Friday, November 30, 2012

Electoral College

Richard Posner on why the Electoral College is worth keeping.  Excerpt:

There are five reasons for retaining the Electoral College despite its lack of democratic pedigree; all are practical reasons, not liberal or conservative reasons...[I]f the difference in the popular vote is small, then if the winner of the popular vote were deemed the winner of the presidential election, candidates would have an incentive to seek a recount in any state...[A] solid regional favorite, such as Romney was in the South, has no incentive to campaign heavily in those states...Voters in toss-up states...are likely to be the most thoughtful voters, on average (and for the further reason that they will have received the most information and attention from the candidates), and the most thoughtful voters should be the ones to decide the election...The Electoral College restores some of the weight in the political balance that large states (by population) lose by virtue of the mal-apportionment of the Senate decreed in the Constitution [because] winner-take-all makes a slight increase in the popular vote have a much bigger electoral-vote payoff in a large state than in a small one...The Electoral College avoids the problem of elections in which no candidate receives a majority of the votes cast.


Nod to Kevin Lewis


Anonymous said...

He says voters in swing states are more informed because they receive more attention from the candidates. LOL!!

Dirty Davey said...

He misses my favorite reason--the EC gives strongly one-party states no incentive to inflate the popular vote totals for their favored candidate.

For example, Republicans are sufficiently few and far between in Washington DC that it wouldn't be a stretch to think the city administration could add fifty thousand D votes to its totals without anyone catching on. Right now that would have zero effect on the overall outcome--but if the popular vote was what mattered, it would offset fifty thousand legitimate R votes cast elsewhere.

My guess would be that there are relatively few states where (a) one party is sufficiently dominant to fudge the election results without oversight, AND (2) the state's voters are so closely divided that the dominant party can change the statewide winner.

Basically, the electoral college provides a firewall limiting the ability of state-level corruption to offset results from the rest of the country.

Christoph said...

Dirty Davie's argument is way more convincing than all of Posner's combined.

Anonymous said...

Gotta admit, Dirty Davy is not only cute, he's also smart!

I shudder to think how many Oklahomans would "vote" Republican without the electoral college. Dead people, immigrants....there might be 50 million R votes in Okalhoma.