As my Pasta Origins posts showed you I definitely have a political junkie streak in me. I've decided to move away from being an entirely political blogger. I've grown much more cynical with the process and really don't want to have to worry about writing about it unless it's something that really piques my interest.
Electoral Politics is the area of politics that I find most interesting and what I know the most about. I mean, I basically had the electoral map for 2001-2010 memorized. I'm still working on the new maps from the new Census. I know my state along with the rest of the Rust Belt is where the bulk of the electoral vote losses are, which has hurt the Democrats. Much like John Kerry in 2004 who was already behind where Al Gore was; Obama will behind where he was in 2008 simply by votes shifting to red states. Also there is absolutely no way Obama will be able to achieve the electoral landslide he got in 2008 again.
Obama will lose 6 electoral votes (-7 from rust belt/New England states and +1 from Washington State) off the top and I'm sure the more traditional red states will return to whoever the Republican nominee will be (such as Indiana and North Carolina.) Not to fret though, if you support Obama's reelection, because he can lose a lot from 2008 and still win comfortably.
There is a lot of sentiment in this country, especially following the shenanigans of the 2000 election, to use the popular vote to decide Presidential elections. I do not share that view. It is tricky to have a nationwide elections in a nation the size and the population of ours. It is almost impossible to have an election where geography and population are fairly represented. I think the Electoral College is a more fair system in regards to geography and gives fair(ish) consideration to population.
We all know the origin of the Electoral College. How the founders put it in largely as a safe guard against the perceived idiocy of the public. The elitist origins of the Electoral College give it a bad wrap, but it also had another function; to give representation to smaller States. While small states like Wyoming are grossly over-represented, it gives them some power in Presidential politics. Therefore, a candidate and eventual President does has to give greater consideration to the smaller states. A low population State would have virtually no electoral recourse in a popular vote system.
A complaint against the Electoral College is that large parts of the Country are ignored during the campaign. I think that problem would be worse in a Popular Vote system. I think campaigns would change from competing for the so-called "Battleground States" to trying to run up margins in large cities. I know that if I were running a campaign for a Democrat that was only worried about the popular vote, my focus would be on getting out the vote in the few biggest cities. I wouldn't bother with a lot of the States that are considered important now.
I'll address specifically the potential difference between the results of the Popular Vote and the Electoral College. It has happened three times in the history of our nation that those results have differed*. It is a rare occurrence and it's never like there's someone who runs away with the popular vote and loses the Electoral College. It is and unfortunate possibility, but I think it's worth it for the advantages of the Electoral College.
A change I would make to the system would be to take free will away from the Electors themselves. It is highly unlikely that any electors will flip in modern times, but still the electorates decision should be compulsory for the elector with one exception. That exception would be in the potential incapacitation of the President-elect. There really isn't a way to deal with that scenario in the Constitution** and the Electors could help the Nation have a smooth transition.
A further reform, I've thought about would be to give the Popular Vote an electoral value. My idea for this would be to take one electoral vote from each state with 11 or more Electoral votes and have those votes be counted in the Electoral College based on the National Popular Vote. In 2012, that would make the National Popular Vote worth 17 Electoral Votes.
Of course there are selfish reasons why I like the Electoral College as well. I live in the most important*** Battleground State of them all, Ohio. The Democratic and Republican nominee are in my state frequently campaigning for the General Election. I mean who doesn't like being Courted. I also I have a lot of knowledge about the way the Electoral College works and I don't want it to be a waste.
So, what do you guys think? How should we elect the President? The Electoral College? Popular Vote? Draw Straws? Anarchy?
Thanks for reading and please comment
*It's really only happened once. Two of those three were the two most crooked elections in our history.
**The way that scenario would likely be dealt with would be the Electoral College would elect the Vice President-elect as President. Then the new President-elect would select a Vice-President once sworn in to be confirmed by the Senate.
***This isn't going to last much longer. Ohio is getting bluer and losing Electoral Votes.