Donald Trump Flip-Flops on Electoral College, Again

The president-elect again dislikes a thing he called “genius” last week and a “disaster” in 2012

Donald Trump Acceptance Speech
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President-elect Donald Trump is against the electoral college, again.

Trump, who lost the popular vote but won the electoral college vote to beat Hillary Clinton, tweeted in 2012 that the electoral college was “a disaster for a democracy.” He changed his tune when he won because of the electoral college, tweeting, “The Electoral College is actually genius in that it brings all states, including the smaller ones, into play.”

On Tuesday, in a meeting with the New York Times, he changed his mind again, saying he could win the popular vote if that’s what it took.

“I’d rather do the popular vote,” Trump said, according to the Times’ Maggie Haberman. “I think we’d do as well or better.”

She said Trump said he was “never a fan of the electoral college.”

For those not big on 18th-century history, the electoral college was put in place in 1787 as a concession to slave states that did not want to be outnumbered by voters in the North. Delegates to the Constitutional Convention compromised by creating an electoral college whereby people wouldn’t vote directly for president, but rather for electors.

The number of electors was (and still is) determined by the size of a state’s congressional delegation, determined by a state’s population. When the system was created, slaves were counted as three-fifths of a person, even though slaves (like women) had no right to vote.

Trump tweeted that the electoral college was a “disaster” when it appeared on election night of 2012 that Republican Mitt Romney might beat President Obama in the popular vote but lose because of the electoral college.


Since Trump’s win, some of his opponents have circulated petitions involving the electoral college. One calls for it to be abolished, and another asks electors to override the will of the voters in their states to keep Trump from becoming president when the electors formally vote next month.

The petitions are serious, serious longshots. Eliminating the electoral college would require a Constitutional amendment, and Northern Ohio University political science professor Robert Alexander, author of “Presidential Electors and the Electoral College,” told TheWrap earlier this month that electors are unlikely to defy their states’ voters. 

As Jack Pitney, professor of government at California’s Claremont McKenna College, told TheWrap: “Donald Trump will be the next president unless he commits a major felony with a minor farm animal on national TV.”