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-   -   Decision 2016 (https://www.heroscapers.com/community/showthread.php?t=53250)

dok November 23rd, 2016 12:21 PM

Re: Decision 2016
 
The only real way the EC could change, and it's a legitimate path, is the national popular vote interstate compact. It's an agreement that once 270 EVs worth of states have joined the compact, ALL of those states will cast their electors for the popular vote winner. Because states have the right to allocate their electors essentially however they want, it's an effective end-around on the system without a constitutional amendment.

So far I think the compact sits a touch under 170 EVs. It wouldn't surprise me if it gets to above 180 or even close to 200 in the coming years. However, at the moment it's all deep blue states that have passed the law, and in order to move it's going to need some red or swing states to get in the game.

Unfortunately, the only way that's likely to happen is if a Democrat wins the white house while losing the popular vote. The reality is that this is just as likely as a Republican doing the same. Despite what people think, the EC does not systematically favor Republicans. It seems that way because the two times we've had a popular vote/EC split in our lifetimes have favored Republicans. What people don't realize is that the EC favored Democrats in 2004, 2008, and 2012. We just didn't notice because the elections weren't close enough to produce a split. The closest of the three was 2004, and if Kerry had done just a bit better overall we would have had the bizarre experience of back-to-back elections being won by the popular vote loser.

Ranior November 23rd, 2016 12:37 PM

Re: Decision 2016
 
Huh, I hadn't actually seen that ever somehow.

That is a cool idea that totally could work by getting around the need for a constitutional amendment which is basically impossible. Getting 270 EVs worth of states however....that is somewhat possible.

Unfortunately I suspect you are right--that would probably require a Democrat to get into the white house without having the popular vote, probably within the next few decades. I don't want more elections where the popular vote loser actually wins, but if it fixed the system for the future I guess that at least would be cool. I'd love if that pact just got to the 270 EV's it needs, but alas. Who knows if/when that would ever happen. But I'll be sure to vote for any WI politician that says they will join in. I'd love to see that come to pass in the next few years.

Anyhow thanks for pointing that stuff out.

vegietarian18 November 23rd, 2016 01:32 PM

Re: Decision 2016
 
Candidates campaign around the electoral college and would campaign differently around the popular vote. There's a lot of disenfranchised people in Texas, California, Illinois and other states that can't possibly be swung, and candidates would campaign more in their core states to increase turnout to higher levels there. I'm not saying that Clinton would not have won if popular vote was the decider, but we can't know from the results where we used the Electoral College. This is like in Heroscape where you beat someone in Capture the Flag and they tell you they would have won in a Kill 'Em All since you had less figures left at the end.

Ranior November 23rd, 2016 01:50 PM

Re: Decision 2016
 
I absolutely agree that the landscape changes slightly in how people campaign and what they campaign for in a different system and it could lead to different results.

But I'm not sour just because Clinton lost. I'm sour because our system continues to value the votes of some voters above others. I think that should change so that every vote matters the same for electing our president.

I guess my main gripe is just that I am convinced there is no benefit to having the electoral college. I understand the arguments for keeping it, but none of them hold up in my opinion. We'd be better off switching to popular vote wins.

Ultimately I just think that simple change would lead to a democracy where the voices of more people matters and we don't get distorted views where only a small fraction of states and voters actually are heard from or listened to. It's not hugely important that this actually get done, but it just seems like one of those simple things that could easily be changed and for the most part has broad support. (Polls seem to suggest at least 70% of voters agree the electoral college should be removed.)

vegietarian18 November 23rd, 2016 02:05 PM

Re: Decision 2016
 
I think there is a benefit for the electoral college: the original pretenses under which it was set up. To make sure that the president is elected by the same mix of popular and per state representation that Congress has. It's not like the popular vote being different from the Electoral College is a "miss", that means that more states went Trump and when the system was set up, states' rights mattered a lot. I continue to believe the Electoral College's allocation of voting power is fine, and the problem is the all-or-nothing aspect of swing states. But there's no way to force states to allocate proportionally, and really they are incentivized not to, since it gets candidates to campaign there harder if they don't.

I think you can make the argument that states' rights are not as important now as they were when the electoral college was set up, and that we don't need the equal representation per state anymore. I don't see that argument against the electoral college though, I see the claims that the system values some voters above others (which is true, and intentional). If the system were changed, then candidates would campaign more in high population areas, the system would value the opinions of some over others. It's not a simple problem or a simple solution.

Ranior November 23rd, 2016 02:24 PM

Re: Decision 2016
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by vegietarian18 (Post 2122588)
It's not a simple problem or a simple solution.

Except I am pretty sure it is. The problem as I see it is that a very small subset of voters and states are all that matters in our national elections with how the system is set up.

The solution is very easy--make every person's vote count the same by just focusing on the popular vote. As I pointed out that is how every other election in the country works. We don't elect mayors by focusing on each of the cities numerous wards and allocating points based on votes to then choose a mayor. We don't focus on counties or districts when electing senators (although direct election of senators is something that came later via 17th amendment, so it's not like we haven't had reform on how we elect people in this country in the past anyhow).

You are correct that this probably leads campaigns to focus on higher population areas. However this isn't exactly a new phenomenon--even now candidates and campaigns spend more time in cities, just cities focused in certain states. Still I don't see how this is possibly a bad thing as it would mean candidate and campaigns would be listening and focusing on the voices of more people. As for concerns that rural voters would no longer have a voice or be listened to, well their votes matter just the same as others, so you'd expect campaigns would still figure a way to speak to them and listen to their issues.

In general I just would expect that candidates and campaigns would do a better job of speaking to everyone and spending time everywhere. I think that would be a significant improvement on the problem that I see--that right now only a small subset of voters actually determine the outcome of elections.

vegietarian18 November 23rd, 2016 02:38 PM

Re: Decision 2016
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ranior (Post 2122594)
The solution is very easy--make every person's vote count the same by just focusing on the popular vote. As I pointed out that is how every other election in the country works. We don't elect mayors by focusing on each of the cities numerous wards and allocating points based on votes to then choose a mayor. We don't focus on counties or districts when electing senators (although direct election of senators is something that came later via 17th amendment, so it's not like we haven't had reform on how we elect people in this country in the past anyhow).

We do elect senators, who represent the individual states in deciding laws, by focusing on each of the numerous states and giving them equal points. The electoral college is not without precedent. It is an intentional a mix of both halves of Congress, because that is who the president will be working with.

I don't think it's a "small subset" of voters that determine elections. Obviously the massive amounts of strongly blue or red people in California or Texas are being heard and those voters are still "determining" an election even if many of their votes are already decided. I would not say that Clinton or Trump made specific promises to appeal to voters in swing states, so the representation from all states was still equal, even if the outcome was decided by the swing states.

The US is a democratic republic, not a democracy. Directly electing the president removes some of the protections for the voices of the minority that a republic allows for.

Ixe November 23rd, 2016 02:56 PM

Re: Decision 2016
 
The electoral college is an interesting perception problem. Because some states reliably vote certain ways, they are considered known quantities and are basically ignored. Swing states, even though they largely award fewer electoral votes, "decide" elections since their outcome wasn't known in advance. In effect states can be rewarded with increased political attention for being split between the two major parties.

The primary system adds a wrinkle where states (particularly the big ones) can decide who is running for these major parties, but even that is a little skewed by the order of voting for the states. Ohio, for instance, gets a ton of political attention during that time for the fact that it votes first.

Ranior November 23rd, 2016 03:25 PM

Re: Decision 2016
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by vegietarian18 (Post 2122599)
We do elect senators, who represent the individual states in deciding laws, by focusing on each of the numerous states and giving them equal points. The electoral college is not without precedent. It is an intentional a mix of both halves of Congress, because that is who the president will be working with.

While I agree that at its founding it was an intentional mix of the house and the senate to have a mix of the state based and population based power in the country. But no matter what, this does not really matter to me why it was founded or what the original intent was--my point remains that it does not benefit the country or its people.

Quote:

I don't think it's a "small subset" of voters that determine elections. Obviously the massive amounts of strongly blue or red people in California or Texas are being heard and those voters are still "determining" an election even if many of their votes are already decided. I would not say that Clinton or Trump made specific promises to appeal to voters in swing states, so the representation from all states was still equal, even if the outcome was decided by the swing states.
http://www.nationalpopularvote.com/campaign-events-2016

As the article even point out my republican Governor Scott Walker stated "The nation as a whole is not going to elect the next president. Twelve states are." He was absolutely right. It is almost always that way.

If you watch election coverage on election night, the moment polls close in some states, news networks like CNN are able to instantly call them. Poll close in Texas? Give those electoral votes to the Republican. Oh New York closed? Hand those to the Democrat. Everyone knows it. Those voters have no real sway.

So instead the entire battle is in the battleground states. The candidates spend almost all their time in those states, talking to and wooing those voters. If you don't think that has an impact on their stances or how they are presenting themselves....well I'd challenge that.

In many small and large ways this influences events. Vice Presidents are often chosen from battleground states in the expectation that they can help their candidate win that state. There is some evidence that battleground states tend to receive more federal aid and exemptions, in essence they get slightly preferential treatment.

Even if you don't think this is happening, the fact that the incentives line up for that type of stuff I think should be troubling.

Quote:

The US is a democratic republic, not a democracy. Directly electing the president removes some of the protections for the voices of the minority that a republic allows for.
This I think is just silly though. First off we could directly elect the president and still be a democratic republic, so I don't quite see what the point of bringing that up is.

Next off, I think it does not follow that we are protecting the voices of the minority through the electoral college. I'd really like to hear you defend this. The electoral college disproportionately makes some American's votes mean more than others. You seem to be suggesting that this in some way helps protect the voices of a minority--but the minority in this case just seems to be the people in swing states, which isn't in any way a minority that needs protecting (compared to say latinos or LGBT people).

Largely most of your arguments thus far seem to be explaining to me why we do have the Electoral College, but there has been precious little explaining what good the electoral college does in the present day.

I continue to argue it makes only a few state's voters relevant in determining the president which is bad as a large number of Americans effectively do not matter when electing the president, meaning they do not have a say in who their leader is.

I think that the excessive focus on swing states (which directly follows from the incentives created by the electoral college) creates an arena where swing states get disproportionate attention to their votes and the plight of those voters. It may also give them more federal aid and exemptions as politicians and parties try to court favor there (as they have incentive to do so over other states).

I have not seen any salient argument as to what benefit the electoral college provides that justifies the continued issues it presents.

vegietarian18 November 23rd, 2016 04:44 PM

Re: Decision 2016
 
The reason I keep explaining the electoral college's existence is because you haven't given satisfying reasons for why things have changed enough justify changing it.

I don't care what republican governor Scott Walker said, I'm not him or a republican. The idea that 12 states decide the election is just wrong, they may what changes the outcome, but they aren't the only thing that matters. The voices of other nonswing states are just strongly tilted in one direction. The same thing would happen if you did a national popular vote, with "independents" deciding the election. That doesn't mean that it's an advantage to be an independent, it just means that people who's votes are more uncertain will inherently be the focus of political talk. Uncertainty does not imply importance, those people who will certainly vote for someone are equally important in their vote.

The minority is a political opinion and voices, a geographic difference in what should happen in the country. If you live in a different area than the majority of the population, then you may have different ideas on what should happen. A switch to pure popular vote could limit their voices.

dok November 23rd, 2016 04:47 PM

Re: Decision 2016
 
Let's remember that the real reason the EC exists is so that slave states could get some credit for their slaves. The "3/5 compromise" said that slaves could count for 3/5 of a person for the purposes of allocating electors. But since they didn't want the slaves to, you know, actually vote, they needed a layer of abstraction. Hence, the electoral college was born.

Everything else justifying the EC's existence is just post-hoc rationalization bull****. It doesn't protect rural voters or regional interests or any of that with any kind of reliability. It's just erratic and serves to effectively disenfranchise huge numbers of voters.

Ranior November 23rd, 2016 05:07 PM

Re: Decision 2016
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by vegietarian18 (Post 2122630)
The reason I keep explaining the electoral college's existence is because you haven't given satisfying reasons for why things have changed enough justify changing it.

We may have fundamentally different ideas about how much the argument "well it's always been that way" holds sway in what we should do today. I personally could care less about why it used to be--I care purely for what would be best now.

Therefore I see zero reason to even debate or argue what factors have changed that should justify changing it. I will however continue to point out the problems I see (a small fraction of voters being the only ones who matter).

Quote:

I don't care what republican governor Scott Walker said, I'm not him or a republican. The idea that 12 states decide the election is just wrong, they may what changes the outcome, but they aren't the only thing that matters. The voices of other nonswing states are just strongly tilted in one direction. The same thing would happen if you did a national popular vote, with "independents" deciding the election. That doesn't mean that it's an advantage to be an independent, it just means that people who's votes are more uncertain will inherently be the focus of political talk. Uncertainty does not imply importance, those people who will certainly vote for someone are equally important in their vote.
There is something very different here, this analogy doesn't work. The key reason it fails is because the 538 electoral votes must be cast, where every eligible voter does not. Suppose somehow California got every one of its citizens to vote this year and the margin remained the same. Clinton would have won a majority of all voters, would have had more votes than the next candidate by more than 5 million votes, and yet Trump would still actually win the election.

By abolishing the electoral college it makes every single voter matter. If some state can manage to get a huge turnout and is overwhelmingly full of democrats or republicans it will matter. The election will not simply be swaying the independents--it will very much be about getting every single person mobilized to vote. How many times do you hear or see people in California or Oregon or New York makes statements about how their vote doesn't really matter? Well they are right--they don't need to go vote as they aren't going to change the outcome of their state. We all know that. But go to a national popular vote and turning out these people becomes quite important. The voices of all Americans will matter, not just a fight for independents. Every single voter will matter.

Finally, 12 states do decide the election. That's why the campaigns spend all their time there. I suspect you agree campaigns should focus their time on only those states that are actually competitive. So I don't get why you are pushing back on the claim that only 12 states actually matter. (The 12 is somewhat debatable, but it's clearly between around 6-15). I suspect your point is simply that winning all 12 swing states isn't enough if you don't also manage to win the deep blue or deep red states you need to, but the point is that those things are a virtual given. There is a reason those results are known. Currently the fight for the presidency goes through a handful of battleground states and those voters are the only ones who truly are making a choice. A person in California is not going to impact the election. The chances their vote actually sways the outcome is minuscule. The chances a voter in Ohio swings the election is still small, but it is literally millions of times more likely than that voter in California.

I think that is a real problem for a Representative democracy. There is no good reason that people living in Ohio should have that much more sway over the outcome of the election than people in California. But that is undoubtedly how it is.


Quote:

The minority is a political opinion and voices, a geographic difference in what should happen in the country. If you live in a different area than the majority of the population, then you may have different ideas on what should happen. A switch to pure popular vote could limit their voices.
And rightly so. There is no good reason why we should artificially value the opinions of some voters over the opinions of the others in this matter. I agree that a switch to a pure popular vote will limit the influence that some voters currently have, but a switch to a purely popular vote will mean that every single persons opinion and voice matters equally.

You still have not presented a single good reason it should be otherwise. I agree that switching will make some voters lose sway, but only so that they become equal to all other voters.


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