What does the popular vote do?

As far as I’ve seen, it’s the electoral college that determines the president of the U.S. ...even if, say the democratic candidate wins the popular vote, if the republican candidate wins the electoral college then it’s the republican that becomes president... does the popular vote not matter? Does it affect the election? 

Does it only matter if the electoral college is like 50/50 or something?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not being ignorant, or stupid, or uneducated, I genuinely don’t know...

7 Answers

  • Jeff D
    Lv 7
    8 months ago

    The popular vote decides which electors represent your state.  So it matters, but at the state level, not the national level.

  • Clive
    Lv 7
    8 months ago

    How people vote determines who is IN the electoral college.  If your state votes Republican for president, then that fills up its quota of electors with Republicans and they should vote that way in the electoral college.  Which they usually do.  The national popular vote is irrelevant, but the popular vote in each state absolutely IS because it chooses the state's electors.

    It's all right there in the US constitution.  Notice that it doesn't say how the states should choose their electors, the Founding Fathers decided to leave that to the states, and in the early days some of them didn't hold an election and had the state legislature choose them.  So obviously it doesn't mention the popular vote at all.  It's only since 1868 that all states have held a presidential election.

  • Tmess2
    Lv 7
    8 months ago

    To answer the actual question, for the past 150 years, the popular vote in each state has been used to elect the electors.  Before that, some states opted to have the state legislature pick the electors.  The Constitution gives the states the powers to choose how electors are selected.

    The national popular vote never matters.  If no candidate gets a majority of the electors (which does not necessarily mean that there is a tie as electors are not bound to vote for the two major presidential candidates), then the House picks the winner voting by states.

    If you want to understand why the Framers wanted an electoral college, you should read Federalist No. 68.  Surprisingly, given the modern discussion of the electoral college, concern about the relative power of the larger states is not even mentioned -- only one paragraph even addresses the number of electors that each state gets.  Instead, most of that essay deals with why the Framers did not trust direct democracy; reasons that would generally be rejected today if people were proposing to move from a popular vote to an electoral college.

  • 8 months ago

    What does not matter for the Electoral College is the "national popular vote".

    Each state gets the number of EC votes equal to the number of Congressional Districts plus two votes represented by the two Senators each state gets.  That is why California has 55 votes (53 Congressional Districts + 2) and Wyoming gets three EC votes (1 Congressional District + 2). 

    The members of the Electoral College are based on the popular vote in the states where they reside. In most states it is "winner takes all" so the winner of the state-wide popular vote gets all of the Electoral College votes for that state.  In a couple of states the EC votes are allocated by Congressional District, which was why Trump got one EC vote from Maine in 2016 while Clinton got the other EC votes from Maine. 

    Realize the authors of the Constitution designed the system for electing the President to prevent a few big cities from being able to simply decide every election, and the authors were also very familiar with the concept of election fraud.  In 1789 the big cities in question were Boston, Philadelphia, and New York.  Today, they are the Boston-NYC-Washington DC corridor (includes Philadelphia) and the San Francisco-Los Angels-San Diego corridor - plus cities like Chicago and Detroit. 


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  • 8 months ago

    The popular vote elects your Congressman and Senator, your city councilman, school board members, state representatives, mayor...etc..

    ....in other words, the popular vote elects the politicians who have the most influence on your actual daily life....and guess what, they are the most-accountable to you...

    ....the notion of a nationwide popular vote as necessary is little more than a double illusion promoted by those who actually want to further remove power from individuals and communities and hand it to the parties and their big-money masters...

    ...first, by distracting voters and exploiting their lack of understanding of how the federal government works, it draws voter attention away from the importance of those local offices...

    ....second, by creating a sense that "votes don't matter" national, the parties encourage voter apathy at the local level....further diminishing the role of individuals and communities...and allowing big-money interests and self-serving bureaucrats to joyfully fill that vacuum...

  • Kenny
    Lv 7
    8 months ago

    My understanding, it was set up that way to give all arias of the country a say in who the president will be .  Other wise only the most populated states would have a say in the election .

  • 8 months ago

    The number of electors per state is based on representation, one for each senator and one for each member the House of representatives. The electors vote the way the majority of voters, in their state, voted in the presidential election. If 50.01% of the people voted for the winning candidate, he gets all of the electoral votes for that state. Technically, electors do not have to follow the popular vote, but they never defiate.

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