The real problem with the Electoral College.

Aug 2016
4,268
Dispargum
Well, at the risk of getting into current politics, 2016 was apparently not a popularity contest. The issue, which I have made abundantly clear in my various posts, is that there can be highly or densely populated areas, albeit a small geographical part of the nation, who have similar wants. A candidate only has to go to a few places where the electorate likes what that candidate is offering in order to win a popularity contest. Again, without wanting to get into current politicas, the democratic candidate in 2016 ignored certain states, even regions, because there was belief that the states in her corner would carry her. that was a fatal mistake. the E.C. actually makes a presidential candidate spread out and appeal to more than just a few heavily populated states.
If there's anything to your argument, you can find an example from before 1991.
 
Jun 2014
6,169
US
Am I missing something here? Are you being sarcastic?
Not at all. You originally posted, "The popular vote also forces candidates to moderate their positions in order to gain more votes. There's no need for an EC to force candidates to moderate their positions at election time. " I questioned this. You then argued, "How exactly would this work? Please provide a concrete example. How is an election ever not a popularity contest? How does one appeal to a broader, more diverse electorate without promising to deliver what that electorate wants? "
My response is, if your argument were true, then we would have never seen a situation where the candidate with the popular vote loses. The fact is, just because a slight majority may wish for something does not mean that a candidate is appealing to a broader, more diverse electorate, or needs to moderate their positions - unless one considers the simply fact of a majority as such. I don't. To the contrary, an oppressive majority can be immoderate, narrow minded and not diverse (i.e., what motivates almost all of them is getting somebody's else's wealth as handout, excuse me "subsidy"). Or perhaps it based on race or ethnicity or language. This majority of the electorate can actually be quite homogenous. We have seen this throughout history and throughout the world when government is et up in multi ethnic nations where one ethnicity or tribe is the majority. There is nothing moderate, broad or diverse in appealing to groups like that. To the contrary, to win the E.C., one can't just visit CA, NY, FL, OH, TX, MI, PA and few other states to merely win.
 
Likes: Abraham95
Sep 2019
84
Seattle
I'm going to present another advantage to the Electoral College which I had mentioned before, but which hasn't gotten much attention. This was not one of the founders' reasons, but it holds very true when we look around at our world today.

The winner takes all model of the Electoral College strongly encourages the two party system. Under the two party system, various factions need to ally with one another and make concessions in order to build up a large enough consensus to carry the EC. The Republican coalition includes such disparate groups as the libertarians, social conservatives, economic populists, and laissez-faire economists. We're used to thinking of these groups as allies, but they don't necessarily have to be - they're simply bound into an alliance of convenience and each group agrees to sacrifice some ideological purity in order to maintain the coalition. The same goes for the Democrats: they have social justice activists, unionized labor, redistributionists, and major corporations (Amazon, Google, Facebook, etc) working in tandem, making the same sort of sacrifices for one another.

If votes were distributed proportionately, we would encourage multiple localized and ideologically blinkered parties to emerge, each of which will benefit electorally by moving to the extreme of their signature issues and riling up the base. In the long term, this is incredibly harmful to a republic, as it accelerates and exacerbates the growth of factionalism. So that's another advantage to the current system, independent of the founders' reasons.
Usually, popular third party issues are adopted by one or the other of the two major parties. More recently, however, both Republicans and Democrats have sensed that both parties have become so entrenched that they are now capable of ignoring the electorate once the election is over. "Who's going to pay for the Wall," or "You can keep your doctor." The hierarchies of both parties are under attack by both rank and files...Trump's "take over" of the Republican Party remains to be seen in 2020...I'd argue he destroyed the Republican Party in 2016, with his lack of fiscal discipline and protectionist policies. And, the swing to the left in the Democratic Party (a la Bernie, Warren, et al vs. Biden) tells me the Democrats aren't far behind the Republicans in regard to self-destruction.
To encourage diversity and multiple party influence...I'd rather see us go to a parliamentary federalist system, with proportional representation...then caucus separately in Congress and work issue-oriented coalitions. The Republican Party, as it was known in the post WWII era, up to Trump, is gone. Trump may as well create a new name for it. Democrats, with an even much larger coalition of various groups have an even greater problem.
P.S. I'd argue that reckless gerrymandering by both parties, for the purpose of carving out "safe districts" along party lines has vastly increased the power of the party hierarchies.
 
Aug 2016
4,268
Dispargum
Roger, your political bias is showing. According to you, a Democrat promising bigger welfare checks is pandering to the voters, but you don't recognize a Republican promising to cut taxes is also pandering. They are two different messages aimed at two different audiences, but they are both pandering and neither has anything to do with the EC.

"...if your argument were true, then we would have never seen a situation where the candidate with the popular vote loses." - The only reason we have elections where the most popular votes loses is because of the EC. You can't use the EC to justify the EC.

"to win the E.C., one can't just visit CA, NY, FL, OH, TX, MI, PA and few other states to merely win." - I've never heard of anyone employing this strategy. Most candidates visit at least 40 states, sometimes all 50, but they spend most of their time in 12-15 battle ground states because they know that in any election 30-35 states are not competitive. If we did away with the EC and went to a national popular vote the candidates would still go where the voters were, but now, Republicans would have a reason to visit CA and NY and Democrats would have a reason to visit TX because now there are votes in each of those states that will count in the national total instead of being eliminated in the winner-take-all state contests.

"just because a slight majority may wish for something does not mean that a candidate is appealing to a broader, more diverse electorate, or needs to moderate their positions - unless one considers the simply fact of a majority as such." - I have never seen a candidate appeal to a broader, more diverse electorate. All candidates care about is getting that majority, at least in elections. Once in office, they sometimes talk about bi-partisanship, but the EC has no role in how presidents do their jobs between elections.

"To the contrary, an oppressive majority can be immoderate, narrow minded and not diverse." - I agree, but the EC does nothing to ensure that the winner, either by majority or minority of the popular vote, will not be oppressive, immoderate, narrow minded, or exclusive. The EC is based on proximity - the assumption that people who live closer to each other have similar interests. To win the presidency, a candidate must broaden his appeal to as many states as possible. Except that modern communications have destroyed proximity. The people of Los Angeles have more in common with New York City than they do with nearby Orange County. You're right about the divide in America today being urban vs rural. I don't see how the EC is going to break down that barrier. The EC assumes that LA and Orange County have the same interests and should therefore be lumped together in one voting block.
 
Jun 2014
6,169
US
Roger, your political bias is showing. According to you, a Democrat promising bigger welfare checks is pandering to the voters, but you don't recognize a Republican promising to cut taxes is also pandering. They are two different messages aimed at two different audiences, but they are both pandering and neither has anything to do with the EC.

"...if your argument were true, then we would have never seen a situation where the candidate with the popular vote loses." - The only reason we have elections where the most popular votes loses is because of the EC. You can't use the EC to justify the EC.

"to win the E.C., one can't just visit CA, NY, FL, OH, TX, MI, PA and few other states to merely win." - I've never heard of anyone employing this strategy. Most candidates visit at least 40 states, sometimes all 50, but they spend most of their time in 12-15 battle ground states because they know that in any election 30-35 states are not competitive. If we did away with the EC and went to a national popular vote the candidates would still go where the voters were, but now, Republicans would have a reason to visit CA and NY and Democrats would have a reason to visit TX because now there are votes in each of those states that will count in the national total instead of being eliminated in the winner-take-all state contests.

"just because a slight majority may wish for something does not mean that a candidate is appealing to a broader, more diverse electorate, or needs to moderate their positions - unless one considers the simply fact of a majority as such." - I have never seen a candidate appeal to a broader, more diverse electorate. All candidates care about is getting that majority, at least in elections. Once in office, they sometimes talk about bi-partisanship, but the EC has no role in how presidents do their jobs between elections.

"To the contrary, an oppressive majority can be immoderate, narrow minded and not diverse." - I agree, but the EC does nothing to ensure that the winner, either by majority or minority of the popular vote, will not be oppressive, immoderate, narrow minded, or exclusive. The EC is based on proximity - the assumption that people who live closer to each other have similar interests. To win the presidency, a candidate must broaden his appeal to as many states as possible. Except that modern communications have destroyed proximity. The people of Los Angeles have more in common with New York City than they do with nearby Orange County. You're right about the divide in America today being urban vs rural. I don't see how the EC is going to break down that barrier. The EC assumes that LA and Orange County have the same interests and should therefore be lumped together in one voting block.
I'm merely gave one real life example. I also mentioned those who vote based on race, ethnicity or language. Are those partisan? With a popular vote, individual states have nothing to do with winning. That is quite obvious. Therefore, there is no need to visit more states than with the E.C. in place.
 
Aug 2016
4,268
Dispargum
I see the EC delivering three results:
1. Usually the EC yields the same result as the popular vote in which case the EC adds no value to the process.
2. Sometimes the EC chooses a winner who only won a plurality not a majority. The EC therefore precludes a run off election or shifting the election to the House of Representatives. I wouldn't want the House to pick the president, but I have no problem with a run off.
3. Sometimes the EC chooses a president who gets fewer votes than another candidate. From the standpoint of one person one vote, this is immoral. It means that people who live in one place cast votes that are more valuable than people who live somewhere else. In the election of 1888, if some Cleveland voters had moved from Missouri and Kentucky to Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, but still voted the same, then Cleveland would have won both the popular vote and electoral vote. But because they didn't move Cleveland lost. It's the same number of votes, cast on one side of a river or another, but that decides who wins and who loses. An election decided not on how people vote, but on where they live. Stupid.
 
Likes: Stone6