I think James Thunder’s defense of the Electoral College on the main site today is right on the money. Being the pedantic jerk that I am, I would just quibble with this bit: “No voter has ever voted, and no candidate has ever campaigned, in the context of a national popular vote for president.”
Actually, I voted for George W. Bush from a blue state in 2000 because I wanted him to win the popular vote regardless of the Electoral College result. (I talk about how I feel about that decision now in the current print issue of The American Spectator). My view was that a popular vote/electoral vote mismatch would either pull President Bush to the left or President Gore to the right. I wasn’t dumb enough to believe it was going to come down to my one vote, but I thought the only way I could contribute to the outcome I wanted was to vote for Bush.
Second, I think in the aftermath of the 2000 race presidential candidates probably do give at least some thought to the national popular vote because they know it affects their legitimacy in the eyes of some voters. It is obviously a secondary concern after winning the states necessary to prevail in the legally binding electoral vote, but I think most candidates probably want to win the popular vote too. At least Electoral College defenders should hope so, because another mismatch so soon after 2000 would probably be damaging to that institution, however wrongly.