.. This power of the smaller states was especially evident during this year’s election. For the first time in many years, the candidates knew that the election would be close. Because of this, presidential and vice-presidential candidates visited smaller states in record numbers. For example, Oregon, with its 7 Electoral votes had 17 visits from these candidates during this election. This more than tripled the number of visits during the 1996 presidential race and reinforced the importance of smaller states having the Electoral College.
The third, and last purpose, for the Electoral College was that the framers did not trust the “mob.” (Natapoff). They believed that a large electorate could easily “fall prey to passions, rumors, and tumult.” Electors were supposed to consider each candidate’s merits more judiciously, not just blindly follow the popular will. Akhil Amar, a government professor at Yale University, argues that the Electoral College was set up 200 years ago because, “Common people may not have enough accurate information to make a wise decision and therefore needed someone to ensure the right choices would be made.”(Onion). James Madison, chief architect of the Electoral College, also wanted to protect each citizen against, “the most insidious tyranny that arises in democracies: the massed power of fellow citizens banded together in a dominant bloc. A well-designed democracy might include obstacles to thwart an overbearing majority and to prevent a candidate from only wooing the largest bloc.” Madison further explained in the Federalist Papers (No.
X), “a well-constructed Union must, above all else, break and control the violence of faction, especially the superior force of an overbearing majority. In any democracy, a majority’s power threatens minorities. It threatens their rights, their property, and sometimes their lives.” Unfortunately, this has been an ongoing problem since the constitution was written. Some examples of the masses making poor decisions that affect the lives of many can be seen in places like Nazi Germany, where the masses supported the Third Reich and there efforts to eliminate the Jews. This is still happening today in places like Yugoslavia, where the majority continues to elect Slavadon Malosivich even though he continues to kill the people of Bosnia and Croatia. To prevent these types of things from happening in a democracy, you must install safe guards against this and that is why the framers decided to use the Electoral College system to protect the American people.
However, there are some people who feel that the Electoral College has problems. The most widely talked about problem with the Electoral College is the rare occasion when someone can actually win the popular vote and loose in the Electoral College. Just such a scenario is beginning to play in this year’s election. It appears as though Al Gore has won the popular vote while it appears that George W. Bush will win the Electoral College. And this to some people seems very unfair and undemocratic.
There are a few problems with this theory. The first is, in order to protect the American people against tyranny, this things may happen. Although, in the last 220+ years, only 5 times has the winner of the popular vote not been elected president. That’s a pretty good track record by any measurement. Second, even though Al Gore did win the popular vote, he knew well before the election that the only majority that mattered is in the Electoral College. The easiest way to explain this would be Natapoff’s explanation of the 1960 World Series.
The more that Natapoff looked into the nitty-gritty of real elections, the more parallels he found with another American institution that stirs up the same emotion, baseball’s World Series. In the World Series, for example, the team that gets the most runs overall is like the candidate who gets the most popular vote. But to become champion, that team must still win most of the games. In 1960, during a World Series as nail-bitingly close as that year’s presidential battle between Kennedy and Nixon, the New York Yankees, with the combination of Mantle, Marris, and Bill “Moose” Skowron, scored more than twice as many total runs as the Pittsburgh Pirates, 55 to 27. Yet the Yankees lost the best of seven series four games to three.
Even the Yankees fans conceded that the Pirates deserved to win in this hard fought battle. Runs must be grouped in a way that wins games, just as popular votes must be grouped in a way that wins states. The Yankees won three blowouts (16-3, 10-0, 12-0), but they couldn’t come up with the runs they needed in the other four games, which were close (Table A). In sports, we accept that a true champion should be more consistent than the 1960 Yankees. A champion should be able to win at least some of the tough, close contests by every means available – bunting, stealing, pitching, and dazzling play in the field – and not just hit home runs against third-rate pitchers.
A presidential candidate worthy of office, by the same logic, should have a broad appeal across the whole nation, and not just play strongly on a singular issue to isolated blocs of voters. Therefore it can be argued that just because you get more votes, it does not mean that you are the best person for the job. Table A – 1960 World Series: Game 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Total Runs Total Wins Pittsburgh Pirates 6 3 0 3 5 0 10 27 4 New York Yankees 4 16 10 2 2 12 9 55 3 The Electoral College was created to ensure that Congress did not have too much power, to give the smaller states more power, and to protect the masses from tyranny. The system the framers of the Constitution formed is an institution that is even more effective today than it was over 200 years ago. My hope is that after reading this paper and evaluating the evidence, you will have gained a better understanding of the importance of the Electoral College and its effectiveness in today’s world.