Monday, October 29, 2012

Why We Still Need the Electoral College

By Kevin Price

The United States Constitution was made by the states, for the states. It is designed to not only create a more efficient federal government, but to also protect the interest of the states. The government's Archives' website describes the Electoral College as "a compromise between election of the president by Congress and election by popular vote." Maybe, but the bigger reason is that the founders wanted each state to have a voice in elections.

Each state has a certain number of Electors. The votes are a combination of the number of US House members a state has and their number of Senators (always two). This means that even one of the smallest states, like Vermont, has at least 3 Electoral votes (it has one Congressman and two Senators). Meanwhile the largest state (California) has 55 Electoral votes (two Senators, 53 House members). Vermont's population is only 621,000, while California has over 36 million. Mathematically, California is 57 times larger than Vermont. However, it is only 18 times more powerful in the Electoral College. It is designed to make sure that Vermont and all the other smaller states have political influence.

Because of the Electoral College, a presidential candidate must garner a minimum of 270 votes in order to win. It takes a minimum of 11 states to win the White House, thanks to the Electoral College. If it were pure popular vote, the voice of most of the states would not be heard. In fact, without the Electoral College several cities would only have a voice. In 2008, for example, 138 million voted for President. In fact, urban areas would be the only ones that would matter to presidential candidates.

Advertising is, without question, one of the single biggest costs of running for office. Advertising in cities is expensive, but nationwide it is outrageous and the cost per vote in big cities is a fraction of what it is when you are trying to reach every state. With that, urban areas will be the only ones that matter to presidential candidates. The needs of entire states and regions outside urban areas would be of little consequences.

Interestingly, with the exception of a few major urban areas, the vast majority of big cities vote for candidates that support larger government, less individual responsibility, and with disregard for economic growth. The death of the Electoral College would lead to the demise of liberty.

Now opponents of the Electoral College are complaining that the argument that all states deserve the attention of candidates is moot, since over 90 percent of all general election dollars are only spent on "swing states." These are states that are "too close to call" and politicians are putting almost all of their energies there. What the opponents are missing, is where those "swing states" are.

The swing states are as follows:

States Obama Romney Obama Romney
Colo. 47.7% 47.9% 0 9
Fla. 46.7% 48.8% 0 29
Iowa 49.0% 46.6% 6 0
Nev. 49.0% 46.0% 6 0
N.H. 47.8% 48.8% 0 4
N.C. 44.7% 50.3% 0 15
Ohio 48.1% 46.0% 18 0
Va. 48.0% 48.0% 0 13
Wis. 49.8% 47.0% 10 0
Swing-State Votes 40 70
Leaning/Likely State Votes 237 191
Total Overall Votes 277 261

When you look at this list, you see several small states on it. States that, without an Electoral College, would be totally ignored. Very small states like New Hampshire, Iowa, and Nevada would be completely ignored without the Electoral College.

There is not an electoral scenario that doesn't make an eloquent case for an Electoral College. That includes the "swing state" situation because tiny little states like New Hampshire only matters because they are in contention and the Electoral votes make them "matter."

Kevin Price
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