Winner Takes All: The Popular Vote Versus Electoral College | Texas Public Radio

Winner Takes All: The Popular Vote Versus Electoral College

Jun 24, 2019

Trump is one of five American presidents to be elected after losing the popular vote. Those who won did so by maintaining a majority of electoral college votes. Is this the best system for a representative democracy? Who decides how we elect the President of the United States?


Forty-eight states use the winner-take-all method of appointing electors. Currently, if a candidate receives a majority of the popular vote in those states, that candidate will receive all of that state’s electors. Texas has 38.   

Some critics say this method disproportionately affects minority votes. To avoid another election that differs from the popular vote, some alternatives have been suggested.

In a proportional vote, employed by Maine and Nebraska, electors are allocated based on voting in congressional districts. 

The National Popular Vote system would ensure the presidency is won not by electoral college votes but by the popular vote. 

What are the pros and cons of the electoral college system? Why do we use this system to vote for president? Are there better ways of fairly determining a winner?


  • Ian Smith, adjunct professor in the political science department at St. Mary's University

  • Sanford Levinson, professor of government and W. St. John Garwood and W. St. John Garwood, Jr. Centennial Chair in Law at the University of Texas Law School in Austin


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*This interview was recorded on Tuesday, June 25.