The Tyranny of the Minority, from Iowa Caucus to Electoral College

Corey Robin in the New York Review of Books:

It has been more than two weeks since the Iowa caucuses, and we still don’t know who won. That should give us pause. We don’t know in part because of a combination of technological failing and human error. But we’re also in the dark for a political reason. That should give us further pause.

No one disputes that Bernie Sanders won the most votes in Iowa. Yet Pete Buttigieg has the most delegates. While experts continue to parse the flaws in the reporting process, the stark and simple fact that more voters supported Sanders than any other candidate somehow remains irrelevant, obscure.

America’s democratic reflexes have grown sluggish. Not only has the loser of the popular vote won two out of the last five presidential elections, but come November, he may win a third. Like the children of alcoholics, we’ve learned to live with the situation, adjusting ourselves to the tyranny of its effects. We don’t talk anymore about who will win the popular vote in the coming election. We calculate which candidate will win enough votes in the right states to secure a majority in the Electoral College. Perhaps that’s why the scandal coming out of Iowa is the app that failed and the funky math of the precinct counters—and not the democratic embarrassment that the winner of the most votes doesn’t automatically win the most delegates.

More here.