Since Republican Donald Trump won the presidency in 2016 by outmaneuvering Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the Electoral College, many Democrats, progressives and others aligned on the political left have argued that enough is enough: it’s time to abolish the Electoral College. Had it not been for the Electoral College, the argument goes, we would not have Trump in the White House and the nation would be less divisive along racial and partisan lines. Presidential elections should be decided very simply by popular vote. Keep it simple. It’s not like the Electoral College was ever fair to begin with, giving out-sized and unfair influence to less populated states than more populated ones.
However, what’s left out of that conversation is the little-known fact that as demographics have dramatically changed, the country dramatically less White than it ever way, the Electoral College actually presents a new golden political advantage to non-White “voters of color,” especially Black and Brown voters, that has not yet been realized. Because of population distribution, Black, Brown and Indigenous voters find themselves in states with crucial EC votes, thereby giving them the power to determine the outcome of future presidential elections. It’s just that, collectively, these voting blocs have yet to realize this. So, the movement to eradicate the Electoral College comes at a moment when voters of color should actually be recognizing and flexing newfound political muscle.
B|E Note Contributor Dr. G.S. Potter offers a theoretical framework of those numbers in her April analysis entitled “Here’s How to Win the 2020 “Race War” … Using the Electoral College.” Voters of color could decide presidential election outcomes, and thus pick desired candidates, if they were activated according to the EC scheme …
If we 1) add the 186 EC votes from Liberated and Mobilized states to our 211 EC votes from Democratic Ally and Democratic Nonwhite Strongholdstates, and then 2) allow the GOP to take the 13 Confederate states and the White states being pandered to we have a grand total of …
- Democrats: 397 EC Votes
- Trump Republicans: 141 EC Votes
It’s an interesting and essential read that breaks down state EC-vote numbers according to the racial demographics in each state.
Tragically, word hasn’t reached the popular discourse in these communities, just yet. Talk of abolishing the EC is drowning out any hint of a conversation that flips it into a competitive advantage for non-White voters.
But, recently, Republican strategist Stuart Stevens found this out and is now arguing, as well, to “kill the Electoral College.” Here’s Stevens in USA Today recently:
I’m now convinced that it is not only in the country’s best interest to end the Electoral College, but that abolishing it might be a key to the long-term survival of the Republican Party.
In 1980, Ronald Reagan won a sweeping landslide of 44 states with 56% of the white vote. In 2012, Mitt Romney lost with 59% of the white vote. In 2016, Trump won with 57% — but only because the black turnout rate in a presidential election fell for the first time in 20 years and third-party votingrose.
Since 1964, the Republican Party has increasingly become a white party. In 1956, 39% of African Americans voted for Dwight Eisenhower. In 1964, less than 7% voted for Barry Goldwater,who opposed the Civil Rights Act. Black support for the Republican Party fell of a cliff that year and has never come back.
For a while, it looked like Republicans could make strong inroads into the Hispanic vote with Bush topping 40% in 2004. But that dropped to 31% for John McCain in 2008, and that’s where it has been languishing.
In 2020, Pew Research estimates, Hispanics will be the largest minority voting group for the first time. Hispanics have grown from 7% of the electorate in 2000 to a projected 13% next year.
Here’s the translation: the Electoral College is perfectly fine and running smoothly when White voters, White candidates and White presidents accomplishing accelerated white nationalist agendas benefit from it. But, once it starts to show that Black/Brown/Indigenous voters get to dominate it … well, that’s a big problem. Stevens admits that the Electoral College is a White political tool …
What does this have to do with the Electoral College? Under the EC, it is possible, though increasingly difficult, for a Republican candidate to win the presidency without substantial nonwhite support.
Without an Electoral College, the Republican Party would be forced to grow or die. Donald Trump is defining the Republican Party as a white grievance party, settling the score for the great injustices being wrought on America’s white middle class.
Thus, he’s mostly concerned with Republican political survival, and he lays out cold hard facts about the precipitous drop of Black and Brown voter support for Republican candidates. That’s his core rationale for abolishing the Electoral College. Not that it perpetuates a broken or corrupt system or that it might be fundamentally undemocratic in the way that it contravenes popular voting … but, that there’s too many Black and Brown people on campus. So, like the Voting Rights Act, let’s just do away with it.
Hence, the push to abolish the Electoral College is quite a white supremacist master move (even if you don’t think you’re “white supremacist” because you don’t wear white hoods and burn crosses at night). Democrats, progressives, civil rights groups and others influencing Black and/or Brown public discourse may not be realizing this. Indeed, while caught up in the emotional maelstrom defining today’s Trump presidency, they’re actually engaged in political self-sabotage by actively seeking the elimination of the EC. What should happen next is an immediate re-assessment of the EC and how it can benefit Black, Brown and Indigenous political outcomes. They’ll have to do so before it’s too late: the call to abolish it from a prominent GOP strategist means the word is out. This is happening at a time of increased voter suppression and the rising legitimacy of voter-dilution schemes such as gerrymandering and citizenship questions on the 2020 Census. Eliminating the Electoral College will further cement that effort.