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rtalman
8th January 2008, 02:47 PM
http://www.usatoday.com/news/politics/2008-01-03-nj-electoral_N.htm

Maryland has passed, and New Jersey is close to passing, a law that would award their electoral college votes for president to the candidate that wins the nationwide popular vote. Neither state's law would be enacted unless enough other states to effectively kill the electoral college join them in passing the same laws.

Several other states are considering jumping on the bandwagon.

The Constitution is vague about the mechanism a state legislature must use to choose electors, so it is possible...

New Ager
8th January 2008, 02:59 PM
http://www.usatoday.com/news/politics/2008-01-03-nj-electoral_N.htm

Maryland has passed, and New Jersey is close to passing, a law that would award their electoral college votes for president to the candidate that wins the nationwide popular vote. Neither state's law would be enacted unless enough other states to effectively kill the electoral college join them in passing the same laws.

Several other states are considering jumping on the bandwagon.

The Constitution is vague about the mechanism a state legislature must use to choose electors, so it is possible...

It's a bad idea. It would make all small states inconsequential forever.

Gnu World Order
8th January 2008, 03:07 PM
It's a bad idea. It would make all small states inconsequential forever.

Wouldn't that make it a good idea?
:)

TriskettheKid
8th January 2008, 03:09 PM
Not really.

Imagine an election where the candidates campaign on the coasts, and parts of the Gulf Coast.

What need would a candidate ever have to go to a place like Montana? or Idaho?

rtalman
8th January 2008, 03:12 PM
Not really.

Imagine an election where the candidates campaign on the coasts, and parts of the Gulf Coast.

What need would a candidate ever have to go to a place like Montana? or Idaho?And how many visits do you expect to those places during the general election campaign? The candidates will concentrate on the battleground states and states where they can fill their campaign coffers.

TriskettheKid
8th January 2008, 03:15 PM
And how many visits do you expect to those places during the general election campaign? The candidates will concentrate on the battleground states and states where they can fill their campaign coffers.

At least they'll visit.

rtalman
8th January 2008, 03:26 PM
At least they'll visit.That's just something I can't get my mind around... Shouldn't a voter choose a candidate by the policies and philosophies in evidence?

What difference should it make if a candidate pops into Helena, MT or Rapid City, SD and says "Hi"?

In Iowa, Rudy got very few votes (supposedly) because he didn't spend enough time there. Are Iowans so shallow that they reject a candidate because he didn't sit down in a coffee shop in Des Moines and chat up the locals? Did Huckabee visiting the Iowa State Fair make his Fair Tax scheme that much more palatable?

fuelair
8th January 2008, 03:29 PM
It's a bad idea. It would make all small states inconsequential forever.
No offense, but in what I like to call a democracy (one person, one vote) that makes sense.:)

Skibum
8th January 2008, 03:35 PM
The Constitution is vague about the mechanism a state legislature must use to choose electors, so it is possible...

Technically they could decide however they want be it a coin flip or drawing straws and it would be legal.

While there is no constitutional right to vote for president, if I were a resident of those states I would be upset that the electoral votes could be assigned opposite of what the majority of the state voted for.

I personally would prefer to see states move away from the "winner takes all" stance that most states use, perhaps something like the system Maine and Nebraska use.

TriskettheKid
8th January 2008, 03:36 PM
It's a perception thing.

If voters in the state think you care about them enough to visit, they'll vote for you.

Is it shallow? In some ways, yes. In others, no.

But there are reasons why we do not decide via a direct vote.

rtalman
8th January 2008, 03:42 PM
I personally would prefer to see states move away from the "winner takes all" stance that most states use, perhaps something like the system Maine and Nebraska use.
I would be interested to see an analysis to see if any past electoral outcomes would have changed by moving to that model nationwide.

TriskettheKid
8th January 2008, 03:47 PM
I would be interested to see an analysis to see if any past electoral outcomes would have changed by moving to that model nationwide.

Easy enough to check.

I know for a fact that Andrew Jackson would have defeated John Quincy Adams in the 1824 election.

Michael Redman
8th January 2008, 03:50 PM
It's a perception thing.

If voters in the state think you care about them enough to visit, they'll vote for you.

Is it shallow? In some ways, yes. In others, no.

It's more than that. They don't just visit. They also address local issues and answer questions from locals. It's much easier to decide who to vote for when you can ask them their position on issues that are important to you and your neighbors. What do we know of Guilani's position on agricultural policies? Why would an Iowa farmer vote for him without knowing, when other candidates have told them where they stand?

toddjh
8th January 2008, 03:53 PM
Ah, the quadrennial (?) electoral college thread!

I'll recap my previous positions for easy access:

1. Most arguments against the electoral college are also arguments against the Senate. Whether that's a pro or con depends on the individual.

2. The people already have directly elected representatives in the form of their U.S. Representatives and, in latter days, Senators. That check is well in place; it deserves a balance in the form of State (as opposed to individual) representation. The Republic is founded on the notion that those elected by the people to govern are more fit to make high-level decisions; I see no reason why this idea should not, to a certain extent, be applied to national politics as well. This doesn't really happen of course, since all states base their electoral votes on the popular vote in one way or another, but I still support preserving the framework in case things change in the future.

3. I would love to see electoral votes handled via instant-runoff voting or some other less-strategic voting system. Okay, that's not specifically related to the electoral college, but hey, I'll talk about it any chance I get.

gtc
8th January 2008, 03:55 PM
I would be interested to see an analysis to see if any past electoral outcomes would have changed by moving to that model nationwide.

If every state adopted this system then every electoral college vote would go to the one candidate who scored the most votes nationwide.

Didn't Bush lose the nationwide vote in 2000? If so, he would have had 0 electoral college votes under this system.

Trying to determine what the outcome of previous elections would have been, had this system been in place, is difficult as the popular vote would have been different. I think people in non-swing states would have been more likely to vote (as their vote is more likely to count) and the campaign in swing states would have been different (as they would be less important).

It would be interesting to see what would happen if the popular vote tally is disputed.

Michael Redman
8th January 2008, 03:57 PM
The Constitution is vague about the mechanism a state legislature must use to choose electors, so it is possible...It says "in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct". I don't think that's vague.

It is an interesting idea. Sure, there are reasons why we don't directly elect Presidents, but we also didn't originally elect Senators for much the same reasons. We abandoned that practice a long time ago, and perhaps it is time to abandon the electoral college, as well.

However, if so, I think we should cut the institution from the Constitution, not simply paralyze it.

Tsukasa Buddha
8th January 2008, 04:18 PM
Dude, the founder's had no idea what to do for electing the president. So just a few days before they finished the Constitution, they tacked on an idea that they had already rejected, the electoral college. And then they left up how it would actually work to the States.

I think it is bullcrap.

It means that depending on where you live, the power of your vote changes. This is because the number of electors is based on the number of representatives, and the number of Senators is the same for each State regardless of population.

But then again, I also am against the existence of the Senate :p .

My PoliSci teacher told me that it is actually harmful to most small states. This is because there is a lopsided amount of Dems vs. Reps in each State, so many are left so uncompetitive that the parties just fly over them as safe States.

[/rant]

corplinx
8th January 2008, 04:20 PM
The president represents the 50 states of the union. Maryland and NJ have failed basic civics.

UserGoogol
8th January 2008, 04:21 PM
It's a bad idea. It would make all small states inconsequential forever.

A person is a person. For the most part, if you can appeal to liberal voters in California, you appeal to liberal voters in Wyoming; if you appeal to conservative voters in Texas, you appeal to conservative voters in Vermont. Additionally, the way states have been formed is largely a matter of convenience and an accident of history. What if North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana had formed one big Superdakota and California had decided to break up into four different states? Federalism is valuable, but both the federal government and state governments are Republics, and therefore exist solely to serve the people who live in them. Why should one servant treat people differently based on which other servant they have?

Furthermore, brute majority rule can definitely be a bad thing and it is entirely reasonable for the electoral system to be built in such a way to require consensus, but to simply give more votes to some people based on what state they state does not remedy it: it just turns majority rule into sometimes-a-majority-and-sometimes-a-minority-rule, with no reason to believe that sometimes-a-minority is more representative of the overall "common good" than a simple majority would be.

tsg
8th January 2008, 04:41 PM
No offense, but in what I like to call a democracy (one person, one vote) that makes sense.:)

It only makes sense if you assume the small states concerns are directly at odds with the large states'. They aren't.

ZenFountain
8th January 2008, 04:47 PM
The need for the electoral college was diminished with the advent of national newspapers, radio and TV. The need has evaporated entirely with the addition of the internet as a means to disseminate information instantly for very low cost to a wide audience. My understanding is that the electoral college was seen as a guard against regional populist in the early republic, far back before politicians ran national campaigns or could hope to reach everyone with their message. It's interesting to contrast pre-Jackson elections with modern elections, you would be hard pressed to connect them as functioning under the same constitution.

Bush's win in 2000 with a 500,000 vote deficit and Kerry's near win in 2004 with a 3,000,000 vote deficit should have been the last bit of proof needed that the electoral system has failed. I suspect that in a purely popular system, candidates would distribute their campaign time and resources far more evenly across the union rather than concentrating so heavily in battleground states. Take at look at 2004 campaign resources:

http://forums.randi.org/imagehosting/thum_19591478409e47ed32.png (http://forums.randi.org/vbimghost.php?do=displayimg&imgid=10158)

We won't see change with the electoral college until there are a string of electoral catastrophes. The parties may not like the current system but they know the intricacies and winning strategies. A change on the magnitude of going to a purely popular vote would upset the system and leave campaign managers sailing in uncharted territory.

tsg
8th January 2008, 04:50 PM
Here (http://www.avagara.com/e_c/reference/00012001.htm) is an article that explains pretty well why the electoral college is better for everyone.

Skibum
8th January 2008, 04:52 PM
It would be interesting to see what would happen if the popular vote tally is disputed.


I was thinking the same thing.

Imagine Palm Beach in 2000 only on a nationwide scale. Lawsuits in dozens (perhaps even hundreds or more than a thousand) of localities fighting for every single hanging chad and mismarked ballot following an election where the national popular vote is decided by a razor thin margin.

Tsukasa Buddha
8th January 2008, 05:10 PM
Here (http://www.avagara.com/e_c/reference/00012001.htm) is an article that explains pretty well why the electoral college is better for everyone.

But it didn't address the problem of voting power due to number of electors.

It seems to be assuming that one redistricts America for every election, with no regard for State borders.

And lol at the bias, "Not long before Natapoff’s epiphany, Congress had teetered on the verge of wrecking the electoral college, an institution that has no equal anywhere in the world."

Or I could say that no one was stupid enough to do it our way.

UserGoogol
8th January 2008, 05:37 PM
Here (http://www.avagara.com/e_c/reference/00012001.htm) is an article that explains pretty well why the electoral college is better for everyone.

A presidential candidate worthy of office, by the same logic, should have broad appeal across the whole nation, and not just play strongly on a single issue to isolated blocs of voters.

This is a retarded claim. Suppose that 60% of all people supported some candidate and they live spread out throughout the country. By this principle, it would be entirely reasonable. But suppose that you then managed to somehow round up all these people and gather them into one state. Then that candidate would suddenly not become worthy of office, simply by moving people around.

Geography is a meaningless variable. People can and do move from one side of the country to another at their whim. Perhaps when the country was founded and moving 100 miles was something only for special occasions for a majority of people, geography mattered, but now it is something as arbitary as hair color.

His math also sounds stupid, although for different reasons and I might be misunderstanding it. Increasing the degree to which an individual effects the outcome of an election is meaningless. What matters is that everyone effects the election equally and that no factors besides people's votes are able to factor in. Also, he seems to be saying that it's good because in lopsided elections (where one candidate is more likely to win than the other) the more likely candidate is more likely to win in a direct popular vote, but I'm not entirely sure how that's a bad thing. That's kind of the point of elections? Breaking things up seems simply to add some randomness to the game (analogous to the sports analogy) which doesn't seem to be very useful. In baseball, there's value in having the winner be somewhat random rather than just being a statistical calculation of who the best player is since it's more exciting that way, but in politics I don't see the point.

tsg
8th January 2008, 05:37 PM
But it didn't address the problem of voting power due to number of electors.

Which is what, exactly?

It seems to be assuming that one redistricts America for every election, with no regard for State borders.

I highly doubt any one state's population is changing fast enough to make this an issue.

And lol at the bias, "Not long before Natapoff’s epiphany, Congress had teetered on the verge of wrecking the electoral college, an institution that has no equal anywhere in the world."

It is an article making the mathematics accessible to lay people. It doesn't make the math wrong.

Or I could say that no one was stupid enough to do it our way.

You could say that. Do you have any evidence to back it up?

rtalman
8th January 2008, 05:40 PM
If every state adopted this system then every electoral college vote would go to the one candidate who scored the most votes nationwide.

Didn't Bush lose the nationwide vote in 2000? If so, he would have had 0 electoral college votes under this system.

Trying to determine what the outcome of previous elections would have been, had this system been in place, is difficult as the popular vote would have been different. I think people in non-swing states would have been more likely to vote (as their vote is more likely to count) and the campaign in swing states would have been different (as they would be less important).

It would be interesting to see what would happen if the popular vote tally is disputed.You misunderstand. I spoke responding to the Maine and Nebraska model. They award their EC votes by congressional district, and the statewide popular vote winner gets the 2 EC votes reperesented by the Senate as a bonus. I would be interested to see what candidate would have won under that model, especially Nixon v. Kennedy.

Michael Redman
8th January 2008, 05:42 PM
Geography is a meaningless variable. People can and do move from one side of the country to another at their whim. Perhaps when the country was founded and moving 100 miles was something only for special occasions for a majority of people, geography mattered, but now it is something as arbitary as hair color.Have you traveled around this country much? Outside of cities? Geography is not meaningless.

Schneibster
8th January 2008, 06:01 PM
Here (http://www.avagara.com/e_c/reference/00012001.htm) is an article that explains pretty well why the electoral college is better for everyone."Experts, scholars, deep thinkers could make errors on electoral reform," Natapoff decided, "but nine-year-olds could explain to a Martian why the Yankees lost in 1960, and why it was right. And both have the same underlying abstract principle."

Nice. Good find.

Schneibster
8th January 2008, 06:03 PM
But it didn't address the problem of voting power due to number of electors.YOU can address that, if you're worried about it; move to Montana.

gtc
8th January 2008, 06:10 PM
I was thinking the same thing.

Imagine Palm Beach in 2000 only on a nationwide scale. Lawsuits in dozens (perhaps even hundreds or more than a thousand) of localities fighting for every single hanging chad and mismarked ballot following an election where the national popular vote is decided by a razor thin margin.

The law suits might not be confined to the locality where the vote was cast. Imagine a court in Idaho trying to determine whether to count a hanging chad vote from Florida in the national tally in order to determine who gets the Idaho electoral college votes.


You misunderstand. I spoke responding to the Maine and Nebraska model. ... I would be interested to see what candidate would have won under that model, especially Nixon v. Kennedy.

Sorry. Yes, I would be interested to see what would have happened as well (bearing in mind my comment about how a different system would have affected the actual votes cast).

Tsukasa Buddha
8th January 2008, 06:30 PM
Which is what, exactly?



I highly doubt any one state's population is changing fast enough to make this an issue.



It is an article making the mathematics accessible to lay people. It doesn't make the math wrong.



You could say that. Do you have any evidence to back it up?

I'll respond after the primary.

ZenFountain
8th January 2008, 06:33 PM
I would imagine in a popular vote system state governments would still be responsible for counting the votes. It would not be that hard create a solution to the problem of counting ballots for federal elections across the nation either. One electronic system could be created that would be used everywhere. The voting machine would present the choices on an electronic screen but the input used to select your candidate would be a keypad. The machine would then produce two paper ballots which could be reviewed by the voter for accuracy. One ballot would go untouched and stored for preservation and the other would be counted on site, either by hand or by machine depending on the size of the precinct.

Michael Shamos, a professor at Carnegie Mellon perhaps put it best: Creating a more perfect system is only a matter of will and money. Here is an interview he gave with Dan Rather on HDNet for Rather's report The Trouble with Touch Screens.

0xq2MWpijcI

tsg
8th January 2008, 07:37 PM
I'll respond after the primary.

I'm glad to see you've at least thought this out.

tsg
8th January 2008, 07:39 PM
"Experts, scholars, deep thinkers could make errors on electoral reform," Natapoff decided, "but nine-year-olds could explain to a Martian why the Yankees lost in 1960, and why it was right. And both have the same underlying abstract principle."

Nice. Good find.

Thanks. It's actually the paper that convinced me I was wrong in 1996. Since then, I've had to find it again about every four years or so.

Tsukasa Buddha
8th January 2008, 08:49 PM
I'm glad to see you've at least thought this out.

Don't be rude.

Which is what, exactly?

That because each State has unproportional numbers of electors, your vote has a different power (due to the number of voters that each electoral vote represents) depending on where you live.

I highly doubt any one state's population is changing fast enough to make this an issue.

The argument was that you district each region to make each "group" competitive. This does nothing to change the issue regarding States, and it is also silly and nigh impossible to try to balance every group.

It is an article making the mathematics accessible to lay people. It doesn't make the math wrong.

I am saying that they haven't made all the right assumptions in their math.

The pointing out of bias was just for fun.

You could say that. Do you have any evidence to back it up?

No, that's why making either statement is biased.

Tsukasa Buddha
8th January 2008, 08:50 PM
YOU can address that, if you're worried about it; move to Montana.

Um, I wasn't the one claiming to have a mathematical proof that the electoral college is good.

My way of addressing it is to get rid of it.

Tony
8th January 2008, 08:55 PM
It's a bad idea. It would make all small states inconsequential forever.

Good. We're tired of you freeloaders stealing our tax money.

tsg
8th January 2008, 09:06 PM
That because each State has unproportional numbers of electors, your vote has a different power (due to the number of voters that each electoral vote represents) depending on where you live.

Except for a handful of states with the minimum one Representative in the House, I think you'll find the number of electors is pretty evenly distributed based on population.

The argument was that you district each region to make each "group" competitive. This does nothing to change the issue regarding States, and it is also silly and nigh impossible to try to balance every group.

That isn't his argument at all. It's a model to make the math clear. Ideally, to make each vote count the most, the districts would be as balanced as possible. He isn't suggesting it actually be done.

I am saying that they haven't made all the right assumptions in their math.

Such as?

No, that's why making either statement is biased.

No. He has provided evidence for his.

tsg
8th January 2008, 09:07 PM
My way of addressing it is to get rid of it.

First you have to show the problem actually exists.

Brainster
8th January 2008, 09:13 PM
This idea of putting in a "trigger" to an amendment to a state constitution based on what other state constitutions do strikes me as too cute by half, but by putting it in the constitution, it seems impervious to state supreme courts, and the US constitution is clear.

What happens if some state does this and then finds out that it results in the guy that the state voted against getting in, where under the old system it would not? Say Ohio had gone for Kerry in 2004, how would New Jerseyans and Marylanders have liked the fact that Bush won handily because of this amendment and "won" their state (and a lot of others that he did not win).

Bad cases make bad laws, and bad elections make bad election laws. Stupid idea, and one that will boomerang eventually to a lot of wailing and undoing.

Tsukasa Buddha
8th January 2008, 09:27 PM
Except for a handful of states with the minimum one Representative in the House, I think you'll find the number of electors is pretty evenly distributed based on population.

No, not really. Here's a graph (sorry, my scanner is out).

The vertical axis is residents per elector in hundred of thousands.

http://forums.randi.org/imagehosting/thum_1170647844bd397442.jpg (http://forums.randi.org/vbimghost.php?do=displayimg&imgid=10162)

That isn't his argument at all. It's a model to make the math clear. Ideally, to make each vote count the most, the districts would be as balanced as possible. He isn't suggesting it actually be done.

Alright then. But that leads to the problem that because only certain areas are "competitive" and others are "safe" that your voting power is again unequal depending on geography.

Such as?

That the unproportional number of electors per State effects voting power.

No. He has provided evidence for his.

Later he did.

Why do you think that no one has copied our electoral college?

rtalman
8th January 2008, 09:35 PM
Why do you think that no one has copied our electoral college?
Same reason we refuse to adopt the metric system.

JEROME DA GNOME
8th January 2008, 09:43 PM
http://www.usatoday.com/news/politics/2008-01-03-nj-electoral_N.htm

Maryland has passed, and New Jersey is close to passing, a law that would award their electoral college votes for president to the candidate that wins the nationwide popular vote. Neither state's law would be enacted unless enough other states to effectively kill the electoral college join them in passing the same laws.

Several other states are considering jumping on the bandwagon.

The Constitution is vague about the mechanism a state legislature must use to choose electors, so it is possible...


This idea would have backfired for the Maryland electoral votes in the last two Presidential elections.
:boggled:

JEROME DA GNOME
8th January 2008, 09:45 PM
Why do you think that no one has copied our electoral college?

The electoral college makes it harder to "fix" a national election.

tsg
8th January 2008, 09:48 PM
No, not really. Here's a graph (sorry, my scanner is out).

Here's (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_by_population) the actual numbers.

Alright then. But that leads to the problem that because only certain areas are "competitive" and others are "safe" that your voting power is again unequal depending on geography.

Unequal (slightly) but more powerful than without districting at all. As the article notes, in a tyranny, every one has equal voting power: zero. Equality isn't enough. It's also about maximizing voting power.

That the unproportional number of electors per State effects voting power.

It's way more power than you would have without it. Nobody said it was perfect, but it's far better than a straight popular vote. If you have a better system, I'd love to hear it. But a nationwide popular vote isn't it.

Why do you think that no one has copied our electoral college?

I have no idea. But that it doesn't work isn't the only possible explanation.

Cylinder
8th January 2008, 10:10 PM
It says "in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct". I don't think that's vague.


Article II; Section 1 has been amended:

But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the executive and judicial officers of a state, or the members of the legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such state, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such state.

Under this amendment, the states could enact such a system, but Congress would be required to toss those electors pro rata.

Tsukasa Buddha
8th January 2008, 11:29 PM
Here's (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_by_population) the actual numbers.

Kay.

Unequal (slightly) but more powerful than without districting at all. As the article notes, in a tyranny, every one has equal voting power: zero. Equality isn't enough. It's also about maximizing voting power.

It's way more power than you would have without it. Nobody said it was perfect, but it's far better than a straight popular vote. If you have a better system, I'd love to hear it. But a nationwide popular vote isn't it.

His argument is silly. Some people are given more voting power than others, and for no other reason than where they live.

If you want to toss in the scare "tyranny" I'll toss in the word "undemocratic". It does nothing to refute the idea that arbitrary inequality is undemocratic.

And what evidence is there that everyone gets more voting power? Like I was talking about in safe states versus competitive ones. Even the article says that ideally one bloc shouldn't be dominant, but that is hardly the case in the States.

I think I would prefer to just get the math instead of an rticle about it :p .

I have no idea. But that it doesn't work isn't the only possible explanation.

True.

OneShotKi11
8th January 2008, 11:46 PM
Not really.

Imagine an election where the candidates campaign on the coasts, and parts of the Gulf Coast.

What need would a candidate ever have to go to a place like Montana? or Idaho?

Because Born and home grown Americans live there!!!
This would give smaller states actual power not take power away from them if i am not incorrect!!!

New Ager
9th January 2008, 12:23 AM
Good. We're tired of you freeloaders stealing our tax money.

Don't live in a small state. And the only ones endorsing freeloaders are liberals.

Schneibster
9th January 2008, 01:05 AM
Um, I wasn't the one claiming to have a mathematical proof that the electoral college is good.No, you're the one who wants to get rid of the electoral college. I think that's a bad idea, and I think Madison had it right- however wrong he may have been on other things.

I've watched the Constitution get trashed, particularly parts that are specifically intended to limit what government can do. These laws ensure the power of the people. The electoral power of the people is guaranteed by the electoral college; I think that eliminating it would reduce EVERYONE'S power. I've had enough taken away, thank you.

I also note that there is an effort underway to split California's electors proportionally to the popular vote in the state. Because of current electoral math, this would virtually guarantee a Republican President over the next several election cycles.

You wouldn't happen to be associated with that, would you?

My way of addressing it is to get rid of it.Good luck with that.

New Ager
9th January 2008, 01:25 AM
One thing all of you are missing is when you set up rules for anything, people adjust their strategy to those rules.

The Electoral Rules create the scenario that the one winning the popular vote will not win, but just changing it to a straight popular vote doesn't not necessarily change the outcome.

With the rules now, Bush did not need to spend that much money or campaign in places like New York or California, because he couldn't win there.

But, if we had a straight popular vote, he would spend more time in NY and California because that's where the people are.

Plus, in that scenario, Bush supporters would be more likely to vote because their vote would matter more.

So if you change the system, you change the strategy.

Bush would have probably won the 2000 Election with a straight popular vote anyway.

And as far as the battleground states being the only ones concentrated on, well that makes sense, but that can be fluid. People move, states change. No telling which states in the future will be important.

But, every state has an opportunity. In a popular vote, the small states never would.

Kerberos
9th January 2008, 02:04 AM
Here (http://www.avagara.com/e_c/reference/00012001.htm) is an article that explains pretty well why the electoral college is better for everyone.

The article seems to make a number of assumptions ranging from the questionable to the outright false. I'll grant that I might have missed something but since you seem to have read the article several times I'm sure you'll correct me if I miss something.


1) The model assumes that voters across States are identical. In reality it is not. That means that it's not better for everyone it's better for those in swing states. Anyone who doesn't live in a swing state has 0 voting power.

2) It doesn't seem to take into account that people in the swing states can have unique preferences. Preferences at odds with those of the rest of the nation. The electoral college as it works today encourages a presidential candidate to favour those preferences (say a certain industry for example) at the disadvantage of the rest of the nation.

3) It assumes that the candidate with 49% backing is actually just as good as the one with 51% backing. In reality it might be that a candidate is favoured by more people because he or she is better for more people. That means that what he perceives as an advantage for the electoral college is arguably a disadvantage.

4) He assumes that what matters is the individual chance of swinging the election. This is questionable, particularly since in any large electorate under any electoral system whatsoever the chance that your vote will swing the election is very, very close to 0. Does it really matter if your chance of swinging the election is 0,000001% or 0,0000011%?

A more reasonable objective in an election is to find the candidate most acceptable to most people. Election by popular vote encourages this because it promotes the election of the candidate who is closest to the preferences of the median voter. The electoral college favour the election of the candidate closest to the median voter in the swing states who as mentioned earlier is likely to have idiosyncratic preferences on certain areas, yielding sub optimal outcomes on those issues.

ETA: Actually National median voters can have idosyncratic preferences as well, but they'll probably have less of them than swing state median voters.

That's what I could think of, of the top of my head.

Michael Redman
9th January 2008, 08:56 AM
Article II; Section 1 has been amended:



Under this amendment, the states could enact such a system, but Congress would be required to toss those electors pro rata.Thanks for pointing that out. Unfortunately, I have to admit I haven't given the Amendment a proper reading before.

Gnu World Order
9th January 2008, 11:10 AM
These laws ensure the power of the people. The electoral power of the people is guaranteed by the electoral college; I think that eliminating it would reduce EVERYONE'S power.



But the electoral college overruled everyone's power in 2000, by putting in office someone the people did not elect. And it came very close to doing the same thing in 2004 in the other direction.

People's electoral power should be through their votes, not through their states.

tsg
9th January 2008, 11:18 AM
But the electoral college overruled everyone's power in 2000, by putting in office someone the people did not elect. And it came very close to doing the same thing in 2004 in the other direction.

People's electoral power should be through their votes, not through their states.

All this is dependent on the unsupported assumption that what a simple majority of people want is the right decision.

Gnu World Order
9th January 2008, 11:18 AM
With the rules now, Bush did not need to spend that much money or campaign in places like New York or California, because he couldn't win there.

But, if we had a straight popular vote, he would spend more time in NY and California because that's where the people are.

By the same token, Kerry would spend time in Texas, Missouri, Indiana and other "red" states.

Plus, in that scenario, Bush supporters would be more likely to vote because their vote would matter more.

So if you change the system, you change the strategy.

Bush would have probably won the 2000 Election with a straight popular vote anyway.

I believe the strategy change would work both ways. Bush did not and would not have won the popular vote in 2000.



But, every state has an opportunity. In a popular vote, the small states never would.

But the VOTERS would.

Gnu World Order
9th January 2008, 11:21 AM
All this is dependent on the unsupported assumption that what a simple majority of people want is the right decision.

Actually (unfortunately) a plurality. But isn't that sort of what democracy is all about?

Kerberos
9th January 2008, 11:37 AM
All this is dependent on the unsupported assumption that what a simple majority of people want is the right decision.

No, it depends on the assumption that a simple majority of the entire population is more likely to make the right descision for the entire population than swing state voters are. Would you care to explan why swing state voters know better what is good for the entire population than the entire population does?

tsg
9th January 2008, 12:34 PM
Actually (unfortunately) a plurality. But isn't that sort of what democracy is all about?

Yes. But this isn't a democracy.

tsg
9th January 2008, 12:36 PM
No, it depends on the assumption that a simple majority of the entire population is more likely to make the right descision for the entire population than swing state voters are. Would you care to explan why swing state voters know better what is good for the entire population than the entire population does?

Loaded question.

toddjh
9th January 2008, 12:39 PM
People's electoral power should be through their votes, not through their states.

The people have their direct electoral power, in the form of their U.S. Representatives and (in latter days) Senators.

The three branches of government are determined in different ways. Congress is directly elected. The judiciary is largely appointed, because they, out of all the branches, should not be beholden to the tides and fads of public opinion, and I think we can all agree that that's a good thing.

With that attitude in mind, is it that strange to suggest that perhaps the executive should not be determined solely by popular vote, either? They are, after all, the first line of defense against a runaway legislature. As such, they should not be subject to the exact same vagaries of majority rule. Giving smaller states a (slightly) disproportionate amount of influence seems like a reasonable measure to take; the presidency is still determined largely by popular vote, but with a few safeguards to protect the tiny members of the union from the tyranny of the majority.

All the talk of "one person, one vote" starts from the basic assumption that raw, nationwide popular support should determine the disposition of the executive branch. I reject that assumption, and argue instead the executive branch should be a tad more subtle.

fuelair
9th January 2008, 12:52 PM
Nothing that put Bush in charge can be said to be good. The purpose of elections is to determine the choice of the majority (with protective restrictions - some of which ought to be raining down on Shrub right now) not to "maximize the value" of some peoples votes. We need to be able to, with kindness and thoughtfulness, walk over the fundies into the real world they keep trying to block due to their fear and shortsightedness.

tsg
9th January 2008, 12:59 PM
Nothing that put Bush in charge can be said to be good. The purpose of elections is to determine the choice of the majority (with protective restrictions - some of which ought to be raining down on Shrub right now) not to "maximize the value" of some peoples votes. We need to be able to, with kindness and thoughtfulness, walk over the fundies into the real world they keep trying to block due to their fear and shortsightedness.

And you think a popular vote would do that? Christians are a majority in this country, you know.

Gnu World Order
9th January 2008, 03:43 PM
The people have their direct electoral power, in the form of their U.S. Representatives and (in latter days) Senators.

The three branches of government are determined in different ways. Congress is directly elected. The judiciary is largely appointed, because they, out of all the branches, should not be beholden to the tides and fads of public opinion, and I think we can all agree that that's a good thing.

Agreed.

With that attitude in mind, is it that strange to suggest that perhaps the executive should not be determined solely by popular vote, either? They are, after all, the first line of defense against a runaway legislature. As such, they should not be subject to the exact same vagaries of majority rule.

Well, the difference in terms -- 2-year, 4-year, 6-year -- seems to mitigate this concern. I would say the executive is much more immune to those vagaries than House members. Less so, than Senators, of course.


Giving smaller states a (slightly) disproportionate amount of influence seems like a reasonable measure to take; the presidency is still determined largely by popular vote, but with a few safeguards to protect the tiny members of the union from the tyranny of the majority.

But rather than small states vs. big states, isn't the effect to give rural voters more influence than urban voters? Because less populous states, by definition, would not have the large cities of the more-populated states, yet they still get a minimum of three electoral votes. Are we protecting the rural voters from the tyranny of the big cities?

All the talk of "one person, one vote" starts from the basic assumption that raw, nationwide popular support should determine the disposition of the executive branch. I reject that assumption, and argue instead the executive branch should be a tad more subtle.

Do you feel it's a good thing, then, if occasionally the Electoral College returns a different result from the majority of voters?

fuelair
9th January 2008, 03:43 PM
And you think a popular vote would do that? Christians are a majority in this country, you know.
I do Xtians the service of not assuming they are all insane fundies.

toddjh
9th January 2008, 03:50 PM
But rather than small states vs. big states, isn't the effect to give rural voters more influence than urban voters? Because less populous states, by definition, would not have the large cities of the more-populated states, yet they still get a minimum of three electoral votes. Are we protecting the rural voters from the tyranny of the big cities?

Given the economic importance of agriculture, I don't know if that's necessarily a bad thing.

Do you feel it's a good thing, then, if occasionally the Electoral College returns a different result from the majority of voters?

It's more accurate to say that the reasons for not relying on a nationwide popular vote are, in some circumstances at least, good.

tsg
9th January 2008, 07:16 PM
I do Xtians the service of not assuming they are all insane fundies.


Neither did I.

tsg
9th January 2008, 07:22 PM
But rather than small states vs. big states, isn't the effect to give rural voters more influence than urban voters? Because less populous states, by definition, would not have the large cities of the more-populated states, yet they still get a minimum of three electoral votes. Are we protecting the rural voters from the tyranny of the big cities?

There are eight states, for a total of 24 electoral votes out of the 270 needed to become President, where that applies. What was the problem again?

Do you feel it's a good thing, then, if occasionally the Electoral College returns a different result from the majority of voters?

I do, yes. ETA: Especially since it only happened once in 1876, I don't think its much of a problem even if it isn't a "good thing".

JEROME DA GNOME
9th January 2008, 07:54 PM
One thing all of you are missing is when you set up rules for anything, people adjust their strategy to those rules.

The Electoral Rules create the scenario that the one winning the popular vote will not win, but just changing it to a straight popular vote doesn't not necessarily change the outcome.

With the rules now, Bush did not need to spend that much money or campaign in places like New York or California, because he couldn't win there.

But, if we had a straight popular vote, he would spend more time in NY and California because that's where the people are.

Plus, in that scenario, Bush supporters would be more likely to vote because their vote would matter more.

So if you change the system, you change the strategy.

Bush would have probably won the 2000 Election with a straight popular vote anyway.

And as far as the battleground states being the only ones concentrated on, well that makes sense, but that can be fluid. People move, states change. No telling which states in the future will be important.

But, every state has an opportunity. In a popular vote, the small states never would.

Well said!

tsg
9th January 2008, 10:23 PM
Here are the actual facts. The winner of the Presidential election has lost the popular vote only three times in history, and only once in the last 120 years. Only once did the leader in the popular vote have a majority and that was in 1876. In the other two, the difference in the popular vote was less than one percent of the votes cast. I don't know what the margin of error is for the popular vote, but I'm betting this is under it.

There's no problem to fix here, certainly not one worth disenfranchising the 20% of Americans living in rural areas when the election isn't this close.

New Ager
9th January 2008, 11:18 PM
By the same token, Kerry would spend time in Texas, Missouri, Indiana and other "red" states.

Yep, but no contention there. He didn't win either the popular or electoral.



I believe the strategy change would work both ways. Bush did not and would not have won the popular vote in 2000.



Considering it was less than a million votes, no way to positively say that. But, it's more likely that Bush would have won as they are more bigger states that he didn't really try in. (California, New York, Illinois, New Jersey.)



But the VOTERS would.

Not the voters in the small states, ever.

New Ager
9th January 2008, 11:34 PM
Nothing that put Bush in charge can be said to be good.

Another liberal who uses talk of the Electoral College to take another swipe at President Bush. Do you ever get tired of this Bush hating?



The purpose of elections is to determine the choice of the majority (with protective restrictions - some of which ought to be raining down on Shrub right now)



And Bush got the majority of the Electoral votes.



..not to "maximize the value" of some peoples votes.



Actually, that was all people's votes.



We need to be able to, with kindness and thoughtfulness, walk over the fundies into the real world they keep trying to block due to their fear and shortsightedness.

And a religion hater using a discussion of the Electoral College to take a swipe at the religious.

A big shortage of those too.

Tsukasa Buddha
9th January 2008, 11:37 PM
Here are the actual facts. The winner of the Presidential election has lost the popular vote only three times in history, and only once in the last 120 years. Only once did the leader in the popular vote have a majority and that was in 1876. In the other two, the difference in the popular vote was less than one percent of the votes cast. I don't know what the margin of error is for the popular vote, but I'm betting this is under it.

There's no problem to fix here, certainly not one worth disenfranchising the 20% of Americans living in rural areas when the election isn't this close.

How is it disenfranchising them if their votes are all equal? By whatever loose definition on disenfranchisement you are using, I could just as easily say that the people living in safe fly over States are disenfranchised under the current system.

New Ager
9th January 2008, 11:42 PM
(Gnu)



But rather than small states vs. big states, isn't the effect to give rural voters more influence than urban voters? Because less populous states, by definition, would not have the large cities of the more-populated states, yet they still get a minimum of three electoral votes. Are we protecting the rural voters from the tyranny of the big cities?



You made a slight mistake. Just because cities in one state aren't as big as others in another state does not make them rural.




Do you feel it's a good thing, then, if occasionally the Electoral College returns a different result from the majority of voters?



Yep, and I explain it quite well in an earlier post.

New Ager
9th January 2008, 11:50 PM
I do Xtians the service of not assuming they are all insane fundies.

I do the same with atheists. :)

New Ager
9th January 2008, 11:56 PM
There are eight states, for a total of 24 electoral votes out of the 270 needed to become President, where that applies. What was the problem again?

The only real problem is the liberals lost so they are looking for something to blame it on.

I can't wait to see what their excuse will be this fall.

New Ager
10th January 2008, 12:01 AM
(New Ager)

One thing all of you are missing is when you set up rules for anything, people adjust their strategy to those rules.

The Electoral Rules create the scenario that the one winning the popular vote will not win, but just changing it to a straight popular vote doesn't not necessarily change the outcome.

With the rules now, Bush did not need to spend that much money or campaign in places like New York or California, because he couldn't win there.

But, if we had a straight popular vote, he would spend more time in NY and California because that's where the people are.

Plus, in that scenario, Bush supporters would be more likely to vote because their vote would matter more.

So if you change the system, you change the strategy.
Bush would have probably won the 2000 Election with a straight popular vote anyway.

And as far as the battleground states being the only ones concentrated on, well that makes sense, but that can be fluid. People move, states change. No telling which states in the future will be important.

But, every state has an opportunity. In a popular vote, the small states never would.


Well said!

Well, thank you. I thought so too.

New Ager
10th January 2008, 12:07 AM
No, it depends on the assumption that a simple majority of the entire population is more likely to make the right descision for the entire population than swing state voters are. Would you care to explan why swing state voters know better what is good for the entire population than the entire population does?

A false assumption. The swing states "and" a good portion of the regular states know what's better.

Your comment would be about as silly as someone winning by 10 votes and saying why do those 10 voters know better than the entire population.

Kerberos
10th January 2008, 02:31 AM
Loaded question.

How so? do you deny that the electoral colledge means that the vote of anyone not living in a swing state essentially has 0 chance of swinging the election?

There's no problem to fix here, certainly not one worth disenfranchising the 20% of Americans living in rural areas when the election isn't this close.
And it's better to disenfranchise the 80% (or however many) who don't live in swing states? With the exception of cause that these peoples votes actually are irrelevant as opposed to the 20% rurals who's votes still would count under a one man one vote system.

New Ager
10th January 2008, 02:47 AM
Sorry Kerberos, but you're not making a good argument.

Technically, the all the loser's votes are disenfranchised, to use your word.

Kerberos
10th January 2008, 03:00 AM
Sorry Kerberos, but you're not making a good argument.

Technically, the all the loser's votes are disenfranchised, to use your word.

I am making a good point, you just don't understand election theory. The only votes that actually matter are those that could go either way, or which might stay home. The reason that this is tolerable is that the median voters (those that could go either way), in general reflect a moderate position. Swing state median voters also reflect a moderate position, but less so than national median voters (due to local interests or idiosyncraticies). It's really quite elementary.

Also it's not "my word". It's tsg's word. He was the one who with blatant disregard for the facts claims that rural voters are disenfrachised under a "one man, one vote" system.

Schneibster
10th January 2008, 03:50 AM
I believe the cant term is "sussed."

For anyone who wishes to know what this is REALLY about, see my post on the previous page. Note that there has been no response. Note that these actions are being attempted with as little publicity as possible.

Gnu World Order
10th January 2008, 03:55 AM
Especially since it only happened once in 1876, I don't think its much of a problem even if it isn't a "good thing".

How can you not count 2000?

Twice, out of 55 elections, when the candidate who got the most votes didn't become president? Yeah, I think that's a problem.

Gnu World Order
10th January 2008, 04:01 AM
It's more accurate to say that the reasons for not relying on a nationwide popular vote are, in some circumstances at least, good.

Given that the only circumstances when it comes into play are extremely close elections, and that twice in 220 years our electoral "middlemen" have installed the wrong person in office, I'd say that's not good.

Kerberos
10th January 2008, 04:03 AM
How can you not count 2000?

Twice, out of 55 elections, when the candidate who got the most votes didn't become president? Yeah, I think that's a problem.

Also the system can matter even if it doesn't visibly change the outcome. By having a system where only the swing states truly count you favour the interests of the swing states over those of the rest of the states. Even if the popular vote and the colledge go the same way.

Kerberos
10th January 2008, 04:09 AM
Given the economic importance of agriculture, I don't know if that's necessarily a bad thing.
There are better ways of protecting people in sparsely populated areas than the US system if you think that is desirable. For example Dnemark weight votes from sparsely populated areas higher. This accomplished the same thing without making the votes of the vast majorioty of the country effectively irrelevant.


It's more accurate to say that the reasons for not relying on a nationwide popular vote are, in some circumstances at least, good.
Could you be more specific?

Gnu World Order
10th January 2008, 04:12 AM
Considering it was less than a million votes, no way to positively say that. But, it's more likely that Bush would have won as they are more bigger states that he didn't really try in. (California, New York, Illinois, New Jersey.)



Can't you see that it works both ways, though? Those states were "blue" so he didn't campaign there, but neither did his opponent. Other states were "red" so they were also ignored by both sides. You can't claim that Bush would have gotten more if voters in those states were suddenly made relevant, because it's likely that people on both sides would have been more energized.

tsg
10th January 2008, 06:55 AM
How is it disenfranchising them if their votes are all equal? By whatever loose definition on disenfranchisement you are using, I could just as easily say that the people living in safe fly over States are disenfranchised under the current system.

What candidate is going to bother addressing the concerns of a demographic that only makes up 20% of the vote except if the race is really close?

tsg
10th January 2008, 06:56 AM
The only real problem is the liberals lost so they are looking for something to blame it on.

Broad brush. I'm one of "those liberals". Stop acting like a jackass.

Kerberos
10th January 2008, 07:04 AM
Broad brush. I'm one of "those liberals". Stop acting like a jackass.

New Ager? Why don't you just tell him to stop breathing? Would probably be easier for him.

tsg
10th January 2008, 07:07 AM
How so? do you deny that the electoral colledge means that the vote of anyone not living in a swing state essentially has 0 chance of swinging the election?

They are only "swing states" because they have the backing of half the states that are behind them. If they don't have that backing, they don't control the election. This is silly. Like New Ager said, you're claiming that winning an election by 5 votes is giving those 5 votes control of the election and ignoring the other 266 behind it. Gore lost 271 to 266. Not 5 to 0.

And it's better to disenfranchise the 80% (or however many) who don't live in swing states?

They aren't disenfranchised. The swing states can't swing the election without them.

tsg
10th January 2008, 07:09 AM
How can you not count 2000?

Because neither Bush nor Gore got a majority of the popular vote.

Kerberos
10th January 2008, 07:13 AM
They are only "swing states" because they have the backing of half the states that are behind them. If they don't have that backing, they don't control the election. This is silly. Like New Ager said, you're claiming that winning an election by 5 votes is giving those 5 votes control of the election and ignoring the other 266 behind it. Gore lost 271 to 266. Not 5 to 0.
Did you read you own article? The guy in it argues that what matters is each individuals chance to swing the election. A person not living in a swing state has zero chance of swinging the election and thus no influence. If you don't agree on that why on Earth do you post articles based on that premise?



They aren't disenfranchised. The swing states can't swing the election without them.
They're a whole lot more disenfranchised than people living in rural areas under a one man one vote system.

Also if I may indulge my cynicism for a moment: Do you live in a swing state?

tsg
10th January 2008, 07:13 AM
Given that the only circumstances when it comes into play are extremely close elections, and that twice in 220 years our electoral "middlemen" have installed the wrong person in office, I'd say that's not good.


Support the assertion that the wrong person won. "He won the popular vote" isn't support. Whether that makes him the right person is precisely what we're arguing about.

fuelair
10th January 2008, 07:50 AM
Another liberal who uses talk of the Electoral College to take another swipe at President Bush. Do you ever get tired of this Bush hating
.

It's not something you "get tired of". It is the gift that keeps on giving - since almost daily it gives us another reason to loathe it. It isn't just a bad president - which we knew it would be, it is a malevolent and stupid person - which we did not even suspect the depths of in those areas.

I have never thought a republiker president did a particularly good job of running the country, but even Nixon and Reagan were not the slime shrub is, as bad as they both were- and neither engendered the outright hatred thatshrub specifically and republickers generally (thanks to it's actions) have. It is truly skilled there at least.

WildCat
10th January 2008, 07:55 AM
Given the economic importance of agriculture, I don't know if that's necessarily a bad thing.
Perhaps you missed the latest energy bill mandating and subsidizing ethanol? Apparently, farmers won't be growing much food any more. They're going to grow corn for ethanol, which will produce just enough ethanol to... grow another crop of corn and make ethanol out of it.

The net result? Higher food prices, and we imnport the same amount of oil as ever.

Now explain again how agriculture is important, since if we stay on the road we're on we won't even be producing food any more?

tsg
10th January 2008, 08:22 AM
Did you read you own article? The guy in it argues that what matters is each individuals chance to swing the election. A person not living in a swing state has zero chance of swinging the election and thus no influence. If you don't agree on that why on Earth do you post articles based on that premise?

I do agree with that. I never once said the electoral system as it is now is the best way to do it. My argument is that a straight popular vote is considerably worse.

They're a whole lot more disenfranchised than people living in rural areas under a one man one vote system.

Evidence?

Also if I may indulge my cynicism for a moment: Do you live in a swing state?

No, I don't. But, if you will indulge my cynicism, do you live in a red state? Let's assume for the moment that you do. You would likely be frustrated that your state constantly votes against your desired candidate making you feel like your vote doesn't matter. Your concerns and issues don't get addressed by the candidate your state casts its electoral votes for. Those electoral votes are very likely the result of the popular vote for your state. And that's the problem. Your vote is powerless because the popular vote decides for whom your state will cast its vote for President. And you want to institute that on a national level? You should be arguing for districting within your state instead of against it nationally. That would give your vote more power.

If your complaint is that living in a staunchly red or blue state means the voters in that state have less power than the voters in undecided states, which is a reasonable complaint, the solution is to change the way the states chooses their electors.

If your complaint is that the undecided votes get most of the attention from the candidates, well, duh. That's what campaigning is all about. Changing the system to a popular vote won't change that.

toddjh
10th January 2008, 08:25 AM
There are better ways of protecting people in sparsely populated areas than the US system if you think that is desirable. For example Dnemark weight votes from sparsely populated areas higher. This accomplished the same thing without making the votes of the vast majorioty of the country effectively irrelevant.

Well, first, you're committing the same error many people in this thread have, which is assuming that the presidency in the U.S. is supposed to be determined by individual votes. It's not. It's determined by the votes of the states. That the states consult their citizens when deciding who to vote for is incidental.

And second, you're describing a problem with the "winner-take-all" system we currently have in all but two states, not a problem with the idea of the electoral college in general. The Constitution tells the states they can cast their electoral votes as they see fit (within certain limits); it's unfortunate that most states decide to cast them in a silly manner, but that's their problem, not the system's.

Could you be more specific?

I already have; see my previous posts in this thread.

tsg
10th January 2008, 08:28 AM
Perhaps you missed the latest energy bill mandating and subsidizing ethanol? Apparently, farmers won't be growing much food any more. They're going to grow corn for ethanol, which will produce just enough ethanol to... grow another crop of corn and make ethanol out of it.

The net result? Higher food prices, and we imnport the same amount of oil as ever.

Now explain again how agriculture is important, since if we stay on the road we're on we won't even be producing food any more?

Corn is not the only source of ethanol. It's currently a popular source because it's cheap. When it's not cheap any more, they will make it with something else.

There are plenty of valid arguments why ethanol might not be a good alternative fuel. The effect on the price of corn isn't one of them.

JEROME DA GNOME
10th January 2008, 08:53 AM
Perhaps you missed the latest energy bill mandating and subsidizing ethanol? Apparently, farmers won't be growing much food any more. They're going to grow corn for ethanol, which will produce just enough ethanol to... grow another crop of corn and make ethanol out of it.

The net result? Higher food prices, and we imnport the same amount of oil as ever.

Now explain again how agriculture is important, since if we stay on the road we're on we won't even be producing food any more?


This is more a problem with federal government subsidies to and regulation of favored industries than a problem with the electoral college.

JEROME DA GNOME
10th January 2008, 08:56 AM
Corn is not the only source of ethanol. It's currently a popular source because it's cheap. When it's not cheap any more, they will make it with something else.

Not as cheap as oil.


There are plenty of valid arguments why ethanol might not be a good alternative fuel. The effect on the price of corn isn't one of them.

The effect on the price of a staple food commodity certainly is of great concern!

tsg
10th January 2008, 09:15 AM
Not as cheap as oil.

For now. And cost isn't the only thing that makes ethanol attractive.

The effect on the price of a staple food commodity certainly is of great concern!

The effects are overblown.

JEROME DA GNOME
10th January 2008, 09:32 AM
For now. And cost isn't the only thing that makes ethanol attractive.

Creating and using ethanol is a net loss of energy.



The effects are overblown.

Is that so? You really believe that a more than doubling of the price of a staple commodity in a two year time frame has little effect on the economy?

tsg
10th January 2008, 09:38 AM
Creating and using ethanol is a net loss of energy.

I'm really not interested in arguing whether or not ethanol is a viable source of fuel. Certainly not in this thread.

Is that so? You really believe that a more than doubling of the price of a staple commodity in a two year time frame has little effect on the economy?

That isn't what I said.

WildCat
10th January 2008, 10:08 AM
Corn is not the only source of ethanol. It's currently a popular source because it's cheap. When it's not cheap any more, they will make it with something else.

There are plenty of valid arguments why ethanol might not be a good alternative fuel. The effect on the price of corn isn't one of them.
That "wooshing" sound was the point flying right over your head. Ethanol from corn isn't reducing dependence on foreign oil one bit. Depending on who does the study, it produces less energy than it delivers or it produces a slight surplus. It also uses huge quantities of water to manufacture.

The whole ethanol program is a farm state money grab - and consumers of food (that's all of us except breatharians) pay the price. It is a piss-poor energy policy.

Now, absent the electoral college would ethanol even be considered as an energy source? I'm not so sure.

tsg
10th January 2008, 10:30 AM
That "wooshing" sound was the point flying right over your head.

You might want to look up as well, while you're at it. I'm not arguing for or against ethanol.

Now, absent the electoral college would ethanol even be considered as an energy source? I'm not so sure.

Any evidence to support that?

Rob Lister
10th January 2008, 10:37 AM
You might want to look up as well, while you're at it. I'm not arguing for or against ethanol.



Any evidence to support that?

Then don't bring it up!

Not answering for wildcat, but...as to the evidence, what more evidence do you need than the statement of "I'm not sure".

ETA: I am a supporter, more or less, of the EC, but I do share wildcat's uncertainty. That goes for milk and farm subsidizes as well.

Kerberos
10th January 2008, 10:45 AM
I do agree with that. I never once said the electoral system as it is now is the best way to do it. My argument is that a straight popular vote is considerably worse.

Which again leads us right back to the question you refused to answer before. Why do you think that the median voter in swing states will make better decisions than the national median voter? The article you posted is, as I already explained, based on premises that just aren't true.

Evidence?
Because they have zero chance of swinging the election. That is what it means that the state is safe. A rural voter in a one man one vote election on the other hand has the exact same chance of swinging the election as any other voter.

No, I don't. But, if you will indulge my cynicism, do you live in a red state?
I live in Denmark. I just like to but into discussions that don't concern me. :p

Also I study political science so I'm actually interested in election theory.

Let's assume for the moment that you do. You would likely be frustrated that your state constantly votes against your desired candidate making you feel like your vote doesn't matter. Your concerns and issues don't get addressed by the candidate your state casts its electoral votes for. Those electoral votes are very likely the result of the popular vote for your state. And that's the problem. Your vote is powerless because the popular vote decides for whom your state will cast its vote for President. And you want to institute that on a national level? You should be arguing for districting within your state instead of against it nationally. That would give your vote more power.
This is wrong for several different reasons.

First of all you miss the central point of the debate. The chance that your vote will matter. If I lived in a Republican state then the republicans there would be equally powerless as the democrats. No individual voter (or group of voters) has a chance of swinging a safe state, which means that no candidate has any reason to take that states issues into account.

Secondly your solution would only work if the republicans of my state where very, very stupid. What possible interest would they have in essentially gifting a number of their elector to the democrats? None at all. Also districting posses the same problems as the current system. Only those in marginal districts would truly matter. Districting would probably be superior to the current system though, but only because having more marginal districts spread out through the country would dilute the local interests and peculiarities that skews the election, but the essence of the problem remains the same.

Thirdly you keep arguing from the assumption that the voters have more power under a districted system yet the article you base this on uses assumptions that are, I repeat, just not true. Most flagrantly false is the seeming assumption that all voters across the nation are identical (I see him making some noise about this issue, but the actual math is apparently based on this assumption: "Natapoff can solve his equations to find an ideal district size for the purpose of national elections, assuming that each vote, like a coin toss, is statistically independent"). Remove that false assumption and the entire thing collapses like a house of cards.

If your complaint is that living in a staunchly red or blue state means the voters in that state have less power than the voters in undecided states, which is a reasonable complaint, the solution is to change the way the states chooses their electors.

If your complaint is that the undecided votes get most of the attention from the candidates, well, duh. That's what campaigning is all about. Changing the system to a popular vote won't change that.
My beef is that only undecided voters in swing states matter, under a popular vote system undecided voters matter wherever they are. Nationwide swing voters will likely represent the nation far better than swing state swing voters.

tsg
10th January 2008, 10:53 AM
Then don't bring it up!

I didn't.

Not answering for wildcat, but...as to the evidence, what more evidence do you need than the statement of "I'm not sure".

It's the implication in the statement that it would be less likely to happen without the electoral college that requires support. The vague "I'm not so sure" bit is just a tactic to say something without really saying anything.

ETA: I am a supporter, more or less, of the EC, but I do share wildcat's uncertainty. That goes for milk and farm subsidizes as well.

Eliminating the electoral college wouldn't change that, it would only change who's getting those subsidies.

Rob Lister
10th January 2008, 11:01 AM
I didn't.



It's the implication in the statement that it would be less likely to happen without the electoral college that requires support. The vague "I'm not so sure" bit is just a tactic to say something without really saying anything.



Eliminating the electoral college wouldn't change that, it would only change who's getting those subsidies.

fair enough, but as to the last assertion: evidence?

Kerberos
10th January 2008, 11:07 AM
Well, first, you're committing the same error many people in this thread have, which is assuming that the presidency in the U.S. is supposed to be determined by individual votes. It's not. It's determined by the votes of the states. That the states consult their citizens when deciding who to vote for is incidental.
No, I’m just assuming that they should have some influence on who is president, but they don't. A safe state is safe whether you view it as a collective or as a composition of individual voters and safe = (almost) irrelevant in an election.

And second, you're describing a problem with the "winner-take-all" system we currently have in all but two states, not a problem with the idea of the electoral college in general. The Constitution tells the states they can cast their electoral votes as they see fit (within certain limits); it's unfortunate that most states decide to cast them in a silly manner, but that's their problem, not the system's.
The system forces, or at least strongly encourages, them to structure their system this way. If California were to distribute its electors proportionally (as I think Conservatives in the state are championing) that would almost insure a republican president, against the wishes of the majority of Californians and quite possibly the nation as a whole. Such a system would only work if it was instituted on a national level by constitutional amendment which is unlikely to happen because the swing states would stand to lose by it and they wield disproportionate power on the federal level.

I already have; see my previous posts in this thread.
You mean this?
With that attitude in mind, is it that strange to suggest that perhaps the executive should not be determined solely by popular vote, either? They are, after all, the first line of defense against a runaway legislature. As such, they should not be subject to the exact same vagaries of majority rule. Giving smaller states a (slightly) disproportionate amount of influence seems like a reasonable measure to take; the presidency is still determined largely by popular vote, but with a few safeguards to protect the tiny members of the union from the tyranny of the majority.

The tiny member only benefit if they're swing states, otherwise they're just as screwed as the big non-swing states. I also gave you a formula in the same post you replied to, on how to favour small states without giving disproportionate power to swing states.

tsg
10th January 2008, 11:34 AM
fair enough, but as to the last assertion: evidence?

If the implication that the subsidies are being given to get votes is true (as opposed to it actually benefiting the economy, and no, I'm not interested in that argument either), then the subsidies will go where the candidates need the votes from. If it isn't the agricultural industry, it will be another industry where they can get the most votes for the least amount of work/money/alienation of other voters. The last is largely a function of how well they sell the idea to everyone else. Most people don't object to agricultural subsidies, at least not enough to make it a primary issue when choosing a candidate, because it keeps their milk cheap. If the candidates could convince enough people that subsidizing the pharmaceutical industry, for instance, would make their prescriptions cheap, they'd do it if it would get them the votes they needed to win.

If farm subsidies annoyed people enough to make them not want to vote for the candidate who supports them, then he'd lose even with the support of the states that benefit from it.

dudalb
10th January 2008, 04:09 PM
That "wooshing" sound was the point flying right over your head. Ethanol from corn isn't reducing dependence on foreign oil one bit. Depending on who does the study, it produces less energy than it delivers or it produces a slight surplus. It also uses huge quantities of water to manufacture.

The whole ethanol program is a farm state money grab - and consumers of food (that's all of us except breatharians) pay the price. It is a piss-poor energy policy.

Now, absent the electoral college would ethanol even be considered as an energy source? I'm not so sure.


That probably has less to do with the Electoral College then with the power that the Farm States have in congress. The Farm states tend to have less turnover in their conggresional delegations then the Urban States,which means they have seniority in the commitees,and that means power.

dudalb
10th January 2008, 04:11 PM
I am in favor of abolishing the Electoral College (The Senate with it's two senators a state guarantees that small states will not be trampeled on,which is a good thing) and going to a straight up popular vote,but I am not holding my breath since it will take a Constitutional Amendment to do it,and that is a long,long,process.

tsg
10th January 2008, 04:23 PM
I am in favor of abolishing the Electoral College (The Senate with it's two senators a state guarantees that small states will not be trampeled on,which is a good thing)

So you don't see a problem with these states not having a say on the Executive Branch which appoints those in the Judicial Branch? One out of three should be good enough for those small ones I guess...

JEROME DA GNOME
10th January 2008, 06:47 PM
Eliminating the electoral college wouldn't change that, it would only change who's getting those subsidies.

Not under a libertarian government. ;)

Kerberos
11th January 2008, 12:45 AM
I am in favor of abolishing the Electoral College (The Senate with it's two senators a state guarantees that small states will not be trampeled on,which is a good thing) and going to a straight up popular vote,but I am not holding my breath since it will take a Constitutional Amendment to do it,and that is a long,long,process.

Well there is the back door option that some states are considering namely that enough non-swing states get together and decide to award their electors to the winner of the popular vote.

tsg
11th January 2008, 07:30 AM
Which again leads us right back to the question you refused to answer before. Why do you think that the median voter in swing states will make better decisions than the national median voter? The article you posted is, as I already explained, based on premises that just aren't true.

I don't. Never said they did. It is your assertion that these "swing states" have all the power when I have shown you it just isn't true. They are only the deciding vote because they have the support of the other states. Without those other states, they have no power. Your assertion, and the entire premise for your argument, is patently false.

Because they have zero chance of swinging the election. That is what it means that the state is safe. A rural voter in a one man one vote election on the other hand has the exact same chance of swinging the election as any other voter.

Right, zero. Your solution is to remove everyone's power equally instead of giving the people who have less power more.


This is wrong for several different reasons.

First of all you miss the central point of the debate. The chance that your vote will matter. If I lived in a Republican state then the republicans there would be equally powerless as the democrats. No individual voter (or group of voters) has a chance of swinging a safe state, which means that no candidate has any reason to take that states issues into account.

Districting the votes gives them a better chance to do that. You haven't refuted anything in the article I linked to.

Secondly your solution would only work if the republicans of my state where very, very stupid. What possible interest would they have in essentially gifting a number of their elector to the democrats? None at all.

This very same reasoning could be used against the popular vote. Changing the election process to a popular vote will require a Constitutional Amendment which requires ratification by 3/4 of the states. That the people in power won't like it doesn't make it a bad idea.

Also districting posses the same problems as the current system. Only those in marginal districts would truly matter. Districting would probably be superior to the current system though, but only because having more marginal districts spread out through the country would dilute the local interests and peculiarities that skews the election, but the essence of the problem remains the same.

This argument fails for the same reason your swing state argument fails. States that are staunchly republican or democrat don't get any attention because the majority of people living in them have chosen to vote along party lines. Districting breaks up that majority and gives more people in the state a say in who the states electoral votes go to.

Thirdly you keep arguing from the assumption that the voters have more power under a districted system yet the article you base this on uses assumptions that are, I repeat, just not true. Most flagrantly false is the seeming assumption that all voters across the nation are identical (I see him making some noise about this issue, but the actual math is apparently based on this assumption: "Natapoff can solve his equations to find an ideal district size for the purpose of national elections, assuming that each vote, like a coin toss, is statistically independent"). Remove that false assumption and the entire thing collapses like a house of cards.

The districting need not be done in that manner. That you find fault with one single model does not invalidate the theory.

My beef is that only undecided voters in swing states matter, under a popular vote system undecided voters matter wherever they are. Nationwide swing voters will likely represent the nation far better than swing state swing voters.

Your beef is that there are states that continue to vote along party lines that don't get any attention because they don't need any. They are safe. Break up the majority and the voters in those states will have more power.

tsg
11th January 2008, 09:25 AM
A swing state is a state that has a majority of voters who will consider their options before casting their vote instead of blindly following a party line. You know what? That's how voting is supposed to work. The candidates, in an effort to get those votes, address the issues those voters are concerned with. That's also how voting is supposed to work. The solution to this non-problem is not to cripple those voters ability to choose the President. The solution is to give the voters in safe states the ability to affect their states electoral votes so they aren't crippled by a majority of people who blindly follow party lines. It is precisely because these states electoral votes are decided by the popular vote that the minority voters' issues aren't addressed. A popular vote doesn't give voting power to these people, it takes it away from everyone else.

Neither Gore nor Bush had a majority of the popular vote in 2000. Saying Gore should have won because he got the most votes is asserting that a person whom the majority of the voters did not want to be President should have won. You can't say that a minority of states shouldn't control the election but a minority of voters should and still be considered reasonable.

Kerberos
11th January 2008, 10:27 AM
I don't. Never said they did. It is your assertion that these "swing states" have all the power when I have shown you it just isn't true.

No, you have not, but I have nothing to add that is substantially different from what I already said and I see no point in restating arguments that you are unable or unwilling to understand. I will make one final point though. Don't you wonder why that argument is made by a physicist rather than a political scientist and policed in what I assume is not a political science journal? Common sense dictates that one should be extremely sceptical of amateur claiming to have unique insight that never occurred to the professionals because usually they are, as in this case, wrong.

ETA:
A swing state is a state that has a majority of voters who will consider their options before casting their vote instead of blindly following a party line. You know what? That's how voting is supposed to work.
This is actually a new point so I'll just adress that as well: Your assumption is again false. A swing state does not automatically consist of people who are less biased or even biased that the population as a whole. Nor do they necessarilly have a majority of independents. They simply have a roughly equal number of republicans and democrats. Also despite what you clearly like to believe independent voters smatter or more skeptical than democrats or republicans. They simply have a bias closser to the center. Try to dial down your independent elitism k?

tsg
11th January 2008, 10:34 AM
No, you have not, but I have nothing to add that is substantially different from what I already said and I see no point in restating arguments that you are unable or unwilling to understand.

I understand them fine. They're wrong.

I will make one final point though. Don't you wonder why that argument s made by a physicist rather than a political scientist and policed in what I assume is not a political science journal? Common sense dictates that one should be extremely sceptical of amateur claiming to have unique insight that never occurred to the professionals because usually they are, as in this case, wrong.

Ad hominem.

Kerberos
11th January 2008, 10:36 AM
Ad hominem.
No, argument by authority, different thing.

tsg
11th January 2008, 10:46 AM
No, argument by authority, different thing.

You're attempting to discredit the argument by who made it. Ad hominem.

Kerberos
11th January 2008, 11:01 AM
You're attempting to discredit the argument by who made it. Ad hominem.
As I said before simply the same things to the same person is pointless.

tsg
11th January 2008, 11:02 AM
As I said before simply repeating myself is pointless.

Agreed.

Kerberos
11th January 2008, 11:04 AM
Agreed.

It's really somethign I should learn to do better, you'll notice no doubt that I failed to actually leave after I implied i.. ARGH *beats self over head and drags myself out of the thread*.

Gnu World Order
11th January 2008, 07:13 PM
So you don't see a problem with these states not having a say on the Executive Branch which appoints those in the Judicial Branch? One out of three should be good enough for those small ones I guess...

Of course they'd have a say (in a one-person-one vote scenario). Their say would be exactly proportional with the number of their citizens who voted compared to the total national vote.

Gnu World Order
11th January 2008, 07:33 PM
Neither Gore nor Bush had a majority of the popular vote in 2000. Saying Gore should have won because he got the most votes is asserting that a person whom the majority of the voters did not want to be President should have won. You can't say that a minority of states shouldn't control the election but a minority of voters should and still be considered reasonable.

Four times in my lifetime, a candidate whom was voted against by a majority of the voters was named the winner.

That's a separate problem from the electoral college. The solution to that problem is to move to a runoff system, where the top two vote-getters go at it in a second election.

rtalman
11th January 2008, 07:36 PM
That's a separate problem from the electoral college. The solution to that problem is to move to a runoff system, where the top two vote-getters go at it in a second election.And endure more campaigning? :eek::scared::yikes:
Not to mention the sheer logistics of it!

SezMe
11th January 2008, 07:56 PM
That's a separate problem from the electoral college. The solution to that problem is to move to a runoff system, where the top two vote-getters go at it in a second election.
If you want something like this, it would be better to use an instant runoff scheme.

SezMe
11th January 2008, 07:58 PM
The Farm states tend to have less turnover in their conggresional delegations then the Urban States,which means they have seniority in the commitees,and that means power.
That's an interesting assertion I've never seen before. Do you have a link or some statistics that support the claim?

rtalman
11th January 2008, 08:04 PM
If you want something like this, it would be better to use an instant runoff scheme.Adopt something that works well in Ireland and Australia that we didn't invent? NEVER!

Gnu World Order
11th January 2008, 08:05 PM
And endure more campaigning? :eek::scared::yikes:
Not to mention the sheer logistics of it!

Or, they could just let me make the final decision.:D

tsg
11th January 2008, 08:09 PM
Four times in my lifetime, a candidate whom was voted against by a majority of the voters was named the winner.

That's precisely my point. The popular vote meme is dependent on "what most people want." What most people want, most of the time, is not the guy who got the most votes.

That's a separate problem from the electoral college. The solution to that problem is to move to a runoff system, where the top two vote-getters go at it in a second election.

I happen to be a proponent of IRV. But even with IRV the electoral college still give the individual voter more power than a straight popular vote.

tsg
11th January 2008, 08:11 PM
Of course they'd have a say (in a one-person-one vote scenario). Their say would be exactly proportional with the number of their citizens who voted compared to the total national vote.

I've addressed this already. Equality isn't enough, you also have to maximize the power each vote has to affect the election.