Saturday, November 12, 2016

The problem with the electoral college system in the US

Several people have asked why Clinton lost the election despite having more votes overall (winning the popular vote). If the electoral college was representative of the populations votes, surely it should be more in favor of Clinton?

Well, one factor is that the electoral college system is currently biased towards red states. Staunchly Republican states have on average approximately 450k people per electoral college vote. Whereas staunch Democratic states have an average ~550k. If you take out rinky-dink little states like New Hampshire and Rhode Island, the value is closer to 600k per electoral college vote.
The more conservative states are skewed even more: Wyoming las less than 200k people per vote. N Dakota has 230k, S Dakota has 280k, Montana 330k, and Nebraska 360k per vote. Rural midwest areas have populations that are relatively declining in size. Whereas, urban areas have expanding populations but the electoral college votes has not kept pace with the population size. For example, New Jersey, New York and California are around 700k people per vote. Virginia, which is now a Democratic leaning State, is expanding rapidly in the north and has 630k people per vote. 

If California had the same electoral vote per population rate as a fairly populace and growing red state (e.g. S Carolina with 530k per vote) it would cast 72 electoral votes for Clinton instead of 55. New York would have had 37 votes instead of 29 etc. If California had ratio of electoral college votes per head of population as Wyoming does, Californian would have 192 votes (and New York would have 99).
In short the Republican supporting mid-west States haves far more impact in the electoral system than the democratic leaning coastal states. It's an undemocratic system at present. It could, however be fixed if electoral college votes were proportional to population. However, currently Republicans get an advantage in the electoral college system, so a Republican controlled Congress has been reluctant to change the system so that it is fairer.

However, usually the popular vote (the proportion of votes cast for a candidate) has also matched the electoral college vote. There have only been five times that the winner of the electoral college vote lost the popular vote: John Quincy Adams in 1824; Rutherford Hayes 1876; Benjamin Harrison 1888; George W. Bush 2000; and now this year. The recent mismatches between popular and electoral college voting is due to this disparity between votes and population.

Sp why not do away with the electoral college system? Well that would require clear  Democratic majority, as Republicans like the status quo, which supports them. Also doing away with the electoral college system may not be a good thing. It was originally developed to ensure that a candidate that was popular in one just one small region of the US couldn't be elected. There had to be widespread support. Arguably what has happened in the US is exactly what the 'founding fathers' of America feared.

Alexander Hamilton said that the electoral college system was set up because the electors would ensure “the office of president will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications”. 

Well that worked out ... 

Mr Darcy's attitude towards the US election

I have seen several posts on Facebook and social media calling for liberals to come together and put differences aside and to work with and accept Trump supporters. To let bygones be bygones.

I'm sorry, but I simply cannot do this. Anyone supporting Trump had to to turn a blind eye to his bigotry, his hate speech, his lying, his casual bragging of sexual assault and you had to think that poor email management was more important a factor when deciding a president than 17+ allegations of sexual assault, a court date for allegedly raping a minor and an imminent case of fraud. Not to mention supporting policies that are dreadful for the environment, education and animal welfare. 

Trump supporters may argue back that Clinton has been accused of crimes. What exactly. She was exonerated over the email debacle, and she was just doing what the two previous Republican Secretaries of State had done by having a private server. 22 million emails sent via private servers were deleted by the Bush Administration, which far eclipses what Clinton had done. Trump supporters may claim that one should assume Trump is innocent until proven guilty over the sexual assault allegations. Yet they claim Clinton is a criminal,  guilty of a whole host of issues that have been found to be baseless despite extensive investigation. Where was the investigation into Trump? If there was just one or two allegations of sexual assault against Trump, one could think that it might just be political smearing. But seventeen? This is an astounding number. 

Trump was elected on a campaign of hate and supporting Trump meant supporting the most egregiously hateful campaign. That hate is specifically directed against the ethnicity and way of life of many of my friends and loved ones. So if you voted for Trump, you implicitly supported this campaign of hate, or at least thought it was acceptable. I think that either are appalling.

If you supported Trump I have lost respect for your as a person because you have supported someone who has shown no respect to the lives and rights of so many in America. To paraphrase Mr Darcy: my good opinion once lost, is lost for ever. 

The impact of Trump's election on women

I have seen many students and colleagues literally in tears over the results of the US election. This is not normal. Liberals were frustrated with the election of George W Bush, but they were not impacted in the same way as this election, they were certainly not as disgusted or fearful. 

In particular many women have taken Trump's election very personally.


Something that this election has told many women is that poor email management is a bigger issue for a large swathe of America than a truly staggering number of accusations of sexual assault and misconduct (see:…/Donald_Trump_sexual_misconduct_a… ). It basically tells them that abusers are not only able to avoid punishment, but they will be rewarded for it. So if you see a woman who is deeply, deeply upset about Trump's win, telling them to "get over it" means that you are part of the problem.