October 18, 2016
By Rich Bodee
Donald Trump has lived up to the hype surrounding him and has “gone where no candidate has before.” On May 19, 2016, Trump was in Lawrence Township, NJ when he said the following:
“We are going to win Illinois. We are going to win Indiana. We are going to win these states.”
Being ambitious is a good quality for a president, but winning Illinois is a nearly impossible feat for a Republican candidate. Allow me to put this in perspective for you. Illinois has consistently gone Democratic since the 1992 election when Bill Clinton ran against the incumbent, George H. W. Bush.
You may ask, where are you going with this Rich?
There is no question that this debate has polarized the nation and our two-party system in a way that may produce challenges no matter who is elected to be our next president, but one thing that is frequently left out of political discussions is the Electoral College.
Yes, that’s right. The process you probably learned about in sixth grade and have since forgotten, but still are expected to know everything about.
The Electoral College was established during the birth of our nation. The way it works is that states are allocated electoral votes based on their population and their number of congressional districts. The state of Illinois currently holds 20 electoral votes.
In Illinois, and 47 of the other states, the electoral voting process is done in a winner-take-all fashion and is dependent on the winner of the popular vote. You and I vote in what’s known as the popular vote, and whichever candidate wins the popular vote takes all of the electoral votes from your state. A presidential candidate only needs 270 electoral votes from a possible 538 electors.
The thought behind this method, according to occupytheory.org, was that the Electoral College “prevents cities with large populations from deciding the entire election without the input of rural areas. [Also, it gives more credence] to minority groups who can sway voting results,” which is why you see Trump and Clinton speaking directly to minority groups in their campaigns. The remainder of the “advantages” of the Electoral College are seriously suspect.
So, let’s take a look at the disadvantages. Candidates focus more on “swing states” than many of the other states, even those states that support them. That makes sense, but how about this one? “The Electoral College favors smaller states because with a smaller population,” your individual carries more weight. So guess what this causes? Voter discouragement.
I’ll give you an example right here in Illinois. Sec. Hillary Clinton will likely win Illinois this November. That’s not me talking, that’s the politicians that we elected and a variety of polls. It wouldn’t be a surprise given the facts that I referenced above as well as the fact that Illinois is historically democratic. So, as we get closer and closer to the election it becomes more and more clear that Illinois is going to go to Clinton. If you are a Trump supporter, or a supporter of any third party, why vote? Your vote doesn’t matter. The state has already decided and THAT is the problem with the Electoral College.
The aggregate total of popular votes across the country doesn’t matter because, like I said, one state may overwhelmingly vote for one candidate, but they may have fewer electoral votes and that’s all that matters. Once a candidate gets 270 electoral votes, it’s over.
Sure, you could still go vote to “make a statement,” but what message are you sending? Great, you voted and your candidate lost. Enjoy the next four years in the wake of an election that has pulled democrats and republicans farther apart than ever before.
Now, it is important to note that Maine and Nebraska don’t follow this method. Instead, these two states distribute their electoral votes depending on the winner from each congressional district. In addition, whichever candidate wins the statewide vote of each of these states will receive an additional two electoral votes.
Is this system fairer? I’ll let you be the judge of that.