The United States has a federal government for a reason. The government is constructed in such a way that the majority doesn't get whatever it wants, if that majority isn't broadly representative of America as a whole.
In particular, the Electoral College ensures presidential candidates must appeal to a wide variety of people, from across multiple regions of America - instead of just focusing on running up the totals in large cities, which is what would happen if the Electoral College didn't exist. In the last election both political parties had to pay attention to the entirety of the electorate, from every county, in states as diverse as Florida, Ohio, Virginia, and Nevada.
You could do America a favor by calling your state representatives and telling them what a goofy idea this is.
MYTH: Candidates would "fly over" most of the country under a national popular vote.
This criticism applies to the current system of electing the President—not a national popular vote.
Under the current system, two-thirds of the states are indeed "fly-over" country. In 2004, the presidential candidates concentrated two-thirds of their campaign visits and money in just five states, 80% in just nine states, and 99% of their money in just 16 states. As early as the spring of 2008, the major political parties acknowledged that there would be only 14 battleground states in 2008. In 2008, candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their campaign events and ad money in just states, and 98% in just 15 states.
I did read the site, and I am exactly right. You just don't understand the point I'm making.
Where did the candidates go in the states they did visit? Did they just stick to the cities, or did they go talk to people in small communities? Did they decide that they could get by with only one type of person, or did they have to try to appeal to the entire population of that state?
I am pretty confident that a presidential campaign that has to contend with rural and small-town voters in Florida, Ohio, Virginia, and Colorado will have to take into consideration some people like me, even though my state's not going to be a 'swing state' any time soon. Those states are plenty different and there's plenty of difference within them, as well.
I can't say the same about a campaign that focuses on the top fifty metropolitan statistical areas, which is exactly what would happen with your scheme.
Your advocacy site is confusing 'city' with 'metropolitan area', probably deliberately. Here's some real stats:
In 2010, the fifty largest metropolitan statistical areas had a population of 166,033,000 -- 53.8% of the United States' 308,745,000 people.
In the 2012 election, Los Angeles County alone had more voters than any of thirty-two of America's fifty states.
Also in the 2012 election, just 150 of America's 3,033 counties - less than five percent of the total, and all attached to a metropolitan area - made up 50% of the vote.
Given a limited amount of time to get in front of the voters, where do you think the candidates are going to go? Do this thing, and the days of candidates getting outside an urban area are pretty much over.
So, disregarding the fact that an MSA includes an urban center and its non-urban surrounds... You're saying that a candidate is going to just pander to every voter in, say, the Indianapolis-Carmel, IN Metropolitan Statistical Area (#35, population 1.7 million) and ignore the rest of Indiana (population 4.8 million).
> Given a limited amount of time to get in front of the voters, where do you think the candidates are going to go? Do this thing, and the days of candidates getting outside an urban area are pretty much over.
I don't really care where they go; re-enfranchising the majority of the country will mean that personal visits by candidates to a handful of geographic areas will be much less important than, for example, their policies. I'm sorry if that sounds like a bad thing to you, I guess we just have to agree to disagree on that.
There's a big difference between cities and MSAs, which the parent referred to. Using city populations like that is, IMO, almost always misleading. For the given example: hit the DFW metroplex, you're hitting Arlington. Another instance of the misleading aspect of looking just at city size: Atlanta has a city population of a bit over 400k. That makes it the biggest city in Georgia, and yet isn't even a tenth of the Atlanta metropolitan area, which has about 5.4 million people.
The 10th-largest MSA is four and a half million people, the 10th-largest city is just under a million.
The 10 largest MSAs contain over 80 million people. That's already over a quarter of the country -- more than the 50 largest cities put together. Taking it out to the top 20 MSAs brings that up to almost 117 million. The top 50 MSAs cover more than half the country's population.
(And as a resident of one of the largest urban areas, I would absolutely prefer more of a popular vote. But the country is much more urbanly clustered than the "top 50 cities" stat would suggest. But IMO that's a reason for a popular vote, not against one.)
I'd argue that it's disingenuous to use MSAs rather than cities to talk about campaign stops. To use your example, the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta Metropolitan Statistical Area has four counties with more than 700,000 people, and fifteen with less than 100,000.
It's hard for me to imagine the average resident of, say, Jasper, GA (population ~2,000, median income ~$30,000) caring one way or another that you had a rally in Atlanta— but their votes still count.
Looking up TV listings for Jasper, it appears that cable carriers there still carry the Atlanta affiliates, so I'd disagree on how much they'd notice a candidate making a stop in Atlanta. In a popular vote system, I wouldn't expect any presidential candidates to stop in, say, Canton instead of (or even in addition to) Atlanta, when local media is going to pick up on stuff going on in Atlanta, so Atlanta's the closest I think Jasper would see.
That's fair, they might see it on the news if nothing more important was going on that day. But that's still press coverage, not a stop, and it's likely to backfire when the ad comes on saying, "But how much does Mr. Smith really care about Georgia?"
The more general point being that the dynamics of campaigning would be fundamentally different, such that none of the lines that are currently drawn will matter (and of course that's good thing).
Right, it's definitely not possible that he considered the arguments unconvincing. He just hasn't taken the time to understand them yet. They are utterly unassailable, and anyone who sees things differently must be willfully ignorant or is driven by an anti-popular vote ideology or special interests.
With a popular Presidential vote, every state becomes a swing state, demanding greater attention. How hard is that to grasp?
Stalwarts like Utah and NYC may be relatively ignored. Big deal.
Your complaint is that the minuscule rural population are ignored by the more prosperous, more populated, more important urban areas.
That sounds about right to me. One person, one vote.
If people in rural areas want to be more relevant, they should either start creating some jobs, stop being freeloaders, and work harder to prevent their people from following the jobs. Which is not going to happen so long as we have a petrol based economy.
Once human labor is required to replace petrol, you'll have more people returning to rural areas, to work the land.
So if you care about the vitality of rural areas, you'll work to expedite the post oil energy future.
If your intended point was to prevent the tyranny of the majority, then your focus on the electoral college is sadly misplaced.
Edit: Here's the kicker. I ran for statewide office. Last minute ballot filler. (I was pissed the incumbent was unopposed.) In the limited time with limited resources, I tried to visit every legislative district and every county. I was greeted and vetted like a rock star. It was fun as hell. My family were farmers and I love the country. It was like coming home.
You know what? I was the only state wide candidate who did this. Because I had no chance of winning, nothing to lose, and could do and say whatever I wanted. If I had any prospects, I wouldn't have had the luxury of touring my state.
So whatever your grievances, I don't care. I want to end world hunger and ice cream for every kid on Tuesdays. Big deal.
If you want your vote to matter, you should probably do something to empower yourself. Or just wait for the return of farming, when every one will be courting your communities again, like they did back in my grandfather's day.
Or you could continue to belly ache about how all the big bad politicians ignore you.
Further evidence of the way a nationwide presidential campaign would be run comes from the way that national advertisers conduct nationwide sales campaigns. National advertisers seek out customers in small, medium-sized, and large towns of every small, medium-sized, and large state. National advertisers do not advertise only in big cities. Instead, they go after every potential customer, regardless of where the customer is located. National advertisers do not write off a particular state merely because a competitor has an 8% lead in sales. Furthermore, a national advertiser with an 8% edge in a particular state does not stop trying to make additional sales in the state.
In a national campaign, anywhere you don't advertise, you leave up for grabs by your competition. Currently, candidates can get away with leaving most undecided voters on the table, because the mechanics of the electoral college mean that their votes don't matter anyway.
That fundamentally changes if I can counter your Times Square billboard with a direct mail campaign in Minnesota.
> In a national campaign, anywhere you don't advertise, you leave up for grabs by your competition.
And you can have Nebraska. The whole state, I wouldn't run a single ad there for a national campaign, in either scenario. Why would I? The ad money I might have to spend in Nebraska to get a thousand eyeballs might get me closer to ten thousand eyeballs in California or New York. Not to mention the ten thousand eyeballs I get in New York are also eyeballs I want to see my general platform and the fact that my party exists, because as you may well know, most people vote a straight ticket.
I see a lot of compelling reasons to believe that local media would remain a primary means of communication between candidates and prospective voters, even if we switched to a popular vote.
Wyoming and California have similar (when compared to the primary price driver) overheads in airing any given commercial, the price differences are mostly going to be market driven, and the 10k eyeballs in California won't end up costing as much as what you'd have to pay for 10k eyeballs in Wyoming.
Look at the last few election campaigns, the candidates spend all of their time in tossup states with a large number of college votes. The candidates only go to New York or California to raise more money to spend in Ohio of Florida.
Or did you miss the 6 months of campaigning this year in which the candidates spent almost the entirety of their time and money in a handful of districts?
The electoral college coerces candidates into appealing only to a small number of strategic areas.
If anything, a popular vote liberates candidates because they can make gains anywhere, and appeal to minority (the minority political party, that is) populations in areas where they wouldn't have bothered to go otherwise because the winner-take-all system makes it fruitless.
When every vote counts, candidates have an incentive to appeal to everyone.