- By Kyle Harvey
- Published: October 2nd, 2012
Does it seem to anyone else that a large majority of the American electorate is completely written off before the vote ever takes place? As it stands, millions of the nation’s votes do not count for a thing. Are you a Democrat in Oklahoma? Are you a Republican in California? Chances are, the candidate you voted for has not had the slightest chance of winning for 20 years.
The way the Electoral College works, in conjunction with how individual states have chosen to award their allotted presidential votes, a large minority (up to 49 percent) can be entirely uncounted toward the race. For example, in California, Obama won all 55 of the electoral votes toward the presidential election after winning 61 percent of the popular vote. Meanwhile, 4.6 million votes were cast for McCain in California, but you would never know it based on how the electoral votes were distributed. The number of Republican votes in California was more than the number of Republican votes in Texas (4.6 million to 4.47 million). However, the 4.47 million votes in Texas earned 34 electoral votes for McCain, while California’s 4.6 million votes earned 0 electoral votes for McCain.
This same situation occurs in other places as well, with large number of Democratic votes that are a gold mine in some states proving worthless in a more right-leaning state. In Texas, 3.5 million votes were cast for Obama that did not win him a single electoral vote. However, in a state like Michigan, 2.87 million votes for Obama were worth 17 electoral votes.
The electoral college system has several negative effects. First, the current system has allowed for parties to claim early run-off victories in several known “red states” or “blue states.” Electoral votes can practically be cast before the popular vote even happens. With the perceived value of a Democratic vote in Texas or a Republican vote in California being so low, why should those belonging to the political minority even bother to vote? Furthermore, why should minority candidates spend any effort campaigning for votes in states where they are not reasonably expected to win? There answer is plain — there is no reason, so the candidates simply do not.
The result of this red and blue state nonsense is that the entire election comes down to the several crucial “purple states” that seem to leapfrog back and forth between parties from time to time. This year, for example, supposedly the entire election comes down to Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin and Colorado. Count your blessings if you live in one of these privileged states. Like it or not, a huge majority of the campaign budgets will be spent on you. Most of the candidate’s visits will be in your neighborhoods. Disregard the issues that the nation cares about. From now until November, it is all about what you care about Ohio.
In a system where the winner of the national popular vote decides the next president, this would not be. Conservatives on the coasts would boldly cast their vote knowing that it would actually matter. Liberals in the mid-west would also cast the first meaningful votes of their lives. And the presidency, heaven forbid, would be won by the man who convinced the entire nation that he was the best person to lead the United States and not simply the man who convinced the “purple states.”
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