Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Big versus little states...

Middle Aged Lunatic posted a reply to yesterday's post took offense to the reference of the "more importantbig states" that Hillary Clinton is using as her argument over Barack Obama's argument that he's won more states during the primaries. In expressing his view, he asked why the votes in the bigger states are more important than the rest in terms of Obama receiving a larger tally of both popular votes and pledged delegates.

Simple math is the answer. We don't elect presidents by popular vote. The 2000 election showed us that. We elect presidents by the Electoral College votes....and the "bigger" states have the larger Electoral College votes. You don't even have to win a majority of the states in order to get elected president....just the big ones.

It may be unfair to some, but the reality is, the bigger states count for more....and that's the argument that Clinton is trying to make.


Blogger mlnmatt said...

Actually, in the electoral college, the smaller states count for more: that's how California has 54.4 times the population of Alaska, but only 18.3 times the electoral votes. Of course, delivering a civics lesson to a reporter on a mission has never, in the history of humankind, accomplished anything, and I don't expect it to now either.

Clinton is arguing obliquely that Obama would lose New York and California, which is delusional. The real difference is that Clinton does better in the northeast, deep south, and coastal south (polling shows her winning Florida), so for those invested in the electoral map of 2000 and 2004, Clinton is most likely to win the three states that Democrats have pursued for the last two cycles.

Obama fares better in the midwest, rust belt, the mountain west, and the northwest (as well as polling even with McCain in Texas) - so his is an argument that by competing everywhere, we can change the map dramatically.

10:39 AM  
Blogger Larry said...

Looking at political reality it is clear that neither big states nor small states count at all.

California and Texas have a ton of electoral votes. So what? Nobody campaigns there in the fall because the result is predetermined: the Democrat will win California and the Republican will win Texas.

Small states have a mathematical advantage. However, no-one campaigns there either.

What matters is only if a state is a swing state or a safe state. Safe states, large and small, urban and rural, are all irrelevant in the presidential general election. California, because it is safe, receives no more attention than Idaho which is also safe.

What matters are the swing states where elections are won and lost.

This is where the system is flawed. We should move to a national popular vote where it matters how many actual votes a candidate receives and not how many or which states are won and lost by a given candidate.

A national popular vote makes every vote equal. A vote in a small, safe, state like Vermont all of sudden becomes as sought after as a vote in a big, swing state like Ohio or Florida. And, once every vote is equal, candidates will pursue each vote equally.

Obviously under a national popular vote system candidates will spend more time, energy, and money in New York than Montana. But they will allocate resources, generally speaking, proportionately. If Georgia has, lets say 11% of the national population; it makes sense to spend 11% of resources there.

A group called national popular vote is pursuing a plan to implement such a system. It can be done on a state level and they have bills pending in almost every state. Maryland and New Jersey have already signed on.

Take a look at their website at www.nationalpopularvote.com.

4:44 PM  
Blogger mccommas said...

You are wrong Larry!

That’s a popular opinion but consider what happened in 2000 happened under a popular vote.

That would mean that we would have to have a national recount and if 2000 proved anything it proved that the Electoral College is a better plan.

I had your view before 2000 but changed my mind. There would be nationwide chaos and wide scale cheating by activist judges in another close election.

The blunter instrument is the better tool in this case even if it means that every 100 years or so we get a President who won the electoral votes but lost the popular vote.

Stability is more important that absolute statistical accuracy.

7:54 AM  

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