Posts Tagged ‘Electoral college reform’

Another problem with the electoral college

November 10, 2012

The brilliant statistical election analyst, Nate Silver, pointed out that if Mitt Romney had won the popular vote by as big a margin as Barack Obama did, he would still have lost the electoral vote, provided the distribution of his vote among the states was the same as it was.

Silver-Nate-artSilver said Romney would have had to win by three percentage points—more than any Republican since George H.W. Bush in 1988—in order to win the electoral vote.  Moreover, Silver said, the Democratic advantage in the electoral vote is likely to persist for the next few elections.

I’m of the opinion that the Presidential candidate who gets a majority of the votes is the one who ought to be declared the winner.  I’m aware that the rules are different, and I don’t blame anybody for playing by those rules, but I think the rules should be changed.

Besides being more fair and just, an election by popular vote would dilute the influence of voter suppression on the Presidential election.  Voter suppression matters most when, as in Florida in 2000, a small number of votes more or less than tip the electoral votes of a big state.

Click on As Nation and Parties Change, Republicans Are At an Electoral College Disadvantage for Nate Silver’s full report in his FiveThirtyEight column.

Click on National Popular Vote for a plan for reforming the Electoral College.

Pennsylvania and the electoral college

September 16, 2011

Pennsylvania Republicans are considering a plan to change that state’s winner-take-all system for awarding electoral votes for President.  Instead of the state’s 20 electoral votes going to whichever candidate carries Pennsylvania, 18 of the electoral votes would go to whoever gets a majority in each of the state’s 18 congressional districts, with the remaining two going to whoever carries the state.

PA congressional districts

Only two states—Maine and Nebraska—award their electoral votes this way.  All the rest go with winner-take-all.  The Pennsylvania Republican thinking is that Democrats normally carry Pennsylvania as a whole, but Republicans carry many individual congressional districts, so that the change would work to their advantage.  In fact, because of the way Pennsylvania congressional districts are gerrymandered, a Democratic Presidential candidate could gain a majority of the state’s popular votes, while the Republican candidate got a majority of the electoral votes.

If it were up to me, I would have each state direct its electors to vote for the Presidential candidate who won a majority of the national popular vote.  But there is a certain rough balance in the present system.  Each state gets a vote in the Electoral College equal to its members of the House of Representaives and the Senate; that is, a number based on population plus two more.  Small states have more representation that their population warrants, but the winner-take-all system makes the large states more influential because a larger bloc of votes is in play.

If Pennsylvania gets rid of winner-take-all, this might be good for the Republican Party nationwide, but it would reduce the influence of Pennsylvania in national elections.  For this reason I don’t think the change is likely to happen.

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