The Electoral College has never benefited the republic. And it is unlikely that it ever will.
That, unfortunately, is the answer to the question of whether this elite mob might find a way to reject the discredited candidacy of Donald Trump—as amateur historians and sincere activists are so fond of suggesting should be the case.
The Electoral College does not exist as a quality-control mechanism. It exists as a check and balance against popular democracy, and the great likelihood is that it will again perform that function on December 19.
This is the most basic and vital thing to recognize with regard to the Electoral College. It has the starkly anti-democratic authority to make losers “winners.”
The point of beginning for any discussion about the 2016 general election must always be the fact that Donald Trump was not the choice of the American people. Fifty-four percent of the Americans who actually bothered to vote chose someone other than Trump. The America experiment rarely achieves anything akin to majority rule, however. So the more dramatic detail is the fact of Trump’s defeat in the specific contest in which the Republican nominee engaged with Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Clinton has defeated Trump, decisively. One month after the election, as the last votes are finally being counted, she has 65,790,019 to 62,951,513.
Clinton’s popular-vote victory is the largest in American history for a candidate who is expected to be defeated when the Electoral College makes its choice. And Clinton’s lead is expanding as the last votes are added to her total; since election night that total has steadily increased, at a far more rapid rate than Trump’s. What looked on November 8 or November 9 like a relatively narrow popular-vote advantage for Clinton has grown into a wide win.
Her victory needs to be put in perspective:
- Clinton’s actual vote total is greater than that for every presidential candidate in history, except Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. And she is now just short of matching the sitting president’s total in the latter election: 65,915,795.
- Clinton’s percentage of the popular vote (48.2 percent) is greater than that attained by numerous candidates who were elected president, including John Kennedy in 1960 and Richard Nixon in 1968 and Bill Clinton in 1992.
- Trump’s percentage of the popular vote (46.1 percent) is now more than a full point lower than that for Mitt Romney in 2012. Though Romney was a clear loser, a significantly larger portion of the 2012 electorate favored his election to the presidency than the portion of the electorate that favors Trump’s election this year.
Yet Trump is busily assembling a presidential administration and preparing for his inauguration.