In an editorial urging Florida to commit its electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote, the South Florida Sun Sentinel explains that choosing the president by the popular vote could benefit either party and would force candidates to look for votes everywhere across the country instead of just in a few swing states:
It may be a challenge to persuade Republican politicians to endorse reform. They have won every electoral dysfunction since the birth of their party. But that isn’t guaranteed. A shift of just 60,000 votes in Ohio would have elected John Kerry in 2004 despite President George W. Bush having more votes nationwide.
It isn’t difficult to imagine a future election, if not next year, in which a moderate Republican almost wins California and New York and has a popular majority but loses the electoral vote.
. . .
[T]he issue should not depend on which side won by dysfunction or thinks it will again. America can’t afford more outcomes that sap the public’s respect for the process and undermine the authenticity of the presidency.
Another major liability is that the present system treats most voters — those living everywhere but in 10 or so “battleground” states — as unworthy of attention. There is no incentive for a Republican to troll for votes in California or New York, or for a Democrat to appeal to Texas. In 2016, thirty-eight states saw practically no campaign activity. It took place almost entirely in the 12 “battleground” states. Fewer voters went to the polls where their votes were taken for granted