Every four years grave prognoses are given for the Electoral College and its alleged antiquated function in presidential elections. Many elements of our republic were conceived in a different age, well before our world of instant mass communication. This does not change key reasons for designing the state-based process and isnt addressed by solutions such as changing to a simple national popular vote.
Our country is a union of states, where individual states are given the right to decide whom they, as a state, choose as president. We all are Americans with common bonds, but common sense and human nature dictates that people from different regions and population densities would have divergent views or needs. For example Great Lake states may have a different idea about water rights than the Southwest. Also the fear that a state of larger population could dictate policy over a less populated state to the detriment of that state is still valid. Just as valid is the fear that geographically small but heavy population centers should dictate policy over larger rural regions for their own needs, not what benefits rural culture or economies.
The effect of straight popular vote is trading the variable swing states for swing cities. The great urban corridors of the East and West coasts would directly benefit from the dilution of the state-weighted current process. Our states are now, in large measure, the manifestation of regional culture and geography, an imperfect yet cohesive expression of localized democracy, balancing the sum total of the union, our federal government. Some states are urban, some rural, not all have both in great measure, and the elimination of individual state presidential elections surely disadvantages the less populated rural regions of our country.
This creates the ultimate divide in our country, pitting the rural against the urban, leaving vast areas with small populations at the mercy of urban centers. With no regional cohesion in the form of individual state elections for president, and only the large urban populations centers debating the fate of our country, our nations future would be in great peril. This disaster is avoided currently via the individual state presidential election/electoral collage process. Improving our elections is always a worthy goal but we cannot forget, though they were as imperfect as we are today, that some insights to human nature the Founders wove into the Constitution transcend time and tinkering puts peril to us all.