Friday, April 02, 2010

Deep thought on opinion poll democracy

If Republicans think it's illegitimate for Democrats to have passed health care reform over contrary poll numbers, will they agree that Bush was an illegitimate president when 500,000 more voters chose Gore instead?

(My opinion:  the Bushian illegitimacy comes from the shenanigans to keep black voters, including non-felons, off voter rolls in Florida, and not from losing the popular vote.  Our nation's electoral college system is the one we've chosen, just like our system of representative government that's not decided on polling survey numbers.)


  1. Bush was a terrible president, but his election was no less legitimate than any other. What it was, was *close*. Close enough that it could have gone either way.

    A republican would probably note that there were similar "shenanigans" on the other side in the form of attempts to keep military votes from being counted. here's a link.

  2. Hi Glen - I don't think the military deliberately delayed ballots to soldiers, unlike what Florida Republicans did to strike African American names from the voter rolls.

    The election in Florida (ignoring the registration issue) was a statistical tie, but the national election wasn't according to the metric the R's want to use today on health care. Gore won.

  3. Anonymous9:48 AM

    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. Candidates would need to care about voters across the nation, not just undecided voters in a handful of swing states.

    The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes--that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    The bill uses the power given to each state by the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for president. The National Popular Vote bill does not try to abolish the Electoral College, which would need a constitutional amendment, and could be stopped by states with as little as 3% of the U.S. population. Historically, virtually all of the major changes in the method of electing the President (for example, ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote) have come about without federal constitutional amendments, by state legislative action.

    The bill is currently endorsed by over 1,707 state legislators (in 48 states) who have sponsored and/or cast recorded votes in favor of the bill.

    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). The recent Washington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University poll shows 72% support for direct nationwide election of the President. Support for a national popular vote is strong in virtually every state, partisan, and demographic group surveyed in recent polls in closely divided battleground states: Colorado-- 68%, Iowa --75%, Michigan-- 73%, Missouri-- 70%, New Hampshire-- 69%, Nevada-- 72%, New Mexico-- 76%, North Carolina-- 74%, Ohio-- 70%, Pennsylvania -- 78%, Virginia -- 74%, and Wisconsin -- 71%; in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): Alaska – 70%, DC – 76%, Delaware --75%, Maine -- 77%, Nebraska -- 74%, New Hampshire --69%, Nevada -- 72%, New Mexico -- 76%, Rhode Island -- 74%, and Vermont -- 75%; in Southern and border states: Arkansas --80%, Kentucky -- 80%, Mississippi --77%, Missouri -- 70%, North Carolina -- 74%, and Virginia -- 74%; and in other states polled: California -- 70%, Connecticut -- 74% , Massachusetts -- 73%, Minnesota – 75%, New York -- 79%, Washington -- 77%, and West Virginia- 81%.

    The National Popular Vote bill has passed 29 state legislative chambers, in 19 small, medium-small, medium, and large states, including one house in Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Oregon, and both houses in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. The bill has been enacted by Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, and Washington. These five states possess 61 electoral votes -- 23% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.


  4. Anonymous9:54 AM

    The normal process of effecting change in the method of electing the President is action by the state legislatures. This is how the current system was created, and this is the built-in method that the Constitution provides for making changes.

    The Founding Fathers said in the U.S. Constitution, "Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors . . ." The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly characterized the authority of the state legislatures over the manner of awarding their electoral votes as "plenary" and "exclusive."

    Historically, virtually all of the previous major changes in the method of electing the President have come about by state legislative action. For example, the people had no vote for President in most states in the nation's first election in 1789. In 1789, it was necessary to own a substantial amount of property in order to vote; however, as a result of changes in state laws, there are now no property requirements for voting in any state. However, nowadays, as a result of changes in the state laws governing the appointment of presidential electors, the people have the right to vote for presidential electors in 100% of the states.

    In 1789, only 3 states used the winner-take-all rule (awarding all of a state's electoral vote to the candidate who gets the most votes in the state). However, as a result of changes in state laws, the winner-take-all rule is now currently used by 48 of the 50 states.

    In other words, neither of the two most important features of the current system of electing the President (namely, that the voters may vote and the winner-take-all rule) are in the U.S. Constitution. Neither was the choice of the Founders when they went back to their states to organize the nation's first presidential election.

  5. Our Constitution was a bit of kludge to begin with, and has become more kludgy over time because it's so difficult to amend, so fixes rarely get through, and the fixes don't always work. Same thing with our other fixes like using the Electoral College as a really bad way to get a popular vote - it's just been too hard to amend the Constitution, so we come up with something else that usually works, but not always.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.