The electoral college was designed to keep states with large populations from controlling the vote, while allowing those same states to still have more influence. I understand that states have a right to decide what they do with their electoral votes, but why would somebody want to abolish it? I get that it seems nice to have "the people" decide who is president, instead of the people deciding what other people vote for, but with the current liberal influence that urban areas have it almost seems like the only reason to abolish the electoral college is to guarantee that the popular vote swings very liberal every election. If the electoral college was abolished, the campaign trail would simply be city after city, with very little care about specific states with small turnout which are crucial in elections with the college in place. It almost seems as if the current effort to undermine the electoral college is completely based off of the results of the 2016 election, which is why a huge majority of democrats would be alright with it. Anyway, anyone have opinions on reasons to abolish the electoral college? Would love to hear them.

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    @divibisan good try, but that poses an entirely different question than the one I am asking. – anon609 Nov 6 '19 at 18:00
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    @anon609 Since you are new it is probably best that you take a tour of the Politics Stackexchange to get an idea of how things work here. Opinion-based questions are off-topic here and thus risk being closed. – Thegs Nov 6 '19 at 19:14
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    @Thegs, I don't think this is opinion based, as the NPVIC will provide many sourcable reason. But the question is presented badly. It is a rant with 'am I right?' at the end. – Jontia Nov 6 '19 at 19:37
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    If references to personal opinions were removed, this question might be re-framed into a proper question. Maybe something like "What are the primary arguments presented for dissolving the Electoral College?". Perhaps with a separate question asking the inverse? As it stands right now, this is not a good-faith question. – Tal Nov 6 '19 at 20:40

As Brythan argues in their answer to a related question, the Electoral college doesn't actually give a greater voice to small states, or prevent urban areas from dominating rural areas: in practice, what it does is give disproportionate power and influence to states that are evenly divided between the two parties, so called "swing-states".

Does it give small states a bigger voice?

While the Electoral College does increase the power of small states such as Wyoming (1 EV per 200,000 people vs 1 EV per 710,000 people for CA), candidates don't actually pay attention to Wyoming because Wyoming is almost guaranteed to vote for the Republican.

The real influence is given to swing states like Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania that have a good chance of going for either candidate. Nearly all campaigning happens in these swing states, since those are the only states that actually matter for the election. It's hard to argue that it's fair for the voters in these states to have such outsized influence, simply because they happen to have a partisan balance.

Does it give a benefit to Republicans?

The Electoral College definitely gives an advantage to the Republican Party in presidential elections (see the elections of 2000 and 2016). But it reduces the influence of Republican voters just as much as it does Democratic voters. There is no need for a presidential candidate to fight for the votes of people in Texas or Mississippi or North Dakota, since the result of those elections is (generally) a foregone conclusion.

Eliminating the electoral college would mean that candidates would have to campaign in Red and Blue states, not just swing states.

What about rural areas?

The Electoral College may give a benefit to rural states, but it doesn't help rural areas, since in almost all states, electoral votes are awarded to the statewide winner. If a candidate chooses to campaign in a state, they are going to favor areas that are more fruitful for them (often, but not necessarily, cities). Within a state, there is no need to care about getting votes from a wide range of areas, and so the Electoral College wouldn't prevent this kind of city-to-city campaigning.

In fact, an argument could be made that the Electoral College actually reduces the influence of rural issues. Since under the Electoral College, rural votes are subsumed into the state-wide totals, there is no reason for Republicans to fight for the votes of rural voters in California and New York, and no reason for Democrats to fight for rural voters in the South and Midwest.

Without the Electoral College, pro-rural polices could net a large number of additional votes from states that the candidate might have no chance to win overall. It would likely weaken the urban-rural split between the 2 parties by giving Republicans reason to compete for urban voters and Democrats reason to compete for rural voters – which would increase these voters influence and political choice.

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  • "The Electoral College definitely gives an advantage to the Republican Party in presidential elections (see the elections of 2000 and 2016)." This is not true. While anecdotal evidence and some models claim this to be the case, many others (such as the work of 538) claim otherwise. I'm inclined to agree with them, that the advantage changes election to election, but either way your statement that it "definitely benefits the republican party" is wrong – Alec Alameddine Mar 3 at 19:18

That everybody's vote should have equal weight, rather than the outcome being decided by voters in a few key states is a position that needs no defence. The question is surely, why would anyone not want that?

One can make sound arguments to the latter question based on the history and Constitution of the USA. Or, of course, unsound ones based on self-interest either way.

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  • Understandable, but wouldn't that lead to the problem I mentioned where campaign trails would be city to city because of population density, where return on investment would be much higher? With a very minimal effort in the rest of the country, it would then seem as if urban areas could have a theoretical hold on elections if they vote consistently for one party (which has been shown). – anon609 Nov 6 '19 at 18:22
  • @pipinstallfrisbee yes, however the argument could be made that any state can become a swing state if the people want it to. But you make a good point. – anon609 Nov 6 '19 at 19:15

If a political party loses a national election with a slight majority in the popular vote, but a deficit in the electoral college due to lack of broad appeal, that party isn't going to like the EC, and is going to make arguments to abolish the EC.

That has happened to the US Democratic party twice now: in 2000 with Al Gore's loss to George Bush, and in 2016.

So the basic answer is: The Democrats talk about abolishing the EC, because it is in their interests to do so.

It should be noted that the same concept that the EC is based on also exists in the US Senate: two senators from each state, regardless of the state's size and population.

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    There is no reasoned argument to abolish the EC other than what is described in this answer. It is hard to remember that the states each have different histories and needs and requirements. The presidential election is many state elections. The needs of California residents is different from the needs of Ohio Residents. – Frank Cedeno Nov 6 '19 at 18:36
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    @FrankCedeno Of course, under the EC, the needs of California (or Texas or Alabama) residents don't matter at all, since they're not swing states. – divibisan Nov 6 '19 at 18:45
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    "The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy." - Donald Trump – dandavis Nov 6 '19 at 19:15
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    @FrankCedeno Given that citizens of California and Ohio are all Americans, and that moving between states is not particularly uncommon, I would ask for some evidence that Californians and Ohioans are somehow different species whose needs, desires, and political views can be summed up by their geographical location. I imagine there are quite a few Californian Republicans who would take issue with you grouping them together with the Democratic majority in their state. – Tal Nov 6 '19 at 20:27
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    If you looked at it backwards, say the election was done by a popular vote and someone proposed the electoral college system today, do you think it would be considered a good idea? – Jontia Nov 6 '19 at 20:28

Because all peoples votes should be weighted equally and have equal influence on the result of an election.

Why should the vote of someone in Wyoming be worth 3 times that of someone in California, New York, Florida, or Washington?

However, divibisan's answer gives an excellent explanation as to why it wouldn't actually have a large impact on the election results.

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  • The bit about education levels should probably go. It doesn't have any relevance to the question at hand. – Jontia Nov 6 '19 at 20:30

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