The Electoral College: Introduction and the 2016 Presidential Race

Well, it’s finally over. The 2016 Presidential election, it’s done. What seemed like a sad reality show come to life finally ended and the results are clear. America chose Hillary Clinton for President. Almost 2.9 million more Americans preferred Clinton, as a matter of fact. Clinton took 48.2% of the popular vote, or 65,844,954 votes to Donald Trump’s 46.1% or 62,979, 879 votes. However, despite Clinton winning in a clear landslide vote vs vote, Donald Trump won the Presidential Election by attaining 306 Electoral Votes to Clinton’s 232; this made Donald President Elect and left Clinton with more votes than any other losing Presidential candidate in U.S. History. 

As you can imagine, this election stirred enough emotional outrage for a lifetime’s worth of drama and the result did little to deter that rage. Now, much of that outrage is directed at the very system that benefited Trump in his victory, the Electoral College. To summarize all discontent into one question: How does a system allow someone who lost by nearly 3 million votes to be the victor? To be fair, the criticism of the Electoral College came as much from the right of the political spectrum as it did the left, the difference is time; before the election, after the election, year, etc.

Trump prior to the 2016 Election

Trump after winning the 2016 Election

Polling data (here) reveals a divide over the issue. Granted, this poll came weeks after the election so the results do represent the time and place of who won what and how. I’ve witnessed this divide over the Electoral College and the debate about what it is, why it was established, how it is supposed to function, and whether or not it is even necessary unravel on social media, the local watering hole, and even at the faculty lunch table. This debate is responsible for this post. This is the first of a series of posts that I am going to dedicate to the electoral college. Specifically, I want to look at the history of it, why it was created in the first place and how it has functioned or changed over time. Perhaps, by doing this, I can shed light on whether or not this almost 250 year old system is needed today.
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