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MSNBC: Is it time to scrap the electoral college?


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Nope. I don't think so.

What would be the fun in that on election night?:silly:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27283314/

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - Is the Electoral College, America’s quirky system of choosing its presidents, on its way to extinction?

Americans do not vote directly for president. They vote for slates of electors in each state.

Collectively, the electors are called the Electoral College. Each state gets a number of electors equal to its membership in the House and Senate. (The District of Columbia gets three.)

Minnesota, for instance, gets 10 electors. If Republican candidate John McCain wins the most votes in Minnesota on Nov. 4, the slate of 10 Minnesota McCain electors is chosen.

All but two states (Maine and Nebraska) use the winner-take-all system. This means that the candidate who gets the most popular votes in a state gets all of its electoral votes.

The next president will be the candidate who gets at least 270 of the total 538 electors.

The system can be idiosyncratic. Four times in the nation’s history, the winner of the largest number of popular votes did not win the largest number of electoral votes, and therefore did not become president.

A relic of the early republic

The system is a relic of the early days of the republic when electors were supposed to be independent agents exercising their judgment in choosing a presidential candidate from a list of several contenders.

Today, electors are party loyalists who almost always vote for their party’s nominee.

On Friday, a group of legal scholars, political scientists, and systems specialists gathered at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for a conference on the Electoral College. Their focus? How to better engineer the system.

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It's my understanding that the electoral college was created to prevent the populus from making a stupid mistake, back in the days when information on the candidates wasn't at our fingertips.

Nowadays, the only excuse for being uneducated about the candidates is your own laziness. As such, I think it's time for the electoral college to go, and one person-one vote to actually mean something.

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No we shouldn't scarp the electoral college and neither should we scrap it.;)

The electoral college was designed to protect us from ourselves and it seems evident to me that we have not out grown that need.

I agree.

And I'm stealing your sig.:silly:

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We should keep it. Otherwise - A politician can win by ONLY campaigning in Big Cites and focus only on that. Why bother with any city in OH and what they need when you would be focused on New York, LA, San Francisco, etc.....

Real Americans would no longer have a say.... :)

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Change it? Yes. Scrap it? No way.

MSNBC calling it a "relic" tells me that the author of that article isn't exactly neutral.

The Founding Fathers never seem to have envisioned a state as populous as today's NY, much less states like TX and CA. To assign so many EVs as winner-take-all is a mistake if you ask me, as it marginalizes the votes of literally tens of millions of voters every 4 years and reduces or completely eliminates the visits a candidate has to make there.

Dr. Arnold Barnett at MIT has done some work analyzing one particular weighted vote share methodology, in which citzens of small states keep their inflated status but the citizens of large states also see their influence improve due to the elimination of winner-take-all. (The linked article claims he actually invented it, but I think that's giving a bit too much credit.)

Interestingly, he showed some results indicating that the outcome of the 2000 election would have been unchanged under his system. But that's not really the point, as the system would have forced the candidates to change the way they campaigned in the first place. Anyway...

My biggest problem with eliminating the Electoral College completely is this idea that direct democracy is better. But we're not a direct democracy. We never have been and were never intended to be. Giving smaller states a larger say is a good idea, as the founding Fathers noted when they feared (theoretically) a candidate winning in the late 1700s by promising only to help VA, MA, and PA at the expense of everyone else. Small state vs. big state isn't a major political issue these days partially due to the fact that small states in electoral aggregate look much "bigger" than they actually are.

Dr. Barnett's method returns to the idea of "popular vote," but weighs each vote by electoral percentage of the voter's state vs. 538. The math looks very familiar if you flip it around to look like you're scaling electoral votes instead of individual votes... but it ends up in the same place. I like that better than "winner takes all," even if I do have some reservations about the negative implications upon country campaigning vs. city campaigning.

But just throwing the baby out with the bath water? Nooooo.

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No. If you do away with the Electoral college then the President would only need to focus on larger metropolitan area and wouldn't need to focus on rural areas or less populated regions, etc. It's all based on the distribution of the popular vote through a balance of the two party system.

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No, just modify it.

Here's what you can do.

435 electoral votes represent each congressional district. 100 represents the 2 senators each state gets. D.C. gets 3 also.

You give the winner of that congressional district that electoral vote. Then whoever wins the state gets the 2 electoral votes representing the state. If it's a tie; then you split it.

That way, you make every congressional district count and it would reflect the popular vote more. Places that don't get much campaigning now; would get it. You will get a true national campaign.

Look at California. It has 54 EV's. Don't you think some of districts would go Republican? Just like say Texas, some of those districts would go Democrats.

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No, just modify it.

Here's what you can do.

435 electoral votes represent each congressional district. 100 represents the 2 senators each state gets. D.C. gets 3 also.

You give the winner of that congressional district that electoral vote. Then whoever wins the state gets the 2 electoral votes representing the state. If it's a tie; then you split it.

That way, you make every congressional district count and it would reflect the popular vote more. Places that don't get much campaigning now; would get it. You will get a true national campaign.

Look at California. It has 54 EV's. Don't you think some of districts would go Republican? Just like say Texas, some of those districts would go Democrats.

Not a bad idea,but I would like to eliminate of few less populous states while your screwing with things..NH would be a good start;)

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No. If you do away with the Electoral college then the President would only need to focus on larger metropolitan area and wouldn't need to focus on rural areas or less populated regions, etc. It's all based on the distribution of the popular vote through a balance of the two party system.

That's a good point. There is a large chunk of the country that would get no attention without those electoral votes.

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  • 3 weeks later...
That's a good point. There is a large chunk of the country that would get no attention without those electoral votes.

I'm not sure that this is true. The large cities tend to go Dem anyway, so the Dems could potentially just count on having them and campaign everywhere else and make a killing. Conversely, Republicans could try to do the opposite.

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President-Elect Obama won in a landslide this year - but only in the electoral college. The popular vote was only about 6% more for Obama. Check out how much red there is on this chart from wikipedia showing who won each of the 3,141 counties in the country this election:

250px-2008_General_Election_Results_by_County.PNG

In 2000, as we all know the popular vote went to the loser of the electoral college. What most don't realize is that it's not the first time (just found out myself; the heads inside my TV lied to me!) - it happened in 1824, 1876, 1888, and 2000. In 1876, the loser of the election didn't just get more popular votes than his opponent, he got an absolute majority (more than 50%)!! The electoral college was decided by 1 vote!

If you are unconvinced that the electoral college needs to go, think about 2000; then read about the 1876 election: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election,_1876 If you are still not convinced that it needs to go after reading that and thinking of 2000, please tell me why.

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No. If you do away with the Electoral college then the President would only need to focus on larger metropolitan area and wouldn't need to focus on rural areas or less populated regions, etc. It's all based on the distribution of the popular vote through a balance of the two party system.
That's a good point. There is a large chunk of the country that would get no attention without those electoral votes.

Here's the thing: with the advent of the plethora of electronic means at the candidates' disposal, they can slather us in their campaign rhetoric no matter where we live. The electoral college was created in an era when this was not the case, when you either had to physically be in the same place as the candidate to hear his message or maybe read it in the newspaper. I'm all for tradition, but retaining this woeful anachronism is as foolish as college bowl games. (You like how I mixed the politics with sports right then, don't ya? Yeah I'm cool like that. :cool: LOL :jk: )

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President-Elect Obama won in a landslide this year - but only in the electoral college. The popular vote was only about 6% more for Obama. Check out how much red there is on this chart from wikipedia showing who won each of the 3,141 counties in the country this election:

250px-2008_General_Election_Results_by_County.PNG

In 2000, as we all know the popular vote went to the loser of the electoral college. What most don't realize is that it's not the first time (just found out myself; the heads inside my TV lied to me!) - it happened in 1824, 1876, 1888, and 2000. In 1876, the loser of the election didn't just get more popular votes than his opponent, he got an absolute majority (more than 50%)!! The electoral college was decided by 1 vote!

If you are unconvinced that the electoral college needs to go, think about 2000; then read about the 1876 election: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election,_1876 If you are still not convinced that it needs to go after reading that and thinking of 2000, please tell me why.

damn he sure won big with all those people living in the grand canyon...

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I grew up in bumforkia, for your information, sir! Seriously though, it sucks to live in the middle of the country and have the coasts decide things for you just because their population density is higher. If it wasn't for that middle of the country being good farmland, everybody else would be hungry. Other posters have tried to make the point that if you take away the electoral college, the candidates would only campaign in big cities, or states with high populations. I ask them: how is that any different from what we have now in the sense that whoever wins california damn near always wins because of its 55 EC votes? If you look at the last few elections, say since 1992, the Democrats always seem to carry the Northeast (high pop. density), the West Coast (ditto), and the northern Midwest States. The Republicans take all the rest; but since the pop. density is lower in those states, they get diddly **** for electoral votes. In 2000, Bush took 30 states to Gore's 20; yet look at how close it turned out. The Dems have done quite well with this strategy, winning 3 of 5 and the two they lost were both close. Most elections are not close, so the electoral vote really doesn't matter that much; but when it is a close call, the electoral college is a liability. I'm glad that Gore didn't win in 2000, but he should have based on the popular vote. Frankly, I can't believe we are still talking about the fact that it still exists eight years removed from that debacle. It's like the Tuck Rule; it just won't go away.

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