I had a piece up over the weekend at TNR talking about changes in the effects of the Electoral College over time. Short version: the electoral college used to have a major big-state bias, but recently that's dissipated quite a bit.
Still, overall there's still a slight big state bias in the EC, and there's at least some theoretical reason to believe that it would be that way. Basically, the states that matter per the EC system are those that are big and close. And that's good -- because Congress rewards small states (in the Senate) and one-party states and districts (to the extent that seniority matters). Which means that large cities, in particular, have traditionally been helped by the EC.
That is, I strongly disagree with Scott Lemieux's claim that "electoral college is a particularly egregious example of status quo bias; there’s no real defense on the merits to be made." Perhaps in the abstract there's no defense to be made -- although I'm not really sure about that. But in practice, what the EC did during the 20th century -- and still does a bit today -- is to balance out other biases in the system, and that's not nothing.
What I'd say more generally is that in my view it's a mistake to assume that there's some perfect electoral system out there that would perfectly reflect the true views of the electorate. What we know both about voters' preferences and about the math of electoral systems suggest that there is no such system. Of course, that doesn't mean that all systems are equally suspect, but it does mean that we shouldn't assume that either a simple plurality or a runoff/majority system would be some sort of obvious ideal. And the US is hardly the only democracy that uses convoluted methods to choose heads of government; after all, it's not as if the British PM is chosen by a direct popular vote.
I would say that the Electoral College would be far less justifiable if it regularly returned the "wrong" winner (if we suppose that the "correct" winner is the plurality winner), but in fact that's rare and likely to stay that way. I also do think that the EC is much less supportable if the current trend continues of big states becoming less competitive. But overall, I'm not at all convinced that moving away from the Electoral College is a good idea, at all.