Colorado has now joined the National Popular Vote compact, meaning that states with a total of 181 electoral votes have signed up through legislation enacted by their legislatures and approved by their governors. If the electoral vote total of the signatory states reaches 270, the plan goes into effect. In that case, all the electoral votes of the signatory states are delivered to the winner of the national popular vote in the next presidential election. Accordingly, the person who receives the most popular votes in 2020 will automatically become president (after all the litigation about the vote in states where it was close) because that person will automatically receive the 270 electoral votes of all the signatory states.
Of course, the constitutionality of the plan can and will be challenged. But those who pushed it through the legislatures of California, New York, and Illinois, among others, deserve to sit in some electoral dunce corner because of their failure to understand the most basic facts about the American presidential electoral system.
The principal flaw in the plan is its assumption that under the plan there will still be only two major parties competing for the presidency in 2020. The plan’s sponsors apparently do not realize that the reason we have two parties is because of the electoral vote system—which requires a winning candidate to assemble a majority of the electoral college. That means, in effect, that only two parties can compete for the presidency.
Someone could win the presidency simply by assembling a plurality—not even a majority—of the popular vote.
If the plan goes into effect, however, the parties become irrelevant because it would no longer be necessary to assemble 270 electoral votes. That number of electoral votes would be assured to the winner of the popular vote. Accordingly, someone could win the presidency simply by assembling a plurality—not even a majority—of the popular vote.
For example, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in 2016, but she had only a plurality of the vote, not a majority. The rest of the vote went to splinter parties—which are splinter parties because their candidates have no hope of assembling 270 electoral votes.
But the national popular vote plan doesn’t require a majority of the popular votes, only a plurality—the most popular votes. If we re-ran the 2016 election, Hillary would have won, but of course we won’t re-run that election.
With the National Popular Vote compact in effect, there will be many new parties because someone nominated by any splinter party could become president with as little as 20 percent (or even less) of the popular vote.
Given the attachments of American voters to any number of special issues, let alone Hollywood favorites, any one of these candidates could be our next president.
Be prepared for a right to life party, a pro-choice party, a gun rights party and an anti-gun party, billionaires like Howard Schultz, candidates who failed to win the Democratic nomination, and assorted Hollywood celebrities, all running as independents, etc.—every one of them with a chance to become president with a plurality of the votes. Given the attachments of American voters to any number of special issues, let alone Hollywood favorites, any one of these candidates could be our next president.
It may be that the National Popular Vote idea will run out of steam before it reaches the 270 number, but even if that very fortunate event occurs, it is saddening to see that that large numbers of state legislators and governors, who voted for and signed legislation establishing the National Popular Vote system, have so little grasp of why we have a two-party system and what this plan would do.
When the liberal voters of New York and California find that the candidate of a right-to-life party is their new president, they will have much to say to those state officials who made it possible.