“Electoral College holds key to election, again”
Simultaneously amusing and sad.
The last two entries discussed the Colorado initiative to change the manner in which the state chooses electoral votes from the winner-take-all system to a proportional one. Below is a summary of a hypothetical result of the 2000 election if the method was used in all states.
The Method Applied to 2000
Rounding Error bonus electors (as described below) are granted to Gore in California, Illinois, Michigan, Hawaii, Wisconsin, Oregon, New Mexico, Iowa, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. Bonus electors are awarded to Bush in Florida, Kansas, Utah, and Colorado. Nader loses one elector in Minnesota.
The result listed above does not account for the abstention in the District of Columbia.
Since the Republicans controlled the majority of state delegations in the House of Representatives (109th congress), its a good bet that the parties would have fought over Florida for the one elector in an attempt to give Gore a majority in the Electoral College. Gore wins the bonus electors in most of the close states (NM, IA, OR, WI) and Bush has only four bonus electors (in KS, UT, CO, and FL). The next closest chance for Gore to gain a vote is Colorado where Gore requires an increase of 1.36 percentage points (about 23,000 votes). The election likely would have been decided by the House of Representatives in January of 2001.
This is a follow-up post to the description of the current ballot initiative in Colorado posted yesterday. The voters on November 2, 2004 will act in place of the state legislature and vote on an initiative to change the manner in which the state chooses Presidential Electors from the winner-take-all method to a new system of allocating electors amongst the candidates in a manner approximately proportional to their respective popular vote percentages (there is additional complexity in the algorithm that deals with rounding errors).
To my knowledge, this methodology for choosing Presidential Electors has no precedent. There are several pros and cons to this method:
Another point that could be argued either for or against the proposed change is that winner-take-all method (usually) exaggerates the margin of victory. Typically, a landslide electoral victory can be achieved with a simple majority in the popular vote, giving the impression of a mandate and national unity. For example, in 1984 Ronald Reagan won 58.8% of the popular vote, but 97.6% of the Electoral Vote. Likewise Franklin Roosevelt won 57.4% of the popular vote in 1932, but 88.9% of the Electoral Vote.
Furthermore, the manner in which the initiative dictates that electors be added or subtracted from candidates when there are rounding errors should certainly be debated with regard to fairness. Its a very different algorithm than the method used to assign congressional seats.
Overall, I think the idea of choosing Presidential Electors proportional to a candidates’ performance in the popular vote is interesting, but for Colorado to enact the method on its own will essentially eliminate any influence the state currently has on the campaign.
Recently, the Colorado Secretary of State Donetta Davidson recently certified that the ballot initiative, Amendment 36 to the Colorado Constitution, to change the method of choosing Presidential Electors from the “Winner-take-all” system to a proportional system based on popular vote had a sufficient number of signatures to be sent to the voters on November 2, 2004. The proposed amendment includes a subsection that specifically states that the new method of allocating electors applies to the 2004 Presidential Election.
Currently, Colorado chooses its presidential electors in the same manner as 48 other states and the District of Columbia – using the winner-take-all method.
from the Colorado State Constitution:
This is actually a rather vague description. Generally, in a Winner-Take-All popular-vote method, a slate of Electors is pledged to each Presidential/ Vice-Presidential ticket (the Electors’ names may or may not appear on the ballot). The slate of Electors pledged to the ticket having received the plurality of votes state-wide are chosen.
The new wording to allocate the Presidential Electors proposed to be added as Section 13 (subsection 2) to Article VII (Suffrage and Elections) of the Colorado Constitution is: THE TOTAL NUMBER OF ELECTORAL VOTES TO WHICH COLORADO IS ENTITLED SHALL BE DIVIDED AMONG THE PRESIDENTIAL TICKETS ON THE GENERAL ELECTION BALLOT, BASED UPON THE POPULAR PROPORTIONAL SHARE OF THE TOTAL STATEWIDE BALLOTS CAST FOR EACH PRESIDENTIAL TICKET, SUBJECT TO SUBSECTIONS (3) AND (4) OF THIS SECTION. EACH PRESIDENTIAL ELECTOR SHALL VOTE FOR THE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE AND, BY SEPARATE BALLOT, VICE-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE ON THE PRESIDENTIAL TICKET OF THE POLITICAL PARTY OR POLITICAL ORGANIZATION THAT NOMINATED THAT PRESIDENTIAL ELECTOR.
Methodology summary from subsections (3) and (4): Electors are allocated in whole numbers only. The percentage of vote cast for each ticket is multiplied by the total number of available electors and rounded to the nearest whole number. If the sum of the total electors allocated is greater than the number available to be appointed, then the total electoral votes for the candidate having received the fewest number of ballots (that received at least one electoral vote) is reduced by one. If the sum of the total electors allocated is less than the total number of available electors, the Presidential Ticket receiving the greatest number of ballots is granted the remaining unallocated electors. Additional clarifications are included in the section with regard to ties, recounts, etc.
If this measure were in effect for the 2000 election, the results would be:
Since the total of allocated electors is seven and the total available is eight, one additional elector is awarded to Bush, for a final tally of Bush 5, Gore 3. Under this hypothetical scenario, Gore wins the election with 271 Electoral Votes.
The Colorado Consitution reserves to the people the right to act in place of the state legislature. This clause gives the people of Colorado the ability to decide how electors are chosen as Article II, Section I of the United States Constitution states Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors …
The initiative goes further, including subsection 5 (methodology for recounts of votes for each the ballot initiative and Presidential Electors), subsection 6 (election certifications of each the ballot initiative and Presidential Electors), subsection 7 (granting the Secretary of State the power to determine, by lot, which Presidential Electors are nominated from Presidential Tickets that qualify for at least on electoral vote), subsection 8 (Supreme Court original jurisdiction for the adjudication of all contests concerning Presidential Electors), subsection 9 (effectivity date of November 3, 2004), subsection 10 (“This section shall be liberally construed to achieve popular proportional allocation of Presidential Electors at the 2004 General Election”) and subsection 11 (stating that the “general Assembly may enact legislation to change them anner of selecting Presidential Electors or any of the Procedures related thereto” – seemingly granting the legilature the ability to undo this amendment).
In the middle of August, I went on a small vacation. Even when I’m on vacation, I can’t get very far from the Presidents – in this case, the mountains of the Presidential Range located in the White Mountains National Forest in the battleground state of New Hampshire. The image to the right is the tallest mountain in the Northeastern United States – Mount Washington. Located in Coos County, the mountain has an elevation of 1,917m and is home to the highest surface wind ever recorded (372km/hr on April 12, 1934). The weather observatory is visible on the summit. The photo is taken from a trail on the flank of nearby Mount Jefferson. Although the outpost looks like a nice, short hike, its actually deceptively far from this location.
The hike up Mount Jefferson started in Jefferson Notch and took the Caps Ridge Trail. As seen in the photo to the left, the hiking was quite steep at times, passing multiple false-summits. The trail starts at 917m in elevation and continues 4km towards the east climbing 823m to the top of the mountain (el. 1741m). The trailhead is located in the Boreal Forest zone (mostly firs and birches) and traverses into the Alpine zone (lichens and small plants). By the time one reaches the summit, there is nothing but rocks and lichen and a great view (when the clouds break). At one point in our journey, while still in the Boreal Forest, there was a nice rock outcrop from which the view was vast. The photo on the right shows the clouds rolling over the ridge just ahead of us. Fortunately, as we ascended, the clouds continued to lift. At the top, conditions were cool (~5 degrees celcius). Gloves and hats required in August! Overall, the hike took about 8 hours round-trip. We took our time, had lunch at the summit, and enjoyed the views. In addition, some parts of the path were actually quite difficult. Very enjoyable, and a good workout!
This is a post relating to my comment to wormwood’s post with regard to the possiblity of a victory for Bush without Ohio or Florida. His assertion is that it is unlikely that a Republican candidate can win any midwestern states (excluding IN, MO) and simultaneously lose Ohio. Below is a trend graph that highlights the recent electoral history of the result for the Republican Presidential Candidate (the percentages are relative to the result for each Republican nationally in the respective election years)
This graph includes results for the midwestern states of Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Missouri, Ohio plus Florida. The rank order of these midwestern states is idential between 1996 and 2000 – and almost parallel. From these data, wormwood’s assumption that other midwestern states will not likely “cross-over” to Bush without Ohio is reasonable.
Note the opposite trend in Florida. If the voting trend shown in the graph continues into 2004, it appears that Bush will lose Florida before he will lose Ohio. Without Florida, Bush must pick up Wisconsin, Iowa, and New Mexico or Oregon, while keeping New Hampshire and West Virginia.