Jay Cost explains at National Review Online why the structure of the Electoral College is giving Democrats heartburn.

To be clear: Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and Hillary Clinton did not win popular majorities. They won pluralities. Only George W. Bush and Barack Obama have won a majority of the vote in the last 30 years. Also, I’m not sure why 1876 — the year the internal combustion engine was invented — should serve as the demarcation point for determining whether political institutions are outmoded or still relevant.

The Left, it seems to me, has turned its ire on two main targets: the Senate and the Electoral College. The latter is simply a pass-through institution at this point; the real target of progressive frustration with the Electoral College is its apportionment of political power not strictly by population but also by state. This is the same problem that liberals have with the Senate.

There are good reasons to dislike this style of apportionment, which I have acknowledged here at NRO. But the argument is a timeless one. James Madison himself made it all the way back in the summer of 1787 (by candlelight, I should add). I am not so much interested in debating the relative merits of any given system of apportionment as in understanding why Democrats care about this issue now. The answer, I reckon, is the collapse of the Left’s traditional farmer–labor coalition.