The Electoral college was put in for multiple reasons, but there were two main ones.
The first was to avoid mob rule. Think about the reign of terror during the French revolution. The founders didn’t want a system where 51% of the people could always impose their will on 49%.
The second was to ensure an electoral majority. A candidate has to win a majority of the electoral votes to become President. If popular vote decided who won, you couldn’t put in a majority rule, because if more than two candidates run, a majority can’t be ensured. Several Presidents won without getting over 50% of the vote. Having whomever gets the most popular votes becoming President would certainly invite more candidates into the fray. This might sound good (more choice) but it would allow a smaller percentage of the people to pick the President. If 12 candidates ran, someone could easily be elected with 20% or less of the vote, if the others polled relatively equally. It would definitely lead to regional candidates, that would only look out for the welfare of their region over the others.
The electoral college also gives smaller states a voice in who elects the President. What candidate would even worry about appealing to small less populace states? Candidates would simply milk as many votes as possible from the big cities on the east & west coast & along the Mississippi & Ohio rivers and along the great lakes. What message would that send. Don’t live there, too bad. you don’t matter & never will.
It Should be noted that this year, as well as in 2000, the electoral college worked exactly as it was supposed to. Hillary Clinton & Al Gore’s entire majority, and then some, in the popular vote came all from one state: California. Do you really want one state deciding every election? It should also be noted, that had the rules been different, and candidates won purely on popular votes, the popular vote may have been different. It has been shown that when an election is a foregone conclusion, voter turnout is lower, and especially much lower for the losing side. Simply, if you’re a Republican in California, you know you’re votes are all going to a losing candidate. This discourages you from voting. The candidates would have also ran a different campaign, working the vote heavy metropolitan area at the expense of the rural ones.
Most importantly BOTH candidates knew the rules going in. You can’t cry once the vote is over and try to use a different yardstick for measuring who wins. If two teams play a football game, and the score ends 21-15, the team that scored 21 points wins. It doesn’t matter if the team that scored 15 points scored more times, or had more total yards or had time of possession on their side. Both sides know, whoever scores more points wins. We don’t crown the world series championship to the team that scores the most total runs in seven games. It’s the team that wins four games, that wins the series.
There’s also a practical reason to keep the electoral college, would you really want a national recount like was experienced in Florida in 2000? The vote is so close this year, they still aren’t 100% sure if Hillary will end up on top in popular vote. She’s ahead by less than half a percent, that was the trigger point in Florida for the first recount in 2000.