More on the Failure of the Electoral College


Just for the record, here are the presidential election results as of this weekend. The unassigned Electoral College votes are from Michigan, which is likely to end up being declared for Trump. The popular vote totals are still missing some votes, such as absentee ballots from Western states, so I’ve read. They will only add to Hillary Clinton’s million vote lead. But she still lost, and the will of the voters has been denied.





DeLong seems to think that the electoral vote must align with the popular vote, i.e. if you won the EC then you had to have won the popular vote. Simply not true. What leads him to say this? An election is either a direct democratic vote or it is not. Ours is not. Therefore it is not necessary for the EC outcome to match the popular-vote outcome. QED. (Logic, which we humans invented/discovered.)

H. L. Mencken is said to have said, “For every problem there is a solution that is obvious, easy … and wrong.” How do you know that a direct, one-shot popular vote would solve what you apparently see to be the original problem, that a demagogue can get him/herself elected?

Are you familiar with Condorcet voting, as used for example in Australia?




I don’t think that is what Brad DeLong thinks. He doesn’t think that the EC vote “must” align with the popular vote. He thinks that the winner of the popular vote should be the next president.

Thus, he thinks, and I agree, that it ought to be abolished, which would take a Constitutional amendment. So that is unlikely.

Even on its own terms, that is, what the Founders had in mind, the EC failed in this election. Not only did a populist demagogue win the presidency, which is precisely what they feared and why they designed it, but he did so even though he didn’t even win a plurality of the vote.

In the earliest presidential elections voters didn’t vote for a candidate for president. People voted for electors. They were choosing that person who was best qualified to work with other electors to choose the next president. The Founders assumed that both the electors and the presidents would be men of their own class, with education and means.

The Founders didn’t envisage the rapid formation of political parties. Indeed, with English history in mind, they feared faction, as they’d call it.

Every other election in American government, federal, state, or local goes to the winner of the popular vote. Today we profess to trust the will of the people, unlike the Founders. We trust it in every other election, but in presidential elections we allow the people’s will to be frustrated.

Not only did Trump not win a majority of votes, not surprising in a closely divided election with minority party candidates, but he didn’t even win a plurality.

Why would anyone today design or support a system that produces such an outcome?

DeLong, and Hillary Clinton understand the rules under which our presidential elections run, which is why they accept that Trump will be the next president.

But that doesn’t make the Electoral Collage a good idea.









From: Bernard Leikind []
Sent: Thursday, November 17, 2016 9:10 PM
To: ‘Wayne Lobb’ <>
Subject: RE: more on the failure of the Electoral College



From: Wayne Lobb []
Sent: Thursday, November 17, 2016 6:35 PM
To: ‘Bernard Leikind’ <>
Subject: RE: more on the failure of the Electoral College




1 Comment

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One response to “More on the Failure of the Electoral College

  1. Pingback: Yet still more on the failure of the Electoral College | two heads are better

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