- Over the long run, your power as an individual voter is greater in a divided election than in a direct election. See this page for an explanation.
- The Electoral College creates a clear winner in cases where the popular vote is very close. For an example, go to this page.
- In most cases, the Electoral College forces candidates to win not just a majority, but a super-majority. They can’t just win a majority of individual votes; they have to win a majority of votes in a majority of states (or, at least, a majority of large states). This helps legitimize the election.
- The Electoral College forces candidates to pay attention to all voters. They can’t just focus on a few big cities. They have to win entire states, and lots of ‘em.
- In every election, a few states are too close to call. These are known as “swing states,” and candidates pay a great deal of attention to them. Which states will swing changes every four years. Over time, pretty much every state has its moment in the spotlight. (In a direct election, candidates would always focus on large population centers, and those don’t change nearly as rapidly.)
- The Electoral College protects and empowers minorities. Candidates might ignore a small minority in a national election. But groups concentrated in specific areas can have a significant influence in those states. By forcing candidates to compete for states rather than for individual votes, the Electoral College system gives minorities a stronger voice.
- But perhaps the most far-reaching consequence of the Electoral College is that it has led to the development of two political parties that strive for broad appeal. Most other democracies have dozens of parties, many with very narrow agendas. With so many parties dividing the legislature, it can be difficult to get them to agree on anything. But the Electoral College requires a candidate to win a majority of electoral votes. If there were three or more parties, that would almost never happen. Thus, American politics evolved to have two national parties, each of which needs to appeal to as many people as possible.
For arguments against the Electoral College, go here
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