Care of The Economist, here is how US counties voted in the 1992 and 2012 presidential elections:
We all know who won in 2012. But did you know Obama actually won by the lowest number of counties in modern US history? Just 712 counties out of 3007 voted blue – that’s less than a quarter of all counties in the US.
These election maps document the emergence of what journalist Bill Bishop calls The Big Sort: the residential segregation of Americans by ideology. Democrats dominate the coasts and big cities; Republicans dominate almost everywhere else. Within their regional bubbles of the like-minded, Americans have become more confident of their own righteousness and less tolerant of those who think differently.
Let’s return to the issue of Electoral College versus direct election of presidents. Given the increasingly regional nature of political affiliation, should we abolish the Electoral College? I say no. If we directly elected presidents, lesspopulated states would become even more marginalized than they already are, as candidates focused more on vote-rich areas where their party is already dominant. As a result, no matter which party won, wholeregions would feel disenfranchised andbe steeped in grievance.
Yeah, if we directly elected our presidents, the candidate with the most votes would win. That sounds good. But if huge swaths of the country are ignored in the process, the center will not hold. Forces of secession would tear us apart.
Democracy is about much more than one person-one vote. It’s also about accountability to an entire population, not just the party faithful.