Trent England | May 16, 2019
Hillary deserved to lose, the Electoral College deserves to stay
In 2016, the system worked. It was not a “wrong-winner election” or a fluke. One reason the American Founders put the Electoral College into the Constitution was to protect against regional politics. For late 19thCentury Democrats, it was the South. They could win the most popular votes based on intense regional support there, but that was not enough.
For Democrats today, it’s the big cities, especially on the West Coast and in the North East. They enjoy intense regional support, but lack the geographic diversity required to win the Electoral College. Some Democrats want to change the rules, but others have been blunt about where the fault lies: with the Clinton campaign.
“Clinton’s failure to attract enough supporters in Michigan and its Rust Belt neighbors Wisconsin and Pennsylvania cost her the election,” the Washington Post pointed out in its post-election analysis. Democrat experts interviewed for the article chalked it up to a series of strategic mistakes, including some made in the final two weeks.”
Some of these failures no doubt flowed from the Clinton campaign’s wrong belief, encouraged by the media, that it had an insurmountable lead. Two weeks before the election, ABC News reported: “As polls show the Democratic nominee widening her lead over Republican Donald Trump, her campaign is aiming not just to win the White House on Nov. 8, but to have decisive victories up and down the ballot.”
The Post analysis also pointed out that Clinton tried to win by trashing Trump rather than trumpeting her own message. “One error was to stick with a long-standing, one-dimensional campaign strategy: attacking Donald Trump.” The story goes on to recount the frustration of Clinton allies in Wisconsin, a state the candidate did not even visit, over her inability to articulate an economic message there.
The Clinton campaign’s inability to excite voters outside the biggest cities is not a reason to change the Constitution, or to otherwise manipulate election rules. Democrats would be better off learning from those past mistakes. And all Americans benefit from an election system that tips the scales away from regional politics.
“Hillary Clinton” by Tim Pierce is licensed under CC BY 2.0
David and Ann Brown Distinguished Fellow
Trent England is the David and Ann Brown Distinguished Fellow at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, where he previously served as executive vice president. He is also the founder and executive director of Save Our States, which educates Americans about the importance of the Electoral College. England is a producer of the feature-length documentary “Safeguard: An Electoral College Story.” He has appeared three times on Fox & Friends and is a frequent guest on media programs from coast to coast. He is the author of Why We Must Defend the Electoral College and a contributor to The Heritage Guide to the Constitution and One Nation Under Arrest: How Crazy Laws, Rogue Prosecutors, and Activist Judges Threaten Your Liberty. His writing has also appeared in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Washington Times, Hillsdale College's Imprimis speech digest, and other publications. Trent formerly hosted morning drive-time radio in Oklahoma City and has filled for various radio hosts including Ben Shapiro. A former legal policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation, he holds a law degree from The George Mason University School of Law and a bachelor of arts in government from Claremont McKenna College.