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Why the Electoral College Is Bad for AmericaThird Edition$
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George C. Edwards

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780300243888

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300243888.001.0001

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Raising Questions

Raising Questions

(p.1) Chapter 1 Raising Questions
Why the Electoral College Is Bad for America

George C. Edwards III

Yale University Press

This chapter examines the function of the electoral college during the controversial 2016 presidential elections. It argues that the electoral college did not work at all as its defenders said it would. Instead of encouraging candidates to take their cases to the entire country and pay special attention to small states, it distorted the electoral process and gave the candidates strong incentives to ignore most of the country, especially the smallest states. It did not guarantee victory to the candidate receiving the most votes. It did not ensure national harmony, and it did not provide the winner a broad coalition and a mandate to govern. Moreover, the electoral college did not preclude extreme partisan polarization. As such, the chapter asserts that there is a need to focus directly and systematically on the core questions surrounding the electoral college and assess whether it warrants a role in American democracy.

Keywords:   electoral college, American democracy, 2016 presidential elections, national harmony, partisan polarization

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