Baseball is an American institution and tradition. It is called America’s pastime. Since its inception, it has been a part of American life. Each season starts with 15 American League teams and 15 National League teams whose goal is to win their respective Divisional and Championship Series and subsequently advance to and win the World Series. It goes without saying that the winner of the American League Pennant wants to defeat the National League Pennant winner at the World Series. The National League team equally wants to win. The 2019 season is more than well underway and I can easily see a rematch between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Houston Astros at the World Series.  

The Presidential Election process in the United States has been in place since the ratification of the Constitution. In a US Presidential Election, a field of candidates seek their party’s nomination. The 2016 Presidential Election saw 16 Republican and six Democratic candidates seeking to win their party’s nomination to ultimately win the general election. It also goes without saying that the goal of the Republican and Democratic nominee is to defeat his or her opponent in the general election. Despite being early, the 2020 Presidential Election is already underway. 

The election process has once again come under fire. The main reason is the Electoral College. It is frequently called antiquated. Despite the rallying calls for its elimination, the Electoral College is the fairest way to represent the will of the citizens in the United States and must stay intact. As we know, or as all Americans should know, a candidate must win enough states’ electoral votes to surpass the 270 votes needed to become President.

Sometimes there are complete blow outs in the Electoral College. In the 1984 Presidential Election, President Ronald Reagan decimated former Vice President Walter Mondale 525 electoral votes to a mere 13. Conversely, Governor George W. Bush won the Electoral College 271-266 over sitting Vice President Al Gore despite losing the popular vote by approximately 500,000 votes in 2000.

Speaking of the 2000 Presidential Election. It was just one of five elections where the winning candidate lost the popular vote. When this anomaly occurs, many cry they want to abolish the Electoral College. This is especially true by the party that loses the Electoral College vote but wins the popular vote.

Consider this. Compare the entire Presidential Election process to a Major League Baseball season. In the MLB, four teams from each of the three divisions plus the wildcard spots from both the American and National Leagues emerge from the total games won in the regular season to advance to the playoffs. Democratic and Republican Presidential candidates must win a specified number of delegates to secure their party’s nomination.  A whittling down of both teams and delegates culminates with two opposing sides battling for the title of World Series Champions or President of the United States.   

This is where you can particularly see how a MLB season mirrors a United States Presidential Election. The World Series is a best of seven game series in which  a team must win a majority of four games out of the seven to be the World Series Champion. The World Series winner is determined by the number of games won instead of the total runs scored. Some victories have been 4-0 sweeps. Others have come down to the wire and have been decided by one run in the ninth inning of the seventh game.   

Let’s examine a hypothetical World Series rematch between Houston and Los Angeles. In game one, LA wins 6-1. In game two, Houston ekes out a 3-2 win. Houston wins again in game three but only again by one in a 2-1 game. LA comes back and crushes Houston 12-5 in game four. In game five, LA blanks Houston 7-0. The Dodgers are one game away from winning the World Series. In game six, Houston wins 4-1. The World Series is now too close to call. Either team needs to win one more game to secure the victory. Houston shuts out LA 3-0 to claim the World Series title.

In the total series, LA outscored Houston 29-18. Of the total 47 overall runs scored, LA scored 61.7% of them. The Dodgers earned the majority of the runs scored. If the World Series were played on the total scored runs over seven games, LA would win. However since it is a “winner take all” of the number games won, the one who wins the most games wins the series. Therefore, Houston earns the title despite being outscored. Is this fair? This is the way it was intended to be.  Would fans want the tradition changed in their beloved American pastime to determine the ultimate winner?     

Often times the winner can be predicted. Sometimes it can’t be predicted because both teams are evenly matched. Other times you could be surprised by the winner. The Astros were not the favored team in the 2005 World Series against the Chicago White Sox. As predicted, they did not win. They were also considered the underdog in 2017, but we know how that one ended.  

President Obama’s election and reelection were accurately predicted in 2008 and 2012.  The 2004 Presidential Election between President George W. Bush and Senator John Kerry both had the candidates going into the general election fairly even with it too close to call. Bush barely won reelection. In 2016, all indicators pointed to a Clinton victory. Just like the World Series of 2017, we all know how it ended in 2016. It wasn’t the way it was “supposed” to be.   

It is possible for the losing candidate to win more states overall than the winning one, but that rarely happens. The last time was in 1976 when Carter won the popular vote 50.1% to Ford’s 48%. Carter won the Electoral College 297 to Ford’s 240. However, Ford won 27 states to Carter’s 23 plus D.C. Regardless, it is not the number of total states won but the total number of electoral votes from each state won.

The Electoral College was established in 1787 and the World Series in 1904. These are long-standing traditions that have served their purpose. The old saying goes, “You can’t change the rules in the middle of the game.”  This is true in both institutions. What is most important to remember how to respond to a victory or loss. Both teams and candidates have their ardent supporters. 

When the World Series ends, the winning team celebrates. In a Presidential Election, the winning party also celebrates. The morning after the conclusion of the World Series,  the National League and American League are still under the umbrella of Major League Baseball.  When a Presidential Election is over,  we are all still Americans. When both of these events are over, it is final — until the next season or election year.

This analogy shows why the will of the majority of voters in each state with their corresponding population is fair and crucial. It protects us from the tyranny of the majority. Just because you earned more doesn’t necessarily mean you win overall.  

Robert E. Lee High School graduate James Kingsmill is a teacher at Dayton High School.


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