The Electoral College fulcrum

With Hillary Clinton almost certainly winning the popular vote, you are going to encounter people advocating for the abolition of the Electoral College. So I thought of a graphical way to represent it. Hopefully this will help you make the case to your friends.

The Electoral College is sort of like a fulcrum.

electoral-college-fulcrum
The Electoral College acts as a fulcrum to balance the power between heavily populated areas/states with rural areas/states.

How a fulcrum works: the object on the left is larger and heavier than the one on the right. The black line on which they rest is called the lever. If the fulcrum was in the center, the object on the left would exert more pressure and the lever would not be level. Since the fulcrum is positioned closer to the larger object, this makes the lever level.

I used blue and red deliberately, to show how the Electoral College shifts the power dynamic between the Democratic party and the Republican party. If it had gone the other way, I would have reversed the colors. This same exact dynamic played out in the year 2000 between Democratic candidate Al Gore and Republican candidate George W. Bush.

I think this tells us something important about how our Founders set up the country. Here is a great article about the Electoral College by David Barton. It was written in 2001 after the 2000 election. It’s quite long so I suggest scrolling down to the section called, What Led to the Formation of the Electoral College? Begin reading there. Notably, he says this:

… if the popular vote is extremely close, then the candidate with the best distribution of popular votes will be elected.

Compare that with this Size of Lead map available at the New York Times:

size-of-lead-presidental-election-2016
Notice that blue is centralized in certain areas but red is far more distributed. The founders did not want consolidated power to get too influential. The fulcrum performed as designed by shifting power from the consolidated areas to the more distributed areas.

Also, anybody advocating for the abolition of the Electoral College after this election is almost certainly doing it because they’re upset; they’re not doing it out of a truly principled objection. I say this because it is highly, dramatically unlikely that these same people would be making the same argument if the situation were exactly reversed. Similarly, if Republicans are not objecting to the Electoral College after this election, then their moral authority for making this objection is diminished if or when it doesn’t go our way in the future. For me, the system makes sense and I like the principle behind it, so I doubt I will ever object to it.

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