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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Electoral College

The time has come to speak of cabbages and kings and the EC (Electoral College.)

Whenever we have an election that looks close the TV babblers start talking about the EC and what happens if the EC vote differs from the popular vote.  During the coverage of the close 2000 election, Tim Russert of NBC said that if they differed then the election “goes to the House of Representatives”.  That is not correct.  (If no one gets a majority in the EC, then the president is chosen by the House of Representatives from among the top three finishers.  Note:  Each state gets one vote in that election.)  

If you don't like the Electoral College you might try to revive the Bayh Celler Amendment (see the Wiki article above) which is a legal way to change it.  A group called National Popular Vote has proposed a back door attempt to change it. That method would be a snake pit of bad possibilities. 

 So what does happen if the EC vote differs from the popular vote?

Nothing, except the TV babblers get a talking point and legions of people commit the stasis fallacy.  The stasis fallacy is the following logical error:  Change the rules of an activity and then expect that the behavior of the participants in that activity will remain the same as it was before the rule change.  So if Romney wins the popular vote and Obama wins the electoral vote, you will hear people saying: If we used popular vote then Romney would have won (or Gore would have won in 2000).  This is of course absurd because IF we were using the popular vote as the determining vote, THEN there wouldn’t be any such thing as a battleground state and the candidates would campaign a whole lot differently and thereby change the popular vote.

Question: What do you call a man who loses the popular vote and wins the electoral college vote?

Answer:  Mr. President

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