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#1
Old 05-14-2002, 12:38 PM
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How Does the Electoral College Help Small States?

First, I want to make one thing clear: I do NOT want this thread to degenrate into another argument about the year 2000 elections, the hanging chads, etc. This is to be an argument about a specific aspect of the Electoral College system.

I happen to oppose the whole system, and think the President should be elected directly by the people. The reason this is unlikely ever to happen is that it would require a Constitutional amendment, which would require the support of 38 states... and there are far too many small states that think the Electoral College helps them, or at least bolsters their power and importance.

But really, DOES it?

Let's look at two states: Wyoming and Hawaii. Both have very small populations. In theory, at least, these are precisely the types of states the Electoral College is supposed to empower. But as a practical matter, the Electoral College marginalizes those states.

Why? Look, Wyoming is almost always a lock for the Republicans and Hawaii is almost always a lock for the Democrats. Both parties know that. Hence, a Presidential candidate either doesn't bother to campaign in those states at all, or puts in only a token visit (just long enough to pose for photos in a lei or a cowboy hat). The Republican KNOWS he's going to win Wyoming, he KNOWS he's going to lose Hawaii, so he figures there's no point wasting valuable time and money campaigning there (flip the states, and the Democrat follows the same logic).... even if he got VERY lucky, the payoff would be of no great consequence.

So, far from empowering those small states, the Electoral College pretty much insures that Presidential candidates will ignore them.
Why, then, do small states cling to the idea?
#2
Old 05-14-2002, 12:51 PM
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How does abolishing the electoral college change anything for Wyoming and Hawaii? The same assumptions are still operative: the Republicans will take the majority of votes in Wyoming, the Democrats in Hawaii. In either case, their populations are too small to worry about the smidgen who'll go the other way, so both states would continue to be ignored in the campaign.

In short, under either scheme, they get ignored--not because of the system, but because they're not populous.

That said, Wyoming gets to disproportionately support the Elephant, and Hawaii the Donkey because their meagre support isn't divided. I would say that's a benefit, at least from their perspective.
#3
Old 05-14-2002, 12:55 PM
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I think it's "conventional wisdom" that the small states support the EC because of the alleged leverage it gives them in the choice of the President.

I'd suspect fairly strongly that a direct-election amendment would sail through and be ratified by the requisite number of states.

Particularly after the Bush v. Gore Supreme Court cases -- and I agree that election 2000 is not appropriate here, but I get the distinct impression that the limitations the Court read as binding, which were imposed by the need to get slates of electors qualified, were less than satisfactory to partisans on either side -- Democrats for obvious reasons, and Republicans because it exposed Bush to allegations that he stole the Presidency and attempted to deprive people of votes, thus ironically undermining the "legitimacy" that the Court hoped to provide for him by their ruling.

Effectively, the law mandating the date by which states could submit unchallengeable returns of electors was what caused the results of that election.

And, of course, there have been a number of cases where the college elected a minority president (see December's recent posts elsewhere for the last two such occasions) and where a slim plurality became a landslide majority in the EC.
#4
Old 05-14-2002, 01:17 PM
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Hawaii and Wyoming aren't the best examples

A smaller state that has a disproportionately high number of electoral votes vs its percentage of the population where either candidate has a legitmate chance of winning increases the odds that that state will get more candidate attention than if the election were decided by popular vote.
#5
Old 05-14-2002, 02:35 PM
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astorian, you are confusing politics with the electoral college. Yes, Hawaii and Wyoming are almost always locks for their respective parties, so Presidential candidates don't pay any attention to them, despite the fact that they get more electoral votes than their population warrants.

But that says nothing about the electoral college. In this last election, neither candidate paid any attention to yet another state, because its electoral votes were considered "locked up." And that state was ... New York.

So, let's look at a small state that is normally competitive - Delaware. Delaware swings one way or another - Republicans and Democrats tend to swap the governorship and congressman offices, and for decades it had one GOP senator and one Dem senator (right now it has two Dem senators, but that's largely an accident of fate - GOP Senator Roth had been in for 20-odd years and was roughly 145 years old. Unlike in South Carolina, Delawarians considered senility to be a problem.)

Delaware has three electoral votes, or a little over 1% of the number of electoral votes needed to win the presidency. Without the two extra votes provided in the electoral college (but assuming we keep "winner take all"), it would only constitute about .4% of the votes needed to win the Presidency.

Either way, it's not that important. But a candidate is more likely to spend some time listening to Delaware's concerns with the electoral college system. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing is another story.

Sua
#6
Old 05-14-2002, 02:37 PM
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You have to look at the whole package at the time the Constitution was ratified.

If you don't like the Electoral College, you probably don't like the Senate, either. It was purposefully set up that way, of course. Until 1913, I believe, Senators were also elected by the state legislators. The idea was to prevent the "Folly of the Masses" as it were.

If a direct popular vote for President were the case, then winning New York, LA, Chicago and Pennsylvania say, would be all that was necessary. Don't know about you, but I'm not keen on that idea.
#7
Old 05-14-2002, 03:12 PM
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Yeah, we're kind of having the wrong argument here. The electoral college helps smaller states slightly; it's the senate that makes a mockery of "representation by population" and ensures that a vote in New York or Texas means a heck of a lot less than a vote in Wyoming or Delaware. While that may hurt geographic representativeness, it would certainly help human representativeness. Rocks don't vote.
#8
Old 05-14-2002, 03:28 PM
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The electoral college also is a boon for states without large cities (this is only a slight variation on what we're already talking about). For example, a politician could easily win the presidency by just dealing with urban issues and ignoring people in rural areas. By giving rural states more voting power we've insured that the people living in such areas are not disenfranchised, and also are taking care of agriculture's interests along the way.
#9
Old 05-14-2002, 03:34 PM
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I think one of the driving ideas behind the Electoral College to begin with was that this country was founded as a federation of largely independent states under a collective central government that served and answered to the states, and so it was set out in the Constitution that the states would elect a President, and that the people of each state would select the Representatives (and thereby the Senators) that went to Congress to represent a state and the political interests of that state.

Because I'm of that mind, I can't see how the Electoral College wouldn't benefit states. Instead of giving each person in the US one vote for a President of the 'people', it gives each state votes proportional to the size of the state for the President of the United States.

The US is a huge country in terms of geography, and has quite a large population (although no, not the largest on the planet), and in the expanse of it, there are many many varied cultures and political opinions that sometimes seem to appear in pockets, where one state has one culture and another state another culture. Sometimes, a state is big enough that there are different cultures on each side of the state. So what we see on the red and blue maps is quite often that the costal states go for one color, the midwestern for the other, one state this way, one state that way, etc.

I think that smaller states tend to feel that without the Electoral College, their concerns wouldn't matter, because the 'large population centers' would tend to decide the Presidential election, and if you've got a few large cities that account for more votes than a state, then I figure they probably feel overshadowed. Compare say, Los Angeles with an in-city population of 3,694,820 people to Wyoming with a population statewide of 493,782 people. A single state could easily feel overshadowed by a large city in terms of their concerns if votes went purely by popular vote.

When you've got a lot of large urban centers and a lot of sparsely populated states, there has to be a way to balance each state's interest to give each state fair representation. That, for example, if it was known that large ubran centers (L.A.) favor tomatoes, and sparsely populated states (Wyoming) favor potatoes, that the tomato city won't just drown out the voice of the potato state.

And still we have to ensure that a state with a very large population (California: 33,871,648) has a proportional and fair share of the say compared to a state with a very small population (Wyoming: 493,782), knowing that the two states have very different concerns based on different cultures, and that in a pure popular vote, the concerns of Wyoming could easily be negated by even one CITY in California, let alone the whole state.

Anyway, I can see where the concern comes from, and why smaller states seem to favor the Electoral College.

cites: http://losangelesalmanac.com/top...ation/po27.htm
http://eadiv.state.wy.us/pop/st-01est.htm
#10
Old 05-14-2002, 03:42 PM
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Why not go by number of votes-not states? Tally up the votes in each state, then add them all together, rather than winner take all in some states. For example, I had friends in Texas who were completely disgusted by the fact that their votes DIDN'T count, because it was already locked up by the Republicans.

(Or am I speaking out of my ass?)
#11
Old 05-14-2002, 03:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by SuaSponte
So, let's look at a small state that is normally competitive - Delaware.
[the Delawarean cheers with delight!]

Quote:
Delaware swings one way or another - Republicans and Democrats tend to swap the governorship and congressman offices, and for decades it had one GOP senator and one Dem senator (right now it has two Dem senators, but that's largely an accident of fate - GOP Senator Roth had been in for 20-odd years and was roughly 145 years old. Unlike in South Carolina, Delawarians considered senility to be a problem.)
I can't speak for all Delawareans but I voted Roth out of office because I thought, at his age and in his state of health, he should be at home with his family, not because he was senile.

Quote:
Delaware has three electoral votes, or a little over 1% of the number of electoral votes needed to win the presidency. Without the two extra votes provided in the electoral college (but assuming we keep "winner take all"), it would only constitute about .4% of the votes needed to win the Presidency.
Thus within the electoral system my vote in Delaware counts about three times more than it would in California, where the difference between the ratio of Reps (in the House) and Electors (in the College) is only slightly more than 1.

The other thing to remember is that a state has a minimum of one Representative (and so three electoral votes), no matter how small its population. At present I think one Rep in the House represents a maximum of ~600,000 people -- which is about Delaware's population. A state with far fewer people than 600,000 still has one Rep, so that even that contribution to the electoral college is disproportionate to the population. I could be the only person in Delaware and my vote would be outlandishly powerful on the national scale, relative to my actual importance. Of course, if I were the only Delawarean I'd have to be both senators, the representative in the House, the governor... OK, so say Delaware was inhabited by five people...

Quote:
Either way, it's not that important. But a candidate is more likely to spend some time listening to Delaware's concerns with the electoral college system. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing is another story.
I think it's a good thing, not so much because Delaware's concerns alone carry more weight, but the system reminds candidates to pay a bit more attention to the less populous states. Delaware alone might never swing an election, but all of the states with, say, 3-5 electoral votes could make a difference.

Whether it's a good thing to have an electoral system which first breaks up the country into a random assortment of pieces and populations is another question. But the OP was about how the existing system benefits small states.
#12
Old 05-14-2002, 04:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Guinastasia
Why not go by number of votes-not states? Tally up the votes in each state, then add them all together, rather than winner take all in some states. For example, I had friends in Texas who were completely disgusted by the fact that their votes DIDN'T count, because it was already locked up by the Republicans.

(Or am I speaking out of my ass?)
No, it's definitely not ass-speaking, but there is a balance to be considered.

First of all, you have to consider that your idea is actually what happens (literally) 97.2% of the time. In only two Presidential elections did the popular vote winner not win the Electoral College.

But the real question is, what is a better system - one in which the winner wins a majority of all votes cast, or one in which the winner has a broad base of support? The electoral college system requires a broad base.
YMMV, and I do have problems with the electoral college, at least as it is currently constituted, but it is justifiable.

Sua
#13
Old 05-14-2002, 04:55 PM
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Yes, I'm quite familiar with the argument from people in small states that "if we didn't have x number of electoral votes, candidates wouldn't pay us any mind at all."

That's precisely why I point to Wyoming and Hawaii, and ask, "And that would differ from the current reality... how?"
Right NOW, no candidate of either party sees any need to waste time campaigning in states like Wyoming and Hawaii, or to promise the voters in those states anything of value.

If anything, I'm inclined to think candidates would take voters in MANY states more seriously if they knew that individual votes counted for something. George W. Bush KNEW that Hawaii's few electoral votes were going to go to Al Gore, so he saw no point to addressing Hawaiians' needs or concerns. Al Gore KNEW he had no chance of winning Wyoming's few votes, so he never tried to woo Wyoming voters. But if the votes of individual Hawaiians and individual Wyomingites counted for something, Bush and Gore WOULD have had an incentive to make some kind of pitch to them.

What's more, "minority" voters (e.g. Texas Democrats, New York Republicans, etc.) in ALL states would have an increased incentive to vote. As it now stands, many Texas Democrats stay home on Election Day, knowing that Texas' electoral votes are going to the GOP no matter what they do. Many conservative voters in New York or California may do the same. But if their individual votes counted for something, they might not stay home.

Again, my argument here is not based on the idea that a direct election would be more just or fair (though, obviously, I DO believe that). My contention is simply that the Electoral College DOESN'T really give small states the clout they think it does.
#14
Old 05-14-2002, 05:04 PM
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Sua: this presupposes that the greatest divisions between voters are geographic ones. While the beliefs and interests of two people in two different states might differ somewhat, so too may the beliefs and interests of two people who live in the same geographic area. Two white, christian, conservative farmers who are living in different states are probably more similar than a black protestant, an asian buddhist, and a latino catholic all living in Los Angeles.

The former difference is enshrined in the constitution and the latter one is utterly ignored. This can have a direct impact on elections and policy, leading to a focus on geographic interests as opposed to, say, ideological or socio-cultural interests. Why should the interests of the former be priviledged over the interests of the latter? Just because "it's always been done this way", or because of a notion of state supremacy that a war has already been fought and lost over?

(This debate extends beyond the United States. Part of the reason why there is such a bitter debate in Canada over a "triple E" Senate. The western provinces want such a Senate because they think their interests would be better served, but Ontario and Quebec both loathe the concept as it supercedes other divisions in society, makes a mockery of Ontarian voters and ignores the French/English division that the country was founded on).

Perhaps its because I come from a different system, but "geography uber alles" seems nothing but a dangerous anachronism.
#15
Old 05-14-2002, 05:08 PM
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As SuaSponte has already mentioned though, I think you're mixing apples and oranges. It's true that politicians can for the most part depend on certain states to come through with either a democrat/republican vote. But, that is because the majority of the people in that state feel they are best represented by that canidate. That's how politics work. What the electoral college does is give that Wyoming vote more power. The fact that the majority of Wyomingites consistantly feel best represented by a republican doesn't really factor in. You as an individual may have less voting power, but as a state you have more.
#16
Old 05-14-2002, 06:10 PM
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Astorian, if 70% of the voters of the state of Wyoming vote GOP in every presidential election, why would you think that the candidate of either party would pay any more attention to that state without an electoral college?

This is why a state's voting patterns aren't relevant to a discussion of the validity of the electoral college. Even without an electoral college, if a particular area is locked up by one party, neither candidate will waste resources there.

'Sides which, voting patterns can change. 20-30 years ago, there was little point in either party wasting resources on the Solid Democratic South, was there?

Demo, I wasn't supporting the argument in favor of the electoral college; I was merely spelling it out for Guin.

Sua
#17
Old 05-14-2002, 07:31 PM
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http://nara.gov/fedreg/elctcoll/faq.html

Just for reference

The argument about the senate does apply to the electoral college, however, contrary to other opinions expressed.
Quote:
How do the 538 electoral votes get divided among the States?

The number of electoral votes allotted to each State corresponds to the number of Representatives and Senators that each State sends to Congress. The distribution of electoral votes among the States can vary every 10 years depending on the results of the United States Census.

One of the primary functions of the Census is to reapportion the 435 members of the House of Representatives among the States, based on the current population. The reapportionment of the House determines the division of electoral votes among the States. In the Electoral College, each State gets one electoral vote for each of its Representatives in the House, and one electoral vote for each of its two Senators.
For those who feel that the large states aren't represented as well as the smaller ones, then, that's partly false. The electoral college system simply isn't a perfectly proportional scale.
#18
Old 05-14-2002, 07:32 PM
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Tedster:

Quote:
If a direct popular vote for President were the case, then winning New York, LA, Chicago and Pennsylvania say, would be all that was necessary.
What a ridiculous statement. If every single person in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Pennsylvania voted for one presidential candidate (which is an absurdity in itself), that's only 26 million votes. (City and state populations) That's just over half the total that Bush received last election.

Hyperbole much?
#19
Old 05-14-2002, 07:33 PM
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Of course, I mean that the assigment of electoral college votes to states isn't a strict function of population, but it is strongly influenced by it.
#20
Old 05-14-2002, 07:35 PM
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Tangent

I only recently learned that equal suffrage for all the States in the Senate is the only provision of the Constitution that essentially cannot be amended--a state has to consent to losing its equal suffrage in the Senate. Clearly, the smaller states didn't trust the larger states at all.

As for the OP, I think France's recent experience offers a good lesson on one downside of direct popular vote. In the first go round, neither Chirac nor Le Pen received more than 20% of the vote. In the runoff, Chirac received 82% of the vote, but mostly because people were horrified at the idea of Le Pen getting into office. FWIW, only France, Finland, and Russia directly elect their presidents.

If we abolished the EC, I think we'd see a gradual increase in the number of splinter groups and single issue candidates on the ballot. As it stands now, those groups tend to moderate their message to be included in the major parties, or they stay on the fringe, devoid of any real political influence. Also, as Sua pointed out, the EC requires the parties and candidates to develop broad bases of support--as much as you might loathe one party or the other, for the most part, they are pretty moderate, although, of course, both parties have a lunatic fringe.
#21
Old 05-14-2002, 09:11 PM
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Okay, so I exaggerate-- how about this then,

Florida, California, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania? You get the idea, and the idea is still perfectly sound.

No fucking way are the rural states going to let a few states, and indirectly, a few large cities decide who the next President is going to be. Personally, I think a poll tax or limiting voters to only property holders, taxpayers, veterans of military service and similar restriction makes good sense. An illiterate white trash crank head on welfare who thinks he may have just voted for Buchanan by mistake just doesn't strike me as an informed electorate, but that's me.
#22
Old 05-14-2002, 09:13 PM
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Okay, so I exaggerate-- how about this then,

Florida, California, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania? You get the idea, and the idea is still perfectly sound.

No fucking way are the rural states going to let a few states, and indirectly, a few large cities decide who the next President is going to be. Personally, I think a poll tax or limiting voters to only property holders, taxpayers, veterans of military service and similar restriction makes good sense. An illiterate white trash crank head on welfare who thinks he may have just voted for Buchanan by mistake just doesn't strike me as an informed electorate, but hey.
#23
Old 05-14-2002, 09:25 PM
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KSO: Clearly, the smaller states didn't trust the larger states at all. How is this clear? The larger the population the more representatives in the house and the more electoral college votes (by extension) one has. California has 54 electoral college votes. Wyoming has 3.

Forgive me if I don't see how this amounts to the little guys having all the power.
#24
Old 05-14-2002, 10:02 PM
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---No fucking way are the rural states going to let a few states, and indirectly, a few large cities decide who the next President is going to be.---

Why, when hypothetically imagining what it would be like if we had a truly popular vote (i.e., no breakdown by states) do people insist on breaking things down by states. It wouldn't be "rural states" that would lose a election, but the minority in general, whoever that included, from any state.

If you think the electoral college is screwed up: what about the Senate? 16% of the population controls half the Senators!
#25
Old 05-14-2002, 10:02 PM
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So, Tedster, now you get to decide who's smart enough to vote and who isn't? Sheesh
#26
Old 05-14-2002, 10:30 PM
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FWIW I think the EC has more influence on who runs rather than who wins (atleast in modern times).

Lets take former Pres. Clinton as an example. Lets put aside party affiliation for a minute. The Gov. of Arkansas wants to run for Pres. with a Senator from Tennessee. The opposing party looks at this and picks a presidentail nominee from California with a running mate from New York. Do you think any party would risk nominating a candidate from from a very small state with hardly any "base" support to run against a candidate that can hit the ground running? Or considering the nomination process even make it that far?

I look at it this way. Most people know who the governor of California, New York, Texas, or Florida is. Even if they can't recall the name instantly these governors are in the media more often and have much more name recognition than say a governor (or most any politition) from Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, etc. The "little guy/gal" may not get a chance to shine.
#27
Old 05-14-2002, 10:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Guinastasia
Tally up the votes in each state, then add them all together, rather than winner take all in some states.
I can't see any problem with this at all. Every single vote counts, large states can't "bully" smaller states or vice versa, and it eliminates the possibility of a candidate with the most votes losing, which is--or at least should be--shameful.

Is there any equivalent in any other democratic country to the EC, where receiving the most votes cast in a country (state, district, canton, etc) can be essentially irrelevant?
#28
Old 05-15-2002, 09:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by erislover
KSO: Clearly, the smaller states didn't trust the larger states at all. How is this clear? The larger the population the more representatives in the house and the more electoral college votes (by extension) one has. California has 54 electoral college votes. Wyoming has 3. ... Forgive me if I don't see how this amounts to the little guys having all the power.
eris, I took KSO's remarks as a general statement about the structure of the Senate. No matter how you look at it, the Constitution clearly regards each state as a separate but equal political entity. Further, it
structures Congress around two separate concepts of representation by population and representation by state. If in fact the latter aspect is very difficult or near-impossible to amend in practice, that would seem to indicate that the original "small states" wanted a guarantee or protection against losing this kind of representation -- since, IIRC, it was primarily the less-populous states who insisted on representation by state in the first place.

But no, it does not amount to the little guys having all the power. Just a louder voice.
#29
Old 05-15-2002, 11:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Demosthenesian
Yeah, we're kind of having the wrong argument here. The electoral college helps smaller states slightly; it's the senate that makes a mockery of "representation by population" and ensures that a vote in New York or Texas means a heck of a lot less than a vote in Wyoming or Delaware. While that may hurt geographic representativeness, it would certainly help human representativeness. Rocks don't vote.
I agree that the basis of the original question is an erroneous assumption. The Electoral College system wasn't originally intended to try to equalize power between large and small states. Rather it was designed to overcome the transportation difficulties of the time which it was thought would make a national popular election too cumbersome, and to prevent the stampeding of "the masses" by demagoguery. Many of the "founding fathers" had a Platonic view of pure democracy - they didn't like it.

This from Britannica: "As originally planned by the framers of the Constitution, the electors actually choose the president. The framers preferred this to a direct popular election because, at a time when travel was difficult and there were no national party organizations, they feared that many regional candidates would divide the vote. Requiring a candidate to win a majority in the electoral college was a way of obtaining a national consensus."

This paper from The Federalist(no. 68) gives the reasons for and the defense of the Electoral College. http://lcweb2.loc.gov/const/fed/fed_68.html
Nowhere in the paper is there any mention a small states an advantage being a plus (or minus if that is your bent) for the Electoral College system.

The aspect of the constitution that won over the small states was the so-called "Connecticut compromise" that gave equal representation in the senate to all states.
#30
Old 05-15-2002, 12:30 PM
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Quote:
Okay, so I exaggerate-- how about this then,

Florida, California, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania? You get the idea, and the idea is still perfectly sound.
You're still completely wrong, Tedster. Using the voter turnout numbers from one of the websites I linked above, it takes about thirty seconds to see that if every single voter in those five states voted for one candidate--something which is, as I said, completely impossible anyway--then it would still only yield around 31.5 million votes. And the winner in 2000 had 50 million.

C'mon, man--do a little research first, so your argument here isn't so obviously complete crap.
#31
Old 05-15-2002, 02:22 PM
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Oh, Jerevan, I see that KSO was talking about the Senate, but that's like saying that McDonalds has all the fast food restaraunts by looking down one street in America. There are several areas where the small states are overpowered considerably by the larger states, but for some reason you never hear representatives from Delaware saying that the big states are conspiring to hold it down. Probably because they aren't, but whatever.

A state like California has a huge amount of land, and a ton of representatives, and a great portion of the population. Only when viewed through a tunnel is it overpowered by Delaware or Rhode Island.

For instance, look at Apos's post:
Quote:
If you think the electoral college is screwed up: what about the Senate? 16% of the population controls half the Senators!
California has 54 electoral college votes. It, like all states, has two senators, leaving 52 members of the House(!). One state controls ~10% of the house.

How are the little guys all powerful again? Oh, right, only marginally more powerful (and only when viewed from the perspective of population) in the senate, where majoritarianism stops. And hail Eris for that.
#32
Old 05-15-2002, 02:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by erislover
I see that KSO was talking about the Senate, but that's like saying that McDonalds has all the fast food restaraunts by looking down one street in America. There are several areas where the small states are overpowered considerably by the larger states, but for some reason you never hear representatives from Delaware saying that the big states are conspiring to hold it down. Probably because they aren't, but whatever.
Correct. But at the time of the Constitutional convention? Maybe it was a concern then. And even though this concern from long-ago which isn't borne out in the present, we're still stuck with the solution. That's all I'm saying. I'm certainly not trying to argue that California does conspire to hold Delaware down but the structure of the Senate prevents that from happening!

And hey, a lot of people (in the USA, mind you) don't even know that Delaware is a state, let alone where it is or what kind of threat we pose. Of course I'm preaching to the choir; you must be familiar with this phenomonenon yourself.


Quote:
How are the little guys all powerful again? Oh, right, only marginally more powerful (and only when viewed from the perspective of population) in the senate, where majoritarianism stops. And hail Eris for that.
Well, not to belabor the point, but please note that I did not say that the "little guys" are all-powerful by any stretch of the imagination -- only that the influence of the "little guys" is disproportionate to their populations.
#33
Old 05-15-2002, 04:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Tedster
Okay, so I exaggerate-- how about this then,

Florida, California, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania? You get the idea, and the idea is still perfectly sound.

No fucking way are the rural states going to let a few states, and indirectly, a few large cities decide who the next President is going to be. Personally, I think a poll tax or limiting voters to only property holders, taxpayers, veterans of military service and similar restriction makes good sense. An illiterate white trash crank head on welfare who thinks he may have just voted for Buchanan by mistake just doesn't strike me as an informed electorate, but hey.
Would you mind dropping by this thread, please?
#34
Old 05-15-2002, 05:16 PM
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Eris, I'm really confused. I don't see anyone arguing that the small states are "all-powerful," but you keep arguing against that (non-existent) position.

I believe the contention here is that small states, in both the Senate and the Electoral College, have more power than their populations warrant.

Sua
#35
Old 05-15-2002, 06:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by SuaSponte
I believe the contention here is that small states, in both the Senate and the Electoral College, have more power than their populations warrant.
I thought that was the intention. No one's arguing that the small states are somewhat disproportionately powerful, considered against their populations; we agree that they are. Thus, the senate, and to a lesser extent the electoral college, to balance that out and prevent populous cities and states from implementing a tyranny of the majority.

The issue in the OP is whether or not the electoral college is effective, from the perspective of the small states, in addressing that intention.
#36
Old 05-15-2002, 11:16 PM
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My gift for hyperbole is a curse in this forum. Of course no one is arguing that the small states are EC or Congressional Gods.

The small states, from the perspective of population, do have a slight advantage. This is because the number of representatives for all states begins at 3: two Senators and one Representative in the House. From then on, it is all population.

Overall, the more population a state has, the more representatives it has, and the more EC votes it has.
#37
Old 05-16-2002, 10:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jerevan Somerville


Well, not to belabor the point, but please note that I did not say that the "little guys" are all-powerful by any stretch of the imagination -- only that the influence of the "little guys" is disproportionate to their populations.
Maybe small state do have influence disproportionate to their populations, but I think the atmosphere at the Constitutional Convention should be considered.

There might very well not have been a constitution like the present one without the compromise that allowed small states equal representation in the Senate. The convention was deadlocked and acrimony was rife over the question of how to apportion power. Admittedly that is a "what if" analysis, but the evidence seems clear that the small states of the convention were not going to agree to anything coming out of the convention without some sort of assurance that they wouldn't be overwhelmed by the big ones.

Again, the disproportionate power is in the senate and not in the electoral college.
#38
Old 05-16-2002, 10:53 AM
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Again, the power is only disproportionate from the perspective of population in the Senate. The Senate is simply a place where all states have equal power. Why is this a bad thing?

Not all concerns of the Federal government have to do with population, or are even viewed with the perspective of population.
#39
Old 05-18-2002, 05:30 PM
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In national politics in the US, why is so much attention paid to small states vs. large states? When it comes to the decision as to who will be the next President, surely what matters are the issues, not what state one is in, and not the size of one's state.

Repeat: it's the issues that matter, not states. The issues: abortion, guns, welfare for the poor, corporate welfare, the death penalty, taxes, foreign policy, the state of the public schools, the future of social security, the high cost of prescription drugs, govt promotion of religion, etc. People decide who to vote for on the basis of the candidates' stands on whichever issues matter most to them.

To win a Presidential election, a candidate needs to have the correct mix of stands on the issues. If you examine any state, large or small, you will find people with an incredible variety of opinions about the issues.

Suppose a candidate did think in terms of states. Suppose he decided, "I must win California. I want to appeal to CA voters. There for I will (blank)." How do we fill in the blank? What would the candidate need to do or say to win California? Something that wins over rightwing Californians will also win over rightwingers in other states. Something that wins over rightwingers in CA will also hurt him with leftwingers in CA. And so on. He can't tayor much of anything to any one state. For that matter, what would he need to do or say to appeal specifically to voters in small states as opposed to large states, or vice versa?

I often get the impression that people are equating small states with rural interests and large states with urban interests. As in, if a candidate appeals to rural interests, he'll carry the small states; if he appeals to urban interests, he'll carry the large states. But this does not make sence to me, either. Big states are not all-urban. Small states contain urban and suburban areas.

Parenthetically, to me, it isn't just rural vs. urban. If you count a city plus its suburbs as "urban" you're ignoring the very different and often opposing interests of city vs. suburb.
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