It never made sense to me. This whole electoral college thing. It didn’t make sense to me as a 10 year old, 14 year old, 18 year old or even a 22 year old. But today it does. Let me tell you why.
I recently moved to a relatively small town in Iowa from the pacific northwest. On our way east we drove through Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Nebraska. I am not kidding you when I say we drove through a town in Wyoming where the population was 12. 12 people! That’s it! I grew up in the DC metro area and my husband grew up in Chicago. It blew our minds driving through towns in the heart land of our country consisting of 1000 people. And 12!?! We could not identify with that.
Those 12 people. Those 1000 people. That is why the electoral college exists.
If we elected a president by popular vote the coasts of the country would basically decide who was elected. Always. Simply because the coasts have the biggest percent of the population (with some obvious exception like Chicago). I have heard a lot about our votes not counting this election cycle. Without the electoral college, everyone who lived in the middle of the country would be voiceless. There vote truly would not matter. If you live on the coast or in a major city, your vote counts. It counts for popularity and electorally. If you live in Torrington WY, the Electoral College is your only hope of being heard.
People living in LA, Seattle, New York city, D.C. and Chicago live completely different lives then those living in Pullman, Priest River, Independence, Moose or CedarFalls (Yes those are all towns in our country and I have been to all of them). The people farming in Pullman should not be subject to LA’s ideas on how farming should be done. Chances are most people in LA are not farming. They are getting up going to an office everyday not driving a tractor and haying.
Lets say for kicks and giggles that the president was running on some kind of platform that had to do with farming. He wanted to make some kinda regulation that sounded really good to the city of LA (where no one farms) but the people in Pullman (the farmers) thought it was a terrible idea. We go about this vote in a democratic fashion and what do you know?? The regulation goes into place because LA was the popular vote.
Obviously this was a kinda silly and extreme example but the electoral college exists so crap like that doesn’t happen. It exists so that the voices of the people in Idaho, Wyoming and Kansas are not drowned out by the city of Chicago.
To drive the point home lets talk about the electoral votes assigned to the states. The amount of electoral votes a state receives come from their population count. California has 55 (large population) Iowa has 6 (smaller population). California still gets more votes for more people. It just doesn’t get a million more votes. Iowa has to have several other states in its corner to combat California. Possibly as many as ten depending on which states. If you think of the states as people, the majority vote won. Just looking at a map of the final count from this weeks election Trump won more states then Clinton. The reason Clinton won the popular vote is because she won the entire west coast and a large portion of the east coast.
In this election the electoral college setup did exactly what it was supposed to do. It made sure that the big cities didn’t out yell the people in rural areas. People that live in different locations live very different lives and if enough of the rural communities in Montana thought that Hillary Clinton represented them she would have won both the popular and the electoral college. The people in the center of the country didn’t identify with her and that matters. They matter. That’s why she lost.
Obviously I’m not an expert on this subject. But this is how I understand it and I thought maybe it might make sense to someone else presented this way. There have been a handful of other election cycles where the same thing panned out and the electoral vote was not the same as the popular vote. The electoral college served its purpose there too.
We can argue the fairness of this all day long and whether or not its the correct way to elect a president. Since the whole electoral vote was invented to make things more fair for those disadvantaged by numbers I don’t see the argument but I know everyone has different opinions.
Here is another explanation from the New York times that I thought was helpful. To read the article you can click here