President Trump, who once called the electoral college “a disaster for a democracy,” defended it on Tuesday night as “far better for the U.S.A.” amid growing calls from Democratic presidential hopefuls to abolish it.
Trump’s comments on Twitter came in the wake of an endorsement by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) of using the national popular vote to elect U.S. presidents rather than the electoral college — a position that has also been articulated by South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and is under consideration by other 2020 Democratic candidates.
Trump, who lost the popular vote in 2016 to Democrat Hillary Clinton by about 3 million votes but prevailed in the electoral college, said on Twitter late Tuesday that campaigning for the popular vote “is much easier & different than campaigning for the Electoral College.”
“It’s like training for the 100 yard dash vs. a marathon. The brilliance of the Electoral College is that you must go to many States to win,” Trump wrote. “With the Popular Vote, you go to just the large States - the Cities would end up running the Country. Smaller States & the entire Midwest would end up losing all power - & we can’t let that happen.”
Trump’s view has turned on its head since 2012.
“The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy,” the New York real estate developer and reality television star tweeted that year.
Trump acknowledged his change in position in his Tuesday night tweets.
“I used to like the idea of the Popular Vote, but now realize the Electoral College is far better for the U.S.A.,” he said.
Under the Constitution, states have the power to determine how they award their electoral votes in national elections. Most states have winner-take-all laws, which award all their electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes within the state.
Five of the nation’s 45 presidents have taken office without winning the national popular vote. Prior to Trump, the most recent to prevail was George W. Bush, who defeated Al Gore in the electoral college in 2000.
Deanna Paul contributed to this report.