The Popular Vote

By James Buckley   |   November 5, 2020

It’s no secret that Democrats nationwide (and particularly those congregating along both coasts) rail against the Constitution’s Electoral College, which mandates that each state be awarded an equivalent number of votes in a presidential election as the number of senators and representatives it has. 

For example, California has 55 electoral college votes in this election season for its two senators and 53 representatives in Congress, the largest of any state by far (Texas, in second place, carries 38 votes). In every election since 1992, California has been in the Democrat column and it has since become a reliable source of Democrat power. California is a state in which Democrats running for president need not campaign, as they are sure to win, regardless of the candidate or the issues. And Republicans don’t campaign because they know it would be a fruitless endeavor.

So, with California (55), New York (29), Illinois (20), New Jersey (14), Massachusetts (11), Washington (12), now Virginia (13) with its ever-increasing population of government employees, safely in the bag long before a candidate is chosen, Democrats have two legs up on any Republican with a starting handicap of a 154 electoral votes. All they need is 116 more, and with Oregon (7), Rhode Island (4) Connecticut (7), Delaware (3), Hawaii (4) and Maryland (10) comfortably in the D column, adding up to an impressive starting position of 189, the “battleground” states of Florida (29), Pennsylvania (20), Ohio (18), Michigan (16), Minnesota (10), Iowa (6), Missouri (10), Wisconsin (10), Colorado (9), Nevada (6), and New Mexico (5) are all that’s left to compete in for Democrats. If they take them all, they sail on to victory with 328 electoral votes, having needed just 270 to win.

Which means, of course, that the Democrats could lose a number of those contested states and still take over the White House. 

Republicans, on the other hand, can only be assured of Texas (38), Louisiana (8), Mississippi (6), Alabama (9), South Carolina (9), Tennessee (11), Kentucky (8), Utah (6), Wyoming (3), Montana (3), Idaho (4), North Dakota (3), South Dakota (3), Nebraska (5), Kansas (6), Oklahoma (7), Arkansas (6), and Alaska (3), for a 138 total: a 51-vote disadvantage, requiring any Republican to clear the table of most of those up-for-grabs states in order to win.

And Democrats still clamor for a “popular” vote?

I have an idea. 

Rather than trying to change the Constitution by allowing for the popular election of a president, why not split the votes of each state by the number of districts won or lost in each state? In other words, as it stands, except for Maine, the candidate who wins the popular vote in a state takes all the electoral votes of that state. In California, for example, if a district policy were to be put in place, rather than beginning with a 55-vote advantage, California could split its electoral college advantage with perhaps 35 or so votes for the Democrats and 20 going to the Republican candidate, depending upon how the vote goes in each of its 53 districts, with the two senatorial contests going to the winner of the popular vote.

Such a system would be fairer and would meet all necessary Constitutional demands. It would also likely negate the desire and/or “need” of switching to a direct popular vote, as Democrats would probably pull those 20 votes they lost in California from those they’d gain in Texas. 

I haven’t played all the numbers of such a system yet, but my initial estimate is that similar percentages to a winner-take-all method would ensue, though it would be – or seem to be – fairer. 


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