The ascendency of Trump

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Mefiante (December 08, 2016, 17:14:18 PM):
Actually, California, with 55, currently has by far the highest number of electoral votes. Texas has the next highest at 38, followed by New York and Florida with 29 each. The electoral votes per state are determined by the most recent prior population census and always add up to 535 (plus three electors for Washington DC). In other words, if the most recent census revealed that State X had 2.794% of the US population, it would get 2.794/100×535 = 14.94… electoral votes, which would be rounded up to 15. (This rounding with the constraint that the total must come out at 535 presents something of a problem all of its own).

A so-called “swing sate” is one where it’s a toss-up whether the Republicans or Democrats will win since each party enjoys similar levels of support. Because all of the state’s electoral votes go to the party with the highest number of votes, even if the difference is just a single vote, such states can have a disproportionate effect on the overall outcome. Traditionally, swing states also have a history of reversals in support—i.e., some years the elections are won by the Republicans and other years by the Democrats—and also have an appreciable number of electoral votes. That’s why California (always Democrat) and Texas (always Republican) aren’t swing states. New Hampshire, while usually considered a swing state, has just 4 electoral votes, so nobody really worries too much about it.

'Luthon64
brianvds (December 08, 2016, 18:44:49 PM):
Mefiante: Thanks for the info. I was too lazy to go look it up, but I was also under the impression that the number of electoral college votes was not in fact directly proportional to the percentage of voters in a state (i.e. that in some states your vote would count more than in others). This not being the case, perhaps all the moaning and groaning in America about the electoral college is a bit misplaced, because it does not seem all -i=that-/i= anti-democratic to me, and it does mean (I would think) that in the case of a minority president, it will never be by that huge a margin. (During apartheid era South Africa, it was also possible for a minority candidate to become prime minister, and I think it actually happened once or twice).

It occurs to me that one disadvantage is that once a state is firmly in the hands of a party, it will tend to stay in that party, simply because if you are blue but you know your state is overwhelmingly red, you may not bother to even go vote (and vice versa).
Mefiante (December 09, 2016, 19:59:40 PM):
… (i.e. that in some states your vote would count more than in others).
I’d like to examine this perception a little more formally by way of an example. Suppose two states, A and B, qualify for 12.498… and 12.501… electoral votes, respectively, based on the most recent validated US population census. Assuming that the arithmetical gremlins don’t throw a bunch of untenable electoral vote assignments into the bag of 535 (to be sure, a tenuous assumption at best), state A will be assigned 12 electoral votes while state B would get 13. Thus, state B’s result affects the overall outcome to the tune of 13/535, whereas state A’s relative effect is 12/535. While the population figures for states A and B are clearly very similar, their difference is conspicuously less than one part in 535. Ergo, the power of a single vote in state B is greater than that of a vote in state A.

Moreover, this effect is much more pronounced in swing states that have a sizeable number of electoral votes, such as Florida. If you vote for the party that ultimately loses overall, your vote has no more power than anywhere else. However, in the extreme case, a single vote in such a state can determine which candidate wins the whole country.

But here’s the kicker: All of the above airy-fairy what-if, analytical contortions are rendered irrelevant by the simple fact that they are necessarily post hoc. There is no large scale coordination or plot among the electorate that would allow one or other agency to exploit these factors. For all practical purposes and as a democratic safeguard, each individual vote is a wholly independent event. And that’s why the US system, for all its apparent shortcomings, works and has not been changed for long time.

'Luthon64
brianvds (December 10, 2016, 05:56:31 AM):
But here’s the kicker: All of the above airy-fairy what-if, analytical contortions are rendered irrelevant by the simple fact that they are necessarily post hoc. There is no large scale coordination or plot among the electorate that would allow one or other agency to exploit these factors. For all practical purposes and as a democratic safeguard, each individual vote is a wholly independent event. And that’s why the US system, for all its apparent shortcomings, works and has not been changed for long time.

Yup, people perhaps make too much of an issue about it. The main point of democracy is not to choose the best leaders (no system of mob rule - and democracy is one of them - will ever achieve that) but to have a legal and orderly way of getting rid of bad ones. However we implement the democratic idea in practice, our implementation is bound to have some disadvantages, but if we keep to the spirit of the thing, it will effectively prevent a royal dynasty from taking power for decades or centuries on end.
Mefiante (December 15, 2016, 11:55:00 AM):
Poplak does a post-mortem of some of 2016’s more prominent moments enjoyably laced with his customary acerbic irreverence. Trump is not spared.

'Luthon64

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