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The last thing Trump wants from the electoral college is fairness

There
was
a
brief
period
on
the
night
of
Nov.
6,
2012,
when
it
appeared
to
some
people
that
President
Barack
Obama
would
win
reelection
to
the
White
House
despite
losing
the
popular
vote.
This
was
largely
because
California
hadn’t
counted
all
its
votes;
Obama
would
end
up
not
only
passing
Republican
Mitt
Romney
but
winning
a
majority
of
votes
cast.

End
of
carousel

But
one
Republican
who’d
endorsed
Romney
was
incensed
at
the
idea.

“The
electoral
college
is
a
disaster
for
a
democracy,”

Donald
Trump


wrote

on
social
media,
going
on
to
demand
that
Americans
“march
on
Washington
and
stop
this
travesty.”
He
would
eventually
delete
the
posts.

Four
years
later,
of
course,
no
one
in
these
United
States
was
more
enthusiastic
about
the
power
of
the
electoral
college
than
Trump.
He
lost
the
popular
vote
in
2016,
taking
the
White
House
only
because
he
won
narrowly
enough
in
three
states

Wisconsin,
Michigan
and
Pennsylvania

to
prevail
in
the
electoral
college.

Four
years
after

that
,
he
tried
to
wrangle
the
electoral
college
to
his
advantage
again,
encouraging
a
march
on
Washington
to
stop
the
travesty
of
his
Democratic
opponent
winning
both
the
popular
and
electoral
votes.
It
didn’t
work.

That
2020
election
also
ended
up
hinging
on
three
states,
albeit
different
ones.
Take
away
Joe
Biden’s
narrow
wins
in
Georgia,
Arizona
and
Wisconsin,
and
you
take
away
his
electoral
college
majority.
In
fact,
you
take
away

any

electoral
college
victory.
Flip
those
three
states
and
the
election
ends
in
a
269-269
tie.
And
here
you
thought
the
aftermath
of
2020
couldn’t
be
worse.

Looking
forward
to
November,
Trump
on
Tuesday
endorsed
a
proposal
that
would
avoid
such
a
scenario
this
year.
He
praised
Nebraska
Gov.
Jim
Pillen’s
(R)
support
for

legislation
that
would
change
how
his
state
distributes
electoral
votes
.
No
longer
would
the
winner
of
the
state
get
two
votes,
with
the
other
three
going
to
the
winner
in
each
congressional
district.
Instead,
all
five
electoral
votes
would
go
to
the
candidate
that
won
overall

the
Republican
in
every
election
since
1968.

“Most
Nebraskans
have
wanted
to
go
back
to
this
system
for
a
very
long
time,
because
it’s
what
48
other
States
do,”
Trump,
now
a
fervent
electoral
college
supporter,

wrote

on
social
media.
“It’s
what
the
Founders
intended,
and
it’s
right
for
Nebraska.”

In
a
statement,
Pillen

echoed

that
point:
Such
a
change
would
“better
reflect
the
founders’
intent.”

Well,
not
really.
The
process
originally

established
by
the
Constitution

looks
nothing
like
our
current
process,
assigning
state
legislatures
the
job
of
choosing
electors
who
would
vote
for
two
people
they
thought
would
be
an
effective
president.
If
one
candidate
got
a
majority
of
the
vote,
they
became
president,
and
the
second-place
finisher
became
vice
president.

That
wasn’t
a
great
system,
so
in
1804,
the

12th
Amendment

made
some
tweaks,
including
introducing
a
separate
vote
for
the
vice
president.
(You
can
read

the
whole
story
here
.)
But
it
was
not
the
case
that
the
electors
were
meant
to
reflect
the
will
of
voters
in
the
state.

Over
time,
most
states
implemented
systems
in
which
the
choosing
of
electors
was
tied
to
the
popular
vote
in
the
state.
In
most
places,
that
meant
a
winner-take-all
system.
In
Nebraska
and
Maine,
it
meant
divvying
them
up.
Each
state
gets
an
elector
for
each
senator
and
representative;
Nebraska
and
Maine
give
the
senators’
electors
(two
in
total)
to
the
statewide
winner
and
the
others
to
the
winner
in
each
House
district.

The
effect
is
that
those
two
states
can
name
electors
for
each
major
party’s
candidate,
but
that
hasn’t
happened
much.
Nebraska

offered
up

one
elector
for
the
Democratic
candidate
in
2008
and
2020;
Maine

had
one

for
the
Republican
in
2016
and
2020.
This
was
a
more
accurate
reflection
of
the
will
of
their
states’
voters,
certainly,
but
it
did
very
little
to
affect
the
imbalance
between
the
national
popular-
and
electoral-vote
margins.

It’s
easy
to
forget
how
unbalanced
those
two
measures
often
are.
Below
we
present
a
century
of
presidential
election
results,
with
the
national
popular
vote
split
shown
in
the
outer
ring
and
the
resulting
electoral
vote
distribution
shown
in
the
pie
chart
in
the
middle.
Notice
how
the
extent
of
the
red
and
blue
regions
vary
widely
between
the
outer
and
inner
rings.

We
can
look
at
this
another
way.
The
chart
below
shows
the
Republican
popular
vote
share
(horizontal)
and
electoral
vote
share
(vertical)
over
the
past
century.
The
dotted
line
indicates
a
perfect
match
between
popular
vote
and
electoral
vote.
No
year
sits
squarely
on
the
line
and
the
further
from
50
percent
the
popular
vote
results
get,
the
wider
the
deviation
of
the
electoral
vote
proportion
from
that
dotted
line.

Changing
Nebraska’s
rules
would
not
have
affected
the
outcome
in
either
of
the
contests
where
the
state
split
its
electors
between
major-party
candidates.
But
if
you’re
Trump,
you
can
see
the
advantage.
Retake
Arizona,
Georgia
and
Wisconsin
and
force
that
one
Nebraska
congressional
district
to
go
along
with
the
statewide
vote
and
voilà!
You’ve
got
a
270-268
electoral
college
victory.

But
what
if
we
went
the
other
way,
distributing
electors
nationally
the
way
they
are
allocated
in
Nebraska
and
Maine?

The
results
are
slightly
surprising.
Using

DailyKos’s
calculations

of
congressional
district
results
from
presidential
contests,
we
see
that,
in
2016,
Trump
would

still

have
earned
a
majority
of
electoral
votes.
The
reason
is
simple:
We’re
still
giving
states
two
electors
for
each
senator,
meaning
that
the
imbalance
that
exists
in
the
Senate
for
less-populated
red
states
is
mirrored
in
the
newly
determined
electoral
college,
too.
But
with
the
Nebraska
model
in
place,
the
electoral
vote
split
is
at
least

a
bit

closer
to
the
popular
vote
that
year
(Trump
getting
54
percent
of
electors
vs.
the
57
percent
he
actually
got).

In
2020,
Biden
would
still
emerge
victorious,
with
his
electoral
vote
total
under
the
Nebraska
plan
landing
almost
exactly
where
his
national
popular
vote
percentage
did.
But
it’s
still
Trump
who
sees
the
advantage.
Biden’s
four-point
popular
vote
margin
gives
him
a
three-percentage-point
electoral-college
edge.
Trump’s
two-point
loss
in
2016
lands
as
an
eight-percentage-point
advantage
under
the
Nebraska
distribution
method.
Closer
than
his
actual
14-percentage-point
advantage
in
the
electoral
college
but
of
little
consolation
for
Hillary
Clinton.

What
Trump
is
endorsing
in
Nebraska
is
uncomplicated:
a
way
for
him
to
snatch
up
one
more
electoral
vote.
It
would
be
interesting
to
see
how
Trump
would
respond
if
the
governor
of
Maine
issued
precisely
the
same
statement
as
Pillen;
presumably,
Trump
would
be
less
enthusiastic
about
how
it
reflected
the
purported
will
of
the
Founding
Fathers.

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