Last week, Nate Silver, the polling analyst, tweeted a chart illustrating the chances that Joe Biden would become president if he wins the most votes in November.
The “if” is probably unnecessary. It’s hard to find anyone who disputes that Mr. Biden will win the most votes. This isn’t a liberal’s fantasy. In a recent panel discussion among four veteran Republican campaign managers, one acknowledged, “We’re going to lose the popular vote.” Another responded, “Oh, that’s a given.” The real question is will Mr. Biden win enough more votes than President Trump to overcome this year’s bias in the Electoral College.
Mr. Silver’s analysis is bracing. If Mr. Biden wins by five percentage points or more — if he beats Donald Trump by more than seven million votes — he’s a virtual shoo-in. If he wins 4.5 million more votes than the president? He’s still got a three-in-four chance to be president.
Anything less, however, and Mr. Biden’s odds drop like a rock. A mere three million-vote Biden victory? A second Trump term suddenly becomes more likely than not. If Mr. Biden’s margin drops to 1.5 million — about the populations of Rhode Island and Wyoming combined — forget about it. The chance of a Biden presidency in that scenario is less than one in 10.
I don’t know about you, but this makes me really angry. Yes, I am aware that the United States has never elected its president by a direct popular vote; I wrote a whole book about it. I still cannot fathom why, in a representative democracy based on the principle that all votes are equal, the person who wins the most votes can — and does, repeatedly — lose the most consequential election in the land. [Continue reading…]