The Electoral College As Shown In The 2016 Presidential Election

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The Electoral College is the foundation of democracy in the United States of America, through this unconventional means of voting people decide on who which candidate will win and become President of The United States, while on the surface this process seems simple, the opposite couldn’t be more true. The reality of the situation is that there are many American voters who don’t fully understand how it works, while it may be a bit humorous this is actually a big reason why election results tend to shock people, and historically Americans have seen the fate of their presidency hinge on the outcome of one state or even a specific region within that state. These outcomes have lead many Americans into believing that this process is broken, obsolete, and too easy for politicians to manipulate.

The Electoral College isn’t a very complicated system, each state is given a certain number of votes, and whichever presidential candidate wins that state wins the number of votes associated with it. Democratic candidates can expect favorable results in liberal states along the Pacific Coast, while Republican candidates usually foresee themselves winning easily in some of the more Conservative states in the mid and southwest. As explained in chapter 9, the political landscape of the United States is dominated by two political parties, Republicans and Democrats, thus coining the term “two party system”, this only adds to the predictability of the Electoral College and helps politicians prepare for the states they really need to focus on. Personally, I view the Electoral College as a tally system that is far too predictable, before any election it is well known what the outcome of certain states will be, and because of that politicians can focus their attention on specific states that they need to win. To me this seems unfair to states with larger populations, because in a country with a population over 300 million, a region with a population with less than one hundred thousand people shouldn’t be the deciding factor in any presidential election.

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For example California voters already know that their state will vote for the democratic candidate, so people here don’t garner as much attention from politicians as voters in “swing states”(this is a term for states that the Republican and Democratic candidates will put a lot of effort into winning because if a state that traditionally votes Republican all of a sudden chooses the Democratic candidate, or vice-versa, it could potentially alter the outcome of an election). These swing states have been proven to determine the outcome of elections, and is where the vast majority of a candidate's campaign funding will go towards. Like the concept of the 30 second attack ads, where politicians will run a commercial stating reasons to not vote for someone while simultaneously endorsing it, these aren’t created to convince states like California, Texas, or New York to not vote for someone, they are made for voters in states like Florida, Nevada, and Pennsylvania where there isn’t a clear indication of what the state’s political makeup consists of.

Political campaigning and the Electoral College go hand in hand, one wouldn’t exist without the either, and both are the two biggest factors in deciding the outcome of an election. The funding behind these campaigns is something that has always intrigued Americans, arguable for better or worse, as noted in Chapter 10 many Americans are knowledgeable of how much money politicians pour into these campaigns and how it maintains the two party system as the primary political options for Americans. As long as this continues, a third party candidate will never have a chance to win a Presidential Election. This can be highlighted by the number of third party candidates who have found themselves in the crosshairs between both Democratic and Republican candidates, but there is a good reason why both parties want everyone else to stay out of the election. Look at the most recent election and what happened with Florida, a well known swing state, a third party candidate collected just enough voted to hand Donald Trump the electoral college votes in that state, had the third party voters chose Hillary Clinton, there’s a chance she might have won that state. It just illustrates why politicians spend so much money campaigning for votes in swing states, because history has shown that the smallest of percentages can make all the difference in the end.

Arguably the most important part of campaigning for electoral college votes is to connect with voters and convince them that you’re the best possible person to become the next president. In 2016, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were locked in a heated battle for these votes, and both went about convincing voters in two very different fashions. On one hand, Clinton, whose political experience spanned decades and had already spent some time in the White House, seemed like she was on the brink of becoming the first female president ever. Tactically she appealed to mainly liberal ideologists, focusing on bringing out the younger crowd to the polls like Obama was able to do, and spent a good amount of time obtaining support from celebrities that vocally oppose Donald Trump, almost like bullying. Succumbing to her opponents level was a big mistake on her part, and had she focused on winning conservative states more than bashing Donald Trump(which isn’t hard to do), she might have actually won.

Her polar opposite, Donald Trump, didn’t take kindly to these tactics and the number of celebrities so he colluded with Russians to sabotage her campaign via the internet( this may be an unpopular opinion but given the information on this subject it isn’t a difficult conclusion to reach). Regardless, Trump won over states that had previously voted for Obama by appealing to their blue collar needs, a well executed plan to give him an advantage in the electoral college. Looking back, at times during this election it was hard to remember that it was a competition for Electoral College votes and not a dramatic television show, but it’s also important to point out that while Clinton and the majority of liberals were laughing at Donald Trump, he was the one who tried harder as opposed to Clinton, who tried to ride Obama’s legacy to victory.

Overall, this plast election demonstrated a lot of the problems with the electoral college and why going forward there should be a better system in place to decide elections. Americans demand political liberty, and the two party system isn’t just holding that wish back, it's practically preventing it. Until this changes, presidential candidates will use most of their resources attacking one another in hopes that one of the swing states will swing their way, and given the rules they play by they will only be incentivized to continue this behavior.

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