A tad off today's topic of discussion, but there is this misconception still worth straightening out.
First, read this, from a New York Times article by Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns, then meet me on the other side:
And while Britain decided to leave the European Union through a popular vote, the White House race will be determined by the Electoral College, which is tilted toward the Democrats.
Some large states with significant nonwhite populations have been out of reach for Republican candidates for much of the last three decades; California, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, and Pennsylvania have voted for every Democratic nominee since 1992. Mr. Obama also won Florida twice and Mrs. Clinton has a lead there now in part because Mr. Trump is unpopular with Hispanics.
Together those six states offer 166 of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency.
What?!? Did they just say that the Electoral College is "tilted toward the Democrats"?
Okay, no, I don't think that's what they meant to say. I think they were just reiterating, as most people seem to believe about the 2016 elections, the Electoral College seems to be tilted toward the Democrats this time around. (And not that it guarantees anything, but that's probably true.)
Still, you'd be forgiven for assuming our electoral system might give some advantage to one party or the other, given its deliberate imbalance due to being based on combining (a) the total number of House members, which varies by population from state to state, with (b) the total number of Senators, of which each state gets no more than two -- with the result being that low-population states end up having slightly greater representation, proportionally speaking, in the Electoral College.
But if you look closely at elections back through our history, as 538's Harry Enten did in 2014, we find that "The Electoral College advantage has swung back and forth":
I found this out by gathering presidential election data since 1900. For each year, I looked at the margin between the major parties in each state, compared it with the national margin, and calculated how many electoral votes were more Democratic or Republican than the nation as a whole.
During the first half of the 20th century, Republicans benefited greatly from the Electoral College. They could have lost the national popular vote and won the electoral college in 12 of the 13 elections from 1900 to 1948. On average, they could have lost by 2.2 percentage points nationally and emerged victorious. ...
Since 1952, the Electoral College picture has changed. Beginning in that year, Republicans began making inroads into the South. Democratic votes became more dispersed, and the Republican advantage in the Electoral College waned.
Today, the South is solidly red, but Democrats still win over 35 percent of the vote there. That’s a far cry from pre-1952, when Republican candidates sometimes didn’t break 10 percent of the vote.
So if electors aren't putting the thumb on the scale for one party over another, then who is getting the benefit of the imbalance?
The answer, I think, is that since those voters who reside in the states with the least population seem, by design, to carry more weight than those in more populous states, then the system tends to slightly favor the kind of people who prefer living in smaller groups, in the somewhat isolated back of beyond, away from the energy that comes mostly from existing in the middle of the noisy mix of cultures and foods that are the crossroads of the world.
To me, at least, that sounds like the imbalance would tend, all else being equal, to favor conservatives and Republicans, but since all else is seldom equal, the matter is mostly moot.
By the way, the most common benefit of having an Electoral College system I ever hear mentioned is that it supposedly "protects the smaller states", which I take to mean those states with smaller populations -- which is total nonsense. The Electoral College neither helps nor hurts states, large or small; it merely gives states, rather than citizens, the power to pick chief executives.
It's worth noting, as I read somewhere, that the two guys who called together our original "Constitution project" -- James Madison, the "Father of the Constitution", and George Washington, the "Father of the Country" -- were both a tiny bit disappointed with the result, at least when it came to questions of the balance of power between the states and the people. Washington especially, who knew what it was like to wage a war while reporting to thirteen sovereign bosses, was hoping for a strong central government that took most its marching orders from the people themselves, not their states.
But both knew from the beginning that in order to sell the new constitutional republic as a "more perfect union" than the old confederation of states, they had to hedge on the question of how much sovereignty would be vested in the people and how much in the states, and were reportedly irked that the balance of power ended up tipping too much in favor of the former rather than the latter.
In fact, even beyond the stupid convoluted mechanism that had to be invented to make this Electoral system happen, selecting our president should have nothing to do with the states, which already exercise their "federal" power through the Senate and House of Representatives, but should instead be in the jurisdiction of the nation's citizens, through the principle of "one voter, one vote", and without the system's fat thumb on the scale to allow the occasional nonsensical circumstance of a candidate getting the fewest votes, yet still getting the job.
If we ever find a way of making this happen, then we will no longer just arguably be a democracy, in theory, but we will finally be one in fact.