Saturday, October 27, 2012

What do a Platypus and the Electoral College have in common? See here short explanation of what happens in the event of a tie in the Presidential Election.

....when you look at a Platypus and the Electoral College system of electing a President you get the same reaction---You don't really know if they are real, you are not sure what you are looking at and the parts don't seem to fit together.

It is statistically possible for neither President Obama or Mitt Romney to get the necessary 270 electoral college votes to obtain the Presidency.  BOTH could end up with 269! It is not likely BUT possible with such a close race.

Here is what would happen if this were to happen:

1. The election of the President would then take place in the House of Representatives. 

2. Each State would have ONE vote for President according to which Party (Democrat or Republican) has the MOST number of Members of the House in that State.  Example: Texas has a total of 36 members in the House---Currently 24 of those are Republican and 11 are Democrats (there is one toss-up State--not enough to make a difference)  Texas would cast its vote for Romney, no doubt.  California has a total of 52 members in the House---Currently 35 of those are Democrats and 15 are Republicans (2 toss ups---again not enough to make a difference).  California would cast its vote for Obama, no doubt.  So on and so forth through the 50 States.

3. According to Larry Sabato's "Crystal Ball" website, the Republicans are in pretty solid control of 29 States and the Democrats are in solid control of 15 States and 6 are toss ups and too close to call. 

4. If all of the 50 States representatives showed up to vote a simple majority (26) vote would determine the President. If the Republicans have 29 votes, then no doubt Mitt Romney would win, right??

5. Hold on a minute.  The Constitution requires AT LEAST 2/3 of the States show up to vote. Which means a minimum of 35 States have to be present for a vote to even occur and 15 could not show up at all.

6. If all the Republican States showed up that would be 29---SIX SHORT of the quorum!  Democrats could boycott the process.  The Republicans would need either (1) for 6 Democrats to show up or (2) win ALL majorities in the 6 remaining States that "Crystal Ball" says are toss ups. This seems unlikely. 

7. If those 6 Democrats did not show up then no quorum and no immediate election of a President.

8.  Does it stop there? No, the process evolves to another layer of steps but I am getting "tired-head" trying to follow the numbers so I will stop there. 

Any questions??

Here is an excellent video illustrating what I spoke of here PLUS additional analysis.  Again, SO MANY layers and odd pieces to fit together. 

You know, like a Platypus...

Thanks to Andrew Monrreal for this link!!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

"Why I Love the Electoral College"---A defense of a much maligned part of the US Constitution. Not to be missed if you are interested in this topic!

Garrent Jones at Econlog gives a defense of the Electoral College, something we don't see enough as of late.  I have never been in favor of changing the Constitution without a lot of introspection.

He explains some of the benefits of the E.C. that I never really thought about.  It is very short and concise...

Why I Love the Electoral College

There's some evidence that democracy itself makes people happier, but largely I see democracy as a means to an end. One among those ends is "reducing social conflict." 
The electoral college, set forth in the U.S. Constitution, is a great tool for reducing social conflict across regions of the United States. You might think that's a crazy claim--don't we see maps of red and blue, and aren't the red places--the places supporting the Republican--mostly in the South and Midwest? Indeed, and that pattern across regions is key to explaining how the electoral college defuses some social tension. 
As it stands now, the states implicitly vote for the President. Each state is granted a number of electors (equal to the number of House members plus Senators), so populous states states get more weight. In almost every state, every single elector votes for the candidate who wins the plurality of that state's popular vote. 
That means candidates only care about winning a plurality of the votes in each state---winning California by one vote is just as good as winning by two million. Of course, there's always some uncertainty about how things will turn out, so candidates love a cushion, but it's safe to say that if your state is polling 65% for a particular presidential candidate, neither candidate is likely to campaign there any time soon.
And that's great news for social peace. We rarely hear too much about regional issues in the U.S. other than farmers vs. everyone else. But if the presidency was decided by majority rule, I'm sure we'd hear a lot more about regional differences. Could a presidential candidate get 75% of the votes in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida by promising broad-based Gulf Coast subsidies and a few other goodies? Could a candidate get 85% of California's and New York's votes partly by offering housing subsidies for people facing high housing costs?
I don't know: But if we got rid of the electoral college and had a popularly elected president we'd sure have a chance to find out.
As it stands, presidential candidates are trying to appeal to the median voter in each state across a large number of states. That's how you get to be president. This reduces regional tensions because candidates are never trying to get 90% of the votes in a state. When you're pitting 90% of one region of the country against 90% of another region of the country, you're substantially raising the probability of social conflict.
Too many civil wars are based on regional differences for this to be no big deal. And you don't need to get to the point of civil war to get bad outcomes--mere regional transfer programs, switching across regions every four or eight years, would be quite bad enough.
Right now, U.S. presidential candidates have zero interest in winning 100% of a state's votes. But I'm guessing the campaign consultants could find some underexplored regional tensions if the incentives were right.
Here's hoping they don't get that opportunity.
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