Will the Electoral College Matter if Texas Turns Blue?
CNN‘s Zachary B. Wolf stated that the Republicans love the Electoral College and the Democrats hate it, because it cost both Al Gore and Hillary Clinton the 2000 and 2016 presidential elections respectively. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said at a recent CNN town hall that the system should be abolished, arguing that every vote must count. It must have been devastating for both Gore and Clinton to lose those two presidential elections, despite winning the popular vote. But emotion should not overshadow democracy. There are many reasons why the US has retained this voting system, despite allowing the candidate with the least popular support to win five times in American history.
As Politico’s Gary Gregg argues, there was one election where the Republicans felt that the Electoral College cheated them, and that was in the 2012 presidential election. Barack Obama received 3.3 million more votes than Mitt Romney that year, but won 3.6 million more votes than the Republican in four cities- Chicago, Philadelphia, New York and Los Angeles. But that wasn’t because of a fault with the system. Gregg highlights the Electoral College allows both parties to focus on rural and small-state issues. If Obama didn’t appeal to Ohio factory workers, Colorado cattlemen, Iowa hog farmers and Virginia policemen, he might not have won in 2012.
Without the Electoral College, future presidential elections will go to candidates and parties willing to cater to urban voters and shift the country’s policies towards the big cities. As Gregg said, there are many problems in managing a system based on the popular vote. A new federal agency would have to be created to verify the accuracy of popular vote totals, and there could be runoff elections and national recounts in close races.
The Electoral College also provides every state with an equal chance of selecting the next president and prevents one party from winning every time. If US elections were conducted on a popular vote plan, the Democrats would win almost every presidential election because they can depend upon the support of heavily populated blue states like California. However, Wolf said Hillary could have won the 2016 election if she secured Texas. The Lone Star State provided the winning margin each time for the GOP in 2000, 2004 and 2016. But if this state, with its 38 Electoral College votes, turns blue, then what is the Electoral College’s purpose once that equal playing field for both parties is gone?
The state’s demographics are changing. The Hispanic population accounted for 38.1 percent of Texas’s population in 2011. Medium’s Jack Craver argues many GOP districts are focused on urban areas where the vast majority of the state’s growing population lives. Instead of focusing on low taxes and low regulations to attract Californian-based companies, Texan Republicans may instead appeal to Democrat voters with more metropolitan policies. A 2017 Gallup poll found only 39 percent of Texans approve of Trump, proving a moderate Democrat could appeal to them in the 2020 election. In 2018, Beto O’Rourke lost to Ted Cruz with a difference of 2.6 points in the race for Texas senator.
Although Texas’s demographics have been changing since 2011, Cruz still won in 2018, despite Trump’s lack of broad appeal in the state. Mark Yzaguirre questioned the Democrats’ growing dominance by highlighting Governor Rick Perry’s courting of 39 percent of Hispanics in the 2010 Texas Gubernatorial. Gallup analysts show that low turnout among Hispanics always ensures Republican dominance. The Trump phenomenon will be temporary, and Perry’s victory proves the GOP can win Hispanic support. A new Republican candidate in 2024 has an opportunity to reclaim many conservative voters and win new Hispanic voters.
Texas is not a lost cause for the Republicans. If anything, this is an opportunity for the GOP to broaden its base, like they did in 2010. But this also means the Lone Star State cannot be taken for granted forever. If it turns blue, this will make it difficult for the Republicans to win future elections. Equally, that does not mean the Electoral College no longer serves a purpose. It will always be the best system to ensure all states’ considerations are taken into account and that each party has an equal chance of winning the presidency. It just means the Republicans will have to prove their free market policies can make minorities wealthier, as opposed to the Democrats’ big government policies.