Faithless Electors Ditched Hillary Clinton, But That's Not A Bad Thing For Democrats

Former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton arrives for a portrait unveiling for outgoing Senate Minority Leader Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) on Capitol Hill December 8, 2016 in Washington, DC. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Source: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

On Monday, wishful thinking Democrats around the country were holding their breath, hoping for an Electoral College Miracle. Namely, the great hope was that 37 Republican electors would realize that their heretofore symbolic role was possibly America's last exit before we found ourselves stuck on the Orange Highway to Crazytown, and vote for someone else. But the Republicans, by and large, toed the line — and in fact the Democrats had more faithless electors. But what does having more faithless electors say about Hillary Clinton? Not much and certainly nothing negative.

This isn't to say that the faithless elector votes were meaningless — far from it. On the Republican side, two Texas electors couldn't bring themselves to vote for Donald Trump. Chris Suprun, who had been vocal about his intentions to not vote for Trump, chose to support what-passes-for-moderate-now-I-guess Ohio Gov. John Kasich, while Bill Greene supported Ron Paul, the former U.S. representative from the state.

On the Democratic side, the five faithless electors came from two states: one elector supported Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton in Hawaii, while in Washington State, three electors voted for former secretary of state Colin Powell; a fourth voted for Native American leader Faith Spotted Eagle, marking the first time a Native American has gotten an Electoral College vote in American history.

But what does it all mean? Logistically, very little. Trump had no problem getting to 270 votes, so he's going to be the president. Moreover, while some see the faithless elector push as an "oopsie-daisy" "beclownment," as Slate's Jim Newell wrote, the fact that five of Clinton's 232 electors decided to use their 25 seconds of civic duty to make a statement about the embarrassing joke that is the Electoral College seems, at worst, harmless, and, at best, borderline responsible.

What it definitely is not is some sort of dig at Clinton. A faithless elector in Maine, who attempted to vote for Sanders instead of Clinton, but was ruled out of order, said in a statement on Facebook that "I mean no disrespect to our nominee." The elector was forced to re-cast his vote for Clinton.

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In the end, the best insight into the higher number of faithless electors for Clinton comes down to that oft-quoted (maybe over-quoted) Janis Joplin line, "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose." It's a tricky philosophy to grapple with sometimes, how to make the most out of a situation where you have nothing, but it's one that Democrats better come to terms with, and fast.

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