Shafted by the Electoral College

At this point, only nine states are deemed worthy of attention by Obama and Romney.


Is it true the United States is having a presidential election this year? I ask because I've seen no evidence of it. Of course, there is no reason I would, since I'm currently living in a place far removed from all that, where citizens can only dream of having a voice in choosing their national leaders.

China? Cuba? Antarctica? No. Illinois.

Some 95 million people live in California, Texas, New York and Illinois -- nearly one out of every three Americans. But how many times has Mitt Romney, Barack Obama, Paul Ryan or Joe Biden made a campaign appearance in any of them since the party conventions? Zero, or the same number they've made in Bavaria.

But it would be the same if I resided in any number of other states -- most states, in fact. Obama and Romney don't seem to be running for president of the United States of America but for president of the Discontiguous States of Florida, Ohio and Virginia. At this point, only nine states, totaling less than a quarter of the population, are deemed worthy of attention.

The problem is not that the people of the rest of the country are uninformed or indifferent. It's that they live in places that one candidate or the other is sure to win, which means neither has anything to gain by campaigning there.

In 2008, John McCain got 5 million votes in California. Nothing to sneeze at, you'd think. But he might as well have gotten none. If you don't win a majority of the vote there (as in almost every state), you get nothing in the Electoral College -- where the real election takes place.

The candidates have to concentrate on the few "battleground" states that could go either way. In 2004, reports the organization FairVote, "more than half of all campaign resources were dedicated to just three states -- Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania." Meanwhile, "18 states saw neither candidate visit nor received a cent of spending on TV advertisements." This year, 93 percent of TV spending has occurred in nine states.

Over time, the number of Americans who have any chance to make a difference has shrunk. In 1960, notes FairVote, there were 24 battleground states, boasting 327 electoral votes. In 2004, there were just 13, with 159 electoral votes.

Leaving most of the electorate on the sidelines is just one defect of the Electoral College. Most serious is that a majority can mean nothing on Election Day. Al Gore outpolled George W. Bush, but it was cold comfort. Bush was the fourth president elected despite losing the popular vote.

Republicans may have trouble seeing what's wrong with a system that kept Gore out of the White House. They would feel differently had John Kerry lost the popular vote but won in the Electoral College -- as he would have done had a small share of Ohioans switched their votes to him in 2004.

In just about every other election in America, getting the most votes means winning the election. Only for the most important office does that custom get cast aside -- in favor of an antiquated, jerry-rigged system that the framers created without a clue how it would function.

A constitutional amendment to do away with it has no chance of passing, though. A minority of senators, from states over-represented in the Electoral College, can prevent it. But there is a second-best solution, the National Popular Vote plan, which FairVote is pushing.

The idea is for a group of states to agree they will allocate their electoral votes to the candidate who wins the national popular vote, regardless of who finishes first in their state. The compact would take effect only when the number participating can deliver 270 electoral votes -- enough to determine the winner. As of 2010, Illinois, Hawaii, New Jersey, Maryland, Washington and the District of Columbia were on board.

There is one possible avenue for change: for Obama to lose the popular vote but win the election. Then Republicans as well as Democrats would know how it feels to be governed by a candidate whom they and most of their fellow citizens rejected. They might find new merit in establishing a more democratic alternative.

In that case, far more states would get their share of candidate visits and attack ads. And the mercilessly barraged voters of Ohio? I'm guessing they'd welcome the reprieve.

NEXT: Pakistani Teen Activist Shot by Taliban Transferred to Military Hospital

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  1. Soon, Florida will rule you all, with its python armies and insane trailer-dwelling shock troops.

    1. I feel quite safe up here, with our sub 70 degree weather.

        1. Okay, in that case I might out to break out my trump card: My shotgun owning father with ophidiophobia.

          1. Better make that a flamethrower.

            1. I scoff at your stone burner flamethrower, Pro'L Dib. And the semuta is quite choice this time of year, thank you for asking. -)))

              1. Stoneburners are a bit much for pythons, though one should keep the Family Atomics in reserve just in case.

                Welcome back.

            2. I'm pretty sure that as some point he's used every weapon available in the northeast as a method to kill snakes.

                1. Would my sister's husky work in the meantime?

                  1. my sister's husky

                    Paging John...

                    1. It's a husky dogoose.

                    2. I love hybrids. I just ate a pluot last night--yummy.

                    3. Pro Lib, you forgot our vicious attack monkeys.

                    4. BP:
                      They aren't very reliable. Some are content to just roam from tree to tree and get high on tranqs.

                    5. What they lack in quality they make up in quantity.

    2. Personally, I welcome our new white trash overlords.

      1. One Honey Boo Boo to rule them all.

        1. You know, there are just some things I think I am better off not knowing about.

          1. Any gaps in my knowledge is a gap in my ability to mock. All must be mocked. All.

            1. Fair point. I went to YouTube to edify myself, and I don't see what the hullabaloo is about. That little girl is funny, but I didn't feel like I was laughing at her.

              1. The humor lies in her mother, the human thumb.

      2. Misty Cronlin used to be a hot little minx -- and if she caused one pain, she had the painkillers to sell.

  2. Of course, in a popular vote those five million who voted for McCain in California would have gotten nothing as well.

    And your say would go from one in whatever your state's got to one in 120+ million.

    And we'd still have to all vote for Romney because Obama is worse and voting for anyone else means a vote for Obama or Romney or whatever I forget who cares I give up.

    1. Yeah. The electoral college problem probably doesn't make the top 20 of the list of problems I have with our electoral process.

      1. And the electoral process barely makes the top 20 of the list of problems I have with the federal government.

        1. I was going to disagree, but you're right the electoral process that thwarts third parties is mostly a state issue.

      2. The Electoral College is a feature, not a bug. Those States with less population, and much less representation in the House, actually carry more weight than their percentage of the population would do.

        It is intended to be anti-democratic which is good. Some of the tariffs prior to the Civil War, for instance, were little more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what was for dinner. Unrestrained democracy sucks.

        1. The dudes setting it up tried to tell people.

          1. We didn't listen!

  3. Some 95 million people live in California, Texas, New York and Illinois -- nearly one out of every three Americans. But how many times has Mitt Romney, Barack Obama, Paul Ryan or Joe Biden made a campaign appearance in any of them since the party conventions? Zero, or the same number they've made in Bavaria.

    Get rid of the EC and the candidates will appear in those four states and no where else.

    1. I'm not sure that's entirely true, there's lots of votes in the rest of the country.

      And Chapman ignores they already take a bunch of trips to those locations to fund raise.

      They just don't bother holding worthless public campaign events.

      1. Or run ads 24/7.

        It's a blessing to live in a non-competitive state, really.

        1. I am so tired of all the fucking ads. Obama has been running almost exclusively hard-core negative ads against Romney. I haven't seen a single Obama ad that says what he actually stands for. November can't get here soon enough.

          1. It's not fair of you to say that. It's hardly like Obama can run on his abysmal record. Would you deny him his right to be reelected?

          2. I've noticed that Obama is basically running his Michigan ads during the middle of the day and late at night.

            Never seen a Romney one.

          3. hard-core ads? Sounds interesting.

    2. Why?

      It's not like those states vote 100% in one direction.

      Right now the politicians can have 50.00001% of the vote in that state and they get 100% of its electoral votes.
      With the right counties, they could get 70% of the vote in those areas and 20-30 in the others and still get all electoral votes for the state.

      Exactly how would a popular vote based system be worse?

      1. With a popular vote system, every election would be decided by millions of Democratic votes from the graveyards of Chicago and Philadelphia and etc. The electoral college firewalls fraud at the state level.

        1. IL and PA are your examples? Why not go the extra mile and mention CA and NY and how the electoral college firewalls us from having NYC and LA drive the elections. Those millions would be countered by the Republicans in those areas and the Republicans in other areas.

          Right now those Dem voters run the whole fucking state. You work to secure 50.00001% of the Dem votes and the state is yours. In some states, if you work the right districts to achieve a super-majority, you don't have to bother with other districts.

          I have a dream that one day there will be 3 or 4 parties that we're complaining about (and using in our examples) instead of just 2.

          1. California is simply too large and too divided to continue to be a single state. That is the problem, this "50 state" legacy bull that the one worlder's get off on.

        2. Plus, in a close popular vote, imagine the recount hell that would result.

      2. It wouldn't necessarily be "worse", it just wouldn't be any better because the problem you are trying to solve, politicians only focusing on a few battleground areas, would merely shift and now it would be all about "battle ground" high population density metropolitan areas rather than States. Places like Kentucky would likely never see a presidental candidate and few ads because there are no large cities there.

        1. What good would focusing on battleground high density areas be?

          They matter less without the EC.

          1. No they matter more. A TV ad or stump speech covered on local TV in Boston with it's 7.5 million people is worth far more than 3 time what that same ad or speech is in Pittsburgs with it's 2.5 million people because you are reaching more people with each contact and a relatively small shift in the vote in high density areas will exceed the entire vote totals of low density areas.

      3. The Electoral College disincentivizes voter fraud, because voter fraud is most easily accomplished in one party ruled areas and most of the time you already have those EC votes locked up anyway. Even if you don't, you can only steal as many EC votes as your state has and no more.

        I'm a big supporter of the EC, one because of the above, and two it preserves some minor amount of autonomy for the states. That living in Nevada means more than just your mailing address is a good thing.

      4. "Exactly how would a popular vote based system be worse?"

        A popular vote based system would have given us President Al Gore. Just take a moment to think about that.

        1. Hmmm, seems like we would have had a good chance of not entering the Iraq war. Down with the Electoral College! The Electoral College sucks!

    3. Exactly, eliminating the EC would do absolutely nothing to solve this problem because there would never be a need to campaign in low population density states

    4. You are dead on! And imagine, for example, where gun rights would be if presidents tailored their politics to just the population centers. A majority rule over minority rights every time.

    5. Why would either candidate waste time campaigning in states that will go Democrat no matter who the candidate is? It's not the rest of the countries fault that the people in those states can't think for themselves.

    6. The bottom line is that the vast majority of their voters, by subscribing to single party governance have brought that problem on themselves, and can easily cure it by not being monolithic.

    7. Get rid of the EC and the candidates will appear in those four states and no where else.

      It's even worse than that. They would only appear in those states' major cities and nowhere else...

  4. It's too bad that California and New York have gone off the leftist deep-end, but I don't see why that justifies changing the Constitution - or making a shitty end-run around it.

    So Reason now likes it when the Constitution is ignored, sometimes?

    1. Steve Chapman is not Reason. Don't fall into the John-style collectivism.

      1. And yet Reason keeps publishing his standard liberal drivel that I can read in a dozen major newspapers or see on half a dozen TV networks. Are there really so few honest to goodness libertarian writers out there?

        1. Are there really so few honest to goodness libertarian writers out there?


        2. Well, don't read it then.

          I don't know why so many expect Reason to be completely in line with their ideal of libertarianism.

          I think abortion should remain legal, but I don't bitch when the publish something by Napolitano.

      2. Steve Chapman is not Reason. Don't fall into the John-style collectivism.

        Chapman claims to be a libertarian and gets prominently featured here, and yet he argues against federalist structures.

        1. Not saying Chapman is worth any sort of value other than the fun comments where people insult him...just arguing against the whole REASON SAYS THIS BUT THEN REASON SAYS THAT.

  5. But since the USA is not a democracy but a democratic republic created out of the states then it is the states which are represented in the Executorial College, just like they are represented in the Senate.

    Are we next to have an article about the non-democratic nature of the Senate?

    1. Federalism, including the electoral college, was intentionally designed to limit, among other things, the power of the raw majority. People are no less oppressed if everyone else agrees on the oppression than if one guy does it. Liberty was the centerpiece of the American system when it was created, not efficiency, democracy, or anything else.

      1. (Unless you were female, nonwhite, or non-landowning)

        1. Which quickly changed after millennia of that sort of thing being the status quo. Must've been a magical coincidence of some sort.

            1. No shit.

        2. We had more liberty before women got the vote than we do after.

          1. I didn't. I wasn't even born yet. And I think a convincing argument could be made that most women and non-white people had less liberty then too.

        3. But that's what the majority wanted, so it was ok, right?

          1. If you exclude females, nonwhites, and non-landowners then I don't see how you can even know what the majority wants.

            1. Depends on how you define majority. You're always excluding someone.

              But I guess as long as your guys get to do the excluding, it's OK with you.

              1. We still don't count the under 18, convicts, people who don't know what day the vote is, and the comatose. Not fair to majority rule!

                1. Oh don't fool yourself, the comatose still vote. As do the severely advanced Alzheimer's.

                2. 'people who don't know what day the vote is'

                  aka - the Silent Majority

          2. T o n y never explodes with faulty logic, he literally just begins reading something different than what you wrote. It is like confirmation dyslexia or something. I wonder if there are publications on it.

      2. How does the electoral college preserve liberty? Is the idea that the president would oppress small states if he didn't depend on them to be reelected?

    2. The states haven't been represented in the Senate since 1913.

      1. Another mistake that weakened a key check on central government.

        1. One of the many things I like PJ O'Rourke for was his observation that after that change foreign countries have more official representatives in DC than the states do.

      2. State are represented, two per State. It just that the voters choise directly and not through their State legislature.

        1. Which separates the interests of the Senators from those of the state government.

          This was the original idea since the citizens have their representatives in the House.

          1. It was always a weak structure, since the States had no control over the Senators once nominated.

            In my constitutional re-write, Senators would still be selected by the States but serve only one year.

            1. And then be sacrificed to the volcano gods?

              1. I think the volcano gods would reject some senators as unworthy sacrifices.

            2. Take a look at the early Senators, other than a few a lot of people did bail out after one term because it was a dead end job, the legislature would change and you'd be out. Especially with the six year offset deal.

              1. True, but they still didn't give the States all that much say from a Federalism perspective.

                Ultimately, the States really didn't have much say at the Federal level, or control over Federal policies. This was all supposed to be mitigated by enumerations, which after SCOTUS killed the concept, along with neutering the 10th, left States as true subordinates to Federal authority.

                1. I see where you're coming from now. I guess I was just commenting on how most people don't realize how volatile those Senate seats were back in the day compared to now. There were basically no Levin's or Schumer's or Biden's who stayed forever.

                  Even Clay came and went.

                2. The elimination or weakening of the various checks on government power have been steadily eroding. These are just a few.

      3. This is the smartest thing Chris Mallory has ever said.

      4. but the states allowed the amendment through, so its their own fault

  6. Yes, but removing the Electoral College would likely make it about 9 cities. No candidate is going to ND, CD, ID, or AK and likely a dozen others would receive little to no attention. Maybe if OH started voting Libertarian the Ds and Rs would leave-off the ads....

    1. Maybe if iron spontaneously started fusing into platinum...

      1. CD = Closet Dakota. A small, heavily disguised state lying between N S Dakota.

        1. That must have been what that dark patch on my drive from Pierre to Bismark was. I thought I was having a siezure.

  7. Hey, you don't like it, move to Russia.

    1. Well, as a matter of fact...-)))

  8. Yes, let's destroy the last vestiges of federalism by making it a popular votes.

    States, Provinces; what's the difference?

    1. *vote

    2. By federalism do you mean outsize influence on national policy by lower population states?

      1. He means racism. Do try to keep up.

      2. Yes. It has always meant that VA, NY, and now CA and TX can't push around the rest. What part don't you understand?

        1. Why Montana or Alabama should have a humongous per capita advantage on influencing national over California or New York? Why are individuals in Alabama more special?

          1. For a collectivist, you are being remarkably dense, spacy Tony.

            The Senate and the EC represent (ha!) the States as collectives. Odd, to find a collectivist with a problem with that.

            Unless, of course, you are the totalitarian flavor of collectivist, who think there should be one and only one organization that matters, the Total State.

            1. Yeah and why should a state with less than 1 million people have exactly the same say in national policy in the Senate as a state with 53 million people? Since small states get at least 1 House member, even the House overrepresents citizens of small states.

              There's little to defend about compromises made with states that liked to enslave people, for the reason that they liked to enslave people.

              1. 7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State; the bringing into cultivation of waste-lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.

              2. You mean the New England states wanting to have the same say as Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia?

              3. Yeah and why should a state with less than 1 million people have exactly the same say in national policy in the Senate as a state with 53 million people?

                Did your school teach civics at all? We have two houses in our legislature as a compromise. One with proportionate representation for the States, and one with equal representation. Indeed, I could ask you, why should California run rough-shod over New Hampshire just because that have 50 times more people? If it's just proportionate representation, why have States at all?

                1. HM, anything that blocks the exercise of power by the 50%+1 is an abomination to T o n y.

                  1. Except for those protections of rights like being gay.

                2. It's fairly obvious that Tony's arguing against not the EC, but the Federal system itself. He'd be much happier if ours was a unitary state. He really hates the idea that there are 50 sovereign entities that makes up this country.

                  1. We have a unitary state. See Supremacy Clause. I have nothing against more local governments. For every discrete population there should be a government to handle its specific needs. The arbitrary map lines that define states are not particularly special to me, and I don't get why libertarians prefer state-level government when state-level government always has the risk of imposing more anti-freedom policy on people. It's not an inherently pro-individual freedom position, and is in fact collectivism just on an arbitrarily smaller scale.

                    1. It's because we already have a system setup where the states should be antagonists to the federal government.

                      Libertarians do not view that was ideal but maybe the best check we have currently.

                      I seriously doubt you'd want local governments. That would allow all sorts of things like Prop 8 and the other gay marriage bans where democracy failed.

                    2. Because if my State passes an oppressive law I can move to any other state without needing a passport or visa which can be quite expensive and time consuming (and often impossible) to get.

                      That is the whole point of Federalism, 50 sovreign entities each able to experiment as to what works best for them and a people who are free to vote with their feet if they don't like it all tied loosely together under a single umbrella.

                    3. We have a unitary state. See Supremacy Clause.

                      Unitary state:

                      A unitary state is a state governed as one single unit in which the central government is supreme and any administrative divisions (subnational units) exercise only powers that their central government chooses to delegate.

                      That's only the case if you outright ignore the 10th amendment,w hich, as I previously implied, you would absolutely love to do. Powers are delegated from the states to the Feds via the constitution, not vice-versa.

                      It's not an inherently pro-individual freedom position

                      While this is correct, it's a much better check than just dumping all power in one organization and hoping for the best. Competition has benefits outside of economics, you know.

              4. T o n y thinks slavery is ok when democratically sponsored. He said so.

                1. He actually has said that.

        2. The Senate still exists, does it not?

      3. Sounds like a good idea to me. No reason why idiots who choose to live on top of each other like rats in a cage should even have a vote.

      4. As opposed to the crushing influence of area with higher population density over less densely populated places?

        1. People in Manhattan should totally have all the say over the farmland in Idaho!

        2. I think we should default to equal representation unless there's a good reason to alter that arrangement.

          Let's not forget exactly why small states were granted outsize influence. It wasn't cuz "freedom," exactly.

          1. Um, Ya, it actually kinda was. Ever hear of the phrase, "Tyranny of the majority"?

            1. To racists like Tony, Jim Crow was a feature, not a bug.

            2. "Tyranny of non-slave states" to be more precise.

              1. Like those in New England.

                I'm glad they stood in the path of the highly populated slave states of Virginia, The Carolinas and Georgia.

              2. Tony are you so ignorant that you never learned about Slave Power? That is, due to the 3/5th Clause, Slave states got larger representation because they were given "extra" representatives based on their non-voting slave population?

                What you advocate for would have given the Slave states even more power, dumbass.

                1. Most people don't realize this and it's really shocking some of the people I've heard it from.

                  1. Yes, funny how the lefty progs quickly forget about that pesky apportionment fix of yore.

                2. How would a popular give slates with a large population of non-voters even more power? You are the dumbass Heroic Mulatto.

              3. Here is the population of the thirteen original states in order in 1790:

                Virginia 7476103
                Pennsylvania 434373
                North Carolina 393751
                Massachusetts 378787
                New York 340120
                Maryland 319728
                South Carolina 249073
                Connecticut 237946
                New Jersey 184139
                New Hampshire 141885
                Georgia 82548
                Rhode Island 68825
                Delaware 59096

                Where do you see a correlation between population and slave/non-slave status?

          2. It was to provide a check by the States on the popularly voted House.

            And it was a practical compromise. I thought you liked those?

            1. Tony's idea of a "compromise" is: Do it my way, collectively, of course. And make sure I am personally insulated from this.

              1. Tony doesn't believe in compromise. He believes in the power of the state. He does not believe the power of the state should have any checks against it. The state is omniscient and wise, and purely represents society in all matters. The will of the majority should be forced on the minority no matter the issue invovled.

                If 50%+1 want something, then they should have it. Healthcare? Why yes. Fully-funded retirement? Of course. An education? Absolutely! There is no end to the wealth the 50%+1 can vote itself. Of course, when the wealth runs out, this also means that the 50%+1 can also force rather ugly policy decisions on the 50%-1, including labor, re-education, and even liquidation. And while some of us would view this as reprehensible, and even wrong, Tony is ok with it since it is an expression of the will of the majority.

                1. I was just poking at him for some of his stupidity.

                  1. As do his lovers.

                2. If it's just 50%+1 then you can get off your lazy ass and convince 2 people why you're right and then you can get your way.

                  Otherwise you're saying you should get your way regardless of what the majority thinks, and there's a word for that, and it's not "freedom."

                  1. There was a country in Europe where the majority thought a certain way, and there was a word for that.

                  2. Yes, like a black man and white woman getting married despite the majority opposing them is not freedom.

                  3. How did those two people fair in Florida in 2000? Or Minnesota in 2008 or Washington in whatever year it was, on and on...

                  4. Otherwise you're saying you should get your way regardless of what the majority thinks, and there's a word for that, and it's not "freedom."

                    There are avenues of life where you think no government should be involved. For you, it's abortion and gay sex. For us, it's all activity that is non-coercive and voluntary in nature.

                    That is freedom, Tony. What you are saying is that it limits "freedom" to limit the ability of the "collective" having a say in what it forces people to do.

                    What you are literally saying is that any restraint of government to be involved with anything is a limitation of 'freedom'.

                    1. I don't think government should be uninvolved in abortion and gay sex. I think the federal government should actively prohibit local governments from making these illegal.

                      Since government is (in theory) the agent of the collective will of the people, any restriction on it is a restriction on the people to act collectively. I think you should have a very good reason for why people should be forbidden from taking a vote on an issue, and I fail to see which authority you think should supersede them. Sure protections of minority rights should not be subject to simple majority whims. There is a good, obvious reason for that. But it's still potentially denying the majority its will in favor of the minority. For civil rights that's a good thing. For most other things it's not, and there's no reason a smaller collective ought to be more powerful than a larger collective.

                    2. What if the vote is taken and the voters say the federal government should make abortion and gay sex should be illegal and punishable by death?

                    3. What if the vote is taken and the voters say the federal government should make abortion and gay sex should be illegal and punishable by death?

                      No no no, see, those are the places where the collective will is wrong, and Tony doesn't want that.

                      The collective will is only OK when Tony agrees with it. When it's wrong, then it has to be stopped. Duh, benji, what's so hard or arbitrary about that?

                    4. Sure protections of minority rights should not be subject to simple majority whims. There is a good, obvious reason for that. But it's still potentially denying the majority its will in favor of the minority. For civil rights that's a good thing. For most other things it's not,

                      Shorter Tony: things that make me feel good about myself and satiate my emotions are not subject to vote. Things that make me have bad feelings are.

                      There's nothing arbitrary about that.

                      Since government is (in theory) the agent of the collective will of the people,

                      No, it is not in theory the 'collective will' nor is it in reality the 'collective will'. There is no such thing as 'collective will'. Like you are fond of saying about 'natural rights', "collective will" is something you made up from your ass, or God, or God's ass, or plucked from the ether. You manufactured it. It's fantasy.

                    5. "I don't think"

                      You had me right there.

                    6. protections of minority rights should not be subject to simple majority whims

                      If only there were, I don't know, some unalienable rights, some natural laws that no man or entity thereof could be legally allowed to break...

                      there's no reason a smaller collective ought to be more powerful than a larger collective

                      So, if the larger collective started behaving reprehensibly, you are ok with that? You see, you say on the one hand that 'civil rights' should be protected against the whims of the majority, and yet do not define what those rights are, or why they should be sacrosanct. You have also gone to great lengths to completely dismiss the notion of unalienable rights. As near as I can tell, you are perfectly ok with the state behaving very poorly toward any 'legal' minority, so long as a majority elected to create it.

                    7. "For civil rights that's a good thing. For most other things it's not"

                      On what logic do you distinguish? Ah, I see, your opinion. That's not very democratic, now is it?

                      Face it Tony, Democracy as an end in itself is an intellectual dead-end street. Why do you keep going down it?

                  5. As per usual, you just don't get it. That's fine - we've survived with low information voters for a long time, I suspect we'll sruvive ahwile longer.

          3. Ok, blacks represent ~20% of the electorate, why don't we vote to reinstitute slavery?

            We'll even let the slaves vote, that way they can't argue they are being repressed because "hey they had a say and they were just outvoted".

            Also your argument about small states being the places with slavery is completely ignorant of the fact that even in Colonial days Virgina, a slave state was one of the top 2 in population and New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont, all non slave states were the smallest in the Union by population.

            Small States were not granted outsized influence to protect slavery, they were granted it to prevent them from being ruled from Boston, New York, and Philladelphia.

            1. Actually reverse that last part in some respects. The small states wanted a say to fight the big states, and in conjunction the northern states (which had a lot of small ones!) wanted to not even count slaves. Vermont, Rhode Island, etc. wanted equal say to the large slave states of Virginia and the Carolinas.

              The 3/5th's Compromise is called a compromise for a reason. It's what the anti-slave states thought they could get away with short of not counting the slaves.

              *simplifying of course!

      5. I thought the larger population states got thier larger representation in the House of Represntatives. Is that not still the case?

        1. Nope, that was changed in 2010. Now it's just Christian Plutocrats stopping the President from creating jobs.

          1. Dang those Christfags!

    3. Honestly, the electoral college has little to do with federalism. True, states can determine their elector division, but the real effect is reducing the proportional value of a vote from Texas compared to a vote from Rhode Island.

      I personally wish every state would at minimum divvy the electors in congruence with the actual vote. It's pretty strange to think that the 200kish majority of votes in Wyoming carries more final weight than the millions and millions of minority votes in Texas or California.

  9. But how many times has Mitt Romney, Barack Obama, Paul Ryan or Joe Biden made a campaign appearance in any of them since the party conventions?

    As a Texan, I say thank God for that.

    1. Amen. Living with the NY television area of NJ, I'm glad I don't have to watch all the campaign ads. If NY, NJ, or probably even PA are in play, Romney has won.

      1. Both of them are running ads in PA, unfortunately.

        1. I still want to know why Obama is spending money on campaign ads in Massachusetts.

          1. To get donations?

            Also massholes that have moved to NH might be visiting relatives back home.

            1. Good point. Hadn't thought about the donation aspect.

          2. Probably for the benefit of New Hampshire, most of whose population is int eh Boston TV market.

            I haven't had TV for several months now, but I am getting surveyed the fuck out of, so it seems like they are paying attention to NH's 4 little votes.

          3. Probably more aimed at New Hampshire and southern Maine than MA.

    2. ^^^^^THIS!!!!!!!

      Let the residents of Florida deal with the bullshit!

      I want the homicidal freaks to stay out of my state.

      1. Even between elections, presidents are like pythons down here. Ubiquitous and unstoppable.

        1. I met the guy who is the GOP chair for The Villages at a Scott Walker meet and greet at Disney on Monday. In fact, I got to spend a minute explaining to Gov. Walker why this was a guy he wanted to know when his time came to run for president. I will say that Gov. Walker, (a)is extremely genial without seeming smarmy and (b)didn't say he wasn't gonna run for president. I like him better than Rick Scott from having spent the same amount of time with both.

    3. YOU'RE MISSING OUT ON THE EMPTY PANDERING. You poor fools don't even know what you're missing: attack ads!

      1. The Senate race here (Brown v Warren) is more than making up for that.

        1. That's true, everyone's representative is up for election as well as some senators. We should have those appointed lifetime positions. Boom, fixed!

        2. I've found a great way to shutdown the political discussions people try to engage me in.

          I look at them levelly and say in a low, bored voice, "this election is the least consequential one of my lifetime, and I really am uninterested in the meaningless, flashy, Kabuki theater."

          Works every time!

          1. I wish I had this line the other night when I was with a woman I wanted to penetrate, and out of the blue she said, "Please tell me you're voting for Obama"

            1. If she was into you, then it would backfire, because she'd be trying to get you interested in Obama. I figure nothing would kill a boner faster than having someone explain to you what a great guy Obama is.

              I'm so glad my girlfriend is utterly apolitical.

              1. I'm so glad my girlfriend is utterly apolitical.

                I prefer this over libertarian.

              2. +1. My wife would love nothing more than to never even know whats going on politically. OTOH, my daughter is starting to ask questions about things.

              3. I'm so glad my girlfriend is utterly apolitical.

                The wife's an NJEA stooge. Our discussions about politics inevitably descend into her regurgitating their talking points and me incredulously ripping them apart. Naturally, the subject doesn't come up much any more.

                1. Whenever friends and family become mouthpieces for the state EAs, it is a sad, sad day. And they all do it. I think there's an indoctrination you have to go through.

                  1. Roughly 75% of my friends and family are teachers at this point because there is really no other work available in NJ for college grads under 30. All but one is completely in thrall to the union, at least on matters of education policy, though the one that's not will probably end up running the district someday (small victory there).

                    They're all very adept at pointing out all of their problems, but whenever you bring up a solution outside of "increase my pay and hire more teachers," they stammer uncontrollably about how "you just don't understand!" I personally think that one of the biggest problems with public education in the country is just how fucking insular it is - they need more people that just don't get it.

            2. "Right now, I love Obama, baby. Love him."

            3. "I was with a woman I wanted to penetrate,"

              This would make me still want to penetrate her, but possibly in a different fashion.

              Maybe a grudge fuck or STEVE SMITH style.

              1. Or Revenge Anal, Archer Style.

        3. Is Brown even running ads? I can't recall seeing a single one but I see Warren's face pretty much every time I turn on the TV.

        4. Is Brown even running ads? I can't recall seeing a single one but I see Warren's face pretty much every time I turn on the TV.

          1. Does he need to run ads? Warren's face seems to be vote repellent enough all by itself.

          2. I've heard a couple horribly produced ones talking about asbestos victims.

      2. There are some advantages. For instance, when President Obama was last in Tampa, I asked him for a pony. He said sure, provided that he was reelected.

        1. Fingers crossed! (Dual purpose comment.)

          1. Mmmm. Tasty, delicious pony.

            Good ask, Pro L!

        2. OBAMAPONY!!!

    4. Agreed. If I didn't use the internet, I'd barely be aware that there was a national election happening. I only even see campaign signs for state and local elections.

  10. And just look at the benefits that non-battleground states get, no 24 hour candidate advertising, no mail boxes full of flyers, no phone calls asking for your support or polling data. I wish I lived in a non-battle ground state especially since the only two candidates likely to win are almost twins.

  11. Yet another good reason for why I moved from California to freakin' Cleveland. Although dealing with Obama's motorcade on OH-8/I-77 is a pain. Blocks the highway for about 30 miles.

    1. So you moved from one Obama-locked state to another one, only this one gets motorcades and election ads? And has worse weather?

      I hope you moved for the only possible correct reason. It rhymes with moonfang.

      1. Bah, we have a governor here who went to battle with the public-sector unions. Moving for Loondang had little to do with it, although it's hard to get much of that when you're away every week on a business trip because there ISN'T any business left to do in California.

        1. I thought that was what sites like AshleyMadison were for? As long as you know where you're going a few days in advance you just fine a nice bored housewife to entertain you while you are in town.

  12. Hey, Chapman, if you love democracy so much, why don't you move to Cuba?

    1. Because they don't have no smoking bans in their restaurants. The savages.

      1. WG, that was the best possible answer of all. You win the internets and earn the Best Quippest of 2012.

  13. There's no good argument for keeping the EC system. It's just a convoluted route to choosing the winner of the popular vote, except in some cases, and in certain cases I can think of it was hardly a justifiable, positive outcome.

    1. What if Romney got 55% of the national popular vote but running up margins in Texas and Utah and such, and yet the three Ron Paul Nevada electors voted for him instead of Romney and Obama somehow won the election?

      1. Such a mess would be as strong an argument as any to abolish the EC.

        1. You'd really prefer a President Romney to having your vote be just as meaningless but meaningless in a different manner?

          I thought you were practical about the best policy results.

          1. My vote would be quite a bit less meaningless. It would contribute to my guys' vote total instead of being an inevitable waste of 15 minutes. I wouldn't prefer a president Romney but I do think a president should have democratic legitimacy. Not that that was Bush's big problem.

            1. Your vote currently contributes to your guys vote total.

              What changes when you "lose" at a state level (you're in OK iirc) but "win" nationally compared to if you just "win" nationally?

              1. It contributes to an interesting but impotent statistic. The Republican will win my state's electoral votes. The EC is a pointless, idiosyncratic system that discourages democratic participation in nonswing states and at worst results in electing the guy fewer people wanted.

                1. And yet Obama will still be your President. Same as in 2008.

                  You may or may not have seen my post below but splitting EVs doesn't change any election since 1972 except 1996 where Dole wins.

                  And considering you're big on majoritarian democracy you probably want a popular vote system even less. Clinton got 42% and 49%.

                  1. I'd like a runoff system. That way all you guys who claim that voting for 3rd parties isn't counterproductive would be right.

                    1. And I think that kind of discussion is far more valuable for everyone than when you just declare anyone opposing you or the elite political structure to be carrying water for plutocrats.

                    2. I agree with Tony on this. Here in WA Obama is a lock. I can for vote for Donald Duck the result is the same but the stats are skewed.

                      I think the EC fixed a technical problem that no longer exists.

                    3. And if we change to popular vote, Obama will still win. Your vote matters just as much.

            2. We don't live in a democracy Tony. "Democratic legitimacy," whatever the fuck that is, is irrelevant.

              But you're just dreaming of a true mob democracy where 50.00001% of the population decides everything, just so long as they agree with you, right? Guess what, queers aren't real popular with greater than a simple majority of people in this country. But hey, denying them natural rights is A-O-Fucking-K with you as long as there is "democratic legitimacy" to the vote, right?

              Jesus you're a fucking tool.

    2. In 2000, we had a handful of controversial recounts in a few counties in Florida. Without the EC, given the 0.5% margin of victory, we would have had controversial recounts in every county in the country. That would not have been an improvement. Especially since we can't even count votes that accurately, anyway.

      1. That's a decent post-hoc argument for the EC, but it's also the exact argument for why the EC is unrepresentative. The argument is essentially that we have fewer states where we'll have to do controversial recounts in close elections. But it also means there are fewer states where candidates campaign in and for. You're describing a very specific virtue of the bluntness of the EC. I don't think that outweighs the virtue of a national popular vote.

        1. What's the value in candidates physically campaigning in states?

          What would change their policies? Look at the popular vote totals, look at Prop 8, every other gay marriage ban, etc.

    3. The original intent was to vote for Electors, who would gather after the election and debate the pros and cons of the candidates. Sagaciously, they would choose the best one. Electors might have come supporting one candidate but been convinced through the eloquence and statemanship of their peers to support another. The majority of electors would then choose the president.

      Since that essentially never happened, there's no particularly good reason to keep a disproportionate voting system for a national office.

  14. "As of 2010, Illinois, Hawaii, New Jersey, Maryland, Washington and the District of Columbia were on board."

    Nothing speaks against this plan more than the states that have climbed aboard the wagon.

    1. Very true. The company makes it highly distasteful.

      Strange since they probably won't like it when the Republican votes in their state begin to matter towards determining the outcome of the election. Lock up 50.0001% of the Dem vote in those states and you get 100% of the electoral votes.

      In non-EC future, that 50.0001% has to contend with the fact that the remaining 49.9999% will matter in the larger picture. A few Republican wins in non-EC elections wins will see these states crying for a return to the electoral college.

    2. I don't know which state is the sanest, but it is either Nevada, New Hampshire or New Mexico. Maybe Wyoming could squeeze in, just a little.

  15. FairVote has been around for a few years now, and the idea of using interstate compacts to subvert the constitution is just as ludicrous now as ever.

    The Wall Street Journal had a much better piece on fairVote a few years ago, which I cant find, but the crux of the argument was, do you really trust a state like Massachusetts to give its electoral votes to a Republican candidate for the presidency? Knowing their is NO enforcement mechanism to stop the Governor of a state from saying "they may have won the popular vote but we're not going to let them be elected".

  16. Thank you Steve, for this article. I look forward to your advocacy for the abolishment of the States, given that they are antiquated Administrative districts of the all-powerful FedGov. And while we're at it, we should just do away with that tired old Congress and convert to direct democracy. After all, don't the Representatives and the Senators have an outsized seat at the table? And speaking of Senate, why does every state get two?? What an outrage!

    1. That's a great idea. Mandate--in the form of a tax--that each citizen own a smartphone, which must include a voting app. Votes will be held nonstop on all issues the central government (now the only government) has jurisdiction over, which would be just about everything. Failure to vote so many times a day will be a felony.

      1. Clearly, we need a Politburo.

        1. Well, sure, some people have to represent the general will, reflected by our cellphone votes that these people will have the sole and absolute authority to tabulate.

          1. You mean, tabula rasa, no? -))))

      2. Thank God Obama is providing voters with phones already.

  17. Between LBJ and GWB, I think it is hard to argue that Texas is ignored in Presidential elections.

    1. I forgot to mention GHWB as well.

  18. What if the election is a Tie?

    1. Thunderdome.

  19. Hm, I wonder why the Great State of Illinois has not seen fit to proportionally allocate it's electoral votes, as other states have done?

    Seems to me that if Illinois wants a say in the process, it should change the way it allocates its Electors.

    But Chapman doesn't say anything about that, of course. Because that would mean the evil Republicans get some EVs, and we can't have that.

    1. I think one reason this hasn't taken off was because of what I once checked where such EV splitting would actually help Republicans.

      IIRC none of the election results change except 1996 where Dole wins.

      1. Bob Dole: Bob Dole is all for popular allocation of electoral votes.

        1. It's more because the GOP controls the House delegations and nobody gets a EV majority.

          1. Bob Dole: Bob Dole was mostly referencing the fact that Bob Dole likes to refer to Bob Dole in the third person.

            1. I hope you didn't sit in Bob Dole's chair. Or touch his peanut butter.

      2. Yes. If Chapman wants Illinois to be relevant, then maybe Illinois can make itself relevant.

        Instead, Chapman wants the whole nation to adopt a mild version of the Popular Vote, because otherwise Illinois would instantly give at least 7 electoral votes to the Republican. ZOMG.

    2. Wouldn't doing that nationwide make the Presidential election mirror the House elections?

      I like the winner take all system. But it is up to the states. Since I don't live in Illinois, it is none of my business how they allocate their votes.

      1. Unless they allocate those electoral votes to Ron Paul?

      2. I would like to see SC go back to choosing their electors in the state legislature.

  20. an antiquated, jerry-rigged system that the framers created without a clue how it would function

    I think Alexander Hamilton and James Madison would disagree with your assertion that the Electoral College was just something they pulled out of their ass. You might try reading Federalist 68. (Hint: it's got something to do with the fact that - once upon a time - the United States were a federal republic whose founders rightfully feared democracy easily becomes mob rule.)

    When you fail to see the reason for custom and tradition and precedent, a little basic humility might lead you to question whether your failure to understand why things are the way that they are is a reflection on your own ignorance rather than on the stupidity of those who came before you.

    1. "Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of President of the United States"

      But I could be wrong. I think a clear rebuttal to Hamilton lies in the fact that next month we are going to be electing one of these nematodes President rather than Village Idiot.

      1. Well he certainly has 'other talents'. Not sure about the merit though.

  21. I'd be perfectly happy if every state went to the Maine-Nebraska model.

    1. Agreed. The millions and millions of voters in the minority in Texas, California, Florida and New York combined have less say about who is president than the miniscule majority in Wyoming and Alaska.

      1. boo hoo. Do you want to abolish the Senate too?

        1. No, my point is that the application of the electoral college by most states apply the same logic for electing the Senate to electing the presidential electors. It would be better if electors were picked in a manner that reflected both the Senate and House elections - one elector awarded to the winner of each Congressional district and two electors rewarded to the winner of each state. This reduces the hugely disproportionate advantage in selecting the president a voter in Wyoming has over a voter in California, and makes one's individual vote slightly more likely to make a difference in the final outcome.

          There is something inherently wrong with a system that makes a vote in Wyoming worth 4.5 times the weight of a vote in California, even though I get the Federalism argument with the Senate (which went out the window with the 17th Amendment).

          1. What's inherently wrong about it?

            I've lived in the United States all my life and no libertarian has ever won election to the Presidency because of my vote.

            What makes that different from being an Obama supporter in Wyoming or a libertarian in California/NY?

            1. What's inherently wrong about it?

              Plenty. For starters, if a state is guaranteed one representative, why shouldn't the number of representatives in all the other states be calculated by dividing by their population by least populated state's population? If the House actually represented the popular vote, based on Wyoming's 1 representative, California would have 82 representatives and thus 84 electors. Currently they only have 53 representatives and 55 electors. Even if they recomputed electors in this way, Wyoming's electoral votes would each represent 3 times the power of each electoral vote from California.

              If you support federalism, why does the "say" of big states deserve to be so drastically diminished?

              1. That's because of the limit on the number of House seats.

                Congress can easily change that, it's merely a law. But there's no interest in it for the same reason they like directly elected Senators. And gerrymandering. And everything else.

                I see zero problem with every state having at least one representative.

                1. I agree with you. Removing the arbitrary top limit on the number of representatives would return the House to its original purpose and would help correct the disproportionate representation small states have in both Congress and the Electoral College. As it should be.

                  1. Alright, then we aren't disagreeing. I thought you were complaining more about the EC.

                    I think the EC setup is alright and that the lack of representation in the House matters more. It altering the EC is just a nice side effect.

                    1. I have my share of problems with the EC and in some ways would prefer a popular vote (for instance, it's more convincing to argue a tyrant candidate could blackmail or threaten a few hundred measly electors, than to argue a pure tyrant could convince 311M voters to voluntarily pick him.)

                      My solution is to fix the representative-proportioning issue, then each state passes laws to grant one elector for the winner of each congressional district and two electors for the winner of the state. This better reflects the popular vote while still giving smaller states a bit more say than they would with a pure popular vote. And it means that since we're talking a smaller scale (a Congressional district vs. a whole state), voting has slightly more impact and third parties have better chances.

    2. Seconded. I think that's the best compromise.

  22. Things must be really going badly for Obama. Chapman is arguing against the electoral college. Whining about how the big meanie founders stuck us with this electoral college is usually one of the first stages of loser's grief in a Presidential contest.

  23. In other news, 2+2=4

  24. For what it's worth, California isn't exactly hopeless.

    Here's the latest poll I can find...

    1) 2012 California President: Romney vs. Obama

    Barack Obama 53%
    Mitt Romney 39%
    Other 4%
    Undecided 4%


    And that's +/- 4%.

    If that poll's right, that means there are some 14 million people in California who are voting Republican, and 47% of Californians either plan to vote for someone other than Barack Obama or haven't seen enough of Barack Obama yet to determine whether they can hold their noses long enough to pull the lever for him.

    If the Republicans could convince a small percentage of suburban women that they weren't entirely hostile to immigrants and gay people, a guy like Romney would have a legitimate shot at all those electoral votes in Ca...

    But noooOOOoooo! Gotta stop the housecleaning/lawn mowing menace!

    1. Your assuming 100% voter turnout, which will never happen.

      1. If that poll were restricted to likely voters, I'd suspect that would actually favor Republicans.

  25. Yes, that's the problem in the U.S. - not enough majority rule, too much lingering respect for federalism.

    Spare us the stuff about how a candidate can win despite being opposed by a majority - you know, that stuff can happen in parliamentary, Westminster-style systems. The ruling party or parties can pile up majorities in a majority of constituencies, while losing the "popular vote."

    And this may be counterintuitive (because OMG small states get two extra elecoral votes!!!), but the EC system gives advantages to the large states - except the Californias and New Yorks which simply give away their support to a single party regardless of the circumstances. But if a large state keepts its electoral votes in play, then it has more influence than the small states, making up for the small-state advantage in the Senate.

    And as for all the horror stories of minority-vote presidents - John Quincy Adams in 1824 won in an election where nobody had a majority and the election went to the House, just like in a Westminster-style system. Tilden 1876 and Cleveland 1888 got their popular-vote majorities by suppressing the black vote, so they are very dubious "victims." Bush/Gore - the less said about that the better, but people need to get over it.

    1. 2000: the popular vote was so close that there would have been a lot of recounts. Every county in the country would have looked like Broward County. That cluster-F would have been replaced by a larger, even more divisive cluster-F.

  26. Yeah, good idea Steve, lets use straight up popular vote, so LA and NY pick our president every time.

    1. I really don't know why people keep saying this kind of thing.

      They already get a powerful say because EV's are allocated by population.

      There's a lot of people in this country who don't live in the largest cities.

      1. It's because they have no clue what they're talking about.

        You get 70% of the vote in some dense areas and you can virtually ignore the rest of the areas. LA and NYC are more likely to drive the elections now then they would in a non-EC election.

        1. Yeah, as noted above, you switch to an allocation and Chicago, LA, NYC, Detroit, etc. don't dictate the votes anymore. The rest of those states start sending in EVs. (And those dejected GOPers probably get out and vote to grab those extra EVs.)

          1. Detroit? There are like 8 people left in that city.

            1. Doesn't stop hundreds of thousands from voting.

              1. Those 8 guys are real busy voters.

    2. That's not true - every vote would count the same instead of weighting someone who lives in one artificial area's vote less than someone who live in another.

      I actually like the idea of tallying electoral votes via the winner of each Congressional district, plus two automatic electoral votes for the winner of each state (representing the Senate). This puts us a lot closer to equity while still giving small states a marginally improved say.

  27. All-or-nothing is NOT a "defect in the Electoral College." It is a defect in the state legislatures that adopted it.

  28. FWIW, I think single member districts are just fine.

    You go to proportional representation, and the blue states won't turn purple--they'll be controlled by a small minority of outright socialists and greens.

    1. And I'm sure a scanning electron microscope could detect the difference.

      1. In California?


        They would get rid of Prop 13 if they could!

        There are plenty of things the greens and socialists would like to do in California but can't with the support they have now. As bad as it is, it could be a lot worse.

  29. Only for the most important office does that custom get cast aside

    Now I'm no big-city American historian, but (outside of times of war) wasn't the Presidency originally supposed to be not that powerful (at least, not like the near god-like status it has become nowadays) and hence, not that important?

    1. How dare you. And in the middle of our regular ritual to elevate a God-King.

      It's like you want to make all our offerings and dances be for naught.

      1. I'm a regular Debbie Downer, I know.

    2. Not just the presidency, the whole shebang, but yes.

    3. It seems to me that getting the most votes in a midterm doesn't guarantee you the most house seats.

    4. The presidency is still not that powerful, except for expanded war powers. He has less legislative influence than many parliamentary systems' prime ministers. He just gets the bulk of the praise and blame for everything.

      1. The presidency is still not that powerful, except for expanded war powers. He has less legislative influence than many parliamentary systems' prime ministers. He just gets the bulk of the praise and blame for everything.

        This has to be one of the funniest things you've written in a while - topping the post where you implied feudalism created a large middle-class.

        The fact that you've been reduced to writing things that are completely disconnected from reality and are expressions of your desires for how the world should be is delicious.

        1. Tony's statements come from something like a Magic 8 Ball--but with far fewer possible answers.


        2. And fattening. Needs moar Taubes. -))

        3. I don't know. His statement that all voluntary exchanges involve coercion was pretty hard to beat.

          1. He said that?!? Dang, that's what I get for having a life and not stalking the board 24X7!

            1. He's said it a few times.

              You're coercing people by not providing them with things they need without asking for a trade or whatever I forget.

            2. Tony quite literally believes that having a constitution limits freedom. Why? Because you're restraining the majority's ability to have a say in every facet of life, and the majority should be 'free' to have that say.

        4. How is every failure of the Obama administration Bush's fault, then? Surely un-powerful presidents are even less powerful when they aren't even still in office.

      2. So it's all misnomer when one says "Obamacare" or "Bush prescription drug plan" or "Clinton health care plan", eh?

        (Hmm... I detect a pattern here...)

        1. The Bush Tax Cuts!

          1. I believe the approved doubleplusgood phrasing is "the Bush Tax Cuts for the Rich".

      3. PMs in a parliamentary system are totally dependent on maintaining their party's dominance in the parliament. BO wouldn't have survived past 2010 if he were a prime minister. Likewise, Bush wouldn't have made it past 2006 (or possibly earlier, since parliaments tend to jump ship faster).

        The biggest power difference in the Presidency as opposed to the prime ministry is that you have independence from the legislature.

    5. The Senate was also supposed to be not-that-powerful, and to primarily exist to veto legislation that wasn't in the best interests of the state s legislature.

  30. so the answer to the percieved Electoral College problem is to set up a system where you are basically forced into a situation where your state represents what the majority of other states voted for rather than representing the people of your state. We've already gone too far away from a federal govt accountable to the states (senate no longer elected by state legislatures). there is such a thing as too much democracy, the founders were right to fear it, and we're seeing the dangers of it.

    1. I am going to concur and repeat myself: if Chapman wants Illinois to be relevant, then Illinois is going to have to give up some of its EVs to the Republicans. The fact that Steve skipped right over the obvious solution to his problem with this system and proceeded right into a Constitutionally-dubious and unenforceable intranational compact speaks volumes about Chapman's agenda here.

      1. Republicans may have trouble seeing what's wrong with a system that kept Gore out of the White House. They would feel differently had John Kerry lost the popular vote but won in the Electoral College ... There is one possible avenue for change: for Obama to lose the popular vote but win the election. Then Republicans as well as Democrats would know how it feels to be governed by a candidate whom they and most of their fellow citizens rejected.

        Yep, still butthurt and whining about the 2000 election.

        This proposal by "FairVote" sounds like possibly the worst idea I've ever heard. They could just allocate each state's electors according to the popular vote split. They wouldn't even need to ammend the constitution to do it either.

        Article 2 Section 1: Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress

    2. I think you're ignoring that all that matters is you get to throw your one vote into the pool of 120+ million others. That's true freedom.

      1. No, that's true democracy. Freedom and democracy have no natural predilection towards one another and are more often at odds than not.

        1. Hey you're totally free to do anything that the majority allows you to do.

        2. 119,999,999 wolves and a sheep deciding what's for dinner.

          Sounds like everyone's going hungry.

    3. We have as much antidemocratic state influence over national policy as you could reasonably expect. Montana, with a population less than a million, has exactly the same amount of power in the Senate as California, a state with 54 million people. And it even gets a seat in the House too. There is no dearth of overrepresentation of state collectives. And states' rights is a collectivist position.

      1. No one said anything about states' rights.

      2. And California gets 53 seats in the House.

      3. If it weren't for leftist flerkwads centralizing power at the federal level, representation in the EC and the Senate would be nowhere near as important.

  31. Another horrible, anti-federalist article by Steve Chapman. Geez.

    1. The electoral college as applied by the states is over-federalist. Small states are already disproportionately represented in the Senate and (thus) the elector division. So, the electors that are allocated to a State to represent House representation are being allocated to the party that would win the whole State/Senate seat, even if that House district preferred the other party.

      1. The electoral college as applied by the states is over-federalist.

        Define *over* and tell me why it's so important that it be more populist.

      2. Small states are already disproportionately represented in the Senate

        No they arent, they are represented equally. The House is the peoples' house, the senate is the states' house so population doesnt matter. 1 state, 1 vote (or actually 2).

        1. Even the House is not really well correlated with population. California has 53 times as many representatives as Wyoming and 82 times the population. So the House, the Senate AND the Electoral College are ALL weighted in favor of voters in smaller states.

          Again, in what way does federalism equal reducing voters in big states' say in the federal government? I thought federalism meant letting states self-govern without federal intrusion.

          1. California has roughly 12% of the population and 12% of the EC. I fail to see the dis-proportionality.

            1. Wyoming has 0.1% of the national population and holds 0.5% of electors. California holds 12% of the population and 10% of the electors. They don't look significantly different on paper, but you're shifting around millions of Americans in these margins.

              1. That is because Wyoming has to have some form of representation. You either want to water that down by giving California 80(!) EVs and thereby giving it disproportionate representation or you want to take away Wyoming's.

                1. You eliminate the cap on the size of the house and have CA have 82 times the number of representatives as WY. So yeah, water down WY so that it has the right proportion.

                2. If California had 85 votes and Wyoming had 3, Wyoming voters would STILL have 3 times the proportional representation as California voters.

                  Wyoming = 450K / 3 = 150K per elector
                  California = 36,914K / 85 = 434K per elector

              2. Tell Congress to increase the size of the House.

  32. The electoral college is a holdover from a time where voters likely didn't know who the people running were and information traveled slowly. It was intended so that voters would vote for electors (who local voters would know) that would vote for a candidate on behalf on the voter. Let's not pretend that the way the electoral college works is anything at all the way it was envisioned by the framers. In 1824, the electors were chosen by the state legislature in a quarter of the states.

    1. Remind me again how much you care about what the framers envisioned...

      1. WRT the electoral college, not at all. I think it's a relic that made sense 200 years ago that's not really relevant today.

    2. (1) Voters still don't know what people are running. In a poll of people on the street, an Obama-Paul ticket polls well

      (2) Misinformation travels quickly these days

      1. Excuse me, Obama-Ryan

      2. They still know more about the candidates than who their electors are. I'm pretty sure the only people who know who the electors are are the electors themselves and their spouses.

    3. The campaigns were months long and there were newspapers. People who wanted to know who was running knew.

      The EC was intended as a way for the elites to prevent radical populists from getting into office. That system, of course, fell apart shortly after 1824 with the election of Andrew Jackson.

    4. Hamilton also envisioned it as a sort of check against unqualified or extremely corrupt power mongering asshats getting elected president (you see how well that's worked).

      In Federalist 68 he described electors as "Men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice."

      1. Right. My comment on the electoral college is that the electors have essentially been taken completely out of the process. They mechanically vote the way they were told to vote by a popular vote in their state.

    5. You don't know what th ehell you're talking about.

  33. If you didn't have the electoral college, the candidates would spend all their time in large metro areas.

    Either way, someone's going to get neglected. That's what Congress is for.

    I always find it interesting that the same people who rail against the EC never seem to take issue with gerrymandering, which is a much greater sin against democracy.

    1. I dunno, seems like there are loads of people that rail against gerrymandering. With modern computing, there's no reason why human should be involved in the process at all. It should be a computer program with parameters based on a combination of population targets and geographic and municipal boundaries.

      1. I'm not sure computing power is the problem; it's always been logistically easier to not gerrymander than to gerrymander.

        I recall reading about a proposal to require that all but one district in a state have straight line boundaries inside the state, and a maximum of 4 of them. Obviously you couldn't require all the boundaries to be straight lines because the state boundaries may not be straight; also it would usually be impossible to make every district a rectangle, as there would always be one weird-shaped district left over.

        It did have some weird consequences, like it being impossible to draw a district map for Colorado without splitting Denver among several districts.

        1. Doing it with a computer makes it easy to do it on a non-partisan way. Agree on the general rules and it'll work out.

          I prefer using municipal (city and county) borders and geographic features (rivers and mountains) over simple straight lines. It better represents how people live. You do that while trying to minimize square mileage and you'll get pretty fair and realistic districts.

          1. Yeah, but the devil's in the details. You're going to have to set priorities for some types of rivers, mountains, etc over others, and probably the same with county borders. There are a lot of details that would have to be worked out and it's going to be very hard to keep partisanship out.

            I'd rather crack Denver, personally.

    2. I think they'd mostly just campaign in the same places. But run ads everywhere.

      You think Romney would waste time campaigning in LA, SF, NYC? The voting patterns there wouldn't change. But he'd still have reason to run around Ohio and Florida with the swing voters.

      It'd probably actually maximize the large swing states like Ohio/Florida/Michigan/etc. instead of trying to pick off anything in Nevada or Vermont or whatever.

      1. Sure he would. There are swing voters everywhere. There would be more in big cities because there are more people. If you can get NYC to shift from 80-20 to 75-25 that's an extra 125K votes. That's equal to half of all the votes in the state of Wyoming.

        1. And Romney campaigning in NYC shifts those votes how?

          1. Same reason campaigning anywhere shifts votes; because people like to feel paid attention to.

      2. No if you get rid of the EC the the very concept of States in the Presidential election become irrelivant. What becomes important is Metropolitan areas, more importantly TV markets.

        Go here, look at the list of Combined Statistical Areas...


        No Presidental candidate is going to waste time or money campaigning or advertising in anyplace below 20 or 25 on that list because a 5% shift in one of the vote in the top 10 cities would be more votes than a 50% swing in anyplace with a population below 2.5 Million and ultimately the top 4 - 6 cities will always decide the Presidency.

      3. Note the "Metro areas" in my comment. I can use bold type next time if you require it.

        DON'T make me pull out the blink tag.

  34. In his usual psuedo-libertarian fashion, Steve Chapman tells us that the founders arbitrarily gave us the electoral college not because of a desire to limit majoritarianism but because they had no idea what they were doing.

    He bemoans winner-take-all STATE electoral laws, and proposes that the solution is abolish the electoral college. With logic like that it's surprising that Chapman doesn't work over at Mother Jones.

    1. I agree Chapman's got his points muddled, but the core idea is true - federalism should not mean that small states should have six times as much say as big states in determining the President. Federalism shouldn't mean small states have power over big states any more than it means big states should have power over small states.

      For starters, House allocation has gotten so disconnected from representing population that it isn't even funny.

      1. Be that as it may, the House of Representatives is supposed to represent the citizenry. The Senate was meant to represent State governments. It was the safeguard against centralized power until 1913.

        As for the Electoral College; if you want to mitigate the influence of a few big swing states, we need to apportion electors according to electoral outcomes in those states instead of "winner-take-all". Essentially state law will have to change, or the Federal government would need to amend the basis upon which electors are chosen in every state.

        1. Well, the House of Representatives fails to represent the citizenry because they have fixed the maximum number of representatives irrespective to population changes. And, as you mentioned, the Senate fails to represent the states since the 17th Amendment.

          We agree on the solution at the state level. But I also think they need to shift the number of representative allocated based upon the ratio of the state's population to that of the least populated state.

          1. Yes the methods of apportionment has long been a problem. There's some good ideas out there to change it but almost every statistical method we've used has fallen short of equity. I'd have to do some reading, but I believe not too long ago they were basing the citizen-to-Representitive ratio on the population of the least populous state.

          2. The population of the US has grown by a factor of 75 since the founding, while the House has grown by a factor of 7. So yeah, the ratio has gone up, but you'd need 4000+ members of the House to keep it the same as it was. Not very practical.

            1. I agree it wouldn't be practical to stick with the 30,000 voters per representative rule we started with. But simply adjusting all states' proportional representation based on the population of Wyoming (the least populated) would require around 700 representatives and thus there would be around 800 electors. Essentially 1 rep per 450,000 people. That's perfectly feasible, although the poor babies would have to deal with being a little more cramped on Capitol Hill.

              1. We could alleviate the overcrowding problem by an amendment allowing them to be in session only one month a year, barring a national emergency, during which they could not take any action other than declaring war and other weighty business.

                  1. And then make them go through a TSA checkpoint to get into the House chamber. Where their constituents work as the TSA officers.

      2. The problem isn't bigness, the problem is single-party dominance. It does seem fitting that by obliterating your internal state opponents and setting up one-party rule, you reduce your relevance to national matters.

        If California is pissed about being irrelevant in the presidential race, maybe they should make an agreement with Texas to import some Republicans.

  35. The EC is not a perfect system but it's certainly better than a popular vote. The only good thing about going to the popular vote would be that we would go over the financial cliff that much sooner instead of this slow ripping off of the band-aid. I do wonder though what the reaction would be when people quickly figured out that three states basically controlled the rest of the country.

  36. If electors were allocated partially via Congressional district, Gary Johnson could probably win some electors by focusing all his resources on say, Ron Paul's district, or on winning some counties in New Mexico.

    1. Why do you assume those counties or districts would throw their vote away and elect Obama?

      1. Could =/= would

        And voting for Gary Johnson =/= electing Obama.

    2. For once, I think it's a Federal prerogative to step in and ensure that states apportion electors this way, proportionally that is. Winner-take-all is one way that the two-party duopoly is perpetuated.

      1. The constitution says it's up to the state legislatures. (In the case of DC, Congress decides as per the 23rd amendment)

        You'd need to pass a consitutional amendment, and there's no way any of the swing states would agree to it.

        Also, if it were only WTA that were holding third parties back, they should be able to win House seats. So it's more than that.

        1. If the GOP wanted to be pricks, they could pass a proportional electoral vote law for DC. In some years they could probably pick off one of the three EVs.

  37. Romney doesn't bother campaigning in California because he knows it's the state law here that all electoral votes must go to the Democrat.

    1. Oregon is the only western state that gets shafted.

      If the candidates did actually go there it could be competitive...but it is too far away from all the other swing states and too small (only 7 electoral votes) for anyone to give a shit about.

      1. Oregon borders a swing state (NV).

    2. Until Pete Wilson pissed off the Hispanic population, California was a pretty reliably Republican state. 1992 was the first time it went for a Dem since LBJ and only the second time since Truman.

  38. Steve Chapman I am extremely disappointed in the naivete of this article. The elector college is NOT the old way of doing things.
    It is the NEW WAY.
    The direct (mod rule) democracy is far, far older and often leads to autocratic type governments. The reason we have the electoral college is so the HIGH populous areas of the country like a few states that have the large major cities DO NOT dominate the rest more RURAL least populous states. LASTLY the college is there to be that last safe guard against against a Hitler/Hugo Chavez type from getting into office. But at the very lest what you and this fair vote losers are trying to do is insure that guys like OBAMA always win!!!!!! Candidates that make emotional generalities (hope change) with no substance. A guy like this can fluke in once in a while with the current system but will be all we ever get or worse with fairvote's mod-rule idea.

    1. Wouldn't worry too much about it since this would have to be ratified by 75% of the States which is not going to happen no matter how big a hissy fit the left throws. They could all do us a favor and protest by holding their breath until they get there way though.

      1. You completely missed the point. This would not involve amending the constitution. It would simply be an agreement among certain states to allocate their electoral votes in a certain manner, as the states currently have the power to do that.

        I think a better way would be for (at least the large states) all electors to be awarded by congressional district, with the remaining two electoral votes going to the candidate winning the popular vote in that state.

    2. good point. It's like when socialists, statists or communists argue that their proposed system is new cutting edge stuff. When in fact, 99% of human history shows economic interactions between individuals was entirely subject the the whims of the state. Limited government and free market economics is the NEW system that has lifted more people from abject poverty than any combination of tyranny and central planning.

    3. The direct (mod rule) democracy is far, far older and often leads to autocratic type governments.

      Even if popular vote determines which "representatives" represent us in the executive and legislative (and judicial branches), that's not the same as direct democracy. And I fail to see how one contorted way of slicing votes guarantees less tyranny. Why couldn't the 535 electors be blackmailed into picking a tyrant? That's a lot easier than convincing hundreds of millions to vote for them.

    4. The reason we have the electoral college is so the HIGH populous areas of the country like a few states that have the large major cities DO NOT dominate the rest more RURAL least populous states.

      Why does the weight of an individual's Presidential vote need to be shifted based on which side of an arbitrary line they live on? There are rural voters in California and urban voters in Oklahoma. The Senate was already created to give small, less populated states a place at the table. Each Wyoming Senator has as much power as each California Senator, yet the California Senators represent 85 times as many people. But I get that, so why isn't that enough for small states? As I mentioned, California has only 53 times as many Representatives as Wyoming does (when it should have 85 times as many). And then the President is selected on these same imbalanced criteria.

      Where does equal representation under the law factor into this? We all have to follow the same federal tax codes and laws regardless of which border we fall within.

      1. Why does a person's Senatorial weighted representation so shift as well?

        1. I'm ok with leaving the Senate as is, provided small states aren't disproportionately represented in the House as well (which they currently are). Readjusting the latter, the electoral college representation is somewhat closer to reflecting the actual population of the states.

          Or, perhaps there shouldn't be any Electoral College since small states already get a huge "check" on presidential power via the Senate. Perhaps votes for president should reflect each individual citizen's will instead of filtering it through artificial state boundaries.

      2. "equal representation under the law"? Never heard of that.

        Equal protection, you mean? That's referring to something very different.

        1. Sure, although I assume our representives' jobs are to protect us. If we aren't being represented equitably, how can we be sure there's the possibility of being protected equitably?

          1. The point of EPC is to restrain democracy, not promote it; to ensure equal protection even without effective representation.

            There's no way that atheists, for example, could possibly get equal representation in Congress or their state legislatures; they're too spread out. Yet EPC prevents state legislatures from, say, making it legal to murder an atheist.

            1. No I'm not talking about any demographically-based "equal representation." I'm talking about the idea that all Americans should have an equal say in who represents them and who makes and approves the laws they have to comply with. The President is President over every person, so why shouldn't every person get an equal opportunity to choose the President? Currently, each vote in California = 1 and each vote in Wyoming = 6.5. That's simply ludicrous to me.

  39. Washington Oregon and California need to be split up into six states.

    California should be three states and Oregon and Washington should be made into three states.

    1. That requires permission of the legislatures, which will never happen because the legislative bigwigs like controlling tens of millions of people.

      Of course, some of the small fry might realize that they could be big fish in a smaller pond if the states broke up, but they usually can't fight the bigwigs.

    2. Another solution would be to merge Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and the Dakotas into one state. But then you'd have to deal with little fish in big pond issues.

      Basically the status quo will never change.

  40. I have one major issue with this article and that is the framers of the constitution set it up this way in order that a more republican form of government would be established, they let the states choose the way they would appropriate the electoral votes for that state, it just so happens that all of the states base it on a winner take all popular vote. I say dont tear down the electoral college only to give us the rule of the mob (otherwise known as democracy) but fix the electoral system state by state. I personally think that the states should apportion the electoral votes based on how many popular votes that candidate got in the state or maybe the state legislatures would vote instead of the populace. A winner take all system though is the problem in my opinion, and lack of choice but thats a whole other can of worms.

    1. There's no incentive for a state to allocate its electoral votes proportionally. It would actually make their votes less meaningful.

  41. If a state wants candidates to come to their state the best thing they could do is split their electoral collage and divvy out votes proportionally to the states general election results.

    So if a state say has 10 electoral votes and one candidate wins by 60% then he gets 6 votes while the other candidate gets 4.

    1. Well, California for instance would probably only have about 10 of its electoral votes in play under that scenario. With much more expensive media markets than similarly sized WTA states.

      I'd rather dump my money into New Mexico, personally...dollars go further there.

  42. The idea is for a group of states to agree they will allocate their electoral votes to the candidate who wins the national popular vote, regardless of who finishes first in their state.

    Chapman always reminding us why he is a fucking idiot.

    Hey Steve what happens when Illinois stuffs its ballots so it can bump up the number of votes cast?

    Steve can't answer that cuz he doesn't even know why we have an electoral college.

    Here is a hint steve: to prevent fraud.

    1. In what way does the Electoral College prevent fraud?

      In fact, it seems like it would be a lot easier to bribe/blackmail/threaten a few hundred electors than convince a plurality of all voters to choose you voluntarily.

  43. "Obama and Romney don't seem to be running for president of the United States of America but for president of the Discontiguous States of Florida, Ohio and Virginia."

    That's some C-grade bullshit right there.

    1. Apparently he didn't realize that the states are already discontiguous.

  44. The idea is for a group of states to agree they will allocate their electoral votes to the candidate who wins the national popular vote, instead of paying attention to those pesky voters.


  45. Steve Chapman Kid who can't hit baseball off the tee.

    I know that, you know that, Steve knows that. Yet we can't stop reading! Reason knows that!

    As for battleground states:

    I wouldn't really care except it's Football season. 49ers dominating(I live in CO) then bam! Boner gone with presidential election commercial.

    GF Politics:

    My GF works down at the Public Pretenders Office, Raging Dem and warming up to gold money... it's a miracle.

  46. Just read the autobiography of Fredrick Douglas and he said the slaves of different masters used to fight over who's master was more important, richer, or which one owned the most land. I think we're devolving back into a democracy either way. All roads lead despotism.

  47. Maine and Nebraska have some kind of split voting of their electoral college whereby they can vote for differing candidates. Not sure how it works.

  48. Maine and Nebraska have some kind of split voting of their electoral college whereby they can vote for differing candidates. Not sure how it works.

  49. Complaining about a candidate winning in the Elecoral College despite losing the popular vote is like getting upset when a baseball team wins a game in which they got fewer base hits. Both teams know the rules of the game, and strategize accordingly. If the rules were different, the strategies would be too.

  50. The federal government was not designed to represent the people, rather the states. Our politicians have skewed this, but the framers of our constitution and the citizens of the colonies understood this very important distinction. This is about the states - and each state can only influence the decisions of the federal government so much.

    The senate serves the same purpose. Small population states have the same weight on issues as do large population states - every state gets two senators, regardless of population size.

    The senate equalization serves the same purpose as does the electoral college. Otherwise, major cities like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago would decide all elections, and state rights can go out the door. When state rights are lost, individual rights quickly follow. State rights provide low costs of exit for U.S. Citizens and a platform to fight the fed. Though it does not happen as often as it should, it's a platform nonetheless. Take Obamacare, for instance, it was the state governments that filed suit. They stood for their respective citizens.

    If you believe in a constitutional republic, the electoral college is a very important component of that. Sometimes it stings (4 times now in history), but that is because it is limiting the effects of any one or two state's power over all the rest.

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