MSNBC and Fox News Hosts Go Head to Head after Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Electoral College Criticism

With the 2020 presidential campaign heating up, politicians and TV news hosts are back to debating one of the United States' most controversial institutions: the Electoral College.

On Friday, MSNBC's Chris Hayes came to the defense of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez during his show All In with Chris Hayes. Ocasio-Cortez faced intense criticism from the president, Fox News, and Republican legislators during the week for calling the Electoral College a "racist scam."

Delving into Ocasio-Cortez's claim that the system propagates "minority rule for power," Hayes opened his live show arguing the Electoral College was a "major fault line" in American politics, as Democrats seek to dissolve the centuries-old electoral body while many Republicans defend its legitimacy.

"It is not surprising the Republicans are defending the electoral college, right?" Hayes asked his audience. "There's a very obvious reason for that. Since 1992, we have had seven presidential elections. Republicans have won the popular vote one time. But they've gotten three presidents out of it, which is a very sweet deal if you're the Republican Party."

The Electoral College is the body that elects the President of the United States. Each state receives the same number of votes in the college as it has on Capitol Hill. For instance, the state of Louisiana, which has eight legislators (six representatives and two senators), also receives eight votes in the electoral college.

Critics take issue with the weight this method adds to electoral victories in smaller states. The college also skews election margins, because every state besides Maine and Nebraska functions on a winner-take-all approach, meaning that if a presidential candidate wins the popular vote in Louisiana with a tiny majority like 51 percent, that candidate still receives all eight of Louisiana's Electoral College votes.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) speaks to the media after a public housing town hall at a New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) residence on August 29. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Fox News commentators and Republican Congressman Dan Crenshaw were quick to go after Hayes, too, issuing their own takedowns of his Electoral College takedown on Saturday.

How’d you like to be the guy who said this? And his own show tweeted it out.

— Brit Hume (@brithume) August 31, 2019

Claim: America has "counter-majoritarian aspects," like the Senate and Presidential veto. "It was not designed for minority rule.”

The electoral college, like the filibuster, is to ensure the minority is represented & heard. No one is claiming “minority rule.”

— Dan Crenshaw (@DanCrenshawTX) August 31, 2019

Posts by both sides sparked debate, stirring anger and confusion about the role of the electoral body on Twitter.

"Isn't that why the electoral college was set up? So that the elections AREN'T controlled by a couple states? Maybe it's time for a revisit of the concept? Electoral College might need an overhaul, or to be scrapped entirely," a user tweeted.

Another wrote, "Republicans are triggered over the Electoral College criticism because it's the only way the party can win the White House."

Isn’t that why the electoral college was set up? So that the elections AREN’T controlled by a couple states?
Maybe it’s time for a revisit of the concept? #ElectoralCollege might need an overhaul, or to be scrapped entirely...

— Absolutely Fabulous! 😜🌻🌎 (@aferguson02) September 1, 2019

The debate on the fairness of Electoral College over popular vote has been going on for decades, but it sparked national outrage in 2016 when Donald Trump was elected president despite losing popular vote to Hilary Clinton by a margin of 2.87 million. Trump received 304 electoral votes and Clinton garnered 227.

Moreover, rather than trying to win the most votes in the country, contemporary presidential campaigns routinely strategize to amass more than 270 electoral votes, focusing only on key, "swing" states. As a result, candidates tend to ignore every noncompetitive state and pour resources to the few states have previously fluctuated between electing Democrat and Republican candidates. Ultimately, a vast majority of the country can be ignored, according to Vox's December 2016 report.