Assume the Position
Thursday, October 28, 2004
Election 2000 and 2004
Four years ago, today, I wrote the following in a NewsTrolls thread.
Election 2000 - Belgrade, USA?
This election is more likely to be one where the popular vote and electoral votes produce different results than any in a long time. IOW, one presidential candidate may "win" the popular vote on Nov 7 and the other candidate may "win" the electoral vote and the election. The loser in the popular vote would become President in January.
Two primary reasons for this.
So what should happen here if Bush wins the popular vote but Gore wins the electoral vote? Should Bush supporters rush to Washington and force Clinton from office and install Bush as president and prevent Gore from taking office?
Or, suppose Bush wins the electoral votes; but the popular vote is only 46% for Bush, with 47% Gore, 6% Nader and 1% others. Should Gore supporters consider the Nader votes as anti-Bush, lump them with Gore's and declare it a 53% to 46% mandate for Gore, then march on Washington to keep Bush from taking office in January?
Seriously, no matter how the election turns out, I don't expect the loser's forces to march on Washington in an attempt to overturn the election. But, a mismatched popular/electoral result like we could see from this election might raise a cry for a constitutional change to direct presidental elections. There has never been much support for changing the US electoral system; basically because most of the time it works fine and it's advantages somewhat outweigh it's disadvantages. This election could change that.
© 2000 Lynxx Pherrett, LynxxPherrett, et al. All rights reserved. Limited permission granted to NewsTrolls™ to store and transmit in various formats to NewsTrolls™ Threads readers.
As I stated later in comments to that thread, "I never meant I considered such an outcome as probable; just that it's more likely to occur in this election than any in a long time and wondered what the reaction would be." Now I know what the reaction was, and I'd really prefer not to have another four years of it; but, aside from reapportionment having been completed, the closeness of this election seems like a replay of 2000.
The electoral-popular vote disconnect certianly carries a share of the blame for the rancor of the past four years, though most of it may have been caused by the Florida recount circus and court involvement. This shows that the popular vote does count in at least one respect: while the popular vote doesn't determine the outcome of the election, it helps determine the acceptability and/or legitimacy of the electoral vote outcome.
When it comes to what caused the disconnect, the disparity in voter turnout between Red and Blue states seems to have played a major role. The FEC calculated 2000 voter turnout as 51.3 percent of the voting age population (VAP). Total Red state voter turnout was 50.0% of VAP, while Blue state turnout was 52.5% of VAP. That 2.5 point edge in Blue state turnout gave Gore the popular vote — had it been reversed, and 52.5% of Red staters turned out while only 50.0% of Blue staters showed up, Bush would have one the popular vote as well as the electoral vote. And it wasn't just the turnout in the "battleground states" that mattered, but also the solid Democratic and Republican states.
I may clean up my analysis and post it later, but here is an example using New York and Texas (2000 vote totals from the FEC):
In 2000, the VAP in Red states totaled 102,337,000 of which 51,128,722 (49.96%) cast ballots for president; Blue states had 103,478,000 of which 54,276,378 (52.45%) cast ballots for president. Had that voter turnout been reversed, without changing the proportions of the vote in each state going to Bush and Gore and the electoral outcome, there would have been approximately 53,687,000 Red state ballots cast versus 51,689,000 in the Blue states; and Bush would have edged out Gore in the popular vote as well as the electoral vote.
This has some relevance to people who do not live in the "battleground states" where the outcome is up for grabs. Although their individual vote may not directly influence the outcome of the presidental election, it may well influence the political tone of the four years following the election. Winning the popular vote adds to the perceived legitimacy of winning the electoral vote. Bush supporters in solidly Republican states who didn't bother to vote in 2000 because, "I knew Bush was gonna win my state so my vote didn't matter," or in solidly Democratic states who didn't bother to vote because, "I knew Gore was gonna win my state so my vote didn't matter," are one of the main reason Democrats have been able to spend four years pointing to the popular vote whenever they called Bush's election "illegitimate."
I hope the same thing doesn't happen again this year.
UPDATE - November 3, 2004: Bush 51% to Kerry 48%. Thank you, voters.
A note to those complaining the media wasn't carrying the result out a couple of decimal places or rounding to their satisfaction (see comments on this Daily Pundit post): the numbers to two decimal places stand right at 51.07% and 48.00%, which both round and truncate to 51% and 48%.
Unfinalized vote tallies via AP/C-SPAN and my calculations:
Those who have been comming up with things like 51.5% Bush and 48.5% Kerry seem to be forgetting to add the votes for other candidates into the total before dividing.