|NYT 2016-0918, Widmer|
The author, Ted Widmer, cites the chaotic first contested elections, which I have also written about (Hamilton and the First Contested Election); he cites the equally chaotic election of 1825, which I wrote about in the context of the popular vote. And, of course, the 2000 election.
The danger of 3rd and 4th party candidates is that they can siphon off votes from one or another candidate's total. One could say this is democracy in action...and it is, or rather it would be, if the Electoral College process were itself democratic.
The Electoral College process already favors people living in small states. Each state has the same number of electoral votes as it does members of Congress. Since congressional apportionment in the Senate favors the small states, the electoral college therefore favors small states, first by giving them the malapportioned Senate votes, and second by amplifying the voting power of those votes.
In a true general election 6-7% of the vote might be worrisome to whichever party/candidate is most at risk (and could, indeed, deprive them of a majority in a tight race), but in Electoral College voting, if those votes happen to be concentrated in a particular state(s), they can send ALL the votes that state carries to the other candidate, amplifying the loss far beyond what the relatively small numbers warrant.
The novel, Faithless Elector, shines light on the weakness of the system as well as the opportunity for narrow, special interests to exploit that weakness and thwart the will of the majority.
Faithless Elector, by James McCrone is available through Amazon.