Electoral College

I'm sure most of you understand how the electoral college works, but just in case, here it is in a nut shell.  If you know this already then skip to the next paragraph.  Unfortunately we do not live in a true democracy, but a represenative democracy.  We elect officials to represent us, then they go to congress and vote on legislation on our behalf.  During a presidential election, each state's party gets to select a number of members in the electoral college to represent them based on the number of congress members that state has.  Every state has two members in the Senate, making for 100 senators, and each state's number of represenatives varies, and is based on the population of that state.  This is why states with low populations like Montana and Vermont only have 3 electorial votes (Two Senators, One Represenative), and other states have many, like California (Two Senators, Fifty-Three Represenatives).  Keep in mind, congress members are not the electorial college.  The electorial college is made up of people selected by the Democratic and Republican parties to represent their vote, if their respective candidate wins that state.  For example, if McCain carries Indiana, then he will get all 11 electoral votes for that state, and 11 Republicans selected by their party will travel to Washington to vote for their candidate, even though he only won the state by 3%.  If Obama were to win that state, then 11 Democrats would go to Washington, instead of the 11 Republicans.  My old man was selected to be a member of the electorial college in 1984, that year he helped organize Martha Lane Collins' campaign for Governor in KY, and once she was elected, her party picked him to be one of the 8 voters to go to Washington on behalf of the people.  He never got to go though, because Regan won the state of KY and 8 Republicans cast their votes instead. 


If the election were held today according to the most recent polls, Obama would win by 8 electorial votes.  That's a very narrow margin considering there are 538 total electorial votes at stake.  In order for a candidate to win the Presidency, he has to nail down 270 electorial votes.  Going strictly off the polls, it's 273 Obama to 265 McCain.  Right now, it's pretty much up to 10 states to decide the election, namely Colorado(9), Ohio(20), Michigan(17), Virginia (13), Pennsylvania(21), Nevada(5), Minnesota(10), Wisconson(10), Indiana(11), and New Hampshire(4). In each of these states the candidates have less than a 4% lead in either direction.  In New Hampshire, Obama is ahead by 3.3%, but that could easily change.  If New Hampshire were to flip to the McCain side, and all other states stayed the way they are now, then we would have a very interesting situation;  an Electoral Tie with 269 apiece.

What happens in a tie?  It goes to the House of Represenatives.  Each state's represenatives gather and vote among themselves for a candidate, then whoever wins that state gets ONE VOTE from that state.  For example, in Arkansas, a state McCain is leading by 16%, has 3 Democrat represenatives, and 1 Republican represenative.  Those four would get together and vote.  The Dems would win, and Arkansas submits ONE vote for Obama, thus turning a Red State into a Blue State.  There are 50 votes for 50 states.  Since there is currently a Democratic majority in congress, Obama would mostly likely win in the even of a tie.

Now what if this happened?  Say McCain is leading in the popular vote nationally, but New Hampshire flips, and we have an Electoral Tie, that goes to the house, and Obama wins the election.  Would the Republicans still champion the Electoral College system the way they did in 2000 when Bush lost the popular vote, yet won the election?  Or would they lament the way the Dems did in 2000 that the system is an old archaic system that does not truly reflect the voice of the people?  If that scenerio were to unfold, I'm sure a few Dems out there would savor it as a payback of sorts.

Uploaded 09/20/2008
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