Saturday, October 27, 2012

How to fix the Electoral College

Every four years we go through another round of complaining about the electoral college.  And every four years the same arguments come up:

Q: Why can't we just go with the majority popular vote like everyone else in the world?

(1)  Because it protects the rights of rural minorities from urban majorities.
(2)  Because, like the World Series, it's not enough to win one game, you need to prove that you can win in a wide variety of circumstances.
(3)  Because it's one of the last vestiges of a Federal system.
(4)  Because it amplifies the margin of victory, thereby granting more legitimacy to the president.
(5)  Because etc.

Really, the main complaint about the electoral college is from people whose states are rarely in contention.  New York state is receives little attention from either party because it's so solidly Democratic.  The Republican candidates rarely bother to visit, and the Democrat candidates just stop by for fundraisers.  However, this is a function solely of the winner-take-all electoral college, and it doesn't have to be that way.

Maine and Nebraska choose their electors by Congressional district, and award the two senatorial electors based on the popular vote.

If every state did that, there would be electoral votes in contention in every state, and only in the deepest of red and blue Congressional districts would anyone's vote be taken for granted.


Blogger Adam said...

This would make the presidency largely a "proxy" for the House of Reps.

Very unlikely (though not impossible) that the majority in the house would be a different party than the president.

Now I am not saying this is necesarily a bad thing; but, to those who believe that splitting majorities in congress is a good thing: the ME/NE plan applied to all states would likely make the Senate the only possible "hiccup" to a president getting his entire agenda accomplished.

Again, that may not be a bad thing. Each can call that as he sees it.

Pennsylvania's new GOP legislature recently considered legislation to adopt this plan in their state as well, but plans were scrapped when Democrats exposed it as purely partisan gimmickry designed to take a few electors away from Obama (assuming he would win the state going away).

I personally would like to see some sort of proportional basis; perhaps with a bonus for winning more CD's in a state, or winning with a 50% majority in a state. Just a thought though.

12:36 AM  
Blogger Octavo Dia said...

Not at all. The advantage of incumbency is too great for much more than a minor swing toward the presidential party.

6:30 PM  
Blogger Yoel Natan said...

Maine and Nebraska are largely rural states with no cities that outweigh the rural areas in population. If they had any great cities that made the rural areas irrelevant, and then they STILL went with popular vote for electors, then maybe they'd actually support your case.

My opinion is that the electoral system forces a candidate to have a platform that pleases the majority in the greatest number of states. Otherwise, a candidate could just please the most populace states and win. The US would become just like Russia or France where Moscow and Paris are the only areas that matter, and the rural areas are irrelevant.

3:25 AM  
Blogger Octavo Dia said...

Are you arguing that Maine and Nebraska haven't provided a good test of the concept because they're rural? Well it's time for a more populated state with large urban areas to give it a go!

3:40 PM  

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