The Electoral College is a very large part of determining which candidate for presidency will become the next Chief Executive of the United States of America. Often times, it is the only important factor in this decision, with the popular vote accounting for considerably less. The Electoral College is a long-standing tradition in the history of the United States, despite the fact that the idea of its being eliminated has been tossed around by many. Both Republicans and Democrats are opposed to this idea, due to the consequences of its removal.
One of these consequences would be an election based solely on popular vote. Small states, which are represented in the Electoral College by no less than three votes, would be very much opposed to this notion. They would have much less representation in a popular vote, due to the sheer mathematics of their population size. In comparison to a much larger state, the representation of a smaller state would be drastically reduced from what it is under the current system.
For example, California has 18 times more votes than a three-vote state, but has much more than 18 times more people in the state. It is clear that small states are at a great advantage under the Electoral College system. Small states would also be at a disadvantage with the absence of the Electoral College due to the plain fact that candidates would have less incentive to campaign in those states. Under the current system, presidential candidates go to small states far less than they do to the states with greater electoral power.
However, with a popular vote this phenomenon would be immensely magnified. Candidates would exclusively campaign in, and attend to the needs of, the largely populated states. There would be much less of an incentive for them to visit the small states when they could take a majority of the popular vote by winning a select few states, a number of states far less than the 12 needed to win the majority of Electoral votes. The Electoral College, with its “winner-take-all” policies, discourages the emergence of serious third parties.
In other countries, parties who win a small portion of the votes in an election are much more likely to gain some representation in the country’s government. Here, however, the winner-take-all principle does not allow for this to happen. While a third party may receive relatively few of the popular votes, it will definitely receive none of the electoral votes. Again, the Electoral College magnifies many of the results of a popular election.
Acting as a magnifying glass, the Electoral College somewhat levels the playing field for the small states, by giving them more representation. It also gives those states more exposure, by forcing the candidates to come to the state for campaign purposes. Also, the Electoral College helps maintain a two-party system, by discouraging third parties with the winner-take-all principle. If the United States were to eliminate the Electoral College, the consequences for America would be dire indeed.