4 min readSep 21, 2020


We’re Closer Than You May Realize to Electing U.S. Presidents by Popular Vote

By Joe Rothstein

“If you take the blue states out, we’re at a level that I don’t think anybody in the world would be at.” — -Donald Trump.

At a press briefing the other day, Trump pointed out that if you don’t count coronavirus deaths of those who live in New York, California and New Jersey, the U.S. would have a much lower death rate. If you also “take out” Florida and Texas, the death rate would be even lower. But Florida and Texas voted for him in 2016 and have Republican governors, so those states matter. It’s just those damned blue states driving up the death rate to make him look bad.

When we pledge allegiance, it’s to “one nation, indivisible.” The Constitution requires a U.S. president to serve all the people, not just those who vote for him. Trump seems oblivious to all that. Trump’s also missing something else important in his numbers count: more than 22 million people who live in those blue states voted for him in 2016.

Just because a state may be colored red or blue on an electoral map doesn’t mean that everyone in that state voted for one party or another. Nearly 5 million people in California voted for Trump, about as many votes as he received in winning Texas and Florida. Trump received 36% of his 62 million total 2016 votes from those in blue states. The three states Trump would like to eliminate from the coronavirus death total, New York, New Jersey and California, gave him about 9 million votes.

This red state-blue state thing began as a way for television to graphically represent Electoral Collage votes. It’s now so ingrained in our campaign conversation that one might think that red and blue states are separate political entities, each vying to elect its president. If that were the case, how do we explain the 2.3 million Clinton voters in Ohio or the 628,000 Clinton voters in Mitch McConnell’s Kentucky? Or the nearly million Trump voters in deep blue Maryland?

The real divide, of course, is not the voters, but the Electoral College. We are weeks away from a presidential election that in reality is taking place in only about 10 states. The Washington Post recently published an article about how voters in Virginia this year aren’t seeing much presidential campaign activity because it now reliably votes Democratic. No, Virginia, this election’s no longer for you any longer. Join California, Oregon, Mississippi and Indiana and nearly 35 other states left out.

The death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg has given the anachronistic Electoral College even more importance. Republicans are rushing to fill the…