Getting rid of the electoral college?: Proponents aren't thinking very clearly

Some states are moving to get rid of the electoral college. The idea is to have each state's electoral votes determined by the winner of the national popular vote. Of the six states that are going to be voting on these initiatives California, New York and Illinois are Democratic states and Colorado, Missouri and Louisiana generally Republican in presidential elections. Obviously this represents more Democratic electoral votes than Republican ones. Democrats might think that this will encourage people to campaign in California and New York, but if you campaign in Florida, you get two returns: increase the probability of carrying Florida plus increasing the probability that you will get California's and New York's electoral votes. As more states adopt these rules, it will make it more similar to the popular vote determining the outcome of the election. But if only a few states adopt the rules, they will make those states largely irrelevant. Suppose that California was the only state to adopt the rule? There would then be clearly less of a reason to campaign in California than there is now.

It is my understanding that some states who are voting on this have a provision that it won't go into effect until states with a majority of electoral votes have adopted this, but at first glance it appears that even with some states requiring a majority of the electoral votes go this way, there would still be a bigger return to campaign in the states where you would get both electoral votes and popular votes.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe I have totally misunderstood this...

I thought the idea was to 'get rid' of the electoral college by removing its voting power within the states that adopt this measure.

Technically speaking, just because Democrats (say) win 65% of the votes in a state, the electoral college could *still* vote 100% Republican.

Typically however, the EC votes for the majority winner in each state...but this *need not* be the case AFAICT.

What I thought was being proposed is that (continuing the above example), *no* EC 'voting' takes place, instead the 'votes' are proportionally allocated...so 65% of the EC 'votes' automatically go to the Democrats, 35% to Republicans.

IOW, proportional EC representation within each state.

I like that idea...I think it would more honestly represent the will of the people, yet still maintain the overall integrity of the EC as intended.

I also think it would represent far greater gains for conservatives than liberals...in fact, liberals may well find themselves unelectable...

6/20/2006 11:36 AM  
Blogger John Lott said...

Thanks, anonymous.
1) It is my understanding that under this initiative if the Republicans won the national vote, they would get 100 percent of the electoral college votes.
2) It would represent far greater gains for conservatives simply because the Democrats seem more enthralled with getting rid of the electoral college.
3) The electoral college has the benefit of usually creating clearer winners and making a candidate have to compete across much of the country rather than concentrate on just a few areas. This partial elimination though would create some wierd results.

6/20/2006 12:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I finally got the Fox video to work...I think I understand this recent proposal.

It is *nowhere close* to my idea...your understanding is correct.

This is a disturbing (and cynical) attempt at corrupting both the EC *and* the Constitution.

Rather than go to the trouble of following Constitutional protocol for seeking an amendment to eliminte the EC, they are attempting to establish a de facto amendment by passing legislation that cements an inter-state collusion to subvert the EC.

I am not surprised to discover that this is a liberal endeavor...

6/20/2006 12:56 PM  
Anonymous Scott Ganz said...

It is really odd that the California legislature would consider this.

California's EC votes have been all but cemented into the Democrats' pocket. However, in 2004, this would have meant that California's EC votes went to Bush. Now, if Kerry had won Ohio, as he very nearly did, that would have given him the presidency without winning the popular vote, but if California had this law in effect, Bush would have won handily.

6/21/2006 1:42 PM  

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