An electoral collage - various media sources
by Steve Timmer
Nov 22, 2016, 3:00 PM

Damn you, Electoral Collage!

I saw a tweet the other day blaming the “Electoral Collage” for Hillary Clinton’s loss. A typo, no doubt, but I like the imagery. There has been a lot of blaming of the Electoral College for the Democrats’ losses, noting that Clinton won the popular vote, which she did. But that is not the way we do things around here. Never have.

Many election experts, including Hamline University’s Professor David Schultz have been saying all cycle: Ignore the polls.

There is an understandable desire on the part of Democrats, and Clinton partisans especially, to fix the blame somewhere, anywhere, but on their candidate. And the Electoral College seems as good as any and better than most. Too much rural influence!

The Electoral College, though, does not explain a lot of things. For example, it doesn’t explain the loss of the Minnesota Senate by the DFL. If you go back to the ’70s when the Legislature began using party designations again, you will see that the Republicans controlled the Senate for one short term (it was a short term because of redistricting): after the 2010 election. We had the state shut down the following year, remember?

One telling statistic sticks out. In a MinnPost article, Briana Bierschbach writes:

But a few things are clear: Trump got the same vote percentage in Minnesota as 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney, but Clinton lost 19 counties that President Barack Obama won that year. That means a lot of people who voted for Democrats in 2012 either didn’t show up or didn’t vote for the party this time around, and part of the reason was a message that didn’t focus on the economy, [DFL party chair Ken] Martin said.

In other words, the Republicans didn’t win so much as the DFL lost. This is a pattern repeated all over the country.

Without Obama in the Obama coalition, Florida is just another red state (in spite of all the new registrations that were touted by the Democrats). (Not my quote, but I can’t tell you where I got it.)

It is also dispiriting to recall that 2012, the year Bierschbach uses for comparison is a year that both houses of the Minnesota Legislature were flipped from Republican to DFL.

The Electoral Collage — excuse me College — is a red herring for explaining what happened to Democrats nationally. The Electoral College isn’t going anywhere, either. The same small states that enjoy over-representation in the Electoral College like it that way, thank you very much. They’d each get one vote, just like the big states, in any consideration of an amendment to the Constitution.

Spending time whining about it is silly, and it isn’t even all that cathartic.

Much better, and more useful, is working to elect Keith Ellison as the new chair of the Democratic National Committee, so we get better at picking our candidates and getting our voters to the polls.


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