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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

If the Electoral College were abolished

Presidential elections would be decided as below:

Indeed, winning a large majority in CA was enough to secure bragging rights for the "popular vote" in the most recent election. (Outside of CA, the popular vote seems to have been won by the other candidate.) Although, had the election rules specified a simple popular vote, then
  1. campaigning in CA and other places would have proceeded very differently, perhaps with different results; and
  2. we'd still be going through the nation-wide recount.
(The map is a cartoon and is not to precise scale.)

8 comments:

  1. The political reality is that the 11 largest states, with a majority of the U.S. population and electoral votes, rarely agree on any political question. In terms of recent presidential elections, the 11 largest states have included five "red states (Texas, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and Georgia) and six "blue" states (California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New Jersey). The fact is that the big states are just about as closely divided as the rest of the country. For example, among the four largest states, the two largest Republican states (Texas and Florida) generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Bush, while the two largest Democratic states generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Kerry.

    In 2004, among the 11 most populous states, in the seven non-battleground states, % of winning party, and margin of “wasted” popular votes, from among the total 122 Million votes cast nationally:
    * Texas (62% Republican), 1,691,267
    * New York (59% Democratic), 1,192,436
    * Georgia (58% Republican), 544,634
    * North Carolina (56% Republican), 426,778
    * California (55% Democratic), 1,023,560
    * Illinois (55% Democratic), 513,342
    * New Jersey (53% Democratic), 211,826

    To put these numbers in perspective,
    Utah (5 electoral votes) generated a margin of 385,000 "wasted Oklahoma (7 electoral votes) generated a margin of 455,000 "wasted" votes for Bush in 2004 -- larger than the margin generated by the 9th and 10th largest states, namely New Jersey and North Carolina (each with 15 electoral votes).
    " votes for Bush in 2004.
    8 small western states, with less than a third of California’s population, provided Bush with a bigger margin (1,283,076) than California provided Kerry (1,235,659).

    ReplyDelete
  2. California Democratic votes in 2016 were 6.4% of the total national popular vote.

    The vote difference in California wouldn't have put Clinton over the top in the popular vote total without the additional 61.5 million votes she received in other states.

    California cast 10.3% of the total national popular vote.
    31.9% Trump, 62.3% Clinton

    In 2012, California cast 10.2% of the national popular vote.
    About 62% Democratic

    California has 10.2% of Electoral College votes.

    8 small western states, with less than a third of California’s population, provided Bush with a bigger margin (1,283,076) than California provided Kerry (1,235,659).

    With National Popular Vote, every vote, in every state, for every candidate, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. NPV is facially unconstitutional, as Congress must approve any interstate compact and has not done so in this case. And NPV is most definitely an interstate compact; its proponents say so.

      Additionally, the Constitution guarantees to every state a republican form of government. Holding an election but then awarding the benefits of that election (the electoral votes) to a candidate other than the one that won the election, regardless of the method of selecting the benefiting candidate, would clearly be an abrogation of the republican form of government the Constitution guarantees and would therefore be unconstitutional.

      Delete
  3. The idea that recounts will be likely and messy with National Popular Vote is distracting.

    No statewide recount, much less a nationwide recount, would have been warranted in any of the nation’s 58 presidential elections if the outcome had been based on the nationwide count.
    The state-by-state winner-take-all system is not a firewall, but instead causes unnecessary fires.
    “It’s an arsonist itching to burn down the whole neighborhood by torching a single house.” Hertzberg

    The 2000 presidential election was an artificial crisis created because of Bush's lead of 537 popular votes in Florida. Gore's nationwide lead was 537,179 popular votes (1,000 times larger). Given the minuscule number of votes that are changed by a typical statewide recount (averaging only 274 votes); no one would have requested a recount or disputed the results in 2000 if the national popular vote had controlled the outcome. Indeed, no one (except perhaps almanac writers and trivia buffs) would have cared that one of the candidates happened to have a 537-vote margin in Florida.

    Recounts are far more likely in the current system of state by-state winner-take-all methods.

    The possibility of recounts should not even be a consideration in debating the merits of a national popular vote. No one has ever suggested that the possibility of a recount constitutes a valid reason why state governors or U.S. Senators, for example, should not be elected by a popular vote.

    The question of recounts comes to mind in connection with presidential elections only because the current system creates artificial crises and unnecessary disputes.

    We do and would vote state by state. Each state manages its own election and is prepared to conduct a recount.

    Given that there is a recount only once in about 160 statewide elections, and given there is a presidential election once every four years, one would expect a recount about once in 640 years with the National Popular Vote. The actual probability of a close national election would be even less than that because recounts are less likely with larger pools of votes.

    The average change in the margin of victory as a result of a statewide recount was a mere 296 votes in a 10-year study of 2,884 elections.

    The common nationwide date for meeting of the Electoral College has been set by federal law as the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December. With both the current system and the National Popular Vote, all counting, recounting, and judicial proceedings must be conducted so as to reach a "final determination" prior to the meeting of the Electoral College. In particular, the U.S. Supreme Court has made it clear that the states are expected to make their "final determination" six days before the Electoral College meets.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The National Popular Vote bill is 61% of the way to guaranteeing the majority of Electoral College votes and the presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the country, by changing state winner-take-all laws (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states), without changing anything in the Constitution, using the built-in method that the Constitution provides for states to make changes.

    All voters would be valued equally in presidential elections, no matter where they live.

    Every vote, everywhere, for every candidate, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election.
    No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps of predictable outcomes.
    No more handful of 'battleground' states (where the two major political parties happen to have similar levels of support) where voters and policies are more important than those of the voters in 38+ predictable states that have just been 'spectators' and ignored after the conventions.

    The bill would take effect when enacted by states with a majority of the electoral votes—270 of 538.
    All of the presidential electors from the enacting states will be supporters of the presidential candidate receiving the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC)—thereby guaranteeing that candidate with an Electoral College majority.

    The bill was approved in 2016 by a unanimous bipartisan House committee vote in both Georgia (16 electoral votes) and Missouri (10).
    The bill has passed 35 state legislative chambers in 23 rural, small, medium, large, red, blue, and purple states with 261 electoral votes.
    The bill has been enacted by 11 small, medium, and large jurisdictions with 165 electoral votes – 61% of the way to guaranteeing the presidency to the candidate with the most popular votes in the country

    NationalPopularVote

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How does a bill enacted by state legislatures bind the federal government? It can’t.

      How does a bill enacted by some state legislatures bind the states that did not pass such a bill? It can’t.

      How does a state have the authority to give its Electoral College votes to a candidate based on votes not cast in that state? Problematic at best.

      Delete
    2. See my reply to your previous message. NPV is flatly unconstitutional. End of story.

      Delete
  5. A careful reading of the Constitution of the United States, however, will reveal that the Constitution does not consider you or me to be citizens of the United States first, but citizens of our states. The United States is not comprised firstly of its citizens, but of its states and commonwealths. So it is the states that elect the president - weighted more or less by population, but slanted somewhat towards the notion that each state, as a state, is equal to the others.

    ReplyDelete

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