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Author Topic: Is there any plausible argument in favor of the electoral college?  (Read 36384 times)
True Federalist
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« Reply #25 on: September 16, 2008, 05:04:43 pm »
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The primary advantage of the electoral college is that in the event of a recount, the recount is held only in the States that are close.

A secondary advantage is that it does not require there to be a Federally imposed uniformity on voter registration requirements and the like.

A tertiary advantage is that in the event that a locality engages in vote fraud, the damage caused by that is limited, altho that is offset by the fact that a smaller degree of fraud in certain close States might have an effect.  Still, we certainly don't have to worry that vote fraud in Utah in DC will affect the presidential election anytime soon under the electoral college.
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« Reply #26 on: September 17, 2008, 06:32:30 am »
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The primary advantage of the electoral college is that in the event of a recount, the recount is held only in the States that are close.

A secondary advantage is that it does not require there to be a Federally imposed uniformity on voter registration requirements and the like.

A tertiary advantage is that in the event that a locality engages in vote fraud, the damage caused by that is limited, altho that is offset by the fact that a smaller degree of fraud in certain close States might have an effect.  Still, we certainly don't have to worry that vote fraud in Utah in DC will affect the presidential election anytime soon under the electoral college.
In other words, fraud capacities can be moved to where they matter, as the GOP demonstrated in 2000. Tongue
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« Reply #27 on: September 18, 2008, 03:35:01 am »
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My biggest complaint about the electoral college  (and to an additional extent, the primary process) is that it lets local issues destroy national policies.

Obama is against Yucca mountain not because he actually opposes it, but because Nevadans do.  Obama supports ethanol subsidies because of Iowa.  And both candidates are getting pretty darn populist lately because the election is decided in the states with the WORST economies (Rustbelt) instead of those who have constituents in growing areas.  So, instead of having national policies directed towards growth, we have them towards trying to keep economic hope alive where there is none (Rustbelt).

My side rant.
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« Reply #28 on: September 18, 2008, 09:57:32 pm »
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It prevents a regional candidate from controlling the whole country.  I candidate can't run up huge totals in New York, New Jersey and New England and still win the presidency.

Instead, they could win narrow margins in enough states to get 270 electoral votes and get massively blown out in the rest of the country. Has that candidate really demonstrated broad appeal?

You really can't do that geographically.  A candidate can't do that unless he hs broad appeal across wide geographical areas.

You need support from wide geographic areas either way. There aren't enough people in one region to win the popular vote just based on that region.
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« Reply #29 on: September 18, 2008, 09:59:19 pm »
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You need more geographical appeal to win in the popular vote. Suppose every non-Lincoln vote in 1860 was for the same candidate. This anti-Lincoln candidate would break 60% of the popular vote, but Lincoln would still win. It wouldn't matter that Lincoln did terrible in the South, writing off huge areas of the country isn't a problem with the electoral vote.
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« Reply #30 on: September 18, 2008, 10:09:44 pm »
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The primary advantage of the electoral college is that in the event of a recount, the recount is held only in the States that are close.

But is that much of an advantage? And if so, how?

Is the argument that the number of ballots would be so large as to make a national recount impractical? If so, I can't understand the focus on re-counts--surely the first count is no different in that respect. But whatever the case may be, the assertion certainly isn't obvious, and no evidence has been offered to substantiate it.
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« Reply #31 on: September 22, 2008, 10:11:49 am »
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The primary advantage of the electoral college is that in the event of a recount, the recount is held only in the States that are close.

But is that much of an advantage? And if so, how?

Is the argument that the number of ballots would be so large as to make a national recount impractical? If so, I can't understand the focus on re-counts--surely the first count is no different in that respect. But whatever the case may be, the assertion certainly isn't obvious, and no evidence has been offered to substantiate it.

A recount of the entire country wouldn't be any harder to do than a recount in one state, since you'd have more election workers available to assist in the recount.

One advantage of the EC that comes to mind is if the winning Prez or VP candidate dies after the election but before the EC votes (or if they die before the election but too late to remove their name from the ballot). It removes a potential complication since the electors would just vote for whomever the party chooses as their replacement.

Of course, one could counterargue (correctly, I'd add) that we may not want the electors themselves getting to decide the next President with no input at all from the voters in the event that the victorious candidate died post election.

But yeah, the only real good argument in favor of it is opportunity cost; the benefits of eliminating it would be less than the trouble and effort it would take to remove it, which would be better expended elsewhere. In the 1700's when interstate communication and travel were both far more difficult (to put it mildly) than they are today, it made sense for the winner of each individual state to matter, but not today.
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« Reply #32 on: September 22, 2008, 06:09:08 pm »
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The primary advantage of the electoral college is that in the event of a recount, the recount is held only in the States that are close.

But is that much of an advantage? And if so, how?

Is the argument that the number of ballots would be so large as to make a national recount impractical? If so, I can't understand the focus on re-counts--surely the first count is no different in that respect. But whatever the case may be, the assertion certainly isn't obvious, and no evidence has been offered to substantiate it.

A recount of the entire country wouldn't be any harder to do than a recount in one state, since you'd have more election workers available to assist in the recount.

If we had a uniform national ballot it might not be any harder, tho it would still be more expensive. However, we don't have a uniform national ballot and we are unlikely to even have one.  That means there will be questions that have to be decided at a local level, such as what happened in Florida in 2000, where some of the lawsuits were at the county-level.
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« Reply #33 on: September 23, 2008, 01:37:14 am »
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It prevents a regional candidate from controlling the whole country.  I candidate can't run up huge totals in New York, New Jersey and New England and still win the presidency.

Instead, they could win narrow margins in enough states to get 270 electoral votes and get massively blown out in the rest of the country. Has that candidate really demonstrated broad appeal?

You really can't do that geographically.  A candidate can't do that unless he hs broad appeal across wide geographical areas.

You need support from wide geographic areas either way. There aren't enough people in one region to win the popular vote just based on that region.

You still could freeze out some regions.
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« Reply #34 on: July 28, 2009, 04:03:07 pm »
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It gives the smaller states more influence.  If you're in a small state, that's a good thing.

It grows out of the same compromise that gave us the Senate, balancing the power of the people at large against the power of individual states.
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« Reply #35 on: August 05, 2009, 11:55:40 pm »
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It gives the smaller states more influence.  If you're in a small state, that's a good thing.

It grows out of the same compromise that gave us the Senate, balancing the power of the people at large against the power of individual states.

Yeah. Many people say it favors small states, but come on. Obama and McCain spent much more time in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Florida than Montana, New Hampshire, or New Mexico.
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« Reply #36 on: August 20, 2009, 12:38:14 pm »
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There would need to be national ballot standards and there would probably need to be some kind of national presidential ballot (rather than have each state determine what candidates are on the ballot).

But if you can do that - and really that's just an issue of will - there's really no reason you couldn't do a national recount.

Besides, what many people fail to realize is that recounts are arguably much less likely in a national race than in a state-by-state race. Simple statistics posits that rates of error decline as you increase the sample size. A 1% difference in a 1,000,000 vote election is much more likely to be the result of error - and thereby overturned in a recount - than a 1% difference nationally in a 180 million vote race.

I mean, what election would have required a recount in the popular vote? Most statisticians say none in the past 100 years. Maybe Kennedy vs. Nixon. But there were recounts in 1916, 2000, and 2004 (in California, Florida, and Ohio). None of those elections would have required recounts if only the national popular vote counted.
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« Reply #37 on: August 28, 2009, 07:03:29 pm »
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Can you imagine if this happened? It never would though, since it's nearly impossible.



The red states on that map were won with 50.1% of the vote and the blue states were won with 90% or more of the vote. This would give the winner of the red states a 284-254 win. Take out NJ, NC or GA and you could still get a 269-269 tie and then congress elect the red state winner as President.
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« Reply #38 on: August 29, 2009, 03:52:43 am »
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I wish every state had a system like Maine and Nebraska.
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« Reply #39 on: September 12, 2009, 07:10:23 am »
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I wish every state had a system like Maine and Nebraska.

I don't. Gerrymandering is bad enough as it is.
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« Reply #40 on: September 16, 2009, 10:58:43 pm »
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I wish every state had a system like Maine and Nebraska.

I don't. Gerrymandering is bad enough as it is.

True, but federal law could specify rules for CDs, then this system might work.
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« Reply #41 on: September 16, 2009, 11:14:56 pm »
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I wish every state had a system like Maine and Nebraska.

I don't. Gerrymandering is bad enough as it is.

True, but federal law could specify rules for CDs, then this system might work.

^This, plus I'd like to see some sort of IRV introduced.
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« Reply #42 on: September 17, 2009, 01:43:57 am »
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Reasons for electoral college, in my opinion:
1. It's nice to spend a lot of money polling each individual state
2. Living in a safe state, I don't have to do much campaigning on behalf of any candidate for national office
3. I like seeing the states pop up on the map in color every 4 years when the polls close


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« Reply #43 on: September 17, 2009, 02:50:08 am »
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Can you imagine if this happened? It never would though, since it's nearly impossible.



The red states on that map were won with 50.1% of the vote and the blue states were won with 90% or more of the vote. This would give the winner of the red states a 284-254 win. Take out NJ, NC or GA and you could still get a 269-269 tie and then congress elect the red state winner as President.

Is it just a mere coincidence that all the red states had 13 EV or more and the blue states had less than 13 EV? Tongue
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« Reply #44 on: September 17, 2009, 03:09:27 am »
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Can you imagine if this happened? It never would though, since it's nearly impossible.



The red states on that map were won with 50.1% of the vote and the blue states were won with 90% or more of the vote. This would give the winner of the red states a 284-254 win. Take out NJ, NC or GA and you could still get a 269-269 tie and then congress elect the red state winner as President.

Is it just a mere coincidence that all the red states had 13 EV or more and the blue states had less than 13 EV? Tongue

That's the whole purpose, to demonstrate how few states and votes you need in total to win the electoral college vote.
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« Reply #45 on: September 17, 2009, 11:50:27 am »
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Can you imagine if this happened? It never would though, since it's nearly impossible.



The red states on that map were won with 50.1% of the vote and the blue states were won with 90% or more of the vote. This would give the winner of the red states a 284-254 win. Take out NJ, NC or GA and you could still get a 269-269 tie and then congress elect the red state winner as President.

Is it just a mere coincidence that all the red states had 13 EV or more and the blue states had less than 13 EV? Tongue

That's the whole purpose, to demonstrate how few states and votes you need in total to win the electoral college vote.


The closest this ever came to actually happening was 1860, when Lincoln won with less than 40% of the vote. Contrary to popular belief, he didn't win because the Democrats split three ways, but actually due to the extreme polarization leading up to the Civil War. Had he been running against a single opponent who got the combined votes of Bell, Breckinridge, and Douglas, he would have lost only two more states, Oregon and California, and still would have won the electoral vote.
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« Reply #46 on: September 20, 2009, 11:54:23 pm »
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As opposed to election by national popular-vote.

None of the conventional arguments strike me as persuasive. But conventional or unconventional, line 'em up.

There absolutely is.

It forces the candidates to pay attention at States other than coastal States.

It was the States that created the Federal government, and they made sure that every States would have a voice in the selection of the head of the executive.

Without an electoral college, Presidents would be elected by voters from California, Texas,  New York, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Georgia, and maybe North Carolina and New Jersey in every election.
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« Reply #47 on: September 20, 2009, 11:57:52 pm »
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As opposed to election by national popular-vote.

None of the conventional arguments strike me as persuasive. But conventional or unconventional, line 'em up.

There absolutely is.

It forces the candidates to pay attention at States other than coastal States.

It was the States that created the Federal government, and they made sure that every States would have a voice in the selection of the head of the executive.

Without an electoral college, Presidents would be elected by voters from California, Texas,  New York, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Georgia, and maybe North Carolina and New Jersey in every election.

As opposed to New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, Ohio, Missouri, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Iowa, Florida, and Wisconsin?
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« Reply #48 on: October 05, 2009, 11:12:11 am »
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Gives minorities a bigger say, and every reason you can think of not to have a "national" media campaign, which would happen in a system soley based on the popular vote. Who would visit Iowa then?
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« Reply #49 on: October 05, 2009, 07:08:32 pm »
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Gives minorities a bigger say, and every reason you can think of not to have a "national" media campaign, which would happen in a system soley based on the popular vote. Who would visit Iowa then?

Why does Iowa deserve to have people visit?
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