John Chris Fletcher
12/02/13Summary Electoral CollegeOpponents of the Electoral College are disturbed by the possibility of electing a minority president. Nor is this concern entirely unfounded since there are three ways in which that could happen.
One way in which a minority president could be elected is if the country were so deeply divided politically that three or more presidential candidates split the electoral votes among them such that no one obtained the necessary majority. This occurred, as noted above, in 1824 and was unsuccessfully attempted in 1948 and again in 1968. Should that happen today, there are two possible resolutions: either one candidate could throw his electoral votes to the support of another or else, absent an absolute majority in the Electoral College, the U.S. House of Representatives would select the president in accordance with the 12th Amendment. Either way, though, the person taking office would not have obtained the absolute majority of the popular vote. Yet it is unclear how a direct election of the president could resolve such a deep national conflict without introducing a presidential run-off election a procedure which would add substantially to the time, cost, and effort already devoted to selecting a president and which might well deepen the political divisions while trying to resolve them. A second way in which a minority president could take office is if, as in 1888, one candidate’s popular support were heavily concentrated in a few States while the other candidate maintained a slim popular lead in enough States to win the needed majority of the Electoral College. While the country has occasionally come close to this sort of outcome, the question here is whether the distribution of a candidate’s popular support should be taken into account alongside the relative size of it. This issue was mentioned above and is discussed at greater length below.
A third way of electing a minority president is…
John Chris Fletcher