Donald Trump is now going to be the Republican nominee and the next POTUS. HOW fucking stupid is this nation? Seriously.

I was just reading an article today about how the Republicans are trying to downplay and skirt around his attitude towards and treatment of women.

I would not be surprised if he chose a woman VP just for show. He is quite frankly unstoppable at this point.

What has happened to US? HOW did we become such a stupid country? I am asking that seriously.

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Every state is apportioned a certain number of representatives (in the house of Representatives), roughly by population, and it has two senators.  Originally those senators represented the state *government* in Washington and were selected by that government, but that changed about a hundred years ago, they're now selected by the voters in that state.  The system was designed to ensure that the large number of small states could not run roughshod over the few large ones (which would happen if we only had a senate) and vice versa, the large population states couldn't do the same to the smaller ones (which would happen if we only had a house of representatives).  (Recall that our constitution is a compact between states, not truly directly by the people.)

Anyhow, for picking the president, each state gets a number of electoral votes, equal to the number of senators and representatives it has.  For example, Colorado, with seven representatives in the US House, gets nine (7+2) electoral votes.  Those people get together and pick the president.  There are 538 total, and an absolute majority (270 votes) is required to win.  (If there are three candidates and no one gets a majority, the election goes to the house of representatives, where each state's delegation gets one vote.)

So, how do those electors get chosen? Constitutionally, that's actually up to the state legislature!  (It's true, there's no constitutional provision for an ordinary person to have a vote for president.)  In practice most states have done the following:  Each party comes up with a slate of electors in a state, but what you see on the ballot are the nemes "Hillary Clinton" and "Donald Trump."  When you vote, you are really voting for the electors who will vote for your preferred candidate.  Most states have set it up to be winner-take-all; if you win California by one vote, you get ALL of CA's votes (and it's something like four thousand of them...well, okay it's in the fifties somewhere but it sure seems like four thousand).

Some states have made it so whoever wins the popular vote in a congressional district gets that electoral vote, and whoever wins the state as a whole get the two votes that correspond to senators.  (I believe Maine and Nebraska do this; it's possible that instead fo getting four votes to the winner, it could be a three:one split since both of those states have two representatives and hence 2+2 electoral votes.)

There has been a move afoot to pass laws in states, mandating that they give their electoral votes to whoever wins the *national* (not statewide) popular vote.  Usually, that law, if passed, is contingent on 270 electoral votes' worth of states passing the same law.  If it were to pass in enough states, it would reduce to ensuring that the election goes to whoever wins the popular vote.

One more note:  The district of columbia (not a state, it's somewhat like Oz's ACT), gets as many electoral votes as it would have, were it a state.  It'd have one representative, based on population, so it gets 1+2 = 3 votes.  (The senate has 100 senators, the house has 435 representatives, add those together plus DC's vote, and you get 538.  DC, by the way, votes Democratic more heavily than any state.)

The Bush versus Gore situation has actually not been common in the US since 1900 (generally the electoral college vote agrees with the popular vote, but is much more lopsided--for instance in 1984 Reagan beat Mondale by 59 to 41 percent, but that translated to an EC vote of 525 to 13), so it seems like much ado about nothing to me.

(The thirteen votes, if you're curious, were ten from Minnesota, Mondale's home state (and he just barely won it), and DC's three votes.  Every other state voted for Reagan.)

Thank you, Steve, that was wonderfully summarized whilst also being very informative. Great post :)

I aim to bury people in factoids.

Oh, and as long as I have the big manure shovel out:

It's theoretically possible for those electors to change their vote.  The actual vote happens in December.  It's rare though since parties will put their own most reliable people on the ballot there.  But in 1972, one of the Republican electors picked by Virginia cast his ballot for the Libertarian Party candidate John Hospers (and that party had just gotten started the year before).  Because of this, the LP is the only recent third party to ever get a "real" vote for president, even though it got like maybe four thousand votes in the popular vote.  Anderson (1980), Perot (92 and 96) and Nader (2000 and others) didn't get a single one.    The libertarian party has grown but has never come close to duplicating that feat.

Roger McBride, the elector who switched his vote in 1972 was absolutely anathematized by the Republican party, and ended up being the LP candidate for President in 1976.

As a note to folks from countries that use a parliamentary system, our election dates are fixed in stone (not when called by the head of government, who can pick the time subject to restrictions), the day after the first Monday in November (hence Nov 2-8, whichever one is a Tuesday) every year divisible by four.  Congresscritters and Senators get elected even numbered years on that same date. We tend to hold other elections on Tuesday as a consequence; depending on local law many local elections happen in April for some reason.

The Bush versus Gore situation has actually not been common in the US since 1900 (generally the electoral college vote agrees with the popular vote, but is much more lopsided--for instance in 1984 Reagan beat Mondale by 59 to 41 percent, but that translated to an EC vote of 525 to 13), so it seems like much ado about nothing to me.

The fact that it hasn't happened in a long time isn't proof it can't happen again. And the Reagan/Mondale example demonstrates how ridiculous the Electoral College system is.

You're right...it could happen again.  In fact, it could happen again in a way that benefits the Democrat candidate.

By the way, it's possible for both candidates to get 269 votes...and throw the race into the House.  I forgot about that earlier.

What I was trying to drive at was the race has to be pretty darned narrow for the electoral college to (possibly) throw it the other way and for it to be a real issue rather than a "charming" anachronism.  If the country is that evenly split, half is going to be unhappy with the result no matter what.

Given that the idea behind the EC was to try to ensure that a few big cities don't overwhelm the rest of the country--that the winning candidate has fairly broad support--I'd like to see more states adopt the Nebraska and Maine systems.  That would get rid of the lopsided power of the really big states, and better ensure that a successful candidate has appeal in large parts of the country.   It would be an end to candidates busting their hump in just a few "swing" states and ignoring others, as there would be "swing" congressional districts all over the place.

The question is this: will his rabid followers see his walking back of these talking points (the wall paid for by Mexico, self-finding his campaign, banning Muslims, etc.) as a betrayal revealing him to be a standard establishment Republican? or will they take it as something he's saying with a wink and a nod? Dog whistle politics, in other words.

They won't.  They've already refused to see that those talking points are markedly different from what he was saying and doing just a year or two ago.  (He's given a shit tonne of money to Clinton-allied politicians in the past, just for instance.)  They'll insist he's pro gun even though he's supported banning certain kinds in the past.  Etc., etc., etc.  Evangelicals are all over him, even though he doesn't even know how to speak "Christianese."

It's an almost religious mania.

What I find ridiculous is someone with no political experience whatsoever has a shot at presidency. Trump was never a senator, governor, councilor, or even a mayor. There are crappy jobs for us little people that you need 3-4 years experience just to make minimum wage, yet this "celebrity" hack is just buying his way to the most powerful position in the world. At least in Canada our Prime Minister is expected to at least have a seat in the House of Commons, which is achieved by having been voted in. It's not law, but I can't see us requiring at least that much from the person running our country...

Off hand, the only modern US President, that I can recall was not an experienced politician, was Dwight Eisenhauer. He was a WWII General, highly respected, but as I recall also expanded the role of religion in US Govt. It is reported that Eisenhauer may never have voted prior to his presidency, and was so apolicical that democrats considered recruiting him to replace Truman. He would up running as a Republican in the next election and served two terms.

There have been some real ding-a-lings who DID have political experience. Many thought that Reagan was a puppet of his staff and of Nancy Reagan - I don't know if that's true. Many also thought GW Bush was a puppet of Cheney - again, I don't know if that's true. I always thought he was a puppet of Satan.
LOL!!! Satan? Who dat? Satan? On this site?
I stand corrected.

My understanding of the Satanic Temple point of view is that Satan is a good guy, compared to Jehovah. Now I've insulted him by comparison to Cheney. And only a couple of weeks ago, Boehner said Cruz was Lucifer in the flesh, yet another insult to the unfortunate fallen angel.

The GOP electorate WANTS a non-insider, which pretty much means a nonpolitician. They grew tired of Washington politicians making promises and not following through. The main one being their pledge to get rid of Obamacare.

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