Hispanic American citizens must object to any suggestions the Constitutionally-mandated and defined Electoral College be changed or eliminated for a simple reason: If we elected Presidents by popular vote, the growing Hispanic vote would disappear as an important factor in electing the President.
It is a simple math computation. Though resident in all states, most Hispanics are concentrated in three regions; they are in South Florida (Cubans and Puerto Ricans), the Northeast (Puerto Ricans and Dominicans) and the Southwest (Mexican Americans). They are not numerous in the upper Midwest – with the exception of the Chicago area (Mexicans); there many in most of the south, the Northwest and the Plains states. 55 million Hispanics is about 16 percent of the U.S. population. In very, very tight elections they might have influence in electing a President. But their influence would be marginal at best. Only in the New York/New Jersey area, Houston/San Antonio axis and Metropolitan Los Angeles would they carry heavy weight. Nationally their voting impact would be overcome by non-Hispanic votes. 2016 is good example. Trump flopped miserably with Hispanics yet still won.
Census Bureau projections are that 25 percent of the U.S. population will be Hispanic between 2040 and 2050. That percentage would be about 15 percent of the total electorate. Though Hispanics will be a powerful economic force when they are 25 percent of the population even as now, politically they could lag because they will never vote 90-95 percent for any party. Proof, the 20-25 percent vote they gave Donald Trump their votes. He is the most visceral anti-Mexican politician to ever run for President. With 65 percent of all Hispanics in the country being of Mexican-origin, being anti-Mexican did not win many Hispanic votes.
Only in a 50-50 election would Hispanics count in a national popular vote. American history is not replete with 50-50 elections. Oops, 2016 was such an election.
On the other hand, under the present Electoral College system Hispanics in one state, Florida (29 electoral votes) and in smaller states like New Mexico and Colorado can actually decide who is elected President. Under the 226-year-old Electoral College system, Hispanics can literally decide who becomes President just as small numbers of Angry White voters did on November 8.
Before Rush Limbaugh and his acolyte’s cry that Republicans will never carry 50 percent or more of the Hispanic votes, we must insert this –Republicans that have won 35 percent or more of the national Hispanic vote have won the Presidency. Only Donald Trump has won the Presidency since 1968 with the modern-day low point of less than 25 percent of the Hispanic vote. He was elected by fewer than 70,000-total angry White essentially anti-Mexican votes in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, states with small Hispanic numbers. Trump convinced many in those states that Mexico drained their jobs away and Mexican immigrants were “rapists” and drug dealers. Only Florida Hispanics (Cubans) gave Trump more than 25 percent of their vote and Trump’s Florida vote was dwarfed by Senator Marco Rubio’s reelection vote. In California which has the largest Hispanic – mostly Mexican-origin population in the country, they buried Donald Trump; he lost California by over 4-million votes.
If this year’s Presidential election had been governed by popular vote rules, Hispanics alone in California would have elected Hillary Clinton President. But, this was essentially a 50-50 election.
What happened this election was an aberration. Trump’s campaign was an aberration. The election results were an aberration.
Is the Electoral College an aberration? No. Though this time it functioned to keep Hispanics from being the deciding factor on November 8th, it won’t in the future. Hispanics will grow in numbers in Arizona and Texas putting those states in play every four years and the Electoral College will reflect Hispanic votes far more than it does today.
The Electoral College is a genius emergency brake on the Presidential election that was designed to keep the mob from electing Presidents from the mob. Hispanics need to refrain from joining others in forming the “mob.” If they do, they can become part of the governing majority and their votes will count for more than they did in 2016.
More than four in ten Hispanics voted for Republican George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004. In both those elections Florida Hispanics voted in great numbers for Bush and he carried the state both times. In 2000, Bush was elected with 271 electoral votes, one more than needed; he won 2004 with only 16 more votes than need. Florida Hispanics elected President Bush both times (29 electoral votes).
If Hispanics can keep from becoming part of the “mob” they can influence Presidential elections in the future like they did in 2000 and 2004. From a Hispanic view, that would be good.
Raoul Lowery Contreras is a San Diego-based columnist and the author of several books on Hispanics and politics available at amazon.com.