Democratic presidential hopeful and failed Texas Senate candidate Robert Francis O'Rourke expressed support Tuesday for abolishing the Electoral College.
While departing a speaking engagement at Penn State, MSNBC reporter Garrett Haake asked O'Rourke, who goes by "Beto," about his view on the question. "Last night, Elizabeth Warren suggested getting rid of the Electoral College. Is that an idea you would support?" he asked.
"I think there's— there's a lot to that," O'Rourke replied.
On Monday night, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) revealed her support for abolishing the Electoral College. "Every vote matters. And the way we can make that happen is that we can have national voting, and that means get rid of the Electoral College," she said during a CNN town hall.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren's call to abolish the Electoral College makes her one of the first Democratic 2020 presidential candidates to propose such a radical shift in how U.S. presidents are elected https://t.co/8gEHwTYQAI pic.twitter.com/oqyOuKrIbP
— POLITICO (@politico) March 19, 2019
O'Rourke argued it was undemocratic that President Donald Trump won the presidency in 2016 without winning the popular vote. "You had an election in 2016 in which the loser got three million more votes than the victor," O'Rourke said. The United States is a constitutional republic, however, not a democracy.
The former Texas congressman argued the Electoral College encouraged candidates to campaign in specific states where the results were uncertain, rather than competing for votes in solidly Democratic or Republican states. "It puts some states out of play altogether," he said. "They don't feel like their votes really count."
He argued that abolishing the Electoral College would be the only way to encourage all Americans to vote during presidential cycles. "If we really want every person to vote and give them every reason to vote, we have to make sure their votes count and go to the candidate of their choosing," O'Rourke said.
Ballots for presidential elections also include state and local races, which are often competitive and bi-partisan. The Electoral College has no bearing on these elections.
Article 2, Section 1 of the Constitution establishes the Electoral College. The system guarantees each state has meaningful yet proportional influence on the selection of a president to act as the chief executive of the United States.
Reacting to Warren's comments Tuesday morning, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) claimed the effort reflected disdain and disregard for heartland Americans. "The desire to abolish the Electoral College is driven by the idea Democrats want rural America to go away politically," Graham said.
O'Rourke maintained that the radical undoing to how factions in the United States select their president would be an improvement. "So I think there's a lot of wisdom in that," he concluded. "It's something we talked about on the campaign trail in Texas in that last Senate race." O'Rourke lost that Senate race, despite his campaign spending $79 million.