Ciboski: Is The U.S Polilitical System Still Majoritarian?

Jun 13, 2018

The United States’ political system is considered to be a Majoritarian system, which allows for a majority to prevail over a minority. The 2016 election outcome should force us to reckon with a problem in our democracy that is often ignored. The problem is that our political system is increasingly allowing a minority to rule over a majority.

The is true of the Electoral College, which produced a presidential win for Donald Trump even as he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly three million votes.

In 44 elections from 1824 through 1996, there were only three in which the winner of the popular vote differed from the winner of the Electoral College. Since then, it has happened twice.

2016 Senate races resulted in the election of 52 Republicans and 48 Democrats. The more populated states tend to vote Democratic, so the 48 Democrats represent 55 percent of our total population. Of course, each state, regardless of size, has two senators, which means the more rural states with small populations have the same Senate representation as the larger states.

One prediction is that by the year 2040, 70 percent of Americans will live in the fifteen largest states. This means that 70 percent of Americans will be represented by 30 senators, and 30 percent of Americans will have 70 senators.

Similarly, in the 2016 election, Republican candidates for the House of Representatives won 49 percent of the popular vote but subsequently controlled 55 percent of the available seats. The House has become less representative because of the process of gerrymandering in the creation of districts to favor certain parties at election time.