July 9, 2007

Popular Vote and the World Series

Marc Comtois

Ian Donnis over at N4N invokes the Supreme Court "giving" the election to George W. Bush in 2000 as a lead-in to the National Popular Vote movement. Both Andrew and I have posted about this before. Here's a baseball analogy just for Ian, via a Bruce Bartlett piece from 2000:

It will be as if we changed the World Series from a system in which a team must win 4 games to one in which the total number of runs in all games played determines victory. As recently as 1997, a popular vote-type system for the World Series would have switched the winner from the Florida Marlins to the Cleveland Indians. Although Florida won 4 games to Cleveland's 3, Cleveland scored 44 total runs in the 7 games played to Florida's 37.
Hey, just having fun. I'm sure someone could liken it to the Superbowl instead.

Oh, one other thing: why does Common Cause (national) like this idea while the RI chapter doesn't support another popular vote driven reform, voter initiative? Aren't they both "popular" democracy in action?

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re: baseball series - in the 2004 ALCS, the Yanks outscored the Sox in total runs also.
The Constitution defines a republic, not a pure democracy.
I like the Electoral College because it acts as a firebreak against vote fraud. In a pure popular vote system, how many graveyards - from Montana to Ohio - would Chicago's Daley machine have voted in the 1960 election?
When the politicians are ready to root out vote fraud, then I'll listen to proposals.

Posted by: chuckR at July 9, 2007 10:43 PM

Dear Chuck,

Our side turns out dead folks;

Your side either scares away or out and out pays live folks not to show up.

It all evens out in the end.

Posted by: Bobby Oliveira at July 9, 2007 11:04 PM

Funny. Every election I remember there have been union thugs out front. And I don't think they're rooting for our team.

I'm sure they're just there to get the door for the old ladies.

Posted by: Greg at July 9, 2007 11:21 PM

A national popular vote for President would change the way the game is played. You know what, that's all right with me. My vote for Bush was meaningless. Actually it was worse, it essentially counted for Kerry.

A national popular vote means that candidates would actually compete for every vote. Whole states, like Rhode Island, could not be written off simply because they are "safe" for one party or the other. Collecting the most votes should matter (as it does in every other election), not winning individual states.

The founding fathers were right about many things. However, in this day and age, a national popular vote for President makes sense.

Posted by: Lars at July 10, 2007 12:25 AM

A national popular vote means that candidates would actually compete for every vote. Whole states, like Rhode Island, could not be written off simply because they are "safe" for one party or the other.

You're kidding me, right? You seriously believe this.

The only places to ever SEE the candidates in a popular election will be New York, California, Texas, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Michigan, Georgia....

Well, you get the idea. I hope. The exact worst-nightmare scenario envisioned by the Founders will come true for no other reason than American liberals being sore losers when they can't outflank the Constitution.

Posted by: Brian at July 10, 2007 1:28 AM

"Oh, one other thing: why does Common Cause (national) like this idea while the RI chapter doesn't support another popular vote driven reform, voter initiative?"


Posted by: SusanD at July 10, 2007 7:02 AM

Liberals always wanting to change the rules speaks to their lack of ideas and bankrupt ideology. Whether it's the Fairness Doctrine re: the media or the National Popular Vote movement it's always about liberals needing to rig the game because they can't win it on their own merits.

Posted by: Tim at July 10, 2007 7:30 AM

One question for the "popular vote" presidential selection crowd:

Would the winner need a majority to be elected?

If so, wouldn't there have to be a runoff?

Go back to 1992 and remember that Clinton did not win a majority . . . would he have prevailed in a runoff without Perot in the race?

Posted by: brassband at July 10, 2007 8:44 AM

The whole 2000 race "debate" is stupid. Bush won, Gore lost. The New York Times conducted its own full manual recount after the Supreme Court decision and found that yes, Bush won.

So now some people start talking about how the process should be changed--Gore lost, we should have been basing the outcome on popular vote.

We live in a REPUBLIC. It was designed to be a republic.

When Clinton became president with under 50% of the vote (and far fewer votes than Bush received), I didn't hear Republicans saying "he's not our president, we should have a run-off between the top two vote getters so that we know a majority of Americans want Clinton as president."

Posted by: Anthony at July 10, 2007 10:05 AM

Someone should ask that Democrat shill Ian Donnis if he supports voter initiative or not.

Posted by: Stewart at July 10, 2007 10:32 AM

Under a national popular vote system, every vote is of equal value. This is not the case now. Any candidate with half a brain would rather have a vote in a battleground state like Ohio than a safe state like Rhode Island. If every vote is equally valuable to a candidate, then they will all be competed for equally. Sure there are more votes to be had in big states, but they are also more expensive to get. Also it helps if you actually do the math.

If any candidate only concentrated on the big states (the same holds true for big cities) they would never receive enough votes to win. Generally speaking (Mass and Texas being the major exceptions) the big states are divided 55-45 or closer. Campaigning hard in those states isn't going to change that ratio much. Frankly, I don’t care if we “see” a candidate or not. If they have to campaign in Rhode Island, even in the form of advertisements, that’s more than we get now.

Aren’t you sick of your vote in presidential campaigns being irrelevant? Don’t kid yourself; votes in Rhode Island don’t matter. This isn’t because we’re a small state, it’s because we’re a safe state. My vote will actually count for my candidate under a national popular vote.
they will all be competed for eqaually.

Posted by: Lars at July 10, 2007 10:46 AM

I know that Bush won the election in 2000 . . . I voted for him. I voted for him again in 2004. Just because we've been successful under the current system doesn't mean we shouldn't consider ways to improve it. Bush won the popular vote in 2004 by more than 3.5 million. What's to fear?

This is one of the things that drives me nuts about some conservatives. Conservatism for me is not about knee-jerk resistance or opposition to change. Conservatism is a philosophy of smaller government, fiscal responsibility, self reliance, etc. In addition to being a conservative, I also believe in Democracy. For too long the Democratic elitists have tried to tell the country what's right and wrong. The true voice of the people is a Republican voice. We should embrace it.

Posted by: Lars at July 10, 2007 10:59 AM

Bobby O. - I specifically didn't "assign" vote fraud to one side or another. The only thing I trust is distrust itself.

Lars - RI has 1/250th the population of the US. In a one year campaign, you get a day. Why would that change with direct popular vote?

Posted by: chuckR at July 10, 2007 11:17 AM

A quick point to add some fuel, though I've discussed this in a previous post. Under a nat.pop.vote, wouldn't it behoove candidates to concentrate on the places where they can get the most bang for their advertising buck? That means cities or high population density areas. This actually supports the idea that Rhode Island would be more attractive. But places like Maine (other than Portland) or either of the Dakota's or Montana--again, except for the highest population centers--would be rendered even more irrelevant. Perhaps the biggest problem would be that candidates would tweak their message to address the concerns of the "city" over those of the "country". After all, that's where most of the voters are.

The system was designed so that a president would be elected who would appeal to both a broad population base and a broad base of local or regional interests. It's that latter that I believe would be subsumed in the rush to make "every vote count." (As if it doesn't now...)

Posted by: Marc Comtois at July 10, 2007 11:59 AM

Marc - Candidates would want the most "advertising bang for their buck." Guess what? Rhode Island has one of the cheapest media markets that reaches all of RI and SE Mass. We would see 10x the attention if it was a national race decided on the final vote tally instead of the stupid electoral college.

And the baseball analogy is stupid as well. The current system is like the winner of the game being decided by how many innings each team won instead of the final score! Let's use the final score people - the national popular vote!

Posted by: Matt Jerzyk at July 10, 2007 2:34 PM

Perhaps the biggest problem would be that candidates would tweak their message to address the concerns of the "city" over those of the "country".

This is EXACTLY what liberals want. "The country" populations are more likely to be conservative. The further away liberals can push the heartland's influence, they figure, the better off the race-baiting, handout-doling liberal candidates will be.

Posted by: Brian at July 10, 2007 3:07 PM

Governors and U.S. Senators are elected state-wide with popular vote.

Wouldn't it be fairly simple to analyze two or three very large states with multiple media markets (i.e. California, NY, Texas) to see how statewide races work there? Do the candidates in those states stay in the large urban areas, or do they also visit the rural counties?

It would be an imperfect, but useful, way to predict how such a nationwide popular vote might work.

Posted by: brassband at July 10, 2007 3:10 PM

Matt, that's why I said a superbowl analogy could work to. I was just having fun based on Ian's love of baseball.

I also think it would benefit RI because of our population density. But what is good for RI ain't necessarily what is good for the rest of the nation.

Posted by: Marc Comtois at July 10, 2007 3:12 PM

I asked a politically active friend in California. Turns out that 3 of the last 4 Governors were Republican and all of them were elected without doing well in the urban centers and media markets of LA and the Bay Area. The same pattern holds true for Governors in other states.

Also, if you look at presidential campaigns in battleground states where candidates compete for every vote, you’ll see that they just don’t campaign in big cities. Bush won Ohio without winning the cities.

A national popular vote would not only benefit RI, but frankly, any state that is currently a “safe” state. Presidential campaigns only pay attention to the 6-10 battleground states and size doesn’t matter. They pay a tremendous amount of attention to New Hampshire, a small state, but ignore bigger states like Texas, California, Georgia, etc. They ignore Idaho not because it’s a small state, but because it’s safe.

Posted by: Lars at July 12, 2007 9:04 PM
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