Electoral College 2008 (image: Ulamm)

This Wall Street Journal article about how the Obama administration decided to shelve an ozone regulation provides a great example for why we need to eliminate the absurd electoral college and switch to a national popular vote system for president. From WSJ:

When the American Lung Association mentioned a poll showing public support for EPA standards, Mr. Daley appeared uninterested, according to one person in the room. “He literally cut the person off and said ‘I don’t give a [expletive] about the poll’,” this person said. A senior White House official said Mr. Daley wanted to hear arguments about the substance of the regulation and its impact, not political arguments, and he was uninterested in all polls on this topic.

The same day, Mr. Daley met with industry groups, who gave the White House a map showing counties that would be out of compliance with the Clean Air Act if the stricter standards were put in place. The map showed that the rule would affect areas in the politically important 2012 election states of Florida, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Ohio.

Did the President ignore the wishes of the American people, in whole or in part, to prevent ruffling the feathers of a few voters in a handful of swing states?

Some may think eliminating the electoral college isn’t that important because the presidential candidate who wins the most popular votes almost always wins the electoral college, but getting rid of the electoral college is about more than stopping another situation like the 2000 general election when Al Gore won the most votes but George W. Bush got the most electoral college votes.

The electoral college means there are a small number of “swing states” that each presidential election will pivot on. As a result, candidates spend a lot of time worrying about how their policies affect people in these swings states, even at the expense of hurting the other 90% of the country. The ozone rule is only one example of this. Two other examples are our stance towards Cuba and our huge corn ethanol subsidies. Probably the biggest problem with the electoral college is that, in many subtle ways, it negatively distorts policies.

The National Popular Vote campaign is working to eliminate the issues created by the electoral college system through an interstate compact that would guarantee the candidate who won the popular vote becomes president. It is currently halfway towards achieving this goal.