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View Diary: Defending a System that Has Long Since Collapsed: The Electoral College (155 comments)

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  •  Before I start this discussion, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    erush1345, The Marti

    I must ask:  where do you live?  It matters greatly in your reasoning, and mine...

    When do I get to vote on your marriage?

    by jarhead5536 on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 08:34:33 AM PDT

    •  I disagree that it matters (6+ / 0-)

      but I live in DC now (which gets ignored in the present system) but lived in PA before (which gets tons of attention). My position on this had been the same regardless.

      Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity. Notes on a Theory

      by David Kaib on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 08:41:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  As a lifelong resident (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        The Marti, WestCider

        of one small state after another, geography matters in national politics.  Without the Electoral College, candidates would spend all their time in five or six states, and never meet nor hear from those of us out here in the empty places.  Here in Montana, we have a pitiful three EC votes.  My issues and concerns would never, and I mean NEVER, addressed without my having at least some say in who becomes president, no matter how small.  Would candidate Barack Obama have come to Butte for the 4th of July parade (a nationally famous celebration in any case), had he not at least been required to give the appearance  of caring about the intermountain West, where almost no one lives?

        When do I get to vote on your marriage?

        by jarhead5536 on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 09:22:53 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I Live in NJ (5+ / 0-)

          As I recall we have a bit larger population than MT.  You have 2 senators just like we do.  But, we never see a Dem Presidential candidate because they are expected to win here.  That doesn't seem right either.  I say toss the Electoral College.  Force the candidates to spend money in all locations and visit all locations.

          •  Or, they could visit NO locations (0+ / 0-)

            and just run a national campaign on TV and the internet.  In fact, I think this is what a NPV election would boil down to.  And it would be even more likely to be largely issue-free.
            The historical reasons for the Electoral College and the modern argument against a single, nationwide election are not the same - but still, I'd rather see the current system than a national popular vote.  Or ideally, a system where the rest of the states adopt a Nebraska/Maine system.

            If we ever want to build alternative parties or effective pressure groups within parties, nationalization of the parties would just make this more difficult.

            By the way - I live in New York.  We voted for Reagan in '84.  Clinton won Georgia, Tennessee, West Virginia in 92.  Let us please NOT make permanent policy based on transient political interests.

            Finally - the electoral college amplifies the voice of small states... or negates them.   It lessens the voice of big states... or enlarges it.  It really depends on the election and the state.

        •  Well, WITH the EC (5+ / 0-)

          the candidates do almost the exact same thing - i.e., spend their time time in the 5 or 6 swing states.

          Which is perfectly fine with me not living in one of those states - really, who needs wall to wall bullshit advertising on TV - heck, it'd almost make me turn of the idiot tube once and for all.

        •  Your "pitiful" (8+ / 0-)

          3 EC votes are more than your state deserves to have by its population.  MT has 1M people out of 314M Americans.  It gets 3 EV's out of 538.  By a hasty calculation this is almost twice the EV's you'd get if they were handed out proportionally (and fractionally) by population.  

          It's hard to justify this, particularly when as others note, it's not as if national politicans spend much time in MT today, since it is a safe red state and there's little point campaigning there.  

          In fact under PV candidates would have more reason to pay attention to MT.  The Democrat could hope to wring an extra 5% margin since every vote counts nationally.  The local Dem party would have more incentive to GOTV.  Both candidates would run ads - sure, few votes, but cheaper ad costs too - the marginal cost per voter persuaded might make it an appealing prospect.  

          Unless you take New Hampshire's spot on the primary calendar, you're never going to get big time attention from Presidential candidates, but I'd argue you get more attention under a PV system than you do now.

          •  Every state, (5+ / 0-)

            and every person within every state, has the right to federal representation.  Montana has a single US House representative, which means in one chamber of the legislature, I am woefully underrepresented.  There are 435 Congressmen, which means that every one of them should have a consituency of around 722K.  Our million folks have one (very crappy BTW) Congressman.

            This is one of the problems I have with the way the federal legislature is set up.  Congressional districts, if we are going to cap the number of representatives where it is, should not follow state lines.  Because they currently do follow state lines, my neighboring state, Wyoming, with a population of around half a miliion, is egregiously overrepresented by one Congressman.

            The equalizer in my view is the Senate.  Every state has two senators, regardless of population, for a very specific reason:  Senators do not represent people (which is why that body was not set up to be popularly elected).  Senators represent the entity of the state they come from.  I like this because it creates a level playing field so that places out here in Flyover Land are not completely ignored while the representatives from California, New York and Illinois completely dominate the national dialogue.  

            The current setup prevents the tyranny of the majority as well as it can be done...

            When do I get to vote on your marriage?

            by jarhead5536 on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 12:34:07 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The senate is what skews things in (4+ / 0-)

              the electoral vote, and because of that Montana has nearly twice the representation per capita than CA does.  Getting rid of the EC doesn't get rid of senators, it turns the presidency into a one person one vote election instead of making it so that you have twice as much say as an individual as I do.

              The revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

              by AoT on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 01:23:12 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  what this says to me (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                AoT, The Marti, Odysseus, DuzT

                is that we've got far, far too few House members than we should have given the population.

                One for every ~700K people? For the more democratic elective body? Ludicrous.

                It does serve entrenched power interests. Fewer reps, easier to buy and keep them controlled. Sure, it means I might never meet my House rep unless I'm handing him or her a check, but America #1 or something.

                •  I've said for a while that we need some sort of (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  The Marti

                  third house that is proportional representation.  Or make half of the house proportionally decided.  Double the size of the house and then it will equalize the EC somewhat but won't completely wipe out the advantage of the smaller states.  That way we could theoretically get more states on board.

                  Completely implausible, but fun to think about.

                  The revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

                  by AoT on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 04:06:41 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  I believe (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  RickD

                  we need a HoR that has 10,000 members, which is allowed under the constitution.  We kept increasing the size of the HoR until 1920, and although the nation tripled in size, the House of Representatives has not reflected that increase in population.

                  It's about time I changed my signature.

                  by Khun David on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 07:40:49 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  We'd have about 10,000 reps (0+ / 0-)

                  If we went with the formula in the original Constitution. That might be excessive, but I agree that it's silly that our democracy is currently limited by the size of a building. Let them meet in a football stadium - that would be fine with me.

                  Conservatives believe evil comes from violating rules. Liberals believe evil comes from violating each other.

                  by tcorse on Fri Oct 05, 2012 at 07:59:12 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Woefully? (7+ / 0-)

              Man, it's a little hard to take you seriously when you say that having only one Congressman and two Senators for nearly 1 million people is 'woeful underrepresentation'. Especially when it's clear that a Senator, representation-wise, is worth roughly fifty House members, especially when the Senate has the filibuster handy. (Even if we only count each Senator as equal to one representative, Wyoming has one per 340k people, whereas California has one per 680k people... which is to say, 1/2 as much representation as Wyoming has.)

              Indeed, it's pretty clear that Wyoming and all of the other small-population states are hugely overrepresented in the US government. There has been essentially no time in the last fifty years where the representatives of at most twenty million people in the US were not in a position to make the final determination on what legislation should pass in the Senate (where, as we all know, all good legislation goes to die) and what should not, despite the wishes of a couple hundred million in other states.

              And you're willing to call that underrepresentation? Ye gods. Perhaps you should put your passion to better use, by advocating for representation for, say, I don't know, the people of Washington DC? Who, despite numbering about 2/3 of the population of your state, have neither Congressmen nor Senators at all? That's what I'd call underrepresented.

            •  you don't really believe this, do you? (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              David Kaib, DuzT, ConfusedSkyes

              "Senators do not represent people (which is why that body was not set up to be popularly elected).  Senators represent the entity of the state they come from. "

              This isn't the 19th century.  The 17th Amendment was passed for a reason.  Senators who were nominally "representing the entity of the state" ended up being the most corrupt people in DC, as they were the most beholden to the party bosses in their home state.  

        •  Follow the Money - Only 9 Swing States Matter (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mightymouse, Zack from the SFV

          Now candidates ignore Montana after the conventions.

          A survey of Montana voters showed 72% overall support for the idea that the President of the United States should be the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states.

          Voters were asked "How do you think we should elect the President: Should it be the candidate who gets the most votes in all 50 states, or the current electoral college system?"

          By political affiliation, support for a national popular vote was 67% among Republicans, 80% among Democrats, and 70% among others.
          By gender, support was 80% among women and 63% among men.
          By age, support was 72% among 18-29 year olds, 67% among 30-45 year olds, 75% among 46-65 year olds, and 73% for those older than 65.

          None of the 10 most rural states (VT, ME, WV, MS, SD, AR, MT, ND, AL, and KY) is a battleground state.
          The current state-by-state winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes does not enhance the influence of rural states, because the most rural states are not battleground states, and they are ignored.

          The current state-by-state winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but since enacted by 48 states), ensures that the candidates, after the conventions, will not reach out to about 80% of the states and their voters. Candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or care about the voter concerns in the dozens of states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind.

          Presidential candidates concentrate their attention on only a handful of closely divided "battleground" states and their voters. There is no incentive for them to bother to care about the majority of states where they are hopelessly behind or safely ahead to win. 9 of the original 13 states are considered “fly-over” now. In the 2012 election, pundits and campaign operatives agree, that, at most, only 9 states and their voters will matter. They will decide the election. None of the 10 most rural states will matter, as usual. About 80% of the country will be ignored --including 19 of the 22 lowest population and medium-small states, and 17 medium and big states like CA, GA, NY, and TX. This will be more obscene than the 2008 campaign, when candidates concentrated over 2/3rds of their campaign events and ad money in just 6 states, and 98% in just 15 states (CO, FL, IN, IA, MI, MN, MO, NV, NH, NM, NC, OH, PA, VA, and WI). Over half (57%) of the events were in just 4 states (OH, FL, PA, and VA). In 2004, candidates concentrated over 2/3rds of their money and campaign visits in 5 states; over 80% in 9 states; and over 99% of their money in 16 states.

          80% of the states and people have been merely spectators to presidential elections. They have no influence. That's more than 85 million voters, 200 million Americans, ignored. When and where voters are ignored, then so are the issues they care about most.

          The number and population of battleground states is shrinking

          Policies important to the citizens of ‘flyover’ states are not as highly prioritized as policies important to ‘battleground’ states when it comes to governing.

        •  This old theory is just wrong. (8+ / 0-)

          Right now, large sections of the country get ignored.  How much attention are the presidential candidates giving to California and Texas?

          Without the Electoral College, candidates have to pay attention to all of the voters.  A candidate gains just as much by a 1 percent swing in a red state as they do in a blue state or a swing state.  We would see Democratic presidential candidates campaigning in Texas, and Republicans in California, far more than they do now.  I think the campaigns would cover a much greater percentage of the population.

          All votes should count the same.  In a popular vote election, a vote in Montana counts the same as a vote in California, or any other state.

          "The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt." Bertrand Russell

          by Thutmose V on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 02:02:38 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Small state concerns (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          The Marti, ConfusedSkyes

          "My issues and concerns would never, and I mean NEVER, addressed without my having at least some say in who becomes president, no matter how small."

          This issue always seems to come up when the Electoral College issue is discussed. I've issued this challenge in the past, and no one has been able to articulate an answer: "Just what issues/concerns does your (small) state have that are unique to it, ie, that are not shared by those in medium-sized and large states?"

          For example, my home state is Iowa. Agriculture is the leading industry: concerns shared by Illinois (with much the same agriculture mix), and California. Farm machinery: shared with much of the upper Midwest, from Ohio onward. Insurance (in Des Moines): connected to money centers in Chicago and New York. Break it down further: dairying is an interest shared by Vermont and New York. Native American concerns are widely shared across large and small population states.

          Now, I suspect you can find a few parochial interests in any state that do not suggest allies across state lines--but none so many or important that they should trump basic democratic civil equality: one person, one vote.

          I'd hasten to add that Iowa's influence is vastly over-emphasized due to its position as a swing state and its first caucus on the calendar. But that's a discussion for another day.

        •  So... er... just to be clear... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          The Marti, LeftyAce, ConfusedSkyes
          Here in Montana, we have a pitiful three EC votes.  My issues and concerns would never, and I mean NEVER, addressed without my having at least some say in who becomes president, no matter how small.
          So, just to be clear, by endorsing the status quo, what you're explicitly saying here is, 'I think we in Montana deserve to have our issues and concerns addressed, but those in North Dakota can just go punt.' Or, to put it more broadly, 'those who live in small swing states deserve to have their issues addressed, but those who live in small red or blue states do not'.
        •  Yet (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          David Kaib, RickD, ConfusedSkyes

          with the electoral college, candidates spend all their time in five or six states.  I never saw campaign commercials when I lived in New York.  I only see campaign commercials now because I live in Maryland, which borders Virginia (had I lived here 16 years ago, I would not have seen campaign commercials here, either).

          It's about time I changed my signature.

          by Khun David on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 07:37:54 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  How is it different now? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          LeftyAce, ConfusedSkyes

          " Without the Electoral College, candidates would spend all their time in five or six states, and never meet nor hear from those of us out here in the empty places. "

          So how many candidate visits are there to small non-swing states under the current system?

          The real fear is that candidates wouldn't skip small states so much as they would ignore rural areas.  Candidates would go where the votes are, since a city with 500k people in Iowa would be just as important as a city with 500k people in Florida.

          •  10 Most Rural States Are Ignored Now (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            David Kaib

            None of the 10 most rural states (VT, ME, WV, MS, SD, AR, MT, ND, AL, and KY) is a battleground state.
            The current state-by-state winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes does not enhance the influence of rural states, because the most rural states are not battleground states, and they are ignored.

      •  ...and as a Texan, it's an interesting place: (7+ / 0-)

        38 electoral votes, second-most populous state, and you'd hardly know there is an election going on here.  

        And the lack of attention to the Presidential election works down-ballot to get even less attention to the Senatorial race (Paul Sadler v. "Crazy-Troll" Ted Cruz), state Lege seats, Congressional races, the State Board of Education (which matters to a lot of folks outside Texas - - dive on in, the water's great!), County DA, county sheriff, judges, and what have you.

        My reasoning: why is no one paying any attention to the elections?

        Torture is Wrong! We live near W so you don't have to. Send love.

        by tom 47 on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 09:36:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Why does it matter? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ConfusedSkyes

      It affects the diarist's interest, but not the diarist's reasoning.

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