It’s a weekday morning, so that means that Donald Trump is tweeting about how actually, he did very good in the election—stop saying he didn’t!—and would have done even better if we had a different system.
OK! Trump takes office in 30 days, but he’s spent a hefty chunk of his transition re-litigating the election, and he’s spent most of that time hitting pundits for rightfully pointing out that he lost the popular vote by more than two million votes. Trump and his team have consistently patted themselves on the back for shooting the Electoral College moon—winning Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, and Michigan. But, no matter how many times they say it, they did not win a “landslide.” Trump’s Electoral College total ranks 46th out of 58 elections—mediocre at best.
Trump does not seem to be a fan of the Electoral College. Back in 2012, he sent out this tweet after Barack Obama defeated Mitt Romney:
Of course, Trump tweeted this when he thought Romney had won the popular vote (he hadn’t) and the simplest explanation for any Trump action is that it is immediately self-serving and not necessarily reflective of anything else. But Trump is also clearly annoyed by claims that his presidency is illegitimate and has repeatedly said that he would have won the popular vote if the system was different.
There should have been Electoral College reform after Al Gore lost the presidency but won the popular vote in 2000. There wasn’t. And there probably won’t be now, for a host of reasons. (Reform efforts have never found much success, in part because it is very complicated. Perhaps most importantly, it’s never been seen as a very good way to expend political capital by members of Congress.) If a Democratic president did it with a Democratic Congress, every member of the Republican Party would label it tyranny. But members of Congress uniting with a president who won the Electoral College but lost the popular vote would be unprecedented—it might be the only way for such an effort to succeed. It might be the only bipartisan effort of Trump’s presidency, especially if Democrats fight his disastrous infrastructure plan. They probably won’t, but, at the very least, pressing Trump on the Electoral College would very much get under his skin. It might be worth it just for that.