The week started with Gallup commencing daily tracking of presidential election polls. Since then, countless pundits on both sides of the aisle have begun to make their predictions. I, however, have a prediction you haven’t heard. The 2012 presidential election will be the last to be decided via the Electoral College.
Lets imagine its November 7. President Obama has just won the Electoral College count but has lost the popular vote, a situation that is currently being predicted by some. Despite Barack Obama’s narrow victory, Democrats have lost control of both the House and the Senate. Outraged by the reelection of a Kenyan, who refuses to release his elementary school grades, through the elitist Electoral College, Republicans over on Capitol Hill begin to strategize how to abolish the Founding Fathers’ freedom-killing Electoral College. By the 2016 election cycle, a constitutional amendment to decide presidential elections by the popular vote has easily passed three-fourths of the states’ legislatures. So what will this mean for national politics?
Under the current system, about 34 states and the District of Columbia are either solidly Democratic or solidly Republican. As a result, the presidential candidates largely ignore these states and their collective population of 196,247,758. This means that the concerns of approximately two-thirds of the country will be commandeered by the concerns of the third that live in all-important swing states. While the Electoral College might suffer from some pesky anti-democratic problems, its destruction will have an interesting side effect.
If each vote counts equally, candidates will be forced to run true national campaigns. That sounds great, but first let’s take a look at a list of America’s largest and thus most expensive media markets. The top six — New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas-Ft. Worth, and Houston-Galveston — are all located in non-swing states, states that simply do not draw serious campaign dollars under the current system. If candidates were forced to find voters in these markets, the costs of running a presidential campaign would become incalculable. In post-Citizens United America, this would mean even greater power concentrated in the hands of the moneyed. If the Electoral College is eliminated without campaign finance reform, the Electoral College will be replaced by a more dangerous electoral method, election by private financers.