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Here's the two big problems with the National Popular Vote:

(1) "it's already half-way to completion". Yes with all blue states. Basically changing the system will favor one party. The other party will not favor it meaning you lose 1/4 to 1/3 of the states. And you lose another 1/4 to 1/3 of states because swing states will also not favor it (they would stand to lose billions in advertising). So this sort of coalition will tend to always be stuck around 1/2 to 2/3 of where it needs to get to.

(2) "without any need for a Constitutional amendment" Technically yes you don't but then you're depending on the goodwill of other states. If some state doesn't like the way the election is going to turn out they can bust the coalition by changing their participation at the last moment. That's a recipe for disaster, the rules for the election should be as clear and open as possible as far in advance as possible.




> Basically changing the system will favor one party.

What it will do is favor states that aren't swing states. Which is the large majority of both states and electoral votes. Texas would be a huge winner in a transition to the popular vote because it has so many people in it, and is currently almost completely ignored in Presidential politics. Most of the South is in the same boat.

And as I'm looking at the map right now, let me point out something extraordinarily dangerous about the current system: Florida has the largest number of electoral votes of all the swing states, and demographically it's full of retirees who don't live in the same zip code as their children or grandchildren.

Even if you're an arch conservative cotton farmer in Alabama, how does it help you that decisions about whether we send your children to college or to war are unjustifiably disproportionately influenced by a bunch of retired Giuliani-era East Coast elites with no connection to the future? Wouldn't you at least want to be able to cast your own vote and have it mean something, rather than blindly assuming that newly Floridian retired state employees from Jersey and Queens will necessarily have interests that coincide with your own?


"What it will do is favor states that aren't swing states."

I think I said that. That's not the only thing it does. When it comes to Texas there's the idea that they might get a bigger share of the ad cash but this is in conflict with generally worse chances for the GOP candidates.

A better idea for a red state looking for ad cash would be to team up with one or more blue states of similar total size and move to an honest proportional EV system. The cash wouldn't be diluted as much either (at least initially).

By 'honest' I mean not the sorts of hijinks the GOP is trying out in VA (and elsewhere) where Obama would win the state vote and lose 2/3 of the electors. The problem there again is sooner or later some state get's kingmaker power by changing back to plurality = all evs.


>When it comes to Texas there's the idea that they might get a bigger share of the ad cash but this is in conflict with generally worse chances for the GOP candidates.

Again, it's not about parties, it's about policies. The long-term average will always be for each major party to win about half the time because if they don't they'll change their policies until they do. The question is what policies they'll adopt in order to do it -- and if your vote doesn't count, whether you're Texas or New York, your voice isn't the ones they'll be listening to when deciding what policies to adopt. What good does it do a Texas social conservative to elect a GOP candidate like Mitt Romney?


"What good does it do a Texas social conservative to elect a GOP candidate like Mitt Romney?"

I'm not sure what your point is. Where he differs from Obama, Romney's positions are nigh-universally closer to those of Texas social conservatives aren't they? What is the biggest issue for Texas social conservatives? Abortion? What office that a Texas social conservative votes for has more impact on the future of this issue than POTUS? Would Romney's Supreme Court nominees presumably be better or worse than Obama's from the POV of Texas social conservatives?


Basically changing the system will favor one party.

Temporarily.

Demographically, the USA is transitioning to a Democratic super majority every where but in the US House (because of gerrymandering).

Long term, the parties will realign along the new normal, as the country moves back to the left.

The reason is Duverger's Law. With winner takes all form of elections, the political spectrum will always split into two parties, as each tries to attain the smallest winning coalition.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duvergers_law

In other words, no matter how big the pie, it's always split in two.

(The parties might even switch "polarities", for lack of a better word. As they've done approx every 70 years for the first 229 years. Seeing how conservative Democrats have become, there's a huge void in the political left. It's be easy for a reborn Republican party to reinvent itself to fill that void.)


"Temporarily."

Yes but at any given point in time it's always the case that change X will generally favor party Y and party Y's states aren't going to favor for change X. They won't vote for it and if they previously had that is likely to be undone.


Absolutely. Every change picks winners and losers.

That's the story of politics. The electioneering never stops.

The last 16 years (to pick a time frame) Republicans have been masterful at moving the needle to favor them. And it's worked. They punch way above their weight. But a correction is inevitable. And it'll hurt.

Just like how the left peaked in the mid 70s, kept power for a while longer than the country supported them, and then had their teeth kicked in.

But what rubs me about all the electioneering is the emphasis on the mechanics. There is a third player: the voters. Fair redistricting, publicly financed campaigns, universal voter registration, etc. would all favor voters and piss of the political parties. Because the candidates would have to focus more on platform and policy, less on GOTV.


I know I'm starting to sound like a broken record, but look, just read the site.

http://www.nationalpopularvote.com/pages/answers.php

MYTH: A national popular vote would undermine a partisan advantage in favor of the Republican Party in the small states.

The small state issue sometimes serves as a surrogate for the unstated political concern (and misconception) that the small states confer a partisan advantage in favor of the Republican Party. However, this belief does not reflect current political reality. In the last six presidential elections (1988 through 2008), six of the 13 least populous states have regularly gone Republican (Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota), while six others (Hawaii, Vermont, Maine, Rhode Island, Delaware, and the District of Columbia) have regularly gone Democratic. New Hampshire has been, in recent years, the one closely divided battleground state among the 13 smallest states (having supported the Democrat in 1992 and 1996, the Republican in 2000, and the Democrat in 2004 and 2008).

http://www.nationalpopularvote.com/resources/Withdrawal-V6-2...

  An attempt to change the “rules of the game” contrary to clause 2 of Article IV  
    ● would violate the Impairments Clause of the U.S. Constitution and be void; 
    ● would violate existing federal law specifying that presidential electors may only 
      be appointed on one specific day in  every four-year period, namely the Tuesday 
      after the first Monday in November (i.e., election day);  
    ● would invalidate the “conclusiveness”  of that state’s results under  existing 
      federal law specifying that presidential electors must be appointed under 
      “laws enacted prior” to the Tuesday after the first Monday in November;
    [et al]


Regarding withdrawl: most of what you're quoting assumes I'm talking about changing the process after election day. I'm not. I'm talking about the entire electoral process being subject to one state deciding on July 19 to leave the coalition. So yes as said earlier it's possible without a constitutional amendment but I don't have great hopes for such a system. help

"MYTH: A national popular vote would undermine a partisan advantage in favor of the Republican Party in the small states.

... In the last six presidential elections (1988 through 2008), six of the 13 least populous states."

Obviously they're cherry picking here and framing their argument and "myth" around the statistic that looks the closest. What if we look at the biggest states? What if we look at the smallest 8 or 16 or 22 instead of 13?

What if we did something simple and honest and looked at the percentage of votes (or possible voters) of all states vs the percentage of electoral votes of all states? Going back to 2000 for a basically tied election we find that 31 states gain via the electoral college, 6 of them are purplish (<10%), 7 are blue and 19 are red states. If we weight by eligible voting population I suspect it's even worse.


>Going back to 2000 for a basically tied election we find that 31 states gain via the electoral college, 6 of them are purplish (<10%), 7 are blue and 19 are red states.

You're assuming that what matters is which party wins rather than how the voters influence what the parties do. There is a reason that Floridians got Medicare Part D and Ohioans got the auto bailout but Monsanto continues to be allowed to rape family farmers in all the deep red states.


"Ohioans got the auto bailout"

And Michigan? I think it borders on conspiracy theory to suggest that, on the precipice of a large depression, no bailout would have been issued to save a 3 million job industry had those jobs been centered in red states.

"family farmers in all the deep red states"

There are no family farmers anymore. Let me rephrase that, there are almost no family farmers anymore. This has nothing to do with them being from red states (trust me, farmers in Hawaii get screwed by Monsanto just like everywhere else) and everything to do with there not being many of them.


>And Michigan? I think it borders on conspiracy theory to suggest that, on the precipice of a large depression, no bailout would have been issued to save a 3 million job industry had those jobs been centered in red states.

Michigan is a swing state too. And the auto industry didn't fail because of the recession. The recession was just the last straw. They've been slowly dying for decades as a result of strong competition from foreign competitors. But that's the case across all traditional manufacturing industries. Why did we bail out General Motors but not any of the companies that used to make all the Walmart inventory that now comes from China?

>There are no family farmers anymore.

Because the Department of Agriculture and the president's veto pen had no incentive to care when they were being destroyed.


"And the auto industry didn't fail because of the recession."

Never said it did.

"Why did we bail out General Motors but not any of the companies that used to make all the Walmart inventory that now comes from China?"

I already explained because the auto collapse came as we were staring down the barrel of a huge depression. It would have been a devastating shock to the economy to have an industry of that size collapsing suddenly added to the other problems.


As to 1)...

Actually, at least in the USA's current configuration, the electoral college appears to favor Democrats. A tie or small Romney win in the national popular vote, for instance, would have more likely than not equated to an Obama win.

I think it's genuinely about ideology, here: favoring the will of the people over the historically contingent existence of the electoral college is making a kind of ideological statement. The kind that appeals to many liberals and is a turn-off to conservatives.


"the electoral college appears to favor Democrats."

The electoral college has several distortions. The big one and it's raison d'etre is that it distributes power towards rural states and away from population centers. There's little question which party that favors.

Now it's certainly possible that Romney could have won the popular vote and lost the electoral college due to the first past the post distortion that dilutes big majorities. But that really says more about the relative competence of the two campaigns then it does about whether the electoral college structurally favors the Democrats. Romney clearly needed to run quite a bit farther to the middle than he did.


Actually a far bigger issue is that the electoral college amplifies the leanings of states that are well balanced. That's why your vote is worth far more if you live in a state like florida or ohio than if you live in new york or texas.


"a far bigger issue "

One way to evaluate claims like these is by looking at an extreme comparison:

Alternate World 1: red states are split into mini-versions of themselves the size of a single CD, a more than doubling of their electoral value. Ignoring effects on the Senate of course, this is just a test of POTUS electoral procedure.

Alternate World 2: 25 very red and 25 very blue states of combined identical population are subject to the whims of a single swing district that is right in the middle of the spectrum.

It should be obvious that the sorts of presidents you get in world 2 look a lot more like those in popular vote world than the ones you'd get in world 1. Actually we might expect that the liberal candidates in world 1 are nearly to the right of the conservative candidates in world 2.


the electoral college appears to favor Democrats. A tie or small Romney win in the national popular vote, for instance, would have more likely than not equated to an Obama win

Do you remember the year 2000 at all?


Yes, having been involved in it. Key phrase in my comment: the United States in its current configuration. Which is true: in Nate Silver's models, for instance, the probability that Obama would win the EC was always a good bit higher than the probability he would win the popular vote. He ended up winning both, but it needn't be so.

It comes down to the fact that anti-Obama voters were wasted in very red states that Romney had zero chance of losing, while Obama's popular support was better distributed among both blue and swing states.




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