An interesting argument in favor of the electoral college

Discussion in 'Elections' started by superdave, Oct 12, 2012.

  1. superdave

    superdave Member+

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    http://www.balloon-juice.com/2012/10/12/pollyanna-sunshine-checking-in/

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs...abcf480-13cd-11e2-be82-c3411b7680a9_blog.html

    I read balloon juice for the snark, not the depth of analysis. But there's an interesting argument for the electoral college in this post.

    The US is a huge friggin' country. Running a presidential race is expensive as hell, and the costs are growing at a far higher rate than inflation. If we elected the president by popular vote, I acknowledge that that would engage all voters.

    But it would diffuse that engagement. With a popular vote election, the Mitt strategy not worrying about fact checks might work. Mitt is flooding the zone with his bullshit. How do you counteract that in a nationwide election?

    But. In an election where 6-8 states matter, there IS a way to counteract it. You can target your volunteers and ad buys. Canvassing is painstaking work. It's not feasible in 21st century America to make a difference by canvassing in a nationwide election. But it IS feasible in a 6-8 state election. Further, I believe that the voters in those states KNOW they matter and are therefore more engaged. Say what you will about the Iowa/New Hampshire nomination axis, at least the small size of those states allows the campaigns to truly engage the electorate. If the first 2 states in the process were Cali and Texas, the winner would invariably be the biggest fundraisers.

    The counterargument, I think, would be that in a national election, people in New York and Texas and Georgia and California would give a shit and put some effort into being reached by the campaigns. But I, personally, think that counterargument is weak. I, personally, am looking at the 2012 race as a real life test, and it looks like a good theory, that the electoral college raises the level of discourse where the election will be decided. Romney got a pretty good bump in national polls from his debate performance last week. But because Team Obama has been spending months making their case to voters in Ohio, Ohioans are pretty resistant to the STYLE of the two men last week, and more interested in the substance, an area in which Obama did pretty well.

    Or maybe I'm just being a smug liberal. :ROFLMAO:

    Thoughts?


  2. Boloni86

    Boloni86 Member+

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    I don't buy it.

    If we were to go to a popular vote it would create an equal handicap/advantage for both parties. I don't think there's any evidence that Mitt's strategy of a factless campaign would work better in a popular vote election or vice versa. That strategy only works as far as how compelling the counter argument is and how stupid is the electorate is to fall for the BS. I think those two variables are the same in localized campaigning or more general campaigning.

    The fundamental argument for getting rid of the electoral college because is that it will suddenly make the votes of people in safe states matter. I suspect this should have a positive impact in turnout, which is good for democracy. That preference should trump everything else, and the campaigns will just have to adapt to the new dynamics.
    luftmensch repped this.
  3. That Phat Hat

    That Phat Hat Member+

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    Wouldn't it favor the Democrats, who can concentrate their media buys, ground game and fundraising in major population centers?
  4. Boloni86

    Boloni86 Member+

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    Maybe, but why does this have to be a partisan issue. I just look at it as common sense. The president in my opinion should be the president of all the people the people, not the states. And each vote in any state should have equal value


  5. argentine soccer fan

    argentine soccer fan Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm thinking that you should post that last thought as your signature. It would fit perfectly below every one of your posts.
    :D
  6. That Phat Hat

    That Phat Hat Member+

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    I mean, it all makes sense in theory. But in practice, popular vote and electoral college rarely deviate from each other (and even 2000 took some special circumstances).

    But here's the thing - if a candidate wins by putting emphasis on turnout in a single region, which is entirely possible with a popular vote election, is that a president of all people? See, the electoral college forces candidates to run a national campaign. Otherwise, the incentive is for a red meat right winger to run a very Southern/Plains States (HINT HINT NUDGE NUDGE) campaign, just like a super liberal tree hugger candidate would find it more efficient to not waste time in the flyover states.
  7. Matt in the Hat

    Matt in the Hat Moderator Staff Member

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    I think the position of President is outdated and should be eliminated, along with the Senate. They both harken back to the time of kings and lords and neither has any place in a modern republic.
  8. Mr. Warmth

    Mr. Warmth Member+

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    I give it up to you Matt. You are really hanging on to the narrative.
  9. ceezmad

    ceezmad Member+

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    We are a federation of states. So technically he is president of the people of each state.



    I am pretty sure a constitutional amendment would be needed to change this.
  10. superdave

    superdave Member+

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    Slut.
  11. Smiley321

    Smiley321 Member

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    You can't help it, you are what you are.

    I just think that it's not broke, so don't fix it. I'm inclined to agree belatedly with Pat Buchanan if we do change it - go to a parliamentary system. But any change will have unforseen consequences, and the cure may be worse than the disease.

    I fail to see where it saves any money, however - it just drives that money into focused areas that are probably not happy to be so blessed.
  12. Boloni86

    Boloni86 Member+

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    I wonder if that's true. Does it make a difference if you can move the needle in an unfavorable state from 25% to 30% or if you move the needle in a favorable state from 70% to 75%. Would there be any evidence that achieving one is harder than the other?
  13. Boloni86

    Boloni86 Member+

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    What if the system stays as it is except each state decides on its own to award its electoral college votes to the popular vote winner?
  14. ceezmad

    ceezmad Member+

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    Even if the people of the state reject that candidate? not fair for people in Alabama to go democrat if they vote 60%+ republican, same with say New York having to go red when the people of the state voted for a Democrat.

    It would be funny that if your idea happened then the elecction result would be 538 to 0 to whom ever wins the popular vote.

    They can make it by districts like Nebraska and I think Maine. That way big cities can go to democrats and rural districts to Republicans, but that would still leave them out fighting for the suburbs.

    Again we are a Federation and yes power has been shifting from the states to the center since the start of the republic (same with power from congress to Executive). but the states still hold lots of power, shit even with the primary stuff and how states (well the parties in the states) jumping over each other to be first and there is nothing (well not much) that the center can do to stop them.
    Smiley321 repped this.
  15. Boloni86

    Boloni86 Member+

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    Look I understand the system as it is and I'm not really advocating blowing everything up. I'm just playing a little devil's advocate to imagine what the alternative would be.

    As for state's rights, we're talking about the executive branch. The states already get represented in the Senate, which is already a body that bends the laws of democratic logic by giving equal voice to a state like Rhode Island compared to a state like Texas. The president is the leader of the people of the USA who are all equals regardless of their state of origin. What is the justification of denying the majority of these equal citizens based state borders? I don't see how setting aside state autonomy for this one activity of electing a president is going to undermine the entire federal system.
  16. White/Blue_since1860

    White/Blue_since1860 Member+

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    I have some political science courses in college in which we make comparisons of political systems. It seems obvious the US have some dysfunctions in their political problem-solving processes. Unsurprisingly, a 18th century system is not designed to handle 21st century problems. But maybe a 20th century such as Germany's can do it better. Of course Germany is a much smaller country. But it is also a federal state quite contrary to France and the UK. I think in this thread you already have mentioned the most obvious problems. And therefore I wanted to introduce you guys to aspects and solutions of Germany's political system. Maybe you can share your thoughts on whether some of them could be introduced to the US or not....
    There is no such thing as swing states. Popular vote.
    There is no filibustering senate.
    There is no voter registration as everyone has to have ID cards.
    There is only little private financial funding. The political parties are mostly state funded. They get financial support and tv ad slots depending on their vote shares.
  17. superdave

    superdave Member+

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    Kind of off this topic...but the US, since the end of WW II, has done aLOT of nation building.

    And not in one of those freakin' nations did the US put in a filibuster. So far as I know, not a single state legislature has the filibuster. The US house doesn't have a filibuster. The whole concept is freakin' insane.
  18. roadkit

    roadkit It's Amazing What You Can See From Up Here

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    I think the takeaway is the Electoral College = States Are People Too.
  19. ceezmad

    ceezmad Member+

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    We are a federation of states that is why, is ok if people may want to go away from the Federalism (it has hurt the EU so far) but the system in place is that we are a Union of States that federate together to form an union.

    Is cool we can amend the constitution to fix this issue if we really want.
    fuschia repped this.
  20. Mr. Warmth

    Mr. Warmth Member+

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    Don't need fixin'
  21. Funkfoot

    Funkfoot Member+

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    I think the initial premise behind the electoral college - that most people are too stupid or uninformed to know who to vote for, so "smart people" should be chosen to do the voting for them - has turned out to be true. Unfortunately, that is not what the electoral college does these days.
  22. That Phat Hat

    That Phat Hat Member+

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    Seriously.

    I mean, I get the philosophical argument, that every vote should count the same and have the same influence on the result, but 9 times out of 10, the winner of the popular vote ends up winning the EC too. To the extent that people within a region tend to vote similarly, EC does serve a purpose.

    Counting the popular vote would, somewhat ironically, create regional voting blocs, whereas the EC spreads out campaigning across the country.
  23. Boloni86

    Boloni86 Member+

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    I must be missing something, but I don't understand why this would happen ...

    Wouldn't a vote from Mississippi be just as valuable as a vote from Massachussetts for a liberal candidate? What's the difference between campaigning in Mississippi to go from 20% to 25% as opposed to campaigning in Massachussetts to go from 70% to 75%?
  24. That Phat Hat

    That Phat Hat Member+

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    Think of it in sales terms. Generating sales from an existing customer is a lot more cost efficient than with a new customer. For a liberal, even if a vote in Mississippi is worth the same as a vote in Massachusetts, it's a hell of a lot more costly in time spent on the ground, organization and ad buys. What a popular vote would encourage, basically, is to maximize turnout in strongholds while minimizing expenditures in areas where they're weak. There's little incentive to appeal to the middle.

    This would be more pronounced for the GOP, which has an incredibly lopsided footprint. With a popular vote election, their best strategy would be to maximize turnout in the old Confederacy and the Plains states, even if the message alienates middle of the road voters. If all votes count the same, then why worry about suburban voters who might otherwise been inclined to vote Republican?
  25. Boloni86

    Boloni86 Member+

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    Wouldn't you eventually hit the ceiling in your safe states? Then where do you go from there? It would seem foolish to focus the campaign regionally in a popular vote scenario. There are enough democrats in Mississippi to be worth courting and vice versa with Republicans in Massachussetts. After all we are talking about a national election that is driven by a national media. With today's technology it's pretty easy to get your message out to all 50 states. Maybe your ad buys and ground game would have to be more surgical, but I think the targets would change in every election cycle depending on where new opportunities pop up due to changing economics and demographics.

    If you look at this as generating sales it's a lot like McDonalds and Starbucks expanding in India where they don't eat beef and they don't drink coffee. Or a more appropriate analogy would be soccer expanding in North America or basketball expanding in Europe. There should be no limits to the potential market if your product is worthwhile.

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