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« The Litvinenko assassination: Vladimir Putin and the hot teapot | Main | Yes, Hagel sucks »

January 28, 2007



Gore is from Tennessee and lost Tennessee.

Yes, Gore did lose Tennesse, but can you prove he is from Tennesse any more than you can prove Hiliary is from New York ?

Everybody knows that Gore was from a hotel in DC and Hiliary is from Illinois. It's where they grew up.

Frank Warner

Further evidence the Electoral College is a hopeless anachronism.

Silence Dogood

Keep in mind ours is not a direct democracy, but intentionally a democratic republic. The minority veto is the beauty of our system, many mobacracies have abounded through history, but are of little value leaving the individual trampled by the masses. The basis for the electoral college is in part based on the compromise of having a Senate. If it were a strict popular vote system would you say 50% or just a plurality of the votes? Futhermore acreage has nothing to do with votes in the electoral college. The best reforms they could do is 1) make electoral votes binding on the states to keep faithless electors from gumming up the works in tight elections and 2) do what two other states have already done and award 2 electoral votes as large and the other by which candidates wins the congressional district which would perserve the federalism on which this nation was founded and make is statistically VERY unlikely some one could win the popular vote and not win the electoral college. As it stands just over 200 cities hold over half of the U.S. population and the top 11 states do. The secession in the civil war was due in part to the fact that Southern states had no political significance in the national system - how would the bottom 39 states react (or several thousand less populous cities) to a mob rule system? I would imagine not well.

Christopher Taylor

Trust the founding fathers, Frank. The Electoral College is a very good system that we need to retain.

That afghan guy  from the sandyburglar movie

The electoral vote is extremely important. The game "Landslide!" would be worthless without it. Making that board game gives people jobs! That you want to abolish it is very telling. It means either:

-Frank hates capitalism.
-Frank doesn't care about poor people who work for Parker Bros. Inc.
-Frank doesn't like to have fun.

So which is it?

Seriously though, what's the big deal? The electoral college keeps elections from being completely about California and New York (and TX and IL). That's not a bad thing.


Oops! Forgot to change my name back.

Frank Warner

First, a democratic republic simply means we elect our government, and we, the people, are not the government. It doesn't mean that the candidates who get the most votes lose.

(Incidentally, if I could add another provision, I'd say the winner had to receive at least 40 precent of the vote, or there'd be a run-off, possibly "automatic," as in Australia.)

Secondly, the Founding Fathers didn't allow direct election of senators, but a later generation figured out the wisdom to that. (I won't mention that Founders also allowed slavery.)

Early on, the United States didn't even publish a count of the popular vote for president. But now that we do, there is no turning back. When we know whom the people chose for president, we know that installing anyone else is undemocratic.

Again, the question: How exactly does the Electoral College bring us together? In 2000, did you notice any particular state or region was happy with that disaster? Even the populations in states that went to Bush sensed an injustice had been done. It had.

Maybe the cows of Wyoming were pleased. American voters weren't.

jj mollo

The Electoral College has as much impact on what doesn't happen as on what does happen. Since you're from PA, you know that statewide elections are usually determined by turnout in Philadelphia, and to a lesser extent in Pittsburgh. In presidential elections Philadelphia usually delivers enough votes to provide a Democratic vote for the Electoral College. With a Republican legislature things were somewhat under control, but it seems sometimes that Philadelphia can somehow deliver just as many votes as you might need to assure the outcome. There is the suspicion that the vote generation process in Philadelphia is unbounded, certainly not limited to the number of actual voters.

I don't know. I don't want to say that it's worse than any other big city, I am just suspicious. Since the EC limits the number of electoral votes that Pennsylvania can deliver, the pressure on Philadelphia to produce is finite. If, however, the national popular vote were the decision metric, then there would be no limit to the importance of the voters in Philadelphia. I am afraid that the ward leaders and committeeperps would get no sleep at all til Election Night, and that would mess up the celebration parties.

Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Boston, DC, Atlanta even. There would be a lot of shenanigans. Exhausted pols, no celebrations anywhere, and no one would be permitted to die in these cities ever again. It could be bad for the entertainment and funeral industries.

jj mollo

The problem with the cows you are talking about is that states have different sizes. But as I have pointed out before, California could have 14 senators by the simple expedient of splitting into seven states. Why don't they do it? The big states must be receiving some compensatory advantage that makes up for the so-called small state advantage. One advantage of large states is the bloc voting. Small states could do this too, if they joined together and agreed to do so. Why don't they do it?

You really don't have to trust the Founding Fathers on this. Natural Selection should be enough evidence that the system works. Where is the healthiest and wealthiest democracy in the world? All the others ask themselves why their system doesn't work as well.


Plus, we are not the United People of America. We are the United STATES of America. The people tell their states who to vote for nationally, but the states are the real voters. Block voting makes your state more important, no matter it's size.

I wish Colorado would have split their vote to be comparable to the actual votes cast. Then we could have seen how quickly the state was marginalized by the national government. My guess is that it wouldhave been instant.

Frank Warner

Kevin, if you didn't have the Electoral College, you wouldn't have a pointless debate about a state splitting its electoral votes.

And JJ, U.S. democracy was the envy of the world between 1892 and 2000, when the popular vote seemed to rule. When the drive-shaft busted again in 2000, our system became a proper object of ridicule.

Throughout the 20th century, fortunately, we could ask dictators, "Who elected you?" Between 2000 and 2004, we were too embarrassed to mention that once-perfect line.

jj mollo

Personally, I was proud of the way the system worked. And if there had been more problems, there were Constitutional recourses to settle them.


Give it up jj. Frank just hates the electoral college. And the poor workers at Parker Bros.

Christopher Taylor

Frank: the system worked, exactly as it was designed to. The Electoral College helped to ease and eliminate the voter fraud that is rampant around the country every presidential election lately. It eases the population differences between states. We did elect President Bush, through our representatives, in the constitutionally proper system. Sure, people who don't know the system are confused, but hey, we're confused by parliamentary quirks too.

Working as intended.

Frank Warner

Christopher: "It eases population differences between the states"? What?

In 2000, the Electoral College eased 544,000 votes into oblivion. No population felt the ease.

And JJ, if you think the Philly bosses don't already do their best to bring out the dead and illegal vote, think again.

Voter fraud should be fought, and there are ways to do it. The Electoral College is voter fraud. We can start cleaning up the system by eliminating the Electoral College.

Frank Warner

Another point: Do Delawarians really feel better about being part of the United States because they get two votes in the Electoral College that they probably shouldn't get?

They probably don't care. Or, if they think about it, they feel a little guilty about getting away with murder -- murdering my vote in neighboring Pennsylvania.

Again, how does the Electoral College bring us together? I haven't heard one sensible explanation.

jj mollo

Delaware actually gets three times the representation to which it is entitled by an equal vote concept. This injustice is due to the absurd differences in the sizes of states.

On the other hand, some western states with very low population could combine to make things more fair, but would we really want a single state the size of the Louisiana Purchase? Somehow that seems a little threatening.

Christopher Taylor

Frank, let me explain what I mean about easing population differences a bit more clearly.

At present, because of the way the population works through the electoral college, Presidents really only have to win about 6-8 states, the biggest ones. They can more or less ignore the outcome in the other states; this was both Bush and Gore's strategy in 2000 - Gore made that very clear in the campaign.

If you got rid of the electoral college, the number of states that the president has to win drops to 3-4. The rest of the nation can be ignored totally just to win those few states. This throws the bulk of power into the hands of a very few states. Texas, California, New York, Florida.

See how that works? Fewer states and fewer actual people involved in the process. The electoral college reduces the total effect of this by lowering the numbers of actual final voters in each state.

Further, it's harder to corrupt a carefully built, monitored group of voters than the general public and voting process. It's the final barrier between us and, say, President David Duke.

The Electoral College doesn't have to pull us together, it's not supposed to. That's like asking how a corvette manages to help you move your furniture. It doesn't, and that's not it's job.

Christopher Taylor

I found it, this was in a story last year on my blog, a commenter on Protein Wisdom:

One of the most easily understandable arguments for the Electoral College that I’ve seen goes like this:

The 2002 World Series featured Anaheim vs. San Francisco, and was the last one to go 7 games.

The individual game scores were as follows:

1: SF 4, Anaheim 3
2: Anaheim 11, SF 10
3: Anaheim 10, SF 4
4: SF 4, Anaheim 3
5: SF 16, Anaheim 4
6: Anaheim 6, SF 5
7: Anaheim 4, SF 1

Thus, Anaheim won the Series 4-3.

Now add up scores of the individual games:

SF: 44 runs
Anaheim: 41 runs

So San Francisco lost the Series, despite scoring more runs overall. In particular, they won one very lopsided game by 12 runs, but (under the best-of-seven format) that was worth no more than either of Anaheim’s one-run wins in Games 2 and 6. So, was the World Series format “unfair” to the Giants? Most would laugh at the idea.

Just as the World Series is based on who wins the most games, rather than who scores the most total runs, the Electoral College prevents lopsided outcomes in a few states from determining the overall winner.
(by LagunaDave)

jj mollo

Christopher, I like your example, but I don't accept your reasoning.

The Electoral College acts to make more states matter, just like the World Series makes games matter rather than innings or batters or runs. If it weren't for the EC, it would be seven cities rather than seven states. And the only reason that a given state doesn't matter is that its voters favor one candidate heavily over the other. It will not be swayed. We can save our money because we know how that state is going to vote. Why should its vote be counted more heavily than a state that can't make up its mind?

Christopher Taylor

That's the idea behind the analogy: the number of runs scored by the team doesn't matter, only the win by the team. Same thing with the electoral college: a win by 50.001% is just as much a win as a win by 97% in a state. By doing this is makes more states and thus more people matter.

I used to dislike the electoral college too... til I studied it more and read more about the founding fathers. I trust their judgement far more than modern folks.

Frank Warner

What you forget is, a presidential election isn't seven games, or 51 games. The primary elections might serve that function, but they're long over by the time we vote for president.

A presidential election is one event, and everyone in the democratic world knows the sacred principle of one person, one vote. Count up the popular vote, and you know who really won the Super Bowl of the Free World.


And yet you continue to forget that the nation is composed of 50 states, not 300 million individuals, Frank.

And that's as it should be, since people in different states clearly do not think alike. Your beliefs would make me a slave to LA, Chicago, Houston, Dallas and NYC. Screw that.


All valid points, I like the baseball analogy. I vote in Illinois, and though futile (I'm republican), I still vote. Point is, why should we let the larger cities/states dictate who wins? Why should Hawaii or Alaska even bother? If it were popular vote, by the time NY, Philly, DC, Florida, and Chicago vote, it's all over. But, with the EC, ANY state can affect the outcome. The election in 2000 came down to Florida, but in reality it was the smaller, Republican won states that won it for Bush. If it hadn't been for the EC, Algore would have won. I shiver at the thought. The EC doesn't punish people, it holds the concept of the US Constitution that the US as a whole (not a majority) should decide, and the EC personifies that. Should a person be elected because they got 10 million votes to 3 million votes in NY, but lost 150,000 to 100,000 in Wyoming? How is that fair? With the EC, the vote equalized so the north western states with a combined EC vote less than NY alone can matter. Take away the EC, and it's a free for all, like someone said, they'll only campaign in NY, LA and Chicago, screw everyone else.

Christopher Taylor

What you forget is, a presidential election isn't seven games, or 51 games.

Nope, its 50 games: one in each state - at least as the analogy runs. You may wish New York City, Chicago, LA, and Miami control the election, but we don't.

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