The Electoral College has been on life support since a chad—specifically a “hanging” chad—tipped the White House to George W. Bush in 2000. The painful reality of how our Constitution works was never more apparent. The Gore/Lieberman ticket won the popular vote 50,994,086 to 50,461,092 but lost the electoral vote 266 to 271.
There was a lot more to it, but the punchline is that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Bush the winner because he won the electoral vote. It’s a tribute to the American national character that we weathered that cataclysm without civil war, but it left a bad taste in the electorate’s mouth.
During the 2016 Republican primary, when it looked as if Donald Trump would win the popular vote but still not reach the delegate threshold for nomination, that bad taste turned sour. Riding high on populism and “throw the bums out,” Trump complained that the election was rigged because the people wanted him, and whomever the people wanted, they should get. Fortunately for the country, Trump reached the delegate threshold, and we were spared a debacle that would have made 2000’s cataclysm look like a lemonade stand.