In a botched attempt to justify the abolition of the Electoral College, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) told a crowd of supporters in Mississippi that changing the electoral process would allow candidates to spend more time in every state rather than focusing on those difficult-to-win battleground states.
During her town hall event with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Warren explained why she thinks abolishing the Electoral College would help a deep-red, low-population state like Mississippi play a larger role in presidential elections.
Watch the video below:
Every vote matters. We need to get rid of the Electoral College so that presidential candidates have to ask every American in every part of the country for their vote, not just those in battleground states. #WarrenTownHall pic.twitter.com/UT3mYHXHQ2
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) March 19, 2019
“We need to make sure that every vote counts, and I want to push that right here in Mississippi because I think this is an important point. Come a general election, presidential candidates don’t come to places like Mississippi. They also don’t come to places like California and Massachusettes. Right? Because we’re not the battleground states. Well, my view is that every vote matters. And the way we can make that happen is that we can have national voting, and that means get rid of the Electoral College.”
Warren claimed that ditching the Electoral College would ensure that “everybody” has to come and ask for a vote in states like Mississippi.
The senator isn’t the first politician to push for the U.S. to change the electoral process. After Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in 2016, the call for ditching the Electoral College was amplified.
While there are arguments about the democratic value of the Electoral College, Warren is one of the first to claim that switching to the popular vote would help a state like Mississippi — and that may be because she couldn’t be more wrong.
Warren couldn’t be more wrong about the impact of the popular vote in states like Mississippi.
The senator’s main selling point to the crowd in Jackson was that a change in the Electoral College would encourage candidates to visit places like Mississippi as often as they visit battleground states like Florida.
For that argument to stand, it’s important to understand why candidates camp out in these swing states. According to 270 to Win, 451 of the 538 electoral votes are basically set in stone for the 2020 election despite it being almost two years away. States like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Florida are marked as total toss-ups.
Mississippi has six electoral votes. It would be a safe bet to predict that all six of those electoral votes will go to President Donald Trump in 2020 even though the Democrats haven’t even picked their candidate. Warren argued that this fact keeps politicians from campaigning in Mississippi — even though she was there, campaigning in Mississippi.
Warren claimed that a transition to the popular vote would make the vote of a Jackson resident just as important as the vote of a swing state resident, but data shows that may not the case.
Using the popular vote, a candidate could become president with the votes from only nine states.
Using 2019 population projections from World Population Review, more than 50 percent of U.S. citizens live in just nine states.
Although it would be nearly impossible, a candidate could hypothetically just win the hearts of voters from those nine states, and they could take that straight to the Oval Office.
Mississippi, on the other hand, ranks 34th in population size, with less than 1 percent of the U.S. population residing in the Magnolia State.
Abolishing the Electoral College wouldn’t necessarily ensure that candidates have to earn every vote across the nation, but it would change the rules of the game.
If the Electoral College results in an emphasis on swing states, the popular vote will result in an emphasis on large cities.
While small towns in Iowa may be the place to be at this point in the election season, that wouldn’t be the case if the popular vote was the way to the White House. New Hampshire residents wouldn’t be bumping into the next president at a diner. The election would be decided by a handful of major cities.
America is a massive country in both population and geographic area. It’s not possible to ask every citizen for their vote. Either way, decisions have to be made about where to spend campaign resources. As Trump noted several times, the Electoral College only impacts the campaign strategy.
It would have been much easier for me to win the so-called popular vote than the Electoral College in that I would only campaign in 3 or 4–
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 27, 2016
states instead of the 15 states that I visited. I would have won even more easily and convincingly (but smaller states are forgotten)!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 27, 2016
Campaigning to win the Electoral College is much more difficult & sophisticated than the popular vote. Hillary focused on the wrong states!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 21, 2016
The United States is too big to campaign for every vote, which is why the Electoral College is important.
The Founding Fathers feared the “tyranny of the majority” and designed a system where the president can be chosen through a process in which all states can be represented. But in addition to those details, they also ensured that the elections functioned properly and focused on the core issues facing Americans.
Battleground states are battleground states because they are evenly split between Republicans and Democrats. Candidates typically have to run on moderate issues with broad appeal rather than fringe issues, like abolishing the Electoral College.
The Electoral College isn’t perfect, but no system is. Warren’s misleading promise to the crowd in Jackson proves just that.
Please note: This is a commentary piece. The views and opinions expressed within it are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of IJR.