to abolish the Electoral College.
“You’ve got younger people and newer faces who have constituents empowering them to buck the normal trends. They’re saying, ‘Who cares if that’s how it was always done?” said Adrienne Elrod, a former spokeswoman for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
The Electoral College gives each state electoral votes corresponding to the number of representatives that the state sends to Congress. Whichever presidential candidate wins the majority of votes in a state that candidate will usually get that state’s electoral votes. Whoever earns the majority of the electoral vote wins the presidency.
As explained by Gettysburg College Prof. Allen Guelzo in National Affairs magazine, the United States is “a constitutional republic, and even the most casual reader of the Constitution cannot fail to notice that the Electoral College is the only method specified by that document for selecting the president of the United States. For all the reverence paid to the popular vote in presidential elections, the Constitution says not a word about holding a popular vote for presidents.”
“Abolishing the Electoral College now might satisfy an irritated yearning for direct democracy, but it would also mean dismantling federalism,” said Guelzo. “After that, there would be no sense in having a Senate (which, after all, represents the interests of the states), and eventually, no sense in even having states, except as administrative departments of the central government.”
Abolishing the Electoral College would mean that voters in large urban areas – Los Angeles, New York City, Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco – who are largely liberal voters, would determine the outcome of presidential elections and the people in lower population areas would essentially be disenfranchised.
These people would generally be in the Midwest and the South, where there are many conservative voters.
Abolishing the Electoral College would give the Democrats an overwhelming advantage in presidential elections, which is likely why they support such a step.