+k to nab who usually says what I mean in a much more intellectual way (although you better check those center-right leanings once you get a job; academia is not gonna take kindly to you like that!!)
I got quite enough of academia when I was a grad student. There is much more money to be made in my field in the private sector if you play your cards right. I'm employed in the private sector now and still learning the business (spent my grad school years vetting myself for government employment, unsuccessfully, so far), so I don't expect to rake it in in the near term, but I'm setting myself nicely for the 5 year outlook.
But, my experiences with "the department" as a grad student were more than enough to convince me that the academic career path is only something I wish to pursue after I'm in a position where I don't have to worry about money, time, or status; which is a kind way of stating that I expect to toy with it after I retire, just to snag that PhD apple off the tree.
But back to business:
I wasn't trying to falsely imply that by simply abolishing the electoral college it would benefit independent and third-party candidates, nor did I intend for it to be about one's loyalty to the electoral college. I already know the answer to that question. As I mentioned, according to the polls, a constitutional amendment abolishing it has been supported by the majority of the nation for a long time now. Hell, in 1970, we were only a few Senate votes shy of sending a proposed amendment out to the states for ratification. I think we can assume that the people of the 'paug will reflect the nation's view when it comes to just simply getting rid of the system.
My question was about replacing it, not with just any old popular vote system (like what's been proposed in the past), but with a system where you wouldn't have to be fearful of throwing your vote away if you truly like a candidate outside of the two mainstream choices. Or, even worse than just throwing your vote away, being one of the people who helped hand the election to the "greater of two evils". Most all systems of voting (direct or not) are prone to the spoiler-effect of splitting the vote. IRV is a solution to that and, by extension, provides the people with a legitimate opportunity to reshape our system.
I suppose I could have better worded my question and original post.
For the record, after reading all the posts in this thread, I know that what you stated here is what you meant.
Still, the question remains: Would the abolition of the current voting system, for any voting system, lead to a more populist, even vetted populist, result? Or, are we, as an American meta-culture, too invested in a binary system to make any vote counting, or shuffling of democratic the deck, meaningful?