Politically obsessed people like to lecture our friends about how the only voters who really matter are in Ohio and Florida and other swing states.
But this riff no longer makes sense. Here’s why: Imagine waking up on Wednesday, November 9 to learn that Hillary Clinton had won the Electoral College but Trump had won the popular vote.
Trump and the Republicans have already said that if he loses it will be because the system is “rigged.” If Hillary gets fewer votes but wins the presidency, the level of paranoia, obstructionism and maybe violence would be off the charts. Clinton, already poised to enter office with the lowest favorables in recent memory, would be even less legitimate than the guy born in Kenya.
Such an outcome would prove that the system was rigged, and the fact that it was James Madison who did the rigging will be of little comfort. The efforts to de-legitimize the result, the President and democracy will be powerful.
There’s another scenario in which the national popular vote matters: an electoral college tie. It’s not a far-fetched possibility. For instance, if Trump won Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Colorado (where he currently leads in several polls) while Hillary won Pennsylvania and Virginia (where she leads), it would probably be a 269-269 tie.
In such a scenario, the founders rigged it in another shocking way – letting the House of Representatives decide. If Trump wins the popular vote, it’s nearly certain that the Republican-controlled House would rubber stamp the results. But if Hillary wins the popular vote? Isn’t it possible that a few dozen Republicans would defect?
So this year, your Presidential vote matters even if you live in California or New York.