Another "Would you abolish the Electoral College" thread

I’ve heard most of the arguments from both sides. The biggest arguments from the “get rid of it” side tend to be Election 2000 and the other 3 elections (1888, 1876, 1824) in which electoral majority won over popular majority.

The biggest argument supporting it (other than from Bush-Cheney 2000 supporters) is that in its absence candidates would probably only focus on population centers like NYC/LA/Miami/etc. and ignore the heartland, or that it would be way too cost prohibitive as they’d have to buy TV ads in every market.
I’m voting for Obama. While I’ll admit the darker side of me really hopes that there’s an upset in which McCain the popular but Obama wins the electoral college just to pay the GOP back for 2000, I think Obama will get them both, so it’s a nice time to have one of those threads in which it doesn’t just look like someone still pissed off over 2000.

I would personally choose to get rid of the electoral college. My main reason is that I think it’s responsible for the high degree of political apathy and “stay at home” voters in most elections.

If you’re a liberal in Alabama or a conservative in NYC then in most years there’s no real reason to vote in presidential collections as you’re screwed. The main reason you should go into the rain or sleet to vote is for local elections. (I do plan to vote for Obama on November 4, but Alabama will be red as it always is.)

In addition to the elections in which the EC overtook the PV, I’d abolish the college for the reasons of elections like 1984 or 1988. It wouldn’t have changed the outcome of either election: Reagan beat Mondale by a landslide, Bush beat Dukakis by millions of votes also, it wasn’t at all contestable, but it’s sickening looking at the maps and seeing that Mondale won Minnesota only when in fact he got millions of votes in NYC alone, or Dukakis with just little bits and pieces of blue when he got more than 40 million votes- it sends a message that “your votes don’t matter” to most of the nation. I think with popular vote people would take much more of an interest, possibly even enough to make a difference in an election.

Anyway, what say you: keep or get rid of the Electoral College?

Also, a point which you mentioned but didn’t really point out, when people don’t think their votes matter they don’t go out and vote for things other than president. I also think we should completely abolish the election return coverage until all precincts report in from everywhere, since a lot of people in the West might not go and vote as the East coast shapes up into a win for somebody. For example, a major Republican win in the presidential election can keep Democrats from going out and “wasting” their votes, so local and state offices go heavily Republican.

You could introduce outright weighting factors based on state size. That way a heartland voter could count 1.2 (or whatever) times as much as a big-state voter but nobody has to deal with a hopeless race in their state because all votes would count towards the nationwide total.

If we abolish the electoral college, then by this same reasoning, if the popular vote isn’t particularly close, then no one should bother voting anywhere in the nation.

This isn’t an argument against the college; it’s an argument against maps that are poorly made to the point of being deceptive. See here for an accurate map of the 2004 election results.

ETA: I’m not really sure how I think about keeping or killing the electoral college. Right now I’m taking a better-the-devil-you-know attitude against abolishing it, but that’s not a strongly held or carefully thought out position.

Why should my vote count for less just because I’m better at living in close proximity to my neighbors than the average Wyomingite?

Personally, I’d prefer to go even farther than strict popular vote, and use proportional voting as well, but that’s pretty far off. For now, I’ll say sure, get rid of the EC.

Keep. I think it is important to keep the link between states and the electoral process. I’d maybe get rid of the extra two votes per state, though.

Kill it, or at least modify it to get rid of the “winner take all” system most states have. One of the things which hurts the growth of the third party movements in the US is that everyone knows they’ll be shut out in the presidential race, so they don’t bother to vote for them.

Remember Florida in 2000? Imagine if the entire country was within 0.1% and we had to do a nationwide recount.

Keep the Electoral College as is, but require every state use proportional representation to award votes rather than winner-take-all. This can be done without amending the Constitution.

I say abolish the EC and use the popular vote. Anything else is unfair. And with mass communication being what it is today, so what if candidates concentrate on big cities, their message gets out anyway.

My problem is that a person’s vote should count equally in any part of the country. Nobody’s vote matters in Utah or D.C., because they overwhelmingly vote for one party over the other. This year, a Virginian’s vote is courted far more than an Alabaman’s.

Keep the EC. It’s a nice compromise, one that acknowledges the very real state-specific interests, interests that would be ignored utterly with a straight popular vote. For those who proposed abolishing the EC, do you have similar concerns over the fact that every state has two senators, regardless of the size of the state? Why should Wyoming have two senators if California gets only two as well? The answer: for the same reason the EC exists–because if we want Wyoming to “play,” we have to find a way to keep their interests in play as well.

Wyoming has three electorial votes, so the odds of it ever being a factor in an election are pretty slim. Given that WY is going for McCain so heavily, folks voting for Obama might as well be voting for a third party for as much as their vote counts in the final election. If you want to “weight” the votes so that the small states are important, then there’s better ways of doing it.

Why should state size come into it? If you broke California up into California-A and California-B, why should the sum of the two new states carry more weight than they did as a single state?

Well, I would consider alternatives. My point is that the notion that anything other than a straight popular vote is unjust somehow is wrong, IMHO. BTW, you understand that the electoral votes Wyoming has, however small, give it greater weight than its proportionate weight of the popular vote. Pointing out they have 3 doesn’t counter that.

This goes back to the writing of the Constitution. Small states did not want to be shut out of the political process by the larger states, as would happen in a method of apportionment that considered solely population. That is why we have a bicameral legislature - the Senate gives all states an equal voice, while the House gives states a voice in proportion to their population.

But look at it if we used the popular vote: If 10K people in WY vote for one particular candidate, those votes are added to the total votes for that candidate, whereas they’d be lost under the electorial college.

One could, in theory, have candidates spending more time in the “hinterlands” than they are now, since they can get those votes added to their total, whereas now, those votes are for naught. Take a look at the state breakdown on 538. Obama has 7 states with some percentage above zero, but below 51%, while McCain has about 9 states (and most of his states have a higher percentage than Obama). I don’t know what the populations of those states are, but given that 538 projects Obama coming in with around 52% of the popular vote, that puts the race much closer, than the electorial college makes it.

538 has Obama with 2% of the vote in Arizona, the state has a total population of almost 6.5 million people, if we figure that 3 million people there vote, 2% of those numbers works out to 6K votes. Its possible to shift an election on that number of votes, but unlikely. However, if he pulls 6K of votes from 10 states where they’d be lost under the EC, that’s 60K votes, and elections can and do get decided on those kinds of numbers all the time.

I’m assuming you mean 10K voting for someone who loses the overall Wyoming vote. In that case, they are 10K people whose interests are not in sync with the majority of their fellow Wyomingites (Wyomingians? Wyomingers?). If the purpose of the election is to best serve the aggregate interests of Wyoming, they would actually sabotage the effort. They’d help to elect a candidate who the majority of Wyominganians would reject. You ask any Wyomingarian, he’d tell you the same.

If you mean 10K voting for the candidate who’d win Wyoming, those 10K’s interests are better served by the EC, for the same reason that many want to abolish it: it adds weight to their collective vote.

I don’t know. The idea that small states should be overrepresented at every opportunity seems to be remarkably popular in the US. I didn’t describe a system that I consider ideal, just one that addresses one particular issue.

What’s good for Wyoming isn’t necessarily good for the country (and the reverse is also true, to some extent). Also, as I think should be well demonstrated by now, just because a slim majority in a given area happens to hold a particular belief, doesn’t mean that they’re right.

More importantly, however, it would raise the profile of third party candidates, since they could have a larger impact in the election. Given that many people have complaints about both parties being “too much alike” and that increased competition is generally a good thing, I’d say that having the popular vote can trump any benefits of the EC. Not to mention, it would force candidates to take a broader look at the issues facing individual states, since they could no longer be assured of winning the state if they only took 51% of the vote in an individual state. They’d want to push that number higher, to help ensure that they got a larger percentage of the vote from each individual state.