President Obama eked out a slim victory in the popular vote, but he blew Romney out of the water in the Electoral College vote. Bush vs. Gore demonstrated that it's eminently possible for the loser of the popular vote to win the Electoral Vote.

I decided to look into why we have the Electoral College.

* * * * * explains it this way:

The Electoral College was created for two reasons. The first purpose was to create a buffer between population and the selection of a President. The second as part of the structure of the government that gave extra power to the smaller states.

The first reason that the founders created the Electoral College is hard to understand today. The founding fathers were afraid of direct election to the Presidency. They feared a tyrant could manipulate public opinion and come to power....

Hamilton and the other founders believed that the electors would be able to insure that only a qualified person becomes President. They believed that with the Electoral College no one would be able to manipulate the citizenry. It would act as check on an electorate that might be duped. Hamilton and the other founders did not trust the population to make the right choice. The founders also believed that the Electoral College had the advantage of being a group that met only once and thus could not be manipulated over time by foreign governments or others.

The electoral college is also part of compromises made at the convention to satisfy the small states. Under the system of the Electoral College each state had the same number of electoral votes as they have representative in Congress, thus no state could have less then 3. The result of this system is that in this election the state of Wyoming cast about 210,000 votes, and thus each elector represented 70,000 votes, while in California approximately 9,700,000 votes were cast for 54 votes, thus representing 179,000 votes per electorate. Obviously this creates an unfair advantage to voters in the small states whose votes actually count more then those people living in medium and large states.

One aspect of the electoral system that is not mandated in the constitution is the fact that the winner takes all the votes in the state. Therefore it makes no difference if you win a state by 50.1% or by 80% of the vote you receive the same number of electoral votes. This can be a recipe for one individual to win some states by large pluralities and lose others by small number of votes, and thus this is an easy scenario for one candidate winning the popular vote while another winning the electoral vote. This winner take all methods used in picking electors has been decided by the states themselves. This trend took place over the course of the 19th century.

While there are clear problems with the Electoral College and there are some advantages to it, changing it is very unlikely. It would take a constituitional amendment ratified by 3/4 of states to change the system. It is hard to imagine the smaller states agreeing. One way of modifying the system s to eliminate the winner take all part of it. The method that the states vote for the electoral college is not mandated by the consitution but is decided by the states. Two states do not use the winner take all system, Maine and Nebraska. It would be difficult but not impossible to get other states to change their systems, unfortunately the party that has the advantage in the state is unlikely to agree to a unilateral change.

* * * * *

While I voted for Obama, clearly he got his landslide Electoral College vote by analyzing and gaming the Electoral College system. 

If the Electoral College was designed to empower the smaller states (and remember that when the Electoral College was designed, those states were all small New England states}. Ohio didn't exist yet and Western Pennsylvania was a woodland wilderness with a few woodsmen and trappers in it, not to mention Native Americans. 

In this election, if all of those small or low-population states (like Montana) that went for Obama had gone ;for Romney, it wouldn't have made any difference in terms of the outcome. Obama's Elector lead was 100 votes the last time I looked. 

The Electoral College system is stupid and our Congress is stupid if it doesn't look into changing the Constitution.


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I remember many years ago (about 30) reading an article in Scientific American that did an analysis of just how weighty one's vote was, given the number of electors your state has, under the usual winner-in-the-state-takes-all-the-electors-from-the-state rule.

The conclusion was that in spite of the ratio of electors to voters being lower in places like Wyoming, an individual vote in California was far more influential, because if that vote were to happen to be the deciding factor in California, it would swing 55 electoral votes.  On the other hand, in Wyoming, that situation (of your vote deciding which way the state goes) is more likely, but only nets 3 electoral votes.

They graphed the results, and ended up with a curve shaped something like a round bottom check mark, with the 3 electoral vote states somewhat higher than the minimum on the left, but the big states with dozens of votes being much higher on the right end side of the graph.  The minimum was at 6-7-8 electoral votes or so, which (I noted with a nod to murphy's law) is how many votes Colorado had at the time.  In other words I was living in the most powerless place you could be in.

Now this study did not take into account what happens if your state is lopsidedly in favor of one party or the other, and obviously Colorado got far more "love" from the candidates than California did these past two elections.

Is it just me or did you somehow, intentionally or otherwise, make a bunch of your text black? Perhaps you were going for Italics and changed the color instead(?).

yeah i have no idea how i did it, i tried to fix it but i couldnt. 

Suggestion: block copy the text off the page onto a Notepad page (Windows...or whatever the equivalent is in Apple OS). Delete the post and recreate by block copying from the text file back. Should blow out the codes that changed the color to black.

Tip for anyone who may not have figured this out:

When this sort of thing happens, dragging the mouse over the text to select it renders it legible.

I remember on election night while half the states had been called and Obama had a slim 10 point lead in electoral votes. I looked at the entire West Coast: Washington, Oregon, and especially California—all strong Obama states—and I knew Romney was screwed, especially with Ohio and Pennsylvania going for Obama. Even had the other swing states gone for Romney, Obama had it in the bag.

I spent a couple of hours mistakenly believing that, of the "swing" states remaining (if memory serves, VA, OH, CO, NV, IA, FL and one other I am blanking on) Romney could afford to lose ONLY Iowa *or* Nevada, because I basically had a map and had personally called California, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii for Obama (and Alaska for Romney) before the polls opened, much less closed.  I was wrong about this, I'd flubbed the tens column and Romney could lose eighteen votes among those states, not eight.  Which means that when Ohio with-coincidentlally--precisely 18 votes was called for Obama, that meant Romney had to win every single state remaining in the "tossup" category to hold Obama to a tie (which Romney would have won because it's settled by vote in the House with each state delegation getting one vote).

Mere seconds later, Iowa got called for Obama.  And that was that.

It is, by the way a mistake to think Obama won by getting just the few most populous states; he won more states than Romney did.

Hey Unseen,

Neo-liberal western "democracy" is dysfunctional, and so too is the American electoral college system.

- kk


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