It’s a topic as old as America herself- and still a source of controversy: We the People do not have the final say in who our president is.
Rather a handful of Electors in each state cast their votes for the Commander-in-Chief, usually- though not necessarily- based on the candidate with the most votes in their state.
It is thus possible for a candidate who did not get a majority of the popular vote to win an election, and this has of course happened, often with particularly abysmal candidates.
There are myriad reasons why the Electoral College is a terrible idea- among them are that each presidential candidate focuses on only about a dozen states and essentially ignores the rest, a Republican in a solid blue state might as well not vote and vice versa, it makes a vote in Wyoming count more than twice as much as a vote in California, and- as Donald Trump has amply demonstrated- it can allow a president to pander to his base while neglecting and isolating a majority of the country and still stand a chance at reelection.
But none of these reasons matter much. If anything, they are why the Republican Party wishes to keep the Electoral College. (Yes, we could pretend the conservative motivation was really “giving smaller states a louder voice,” but let’s not waste time).
In the last 30 years’ worth of presidential elections, the Republican candidate won the popular vote once, in 2004. Both GOP candidates to assume the presidency in that time did so because of the Electoral College- it’s the main reason Republicans have stayed competitive in presidential races.
But it won’t be for very much longer- and this is precisely why the Electoral College is on its way out.
In a word : Texas.
There are four major electoral jackpots: California, New York, Texas and Florida. The Lone Star State is the only reliably Republican one of the bunch. California and New York are among the bluest of blue states and Florida swings like Sinatra on a bandstand.
No other red state carries anything approximating the electoral weight of Texas (38 votes). If a Democrat were to win the state- once unthinkable, but with a rapidly shifting demographic, one that is already majority Latino- the election would be over.
While it is all-but-certain President Trump will carry Texas this election, the Lone Star State is bound to slip further and further away from Republican reach each cycle (note in 2018, Ted Cruz won by a mere 2.6 percentage points), especially if the GOP continues its scapegoating of immigrants and the general fecklessness it has shown regarding far-right White supremacist groups.
Eventually, Texas will move far enough left for a Democratic presidential candidate to carry it. It will become a swing state, on that political scientists, pollsters and anyone paying attention agrees.
What happens after that? The Democrat who picks up Texas is almost bound to pick up Florida as well, but Florida- and all the other swing states- will be nonfactors when California and New York are added to the equation. Regardless of what happens in the popular vote, electorally it would be less a blue wave and more a blue tsunami.
When Republicans can no longer depend on Texas, all their support for the Electoral College, all the insistence on small states getting a fair shake, will be tossed out the window faster than you can say, “Make America Great Again.” In fact, faster than you can say, “Covfefe.”
With that, there will be bipartisan support in Congress for legislation which makes the popular vote the deciding factor in our presidential elections.
And this will make our Union a little more perfect.