The real problem with the Electoral College.

Code Blue

Ad Honorem
Feb 2015
4,120
Caribbean
The E.C., being a form of a check and balance has its shortcomings, but what it does is stabilize the republic. So, even in today's climate, the U.S. is still carrying on nearly 250 years later. No small feat as fans of history know. What the E.C. does, in my opinion, is mitigate the risk of some sort paralysis, or even a breakdown, of government.
I would not call the US a stable republic. And IMO, the forces that are destabilizing it are not impeded by the EC any more than a herd of elephants is impeded by the grass.

Others make a lot more of this EC business than I do. If I were granted divine power to "fix" the United States constitutionally, I would probably be resting on the seventh day, and still not have gotten that far down the to-do list.
I think the greatest virtue of the EC is everyone once in a while it reminds some very self-entitled and spoiled people who like to throw tantrums that they can't always have their way.
 
Jul 2019
563
New Jersey
Abraham,
I get that the EC was supposed to encourage candidates to broaden their appeal. My argument is that it doesn't actually do this. When both candidates are trying to win by a large majority, they usually end up canceling each other out so that one of them ends up winning by only a small majority. In the 50 elections in which there has been a popular vote, only about 10 have been won by more than 55% of the popular vote. In these 10 elections it wasn't the EC that incentivized that kind of candidate appeal. In these 10 elections the voters were extremely happy or unhappy with the incumbent or the winning candidate ran a smart campaign while the loser ran a dumb one. Look at elections like 1984, 1972, 1964, 1956, 1952, 1936, 1932, 1928 and tell me that these candidates had to try and broaden their appeal. They were already very popular without having to try. They didn't need the EC to incentivize their popular appeal.

What the EC does is incentivize candidates to win more states, not votes. This is a false appeal. Here's a map of the 1948 election. Truman in blue appears to have won a huge victory over Dewey and Thurmond. In fact, he only took 49% of the popular vote. Truman took 58% of the EC
View attachment 22944

Here's 1916: Wilson in orange appears to have won a major victory. In fact, he only beat Hughes by 3%. The EC was also very close.
View attachment 22946

Here's 1888, almost a classic North-South divide, but the EC gave victory to Harrison in red who won no Southern states at all. So much for national appeal. Cleveland won a couple of Northern states and the popular vote, but still lost the election. Spatially, red areas vs blue areas, the country appears evenly divided. The popular vote was very close. Harrison took 58% of the EC.
View attachment 22947

Here's 1960. Spatially, close but maybe a slight advantage to Nixon in red. Popular vote very close - 1/10 of a percentage point apart. But by taking most of the big states Kennedy took 60% of the EC.
View attachment 22948

If you're just looking at maps, the EC can create the illusion that the winning candidate has broad based support. I live on the Great Plains. I would never argue that the Great Plains are more important than California because the Great Plains are spatially bigger than CA. What is the point to having a president who is popular in places where very few people live? Conclusion, the EC creates the illusion of big victories but doesn't do anything to broaden a candidate's appeal.
The fact remains that if a certain faction can't present a winning platform in enough areas than they're not appealing broadly enough. This is not reflected in the popular vote. As I've pointed out previously, the losing candidate in the most recent election could've lost every single state outside the NE-WC monolith and still have carried the popular vote by over half a million votes. That's not an incentive to broaden one's appeal. That's an incentive to buckle down on those two regions and let the rest of the country go stew (as was indeed the strategy). The EC artificially forces candidates to expand their appeal beyond the most populous regions and try to win over farmers, factory workers, etc. And that's besides for the legal and constitutional aspects of the EC. Who would give a d*** about farmers or the rust belt if not for the EC?
 

Code Blue

Ad Honorem
Feb 2015
4,120
Caribbean
Who would give a d*** about farmers or the rust belt if not for the EC?
Maybe no one does anyway. That's how it got rusty in the first place. lol

You are describing sectionalism. However, your plea is not going to resonate with those who want the coasts to win and the middle to lose. That's why their dislike of the EC is currently piqued and peaked. In politics, do people want fair or do they want to win?
 
Jul 2019
563
New Jersey
Maybe no one does anyway. That's how it got rusty in the first place. lol

You are describing sectionalism. However, your plea is not going to resonate with those who want the coasts to win and the middle to lose. That's why their dislike of the EC is currently piqued and peaked. In politics, do people want fair or do they want to win?
What goes around comes around. People ought to recognize that everything turns around at some point, and then they regret tearing down the protective fences.

 
Oct 2011
349
Croatia
Abraham,
I get that the EC was supposed to encourage candidates to broaden their appeal. My argument is that it doesn't actually do this. When both candidates are trying to win by a large majority, they usually end up canceling each other out so that one of them ends up winning by only a small majority. In the 50 elections in which there has been a popular vote, only about 10 have been won by more than 55% of the popular vote. In these 10 elections it wasn't the EC that incentivized that kind of candidate appeal. In these 10 elections the voters were extremely happy or unhappy with the incumbent or the winning candidate ran a smart campaign while the loser ran a dumb one. Look at elections like 1984, 1972, 1964, 1956, 1952, 1936, 1932, 1928 and tell me that these candidates had to try and broaden their appeal. They were already very popular without having to try. They didn't need the EC to incentivize their popular appeal.

What the EC does is incentivize candidates to win more states, not votes. This is a false appeal. Here's a map of the 1948 election. Truman in blue appears to have won a huge victory over Dewey and Thurmond. In fact, he only took 49% of the popular vote. Truman took 58% of the EC
That is not false appeal, that is precisely the point behind the Electoral College. It forces candidates to take into account interests of all states, not just ones where majority of the populace are. Do you know what happens without electoral college? Croatia is what happens. We have proportional election system. Zagreb has 700 000 - 1 000 000 people out of some 4 million (maybe even less). That is 25% of populace in a single city. As a result, if you win Zagreb, Split and few bigger cities, you are assured victory. Consequence of this is that Croatia as a country is little more than periphery of Zagreb. We are not a nation-state, we are a Greek polis with adjacent territory. And while some cities prosper, as a consequence of either central or local government's attention, vast majority of the country - especially the rural areas - are neck-deep in sh*t.
 
Likes: Abraham95
Jul 2019
563
New Jersey
That is not false appeal, that is precisely the point behind the Electoral College. It forces candidates to take into account interests of all states, not just ones where majority of the populace are. Do you know what happens without electoral college? Croatia is what happens. We have proportional election system. Zagreb has 700 000 - 1 000 000 people out of some 4 million (maybe even less). That is 25% of populace in a single city. As a result, if you win Zagreb, Split and few bigger cities, you are assured victory. Consequence of this is that Croatia as a country is little more than periphery of Zagreb. We are not a nation-state, we are a Greek polis with adjacent territory. And while some cities prosper, as a consequence of either central or local government's attention, vast majority of the country - especially the rural areas - are neck-deep in sh*t.
Thank you for that example. It is quite enlightening.
 
Likes: Picard

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,319
Dispargum
The fact remains that if a certain faction can't present a winning platform in enough areas than they're not appealing broadly enough
It's only a fact if we define 'broadly' in spatial terms which I do not. In an age of electronic communications, space or distance is irrelevant.

As I've pointed out previously, the losing candidate in the most recent election could've lost every single state outside the NE-WC monolith and still have carried the popular vote by over half a million votes. That's not an incentive to broaden one's appeal. That's an incentive to buckle down on those two regions and let the rest of the country go stew (as was indeed the strategy).
Why am I the only one making historical arguments in this history forum? You and Roger keep coming back to 2016. Don't you know any other elections? There's a reason for the 1991 rule. 2016 is too recent to be evaluated in any kind of historical context or objectivity. Note the partisanship in your comments: "Hilary Clinton's hubris" earlier or now she wants "the rest of the country to go stew." But you accuse me of being short sighted.

I'm pretty sure I haven't made a partisan argument. My argument is:
1. The EC is undemocratic
2. The EC doesn't work the way the founders intended
3. The EC is an 18th century policy in a 21st century country

I do not care who wins or loses. I only want the winning candidate to reflect the will of the majority. If that means that some voting blocks will persistently remain unrepresented there are other checks and balances in place to protect them like the courts and the filibuster to name just two. Repeated lost elections is motivation for those constituencies to renegotiate political alliances. For instance rural voters were shut out of the White House for most of the early 20th century until 1932 when they allied with Blacks, labor, and women. Then rural voters had access to the White House for most of the next several decades. Then when the Democrats went into decline after 1968 rural voters switched to the Republicans and continued to have access to the White House for a few more decades. And they did it without the EC.

One area where we do agree is that democracy gives people the right to make stupid choices. I think we agree there have been far too many stupid choices made at the ballot box. Where we part is that I don't see the EC fixing that problem. If we're going to let people vote, we have to accept stupid decisions.
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,319
Dispargum
That is not false appeal, that is precisely the point behind the Electoral College. It forces candidates to take into account interests of all states, not just ones where majority of the populace are. Do you know what happens without electoral college? Croatia is what happens. We have proportional election system. Zagreb has 700 000 - 1 000 000 people out of some 4 million (maybe even less). That is 25% of populace in a single city. As a result, if you win Zagreb, Split and few bigger cities, you are assured victory. Consequence of this is that Croatia as a country is little more than periphery of Zagreb. We are not a nation-state, we are a Greek polis with adjacent territory. And while some cities prosper, as a consequence of either central or local government's attention, vast majority of the country - especially the rural areas - are neck-deep in sh*t.
I can't speak to Croatia. I only know American politics. Here, I would say if rural Republican voters are afraid of being dominated by urban Democrats I would suggest the Republicans ask themselves why urban voters don't vote Republican. There are some urban issues that Republicans might do well with. Cities have crime. Republicans are well established as the law and order party. Cities are wealthier than rural areas. Some urban voters might respond to Republican tax philosophies. Some minorities can have very conservative social attitudes such as opposition to abortion (the Latino community). Why not try to recruit these urban groups into the Republican coalition? That's how you truly broaden your appeal - by recruiting new constituencies, not by winning elections through artificial gimmicks like the EC.
 
Oct 2015
1,171
California
We have had threads on this in the past. The electoral college was put into place by the Founders in the Constitution with good cause, to prevent an overly populous state or states from dominating the politics of the nation. The few exceptions are just that.
U. S. Electoral College, Official - What is the Electoral College?

The problem with that is the few are dominating the politics of the nation and the will of a few are being imposed on the will of the many.
 

Naomasa298

Forum Staff
Apr 2010
35,069
T'Republic of Yorkshire
Another poster and I were speaking of tyranny. I argued that the E.C. is more effective guarding against because it forces a candidate to broaden his/her appeal. As analogy, think of a parliamentary system, like the one in the U.K. If the winning party has a majority of the seats, they are rather unencumbered in their policies. If they don't win a majority, but must form an alliance with another party, their policies will likely be tempered by this compromise.
How does that stop a candidate if they have the majority of votes in the EC? And why does this system force them to broaden their appeal? Recent events would suggest quite the opposite.