If GWB is re-elected, but...

I think this is a very possible scenario: GWB wins the electoral vote but loses the popular vote, again, sans a Florida Recount situation.

How would people react? Would there be any rioting? Will people just accept the outcome? I can’t imagine that the population will be willing to deal with this quirk in our system.

It might start a movement to amend the Constitution to abolish the Electoral College . . . for the 2008 election. But Bush would still be president for the 2005-2009 term; there could be no other constitutional result. At present, the “national popular vote” simply does not exist, so far as the Constitution is concerned, for the presidential or any other election. The Electoral College is it. And no, I don’t like that any better than you.

The vast majority of Americans don’t understand the difference between the electoral and the popular vote. There will be no rioting. GWB will have won the election and that will be the end of it. Those who are smart enough to understand the difference between the two votes should be smart enough to realize that if the EC were abolished, politicians would campaign differently, gearing up to win the popular vote instead of the electoral vote.

You guys need to get over this popular vote/electoral vote crap. It ain’t gonna change! Do you understand that?

And yet somehow, Rutherford Hayes ended up President without any rioting either.

I think most people do recognize that Bush did not win the popular vote. If it happens twice, though, a lot of people will think something much more sinister is going on. Rightly or wrongly.

Oh, I know that. I don’t think that Howard Dean will be riding into the White House on a tank any time soon but there is a significant issue of public reaction.

Enough people remember the previous election and are upset by it that a similar situation can provoke some pretty strong responses.

Strong responses like what? Yelling and screaming to eliminate the EC? Big deal. It stil ain’t gonna happen.

Maine and Nebraska don’t have a “winner take all” electoral vote, but assign votes by which candidate won in each congressional district. Perhaps if all states had such a system, the electoral vote would ‘match’ the popular vote more closely.

I think a principal reason we have an electoral college is so that we have an informed and conscientious body of "electors’ who could deliberate a fair outcome, in case the popular vote within a given state is contested, or extremely close (as in the 2000 election, which demonstrates how innefective a poular vote only system may be - both sides could have filed for recounts for the next 10 years).

However, I would hope if ever there were a situation in which there were a greater than 1% gap in the popular vote, some electors would choose to abide by the popular will. However, the current system, in which the electors are mostly anonynmous political hacks, is not fully in the deliberative (and non-partisan)spirit of the constitution.

You’d have to convince a 2/3 majority of the states to change the EC, and the various states (large and small) have vested interests in keeping things the way they are.

Posted by John Mace:

Why not? We’ve made lots of changes to our Constitution that were considered politically impossible when first proposed – women’s suffrage, for instance. It is not entirely out of the question that a political movement to abolish the Electoral College would eventually win enough support on the ground that it would pass three-fourths of the state legislatures – including those of some underpopulated states that are politically overrepresented in the EC, as they are in the Senate. There really are very few respected political leaders or thinkers nowadays who are still willing to defend the EC on its merits. Some, but not many. I followed the debate after the 2000 election, and most of the arguments aired seemed to be on the anti- side.


IIRC, most states bind the electors by law to cast their electoral votes per the will of the people in their state.

Personally, I think the EC is a great system. It’s one of the few things that remind us that we are a federation of states, not a country that was conveniently divided into states for purely administrative purposes.

The anti-EC crowd seem to think that there is some vast hatred for the EC in the US. If that were true, it would be easy to get rid of it with an amendment. But even the large states, by having a winner take all system, have a vested interest in keeping it. Imagine the dilution of CA’s influence if we were to eliminate the EC. Instead of 54 out of 538 electors (10% of the vote for one candidate), it would probably cast less than 6% of the votes for the winning candidate.

Remind me again why the smaller states would agree to this?

Not what this paper says. (PDF)

The paper then goes into mathematical analysis and concludes that “RutherFRAUD” B. Hayes was the rightful winner anyway.

The problem with the Electoral College is that you get situations like Florida in which a few hundred votes become more important than a million votes elsewhere. This creates distortions and the possibility of buying off votes or heavy marketing where key votes are necessary.

I think the EC also creates a “it wont matter anyway” attitude in many states with heavily swung votes. Any democracy that de-stimulates voters is doing something wrong. (Voting during work days and work hours too !)

Abolish electoral college? That means that you agree that Richard Nixon should have been president and JFK should NOT have ever been president.

Remember, Nixon won the popular vote vs. JFK. Therefore, anyone who wants the electoral college abolished must likewise agree that Nixon should have been president and not JFK, that JFK should never have taken office.

Abolish electoral college == Nixon is good, Kennedy is bad.

Why would any amendments or upheavels of the voting system be applied retrospectively to previous elections?

Can I ask a question: why is it Maine and Nebraska have a slightly different method than all other states for selecting their electors? What is the history behind this?

Dogface, actually, Kennedy did win the popular vote in 1960, although it was by a pretty small margin: 119,450 votes out of 68,334,742. (cite)

AFAIK, there have been only four elections where the popular-vote winner didn’t wind up as President: 1824, 1876, 1888, and 2000.

I don’t think the reaction would be very strong if Bush were to win again, while loosing the popular vote. It would give liberals another piece of ammunition to use bashing him, but that is all.

We would hear Baldwin yelling even louder that this president was “selected” not “elected”. How clever. :rolleyes:

To start, lets dispense with the outdated notion that constitutional amendment is necessary to move to a popular vote. For those of you who missed the last go 'round I have come up with an idea to shoehorn the Electoral College into producing a true popular vote winner. The basic idea is that states should assign their electoral votes to the candidate that wins the most votes period and not just the most votes within that particular state. Here’s the updated version:

The Congress ( by simple majority ) passes a law stating that the Federal Election Commission shall tally the votes of all Americans no matter where they live be it in a state, territory, foreign nation, whatever. Should one candidate gain a majority of those votes they shall be declared the popular vote winner or if not a runoff election would be held one month later between the 2 most popular candidates to determine the popular vote winner. States would be encouraged to assign electors pledged to the popular vote winner and states that refuse to do so would not receive any highway money from the federal government. Since the Congress legislates for the District of Columbia those three electoral votes would automatically go to the popular vote winner.

So there it is; a popular vote without amending the Constitution. The eleven most populous states ( California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Georgia, New Jersey, and North Carolina ) between them have a majority of the electoral college. Once they, or another grouping of states that total a majority of the electoral votes, agree then it doesn’t matter what the “small” states do. The popular vote winner will be elected no matter what the “small” states do with their electoral votes.

Do you have anything to back up the remarkable assertion that the EC is so misunderstood by Americans? My understanding is exactly the opposite. Since the 2000 fiasco most of us do understand the basics of the EC. I do agree that there wouldn’t be any rioting. A lot of acrimony, yes. A greater push to reform the system, yes. But no rioting and not enough of a push to amend the Constitution. Luckily that won’t be necessary.

** Perhaps. But if we had a popular vote it would match the popular vote more closely. In fact, it would be a popular vote. My plan would match the popular vote exactly. But expanding the district system of Maine and Nebraska to all of the states would cause more problems. In those 2 states this is a relatively benign variation of the cancer known as the Electoral College because they are small ( three congressional districts each ) and have relativly homogenous populations. But in other states we already have problems with gerrymandering when only House seats are the prize. Imagine the extra strain on our politics if you could gerrymander your way into the White House as well.

I think we still have the Electoral College because some are unwilling to give up ill gotten politcal power. I don’t know why you are scare-quoting “electors”. That’s what they are: electors. They elect the President, not us.

No, recounts couldn’t have gone on for months. While the Supreme Court cut the count short before it was necessary there is a point where counting must end and a result produced. The lesson of Election 2000 is simple, even if many people don’t seem to have gotten the message: When there is a lack of proper planning things tend to fall to shit. This is a fact of life that goes beyond elections. If Florida had their shit together things would have gone smoothly. They didn’t and it came back to bite us on the ass. Counting votes is not that difficult, if you are prepared.

“Deliberative and non-partisan spirit of the Constitution.” SNORT

Your hope is naive. If Election 2000 didn’t convince you then perhaps a look back at the history will. Every time there has been a contested election the votes always went along party lines. The White House is just too great a prize not to expect partisanship to rear its ugly head when a chance to win it comes along. What we need to do is prevent partisanship from getting that chance.

Well, that’s all I have time for right now. I’ll be back.

If it had gone the other way in 2000 - with Bush winning the popular vote but losing the EC - there isn’t a doubt in my mind that the EC would already be gone. The GOP, which is far better at being angry than the Dems, would be pissed as hell at it, and unlike the GOP now, the Dems wouldn’t have a brief for it. It would have been in the ashbin of history.

Wonder how the GOP would react if that was how it goes in 2004?