Profile photo of

One can entirely leave out emotional arguments, such as holding fast to the Constitution just for the sake of the Constitution, gut feelings, etc., in arguing for the Electoral College. Instead, just looking at pure numbers suddenly brings out some interesting elements in the picture.

California has over 12% of the population, with over 19% of the total number of votes needed to win a popular election (based on number of actual registered voters, not just state population). Wyoming has a minuscule .18% (note the decimal point – less than 2/10 of 1%) of the total population of the United States, and only ¼ of one percent of the number of registered voters in the United States. But Wyoming’s clout – while still small – more than quadruples from ¼ % of the popular vote (based on number of actual registered voters) to over 1.1% of the needed Electoral College votes. Even more interesting might be oil-rich Alaska, with just over ½ % of the total number of registered voters in the United States, vs. more than 1.1% of the needed Electoral College majority. Even considering the potential importance of the resources there, why would a presidential candidate bother wasting his or her time in an extremely low-density state, if the popular vote decided the election? S/he could ignore them completely and then still do whatever s/he wanted with their oil after stumping in the high-population states. But when one doubles the importance of Alaska, and they suddenly bump up to over 1% of the needed 270 electoral votes vs. only about ½ % of the popular votes, that could become important in a close election.

In fact, nine of the ten largest states based on number of registered voters DROP in significance when their importance is measured by number of Electoral College votes. Dat’s da numbers, folks. Forget the emotional arguments, except perhaps the very emotional fact that Wyoming values are very different from California values, and most of their folks still want to matter when it comes to national politics. And Alaskans would likely get quite emotional over being shut out by presidential candidates, while having a handful of eastern states plus California decide the fate of their state’s natural resources. Suddenly any degree of states’ rights that can be retained seems to become a bit more important (except to states like California and New York).

The importance of states, and particularly the absurdly politicized concept of “states rights” (now equated entirely with racism), has become minimized in today’s political arena. Doing away with the Electoral College would effectively eliminate even the remaining tiny bit of clout for states that weren’t part of the “big votes” gang.

Oh, and MB, your argument in favor of maintaining any degree of significance in VT is well taken. You’ve only got just over 1/3 of one percent of the registered voters in the nation, but you virtually triple your Electoral College clout with 1.11% (same as Wyoming and several other states) of the majority needed there. What small state in their right mind would even consider giving up what little importance they have on the political stage?

Me? Despite the 17th Amendment and the other two abominations of 1913, I’m sticking with what’s left of the Constitution. I rather like that old outdated historical relic. Those old backward European males somehow lucked out with a pretty fair piece of brilliance, despite a few flaws that got corrected (but again – then along came Woodrow Wilson and 1913).