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Thread: The Electoral College

  1. #1
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    The Electoral College

    This appears to be something that has caused quite a bit of frustration, especially in 2000 when Al Gore won the popular vote but W. won the Presidency. I am surprised to hear that it is actually the states that get to decide how each of their Electoral College votes placed. There is a movement for each state to vote for whom ever wins the popular vote, it does not become effective until there is at least enough states to cover the 270 Electoral College votes.

    While I realize that it would not have likely changed the recent results, I wonder what would happen if each state issued their Electoral College votes based on the election outcome for each congressional district instead of just the popular state vote.

    What are your thoughts on the Electoral College? Should it be maintained as is, eliminated, or modified to better represent the people?
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  2. #2
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    I would love to see the Clectoral College abolished altogether but without the Republican candidate winning the popular vote while losing the electoral vote, I don't see them getting on board anytime soon (even before 2000, they have traditionally been the party opposed). As it stands right now, one vote in relatively unpopulous states like Wyoming and the Dakotas count the same as 4 votes in California, Texas, or Florida, to put it another way, there is 1 vote in Wyoming for every 140,000 residents and 1 vote in California for ever 450,000 residents. I often here the argument against abolishing the Electoral College that we don't want to encourage the candidates to spend all their money and time campaigning solely on the costs. That argument doesn't really make sense to me though since currently all we get is the candidates spending all their time in Ohio (or whatever state that they think is going to be the big swing state that cycle) anyway.

    In the meantime, I would be happy with each state giving two electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote and then their additional votes going to the winner of the congressional districts in that state, similar to how Maine and Nebraska do. FYI, that would have resulted in a 252 to 286 electoral vote win for the Romney this time around (assuming the 14 still uncalled congressional races get split with 7 for Obama and 7 for Romney... even if all went for one or the other candidate, Romney would still win).
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    I think it's important that rural and small states get representation. However it does rub me the wrong way that some votes count more than others as a result. I just can't think of a system that would better handle the situation.

    Honestly, I'm pretty indifferent to the electoral college. I've seen a lot of good arguments for and against. One recent one that I thought was good in support was that it can help compartmentalize vote fraud in individual states. I think the chances of that scale of voter fraud occurring are extremely remote but until there's some federal standards on how elections are done, I think it warrants consideration.

    Related to the electoral college but the thing that bugs me most in our election system is how the parties handle primaries. It makes no sense to make that a bunch of small states like Iowa and New Hampshire have such influence in selecting presidential nominees. I think there should be a national primary day that'd ensure the parties select who they want without all the media attention or the momentum considerations. It really bugs me to see good electable candidates fail just because the media narrative doesn't favor them as a result of losing in some insignificant states.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    W. won the Presidency.

    What are your thoughts on the Electoral College? Should it be maintained as is, eliminated, or modified to better represent the people?
    How quickly they are told how to forget. W was handed the presidency. The spineless Dems couldn't take the pressure any more - a couple more giant angry a-holes with determination in the D party at that time could have delivered a different outcome.

    Nevertheless, I think the system is antiquated but IDK how to make it better, especially in our current political economy.
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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    I found information on this thing called the swing state project. Each congressional district vote would be appointed based on who won that district (435 popular voting by small district) and each senate vote would be based on the popular vote for the state (100 +2 for DC). A percentage tie in each district would split the vote.

    In 2008, Obama would have won 301 to 236 instead of 365 to 173.

    In 2004, Bush would have won 317.5 to 219.5 instead of 286 to 251.

    In 2000, Bush would have won 300 to 237 instead of 271 to 266. This still would not address the popular vote issue from 2000 and would have given Bush a larger win (300 to 237 instead of 271 to 266). In that case, strong democratic districts won by massive landslides whereas republican districts won by a smaller margin but more of them.

    The interesting part of these numbers is the geographic dispersion based on district would favor republicans more than democrats. I wonder why republicans would win more congressional districts than democrats?

    Needless to say, I don't think that this model would get passed any time soon.

    Quote Originally posted by ColoGI View post
    How quickly they are told how to forget. W was handed the presidency. The spineless Dems couldn't take the pressure any more - a couple more giant angry a-holes with determination in the D party at that time could have delivered a different outcome.

    Nevertheless, I think the system is antiquated but IDK how to make it better, especially in our current political economy.
    I have not forgotten. While I was happy that my guy 'won' I think it was wrong the way that he won. I would have rather seen Gore win if he had the popular vote. That is part of the reason that I am bringing up this thread.
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  6. #6
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    I found information on this thing called the swing state project. Each congressional district vote would be appointed based on who won that district (435 popular voting by small district) and each senate vote would be based on the popular vote for the state (100 +2 for DC)...
    That's the same formula I had put forward. I must be on to something. I may have to look into this Swing State Project...
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    I would get rid of the electoral college all together. It's the only way to assure that everyone's vote counts equally. It's stating the obvious but larger cities should be courted more by politicians because they have millions of people in one place. It makes more sense than the current practice of ignoring most big cities who's states are usually in one camp or the other. Individual states or counties would tally individual results to isolate any irregularities. Of course I don't see this ever happening for the primary reason that it is not tradition.

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    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    It's irksome and I have mixed feelings about it. The reason why 1 electoral college vote is equal to say 100,000 people in some places, while equal to 400,000 in other places is because the number of electoral college votes is tied to the same number of U.S. Representatives + U.S. Senators a state has + 3 electoral votes for Washington DC. Historically the House was originally devised to have 1 representative per 30,000 population, but it was capped at 435 members in 1911.

    While I believe initially it tended to balance out the lesser populated areas to have a meaningful stake, I think that most of the candidates campaign only in the big states that have the most votes. I wish that more states utilized a proportional electoral vote allocation like Main and Nebraska does which would be far more representative of the popular vote than it currently is. It would also force candidates to campaign more widely.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

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    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    The concept is an anachronism. Get rid of it.

  10. #10
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    If you live in a small state, you will get the same one vote that I get in Ohio. Get rid of it. Every vote should count. People should be courting voters on ideas, not state location.
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  11. #11
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    We should ditch the electoral college system.

    Quote Originally posted by Blide
    I think it's important that rural and small states get representation.
    Voters in rural and small states already get disproportionate representation thanks to us having a bicameral legislature. States like Rhode Island or Wyoming get the same number of votes in the senate as New York or California.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    We should ditch the electoral college system.


    Voters in rural and small states already get disproportionate representation thanks to us having a bicameral legislature. States like Rhode Island or Wyoming get the same number of votes in the senate as New York or California.
    Maister, I am confused. Per the electoral college, each of those states get the following:
    CA = 55
    NY = 30
    WY = 3
    RI = 4

    Each of the states gets two from the senators and one per state rep.

    Some of my republican friends worry about a disproportionate number of votes coming from urban areas. The top 10 cities only make up 8% of the total US population.
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    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    I don't understand what's wrong with the Electoral College. Sure, there have been a few instances where the popular vote winner lost, but in 200+ years it has worked fairly well.

    We have more important things to worry about than the Electoral College.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

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    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by btrage View post
    I don't understand what's wrong with the Electoral College. Sure, there have been a few instances where the popular vote winner lost, but in 200+ years it has worked fairly well.

    We have more important things to worry about than the Electoral College.
    I agree - it is unwieldy but there is no practicable alternative.
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  15. #15
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    Maister, I am confused. Per the electoral college, each of those states get the following:
    CA = 55
    NY = 30
    WY = 3
    RI = 4

    Each of the states gets two from the senators and one per state rep.

    Some of my republican friends worry about a disproportionate number of votes coming from urban areas. The top 10 cities only make up 8% of the total US population.
    Blide said the electoral college was important to ensure small and rural states got representation. I said small and rural states already get disproportionate representation in the legislature....because a bill has to make it through both the House (which has proportional representation) and the Senate (which does not). In the Senate, Delaware gets the same number of votes that Texas gets - thereby giving a state with only a fraction of the size and population the same power/votes as the much larger state.
    But I understand the point that some folks might feel this same disproportionate power should apply to the executive as well.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  16. #16
    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    I think that the Presidential veto is the anachronism that should be eliminated.
    “Death comes when memories of the past exceed the vision for the future.”

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    Maister, Some of my republican friends worry about a disproportionate number of votes coming from urban areas. The top 10 cities only make up 8% of the total US population.
    That statistic should encourage those friends since the top 10 cities would only make up 8% of the vote. Candidates would still have to appeal to other voters.

    But keep in mind that the 8% figure probably only counts voters in city limits. If a candidate kisses babies in New York City he's actually courting a metro area of 20 million. It's pretty outlandish to me that now candidates virtually ignore most of the country's largest concentrations of people.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian TerraSapient's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Richmond Jake View post
    The concept is an anachronism. Get rid of it.
    My sentiments exactly.
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  19. #19
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    Even if there was a viable alternative to the Electoral College, the hoops that would have to be jumped through to change it make it not worth the effort.
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  20. #20
    Cyburbian
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    Now there's talk from some Republicans of looking at allocating electoral votes by congressional district. I know Maine and Nebraska already do this but it's frankly kind of disconcerting to think that gerrymandering could alter the outcome of a presidential race. Fortunately battleground states largely love the attention (minus the commercials) and wouldn't want to give it up by splitting their electoral vote.

    Semi-related: It was actually Colorado that determined the election this year, not Florida or Ohio.

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