In response to Ruth Medley concerning the abolition of the electoral college (Forum, April 29), I would like her and others to consider a few of the following points.
In our current system, candidates acquire no more electoral votes if they win in any state by a large or a small margin. A candidate who may be very popular in a specific region of the country is required to gain a wider base of electoral support by visiting and gaining the support of those outside his/her strong support area. If, as in Ms. Medley's example, Nixon received only 43 percent of the popular vote (the same can be said of our current president), he still had to gain a wide base of regional support in order to carry enough electoral votes to win.In our most recent election, there was a strong third-party candidate. However, because the support was not there in a wide variety of the country, no electoral votes were received. The candidates must of necessity address specific state needs in order to gain their support.
Let's look at election by popular vote. A candidate may look at his area of support and decide that if he can carry the Eastern seaboard and southern states, he need not go any further to gain support. He may win by huge margins in very populous states and lose by wide margins in the great majority of states and still win. Let's take the last election as an example of the next point. Candidate Bill Clinton was not very popular at the beginning of the campaign. Bush, on the other hand, had huge support from the gulf war and enjoyed unprecedented approval ratings. Right or wrong, this drove out many of the other Democratic hopefuls.
Say one of those popular hopefuls decided to jump in after Clinton received the nomination, seeing now a very close race with three candidates. Maybe even Pat Robertson, now seeing four or more presidential options, enters this strictly "popular vote" election. Now you could have five or more candidates with a very strong regional or ideological support. Ignoring the rest of their weaker areas, now we could have an elected president with not just 43 percent but realistically 20 percent to 25 percent with the remaining 75 percent to 80 percent in strong opposition to their popularly elected president.
Given the media as they are, the instant results now available and an electorate seemingly content to be sheep and follow the hollow words of most candidates, there does need to be reform. But please, we already lost states' rights by electing senators by popular vote. Let's think before we amend the wisdom of the Founding Fathers, which was gathered by much more research than anyone is willing to put in nowadays.