The last time a Democratic presidential candidate won the electoral votes of my home state, Kansas, was nearly a decade before I was born. That streak probably won’t change this year. Nonetheless, I got up this morning and voted.
I have voted in a swing state and a non-swing state, and can tell you that voting in a swing state is a lot more fun. Candidates come and visit your city, sometimes repeatedly. The media focuses attention on your community. You feel like what you’re doing matters.
Voting in a solidly blue or solidly red state can feel a bit like shouting into the void. If you’re voting with the majority, you’re just one more mote of dust on the camel’s back. And thanks to the winner-take-all system that most states have for distributing Electoral College votes, casting your vote against your state’s majority can feel like an utterly wasted act.
But I have decided my vote means something anyway.
Twice in this century, the popular vote loser has won the Electoral College. The first time it happened, in 2000, Americans treated it as a bit of a fluke — something that had never occurred before in our lifetimes, and probably wouldn’t again. For a lot of observers, the second time, in 2016, proved there was a problem.
And so, candidates who win the Electoral College may win the presidency, but they’ll probably need to win both the Electoral College and the popular vote to truly convince the public they’re legitimate. My vote today won’t affect the Electoral College. But it will have some small impact on whether the presidential campaign winner is seen as legitimate.