by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
If anyone thinks the American republic would remain stable if political power is consolidated in coastal urban enclaves, then they lack understanding of American history, American culture, and human nature. The founders struck a balance between state and federal power for good reasons — reasons that remain valid today.
But can we get real for a moment? While there are some constitutional scholars who carry on this debate based on high-minded concerns about the nature of American democracy, the real energy behind the Democratic anger at the Electoral College (and behind the Republican defense of it, for that matter) is purely partisan. They look at the national popular vote since 1992 and see exactly one Republican win but three Republican presidencies. Since George H. W. Bush’s rout of Michael Dukakis, only his son has managed a popular-vote victory.
So, if we abolish the Electoral College, the Democrats win, right? Not so fast. The Democrats are basing their optimism in part on “success” in a political race that no one is actually running. There is not a single sensible political strategist who has ever plotted out a presidential race for the purpose of winning the popular vote. That’s like game-planning to run the most total yards or to shoot the most free throws.
The bottom line is that no one can state with confidence who would have won the 2016 race if the national popular vote determined the outcome. The strategy would be completely different. Candidates would message differently, campaign in different states, and engage in radically different ad buys. Perhaps Hillary Clinton would have won. Perhaps not. We simply don’t know.