Of all the people to be talking of doing away with the Electoral College in 2018, we didn’t think one of them would be President Donald Trump.
After all, the Electoral College is the reason he’s president. He lost the popular vote by 2,868,686 million votes.
But there he was on “Fox & Friends” on April 26, saying the following: “I would rather have a popular election, but it’s a totally different campaign. The Electoral College is different. I would rather have the popular vote because it’s, to me, it’s much easier to win the popular vote.”
Mr. President, we respectfully suggest that you should be careful what you wish for:
On May 5, Connecticut’s General Assembly approved a bill that would make the state the 11th to adopt the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, and the first since the 2016 election. Once enough other states have signed on, the bill would bind a state’s Electoral College votes — seven, in Connecticut’s case — to the candidate who wins the most raw votes in a presidential election.
California, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington state — along with Washington, D.C. — have joined the compact, the Connecticut Post reported.
Notably, all of those states are either solidly or reliably Democrat-leaning. In other words, these are states with Democrats dissatisfied with the Electoral College system because of the result of the last presidential election. In early 2013, we wrote in this space about Republicans dissatisfied with the Electoral College in the wake of President Barack Obama’s re-election.
As pointed out at FiveThirty- Eight.com by elections guru Nate Silver – he’s the one who, when he was working for the New York Times before the 2012 presidential election, correctly predicted all 50 states in the Electoral College voting — the National Popular Vote Compact has gotten the easy part out of the way, in that reliably blue (Democrat) states have signed on to date. As Silver puts it: “Until some purple states and red states sign on, the compact has little in the way of territory to conquer.”
Frankly, we’re glad for that. Not for red-state or blue-state reasons, but for Wisconsin reasons.
The Badger State is not populous when compared to California, New York, Texas or Florida, or to neighbors in Illinois. We’re not all that populous when compared to Michigan, which has 9.991 million residents to our 5.818 million.
If the presidential election were to be solely decided by popular vote, how likely is it that presidential candidates would still visit Wisconsin? Considering there are 19 states more populous than ours, we don’t think it’s all that likely.
But because this is a purple state – we have Republicans in the governor’s office and in control of the Legislature, but we picked Democrats for president in seven straight elections from 1988 through 2012 – presidential candidates come to Wisconsin.
President George W. Bush appeared at Racine’s Pershing Park when he was seeking re-election in 2004, just a couple hundred yards from where his father, President George H.W. Bush, made an appearance at Memorial Hall in the last week before he sought re-election in 1992.
Barack Obama was still Senator Obama when he appeared at Memorial Hall in February 2008 when he was seeking the Democratic nomination. A few days later, Sen. Hillary Clinton made an appearance at the Brat Stop in Kenosha.
In April 2016, before he’d clinched the Republican nomination, President Trump made an appearance in Racine.
Hillary Clinton was scheduled to appear with Obama in Green Bay on June 15, 2016, but canceled the event in the wake of the mass shooting at a nightclub in Orlando, Fla. As has been pointed out many times since then, she ended up not making a campaign stop in 2016 in Wisconsin, a state she lost by 22,748 votes.
Is the fact that Clinton didn’t campaign in Wisconsin the reason she lost here? We can’t say.
What we can say is that presidential candidates show up in Wisconsin when they think our Electoral College votes are worth winning, that they need Wisconsin to get elected. If they’re here, that means they’re paying attention to our issues.
If the Electoral College goes away, we’ll be left watching the Democrat and Republican nominees on TV in the high-population states instead of seeing them in person.