Ralfing on the Electoral College

5 Nov

I simply do not understand the logic behind the Electoral College and indirect elections.  It just does not make sense to me.

Many people are claiming that Obama won “by double.”  This is true if you go strictly by the electoral votes.  But do electoral votes truly reflect the heartbeat of the nation?  Absolutely not!

The number of each state’s electoral votes are based on the number of its Senators (every one gets two–no more, no less–regardless of size or population) and Representatives (which are based on population–which is determined by a consensus taken every 10 years) in the United States Congress. Washington, DC is given a number of electoral votes equal to the number held by the “least populous” state.  US territories are not represented in the Electoral College.

Most states cast all of their electoral votes for the candidate that wins the majority of votes.  The only two states who don’t are Maine (4 votes) and Nebraska (5 votes), who used a tiered approach that awards two electoral votes to the overall statewide winner and one for the winner in each of their congressional districts.

With two states still unsettled as of this posting (N. Carolina (15 votes) and Missouri (11 votes)), the numbers shake out as follows:

Candidate

Obama
pd_obama_small_win

McCain
pr_mccain_small

Electoral Votes

349

163

Electoral Vote %*

65%

30%

Popular Votes

63,685,576

56,280,666

Popular Vote %

53%

47%

*Missing 5% is unsettled NC and MO electoral votes

Looking at the electoral votes, Obama did win by more than twice as much, but the electoral votes don’t reflect the actual voting pattern of the state’s constituencies.  In a direct election, Obama still would have won, but only by 6% rather than by 35% or 40%.

One of the drawbacks, IMO, of the indirect election system is that candidates spend an incredible amount time and money in the states that have the most electoral votes–the “swing” states.  They don’t spend any time at all in states that only have four or five electoral votes–just not worth the effort or expense.  Which I find to be insulting.

If all states apportioned their votes the way Nebraska and Maine do, I think the electoral votes would more closely reflect the popular votes.  For instance, in Nebraska, McCain won every county and the total (57%), winning all five of their electoral votes.  In Maine, McCain only won one county, so Obama won all the others and the total (58%), winning all four of their electoral votes.

Let’s test Florida:

District*

Obama
pd_obama_small_win

McCain
pr_mccain_small

1

117,628

249,565

2

164,441

186,715

3

75,911

102,098

4

210,679

236,153

5

176,974

221,396

6

175,963

217,232

7

60,260

92,731

8

271,866

186,079

9

173,088

169,286

10

243,994

206,909

11

19,232

18,810

12

113,552

128,658

13

177,137

191,071

14

117,878

145,624

15

218,372

245,535

16

130,525

133,490

17

122,799

87,866

18

245,598

175,731

19

171,264

105,582

20

236,385

112,186

21

122,799

87,866

22

85,632

52,791

23

327,014

170,756

24

230,044

226,736

25

73,578

101,144

-/+

41,025

56,726

Total

4,103,638

3,908,736

51%

49%

*Because the only data I had was by county and Florida districts are really wonky and not nicely aligned with counties in all cases, I had to apportion some data between districts.  Since this is a “what-if” scenario, do not take this data as gospel or even as accurate in any sense of either word.  I used the 2008 presidential data for the state of Florida and that’s where any resemblance to reality ends. Amen, Blessed Be and pass the citrus salad.

In this scenario, instead of giving all 27 electoral votes to Obama, he would have received 2 votes for winning the total popular vote and 12 votes for the districts he carried for a total of 14 electoral votes (52%, which is very comparable to the 51% he achieved of the popular vote).  McCain would receive the other 13 electoral votes (48%, which is much more comparable to the 49% he achieved of the popular vote than the 0% he was actually given) for the districts he carried.  Presumably, Obama would still have won the election, but it would have taken longer for him to reach the required 51% mark and the electoral votes would have been much closer, properly reflecting the popular vote.

So, even though McCain carried more districts, Obama won our whole state and would have even using the Maine/Nebraska model; this makes no sense (and I voted for Obama–don’t get me wrong–I’m glad he won our state, I’m just not happy how it happened).  The only way Obama should have (IMO) legitimately won my state is by direct election.

We certainly have the technology to hold direct elections today, so why are we still letting others technically make this most important choice for us?

Humph!

Digg!

2 Responses to “Ralfing on the Electoral College”

  1. gt281 November 5, 2008 at 7:38 PM #

    What a great idea,, have everybody vote by computer and the
    candidate with the most votes wins….Lets get King Gates to
    write a program for the next election…No wait,, he’s not too
    reliable,, seems there were some problems with VISTA,, and every
    glass WINDOW pain since the 80s….Hmmm how about I-POD Jobs???….If hackers (I was never charged) can break thru the firewalls at the CIA and the DOD,, I’m sure they would have no problem walking right thru touch-screen voting machines…I think we
    should go back to punch cards,, it was lovely fun watching the ‘hanging chad’ dance in the land of the alligator,, hey that’s your wonderland isn’t it??….The only sensible way to elect the best candidate is to have every candidate participate in a steel caged WWF death match against each other,, the last one standing wins…And it wouldn’t take 12 months of campaigning to get a new leader…Now if we can only get a law passed that abolishes Congress,, people who don’t know the difference between a “B” and a “M” shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the treasury….
    …snarf,, snarf……:-)

    • Faerie♥Kat November 5, 2008 at 7:50 PM #

      Maybe we should just see who can hold their breath the longest, 20,000
      leagues under water without any type of assistance, stark naked with a ten
      ton stone tied around their neck. If the person who wins can make it out
      of the hospital without brain damage, I’d let them run our country in a
      heartbeat! Anyone running for congress will be chosen exactly the same
      way, except change the depth to 40,000 leagues (that should weed out the
      really greedy bastards). Plllttthhh!

      > [Original Message]
      >

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