Myth #3: It creates a mandate to lead
Some have advocated continuation of the Electoral College because its winner-take-all nature at the state level causes the media and the public to see many close elections as landslides, thereby giving a stronger mandate to govern for the winning candidate.
In 1980, Ronald Reagan won 51 percent of the national popular vote but 91 percent of the electoral vote, giving the impression of a landslide victory and allowing him to convince Congress to approve parts of his agenda. In 1992 and 1996, Bill Clinton twice won comfortable majorities in the Electoral College while winning less than half of the national popular vote. (In both years, third party candidate Ross Perot had run.)
In 2016, Trump won by a large margin in the Electoral College, while winning fewer popular votes than Clinton nationwide. Nonetheless, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani announced that Trump’s Electoral College victory gives him a mandate to govern.
Perhaps for incoming presidents, this artificial perception of landslide support is a good thing. It helps them enact their agenda.
But it can also lead to backlash and resentment in the majority or near-majority of the population whose expressed preferences get ignored.