Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Electoral College And Why It's So Important - In A Nutshell

I was just watching last night's Fox News Channel's RedEye program and TV's Andy Levy was the guest host and made a comment about not understanding why the electoral college was even needed... or something to that effect... so I thought I'd type it out in a nutshell in the same way I explain it to friends and family all the time.

The reason our founding fathers created the electoral college was for this reason...

Imagine a presidential candidate comes for a really big state with millions of voters... like New York, Texas or California... and after the voting is done, one candidate won 49 of the 50 states and won by a slim margin in each state but that other candidate from the really big state won that state by a landslide so that the popular vote had that candidate in the lead.  Is it fair or right that the candidate that won 49 states should lose to the candidate that only won one state?  NO IT IS NOT!!!!

This is the main reason for the electoral college... so that a candidate who wins the majority of the electoral college votes, which they garner when they win a state, wins the presidency and not the guy/gal that won only their home state by a large margin.

To make it simpler, say one candidate won 49 states by only 1 vote each and then lost to the other candidate in one state by 50 votes.  Should the guy/gal who won only one state but got 50 more votes in that state become the president when they lost the other 49 states? 

There you go... the electoral college in a nutshell... and why it's so important!!!

Lenny Vasbinder


  1. Simple math doesn't support your hypothetical.

    With the current state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes, winning a bare plurality of the popular vote in the 11 most populous states, containing 56% of the population, could win the Presidency with a mere 26% of the nation's votes.

    But the political reality is that the 11 largest states rarely agree on any political question. In terms of recent presidential elections, the 11 largest states include five "red states (Texas, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and Georgia) and six "blue" states (California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New Jersey). The fact is that the big states are just about as closely divided as the rest of the country. For example, among the four largest states, the two largest Republican states (Texas and Florida) generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Bush, while the two largest Democratic states generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Kerry.

    Among the 11 most populous states in 2004, the highest levels of popular support, hardly overwhelming, were found in the following seven non-battleground states:
    * Texas (62% Republican),
    * New York (59% Democratic),
    * Georgia (58% Republican),
    * North Carolina (56% Republican),
    * Illinois (55% Democratic),
    * California (55% Democratic), and
    * New Jersey (53% Democratic).

    In addition, the margins generated by the nation's largest states are hardly overwhelming in relation to the 122,000,000 votes cast nationally. Among the 11 most populous states, the highest margins were the following seven non-battleground states:
    * Texas -- 1,691,267 Republican
    * New York -- 1,192,436 Democratic
    * Georgia -- 544,634 Republican
    * North Carolina -- 426,778 Republican
    * Illinois -- 513,342 Democratic
    * California -- 1,023,560 Democratic
    * New Jersey -- 211,826 Democratic

    To put these numbers in perspective, Oklahoma (7 electoral votes) alone generated a margin of 455,000 "wasted" votes for Bush in 2004 -- larger than the margin generated by the 9th and 10th largest states, namely New Jersey and North Carolina (each with 15 electoral votes). Utah (5 electoral votes) alone generated a margin of 385,000 "wasted" votes for Bush in 2004. 8 small western states, with less than a third of California’s population, provided Bush with a bigger margin

  2. Your copied comment proves all the more reason for an electoral college system. Using your numbers, with President Bush winning by a margin of 455,000 votes in Oklahoma, it wouldn't have been fair if Gore won the other 49 states 9,000 votes in each state and still lose the election because Bush won by so much in only one state. My simple explanation works both ways.

  3. The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. Elections wouldn't be about winning states. Every vote, everywhere would be counted for in the total number of popular votes of the country and directly assist the candidate for whom it was cast.

    Most voters don't care whether their presidential candidate wins or loses in their state . . . they care whether he/she wins the White House. Voters want to know, that even if they were on the losing side, their vote actually was directly and equally counted and mattered to their candidate. Most Americans consider the idea of the candidate with the most popular votes being declared a loser reprehensible. We don't allow this in any other election in our representative republic.

    In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state's electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). Support for a national popular vote is strong among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group in virtually every state surveyed in recent polls in closely divided Battleground states: CO - 68%, FL - 78%, IA 75%, MI - 73%, MO - 70%, NH - 69%, NV - 72%, NM-- 76%, NC - 74%, OH - 70%, PA - 78%, VA - 74%, and WI - 71%; in Small states (3 to 5 electoral votes): AK - 70%, DC - 76%, DE - 75%, ID - 77%, ME - 77%, MT - 72%, NE 74%, NH - 69%, NV - 72%, NM - 76%, OK - 81%, RI - 74%, SD - 71%, UT - 70%, VT - 75%, WV - 81%, and WY - 69%; in Southern and Border states: AR - 80%,, KY- 80%, MS - 77%, MO - 70%, NC - 74%, OK - 81%, SC - 71%, TN - 83%, VA - 74%, and WV - 81%; and in other states polled: CA - 70%, CT - 74%, MA - 73%, MN - 75%, NY - 79%, OR - 76%, and WA - 77%. Americans believe that the candidate who receives the most votes should win.



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