The Presidency 31

Free course on the presidency. One paragraph per day.

2.5          Giving some citizens a role in electing presidents made presidents accountable to voters.  Before 1828, presidents were primarily accountable to the legislators in each state government that chose and instructed their representatives in the Electoral College.  After 1828, presidential candidates and sitting presidents seeking reelection needed to woo as many voters as possible.[1] Voters responded with enthusiasm: voter turnout rates increased sharply in years with presidential elections.[2]


[1] The change requires presidents to win a plurality in each state. Some people complain this is not as democratic as a requirement to win the national popular vote.  Other people observe the system requires presidential candidates to pay equal attention to each state rather than the largest states.

[2] Wonks can see the data here: http://www.electproject.org/national-1789-present

Image: Herbert Hoover, unknown photographer.

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