Archive for the ‘Electoral College’ Category

Imagine this actually happening at the US Constitutional Convention.

The Good News: Catherine the Great has promised to give us a Donkey Show if we create an Electoral College.
The Bad News: It won’t be for another 230 years or so.

Next, Let’s ensure that we will have gun mayhem and mass shootings in the future.

Oh, cake!

 

washington_constitutional_convention_1787

I am amazed at the Ignorance of the US public.

In this case, the fact that everything EXCEPT the Electoral College is responsible for Clinton’s loss.

Of course, that means the standard “you must be a Russian agent” if you disagree with me crap which I thought went out with Joe McCarthy.

A couple of thing have me going: one is someone who should know better using that argument. Then doing some research into how the Clinton Campaign totally underestimated the Midwest/rust belt: in particular Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin .

OK, Given that Hillary won the popular vote by around 3 million votes. Toss in that she had one of the largest margins of the popular vote since the current system began in the 1820s. Yet she lost in an institution which is unique to the United States and was designed to frustrate the popular vote: the electoral college.

How does a vote really count in that sort of system?

I am now going to get really specific since it is well documented that the Electoral College distorts the vote. It already cost Gore the presidency in 2000. Yet its antidemocratic (or even antirepublican since a republic requires free and fair elections) nature is not being addressed.

Let’s say I voted for Hillary Clinton, which would have increased he popular vote victory. But unless she got one more vote than Trump, she still would have lost my jurisdiction. That’s because the electoral college is winner take all in a state. Toss in she would have had to have done the same in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin to have had a chance of winning. Yes, she needed the electoral votes in all three of those states to have won.

You can call me whatever the fuck you want, but the system is in dire need of repair especially if you are vaguely familiar with what the Electoral College is supposed to do (hint–Trump shouldn’t be president and you can’t make claims of foreign influence, see Federalist Paper 68).

But it doesn’t.

Let’s toss in that Wisconsin was ignored by the Clinton Campaign. Likewise her campaign neglected Michigan. I saw an extreme overconfidence in the Clinton campaign that she “couldn’t lose”. Which she didn’t if the popular vote actually meant something.

BTW, I wasn’t voting against anything. I was voting for a candidate I saw actually discussing issues and not running on a platform that she wasn’t Trump and was a woman. It’s campaigning that wins elections: not trying to scare the piss out of people.

Likewise, we need to work on campaign and election reform: not use insults.

You lost the argument when you started attacking people based on them somehow being Russian spies.

See also:

 

Clinton was a loser and a bad choice

Electoral college 2

This explains what happened–and the Russians weren’t responsible

I was curious since the popular vote doesn’t really matter in Presidential Elections (after all Clinton won that with one of the largest percentages in a US election). The Electoral College is the real decider with only 270 electoral votes needed to win. So, I went to 270toWin to play with their interactive Electoral Vote map.

First off, there are 2,250,000,000,000,000 possible outcomes with the Electoral College system! (Long explanation on that), but it didn’t take too many states to flip for Trump to have won. That means it was a real gamble to run a candidate as unpopular as Clinton since there were no guarantees that New Hampshire, Nevada or Virginia wouldn’t have voted for Trump. Or that Michigan, Pennsylvania, or Wisconsin would vote for Clinton.

There were four states, New Hampshire, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, which were all decided by less than 1% in 2016, with Michigan the closest. That state was won by about .23% – that’s only 2,300 votes per one million votes cast. Donald Trump won three of these four states, none of which had been won by a Republican in a generation. Those 46 electoral votes put him across the 270 he needed to win. Interestingly, despite a fairly competitive election, only four states were decided by 5% or less in 2012; that number grew to 11 in 2016.

The thing is that winning any of one of those four states would mean Trump would be President. Or that Trump’s electoral college win could have been much higher!  Remember the popular vote has no relation to the Electoral College numbers. All one needs is to get the largest number of votes to get ALL the Electoral College votes in most states.

There would still be a possibility that Trump could have been president even if all four of those states have voted for Clinton (and Delaware and Nevada had voted for Trump). That is because the Electoral College result would have been a tie (269-269). That means the election would be sent to the House of Representatives with each state delegation getting one vote (a similar activity takes place on the Senate side to pick the Vice-President). In the case of a tie, the election for President is decided in the House of Representatives, with each state delegation having one vote. A majority of states (26) is needed to win. Senators would elect the Vice-President, with each Senator having a vote. A majority of Senators (51) is needed to win.

It would have been highly likely in the case of a tie that the election would remain undecided after the Electors voted. That means Congress would meet in joint session on the first day in January to count the electoral votes (this count happens whether the election is close or not). If no candidate has reached 270 Electoral Votes, then the House and Senate take over and elect the President and Vice-President, respectively.

It seems likely Trump would have been president given the current US legislature is solidly Republican had there been a tie.

Toss in it is possible to win the Electoral College with only 11 States (California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Georgia, North Carolina and New Jersey). However, nobody has been elected President since 1900 by winning fewer than 23 states. (Take the quiz at 270towin to see where I got these figures)

Anyway, While the democratic party is responsible for picking a loser like Clinton, it seems to be more that the anti-democratic nature of the US elections needs to be addressed.  After all, the only way the Russians could have influenced the US presidential election would be to have somehow created the Electoral College since that is what really put Trump in office.

See also:

Why Trump Had an Edge in the Electoral College

Five myths about the electoral college

Is is true what they say about Catherine the Great?

Was Catherine the Great Killed by a Horse?

And did she actually fuck a Donkey 237 years after she died?

 

Penigma, Catherine the Great, and Russian Interference in the 2016 Election

Catherine the Great! (Oh, the temptation to make a comment about Donkeys!)

Yep, you got that correct, Catherine II, also known as Catherine the Great (Екатери́на Вели́кая, Yekaterina Velikaya),  Empress of Russia from 1762 until 1796.

That’s because the only thing which made Donald Trump president was the electoral college, an institution created by the US Constitution (Article II, Section 1, Clauses 2-4).  So, if there really WAS any “Russian” influence in the process that made Trump president of the US, it would have had to have been produced during the reign of Catherine the Great!

The Fact is Hillary Clinton won the popular vote with 65,853,516 (48.5% votes) to Trump’s 62,984,825 (46.4% votes), but lost in the electoral college by receiving 232 (43.1%) of the electoral votes to Trump’s 306 (56.8%) votes.

Of course, it is far easier to blame the Russians for this defeat than it is to address the real issues behind Clinton’s loss.

Although, that is a strategy that is sure to backfire since any claims of “Russian” interference result in the faults of the Clinton Campaign: her being a weak candidate, DNC misconduct, and pretty much everything that was common knowledge to Sanders’ supporters and Clinton opponents.

Any real discussion of Clinton’s loss must include the faults of the US system of elections: especially the radical overhaul of the electoral college, which was supposed to have prevented foreign interference in the US presidential process ( The Federalist Papers, No 68).

It is blatantly obvious that the Electoral College serves no useful purpose, but that won’t be addressed as long as people refuse to address the real cause of Trump’s becoming president.

Then again, any real investigation of the US election would be a threat to the current Democrat-Republican duopoly. The duopoly thrives on the illusion that US elections are somehow “democratic”, but it is hard to make that claim when an institution designed to be anti-democratic is allowed to continue its existence.

See also:

Abolish the Electoral College

I am amazed that this institution has not gone away long ago, or at least been reformed.  This past election has demonstrated that most of the reasons for its existence are fatuous.

lets start with:

It prevents foreign interference in US elections

This reason comes from The Federalist Papers, No 68:

Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption. These most deadly adversaries of republican government might naturally have been expected to make their approaches from more than one querter, but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union?

This seems to make  any allegation of foreign interference (read Russia) absurd if the reasoning behind this institution is sound.  I am surprised this hasn’t been brought up as a reason that any investigation into this is just silly.

It prevents an incompetent from becoming president

The 2016 US election was one of duelling idiots. While one may defend Hillary Clinton as Threat not chicebeing well educated, she certainly lacked the knowse to deal with the election process (I refer you to Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes book Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign for documentation of her lack of political savvy, but that was pretty obvious to anyone watching the campaign). [1]

On the other hand, the US has been saddled by someone who appears to believe he wouldn’t have won.  I could get into Trump’s  candidacy, but this is a really bad one if this is one of the reasons for having the electoral college.  I’d toss in the 2000 election as another example of the wrong person becoming president.

More reasons

I found Richard Posner’s Slate article defending this anachronism.  In defence of Posner, his article was written in 2012 before this past election fiasco.  Posner gives the following reasons to keep this:  Certainty of Outcome, Everyone’s President, Swing States, Big States, and Avoiding Run-Off Elections. I have to admit that the learned judge seems to be offering confused reasons.

Certainty of Outcome is a bad one for the learned judge to begin with since Gore won the popular vote by over 500,000 votes in 2000 and Clinton won the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes (2,868,691).  I found it hard to find  a graph which gave the popular votes in the 2016 election, as opposed to graphics that showed the electoral vote, since this number is so disparate it makes this argument risable. [2] It would seem more certain in a truly democratic society, or at least one that likes to pretend to the rest of the world how great its democracy is.

Or is that pretence a relic of the cold war?  Now that democracy is no longer an issue the US can get rid of its pretending its democracy is somehow better than the rest of the world.[3]

Everyone’s president is a truly laughable assertion under Trump.  How many people DIDN’T vote in the last election? Then there are people like me who voted for third parties.

The reality of the “everyone’s president” argument made by Posner is silly is that he then goes on to “Swing States” and “Big States”.  Posner is trying to use the founder’s belief that somehow the Electoral college prevents regionalism.  Then he goes into the glaring examples of regionalism.  It was Clinton’s failures in swing states that cost her the election!

Bottom line on those three arguments: you can’t claim that somehow the electoral college prevents regionalism when regionalism is what ended up costing the election of someone who won the popular vote by 48.5% (as opposed to the electoral college winner who won by 46.4% of the popular vote).

Reading Posner’s article, the 2016 election points out the flaws in his arguments: the electoral college serves no point other than to be anti-democratic, which gets into “run off elections”.

Those would be small prices to pay if they would be the cost of having the democracy the US has presented to the rest if the world through the last part of the 20th Century and the beginning of this one.

The problem is the electoral college is an anti-democratic institution which is an extreme danger to the electoral process.  The sad part is that the travesty caused the electoral college is again being ignored.  I noticed that the democrats were blaming everything except this fossil for their loss.  Now, the silliness of foreign influence in US elections overlooks a reason given for this artefact.

The 2016 Presidential election has demonstrated that this institution needs to be abolished, or drastically reformed.  Its existence has led to a constitutional crisis (not that the US hasn’t been on the verge of one since its inception).  But this one is one of proportions that can no longer be ignored.

The real bottom line here is that the US system of elections is in drastic need of an overhaul: does it take a Constitutional crisis to force this to happen?

notes:

[1] disclaimer: I voted for Jill Stein for many reasons other than just the “democratic” party running Clinton, but her choice was one of many sickeners the party gave me.  The entire US election process makes me sick, but the duopoly really disgusts me.

[2] I knew Clinton was going to lose when the election results focused on the electoral votes as opposed to the popular votes.

[3] there is little difference between a republic and a democracy in modern political science.  Besides, the French Revolution pretty much put paid to most of the anti-democratic v republican beliefs of the founders.

[4] Here is my wish list of changes to the US system of elections.  Only Jill Stein and the Greens seems to be willing to mention them:

open debates run by an impartial body like the League of Women Voters, shorter election cycles, open primaries, ranked choice voting, return of the fairness doctrine and equal time rule (Trump used the lack of it to get shitloads of free publicity), campaign finance reform–if not publicly funded campaigns, easier access to the ballot for parties, reform or abolish the electoral college, end gerrymandering, handcounted paper ballots or receipts, and I am sure that is only the beginning.

Thoughts on US Third Parties.

This comes from watching the French election, which is a similar legislative-executive system to the US.  I will also admit to voting Green from a disgust with the US duopoly (i.e., the Democrats and Republicans) and its stranglehold on the system.

In a way Dan Savage is correct, the third parties should be running candidates lower down the ticket, in particular for the legislature. That is because a third party would be more effective in pushing its agenda there, or at least in blocking other parties from pushing theirs. It is more effective to be a spoiler/fixer in the legislature than in an election.  Third parties will become a force to be reckoned with once they demonstrate they have power, but they need to be the force to do what the obstructionists in congress have been doing. Or to thwart the obstruction.

One of the Clintonista/Democrat talking points was that the party is a coalition of various political views, but the duopoly parties are failed coalitions.  In some ways, they have become titular left-right parties, although I would argue any difference is more in appearance and relation to hot button issues (e.g. abortion and gun control [1]).  The past election showed how detrimental relying upon hot button issues is to real issues (e.g., the environment).

Third parties are good for keeping politics real. Case in point are the presidential debates which are no longer run by the League of Women Voters.  The president of the LWV, Nancy M. Neuman, denounced this action when the LWV ceased having any real control over the debates:

“It has become clear to us that the candidates’ organizations aim to add debates to their list of campaign-trail charades devoid of substance, spontaneity and honest answers to tough questions,” Neuman said. “The League has no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public.”

Neuman said that the campaigns presented the League with their debate agreement on
September 28, two weeks before the scheduled debate. The campaigns’ agreement was negotiated “behind closed doors” and vas presented to the League as “a done deal,” she said, its 16 pages of conditions not subject to negotiation.

Most objectionable to the League, Neuman said, were conditions in the agreement that gave the campaigns unprecedented control over the proceedings. Neuman called “outrageous” the campaigns’ demands that they control the selection of questioners, the composition of the audience, hall access for the press and other issues.

“The campaigns’ agreement is a closed-door masterpiece,” Neuman said. “Never in the history of the League of Women Voters have two candidates’ organizations come to us with such stringent, unyielding and self-serving demands.”

Neuman said she and the League regretted that the American people have had no real opportunities to judge the presidential nominees outside of campaign-controlled environments.

lwv.org/press-releases/league-refuses-help-perpetrate-fraud
I would that change is drastically needed in US politics, particularly its system of elections, but that will not come as long as the duopoly holds power.

I have pointed out that the Electoral College needs to be abolished, yet the fact that Clinton’s “loss” was due to her failing to secure enough votes in the Electoral College is again overlooked and substituted for blame on everything except the existence of that body (as was the case in 1990).  Both times the “losers” won the popular vote.

Of course, abolition of the Electoral College is only one thing in what is probably a long wish list of electoral reforms needed in the US:

open debates run by an impartial body like the League of Women Voters, shorter election cycles, open primaries, ranked choice voting, return of the fairness doctrine and equal time rule (Trump used the lack of it to get shitloads of free publicity), campaign finance reform–if not publicly funded campaigns, easier access to the ballot for parties, reform or abolish the electoral college, end gerrymandering, handcounted paper ballots or receipts, and I am sure that is only the beginning.

While one can dream that there will be internal change, it doesn’t seem likely since the parties still seem entrenched in the same behaviours which have led to the US political system being the disaster it is.

OK, we also need to add in media consolidation here since it is one way the “state” can get away with  form of censorship, but only allowing one message to get out.  Also controlling any opposing voices.

Any real change has to come through the system since violence will backfire and result in the wrong type of change.  Thus any dissenting parties best chance has to be to try and thwart the duopoly and use the duopoly’s power against it.

Change has to come, but it must come by using the system to gain power and then force change.

[1] This is not to say gun control is not important (or abortion), but these issues have been used to get people to vote against their interests.  Neither is one of left and right, but of public welfare and safety.