Electoral College vote: What to watch for — and why Clinton supporters shouldn’t get their hopes up
Many Democrats upset over the possibility of a Donald Trump presidency are hanging their hopes on a possible revolt in the Electoral College.
Here are five things TheHill.com says to watch for, as well as a brief explanation as to why an upset of Trump’s victory by electors is unlikely.
On Monday, the 538 electors will meet in their state capitals to cast their votes for president of the United States. Donald Trump won 306 electoral votes to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s 232.
In spite of a “frantic push” by Democrats and activists to urge electors not to vote Trump into office, The Hill’s Ben Kamisar said, it’s unlikely that the necessary 37 Republican electors will change their votes and make Clinton the next president.
Here are some things to watch for:
1. How many Trump electors change their votes.
There is no evidence, Kamisar said, of a significant number of Trump electors planning to change their votes. Only one Republican elector has publicly said that he plans to vote for Clinton.
The so-called “Hamilton electors” would need 36 more votes to throw the election outcome into doubt, but the decision would be handed over to the Republican-led Congress, who would probably elect Trump anyway.
2. How many Democrats opt for a “compromise pick.”
Some Democratic electors — it’s unclear how many — have said they will rally around an alternate Republican pick in order to block Trump from the presidency.
“In theory, a unified front of the 232 Democrats could join with 38 Republicans to elect an alternative president. But in practice, the anti-Trump electors will be lucky if more than a dozen Democrats break,” Kamisar said.
3. Who becomes a “faithless elector.”
The way electors are chosen varies from state to state, so they come from a variety of different backgrounds. Some come to the process devoted to their candidate. Others are party loyalists.
Some electors would face immediate consequences from their home states for breaking with the current expected results.
Kamisar said, “29 states and the District of Columbia bind their electors by law, mostly with small fines as retribution for going rogue. No faithless electors have ever been punished, so political junkies will be watching to see if that changes.”
4. What Trump says on Twitter.
Twitter has been Trump’s main line of communication to the world at large since the election. He’s used the microblogging platform to bash critics, question the legitimacy of U.S. intelligence agencies and lob verbal grenades at China.
“No matter what happens on Monday, Trump’s reaction on Twitter will be telling. If a significant number of electors end up fleeing, will he take them on or let it go? And will he claim victory if the vote goes as planned?” wrote Kamisar.
5. Will Monday’s vote change the views of most Americans about the Electoral College?
The contentious 2016 party primaries and now the fact that the Electoral College will once again elect a Republican president who lost the popular vote have combined to make some voters painfully aware of how little say they actually have in the election process.
Many Democrats are calling for the elimination of the Electoral College, saying that it prioritizes the votes of white, rural Americans over those of city dwellers and voters of color.
On Sunday, Andrew Prokop of Vox.com offered an explainer post about why — although it is technically possible for the electors to choose Clinton over Trump — it’s unlikely that the Electoral College will honor the popular vote over their assigned political roles.
Prokop highlighted five important reasons Clinton is unlikely to emerge the winner on Monday.
1. Republican electors are largely party stalwarts who will stay with their party affiliation.
2. This is not an election where only a few electors could turn the tide, and 37 is a lot.
3. Even if the matter is left unsettled on Monday, it then goes before the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
4. None of the Republican alternatives to Trump would want to be elected in such a backhanded way.
5. The political repercussions from the other branches of government would be enormous. Being political animals, most electors are not going to be willing to brave that kind of blowback from their party.