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W.T.F. Is the Electoral College, Anyway?

Wednesday, November 9, 2016, 22:27 EDT Leave a comment

Electoral MapHave you heard? There was an election yesterday! I’ll post more on that in the days to come, but for now I’ll just point out that if the numbers as certified right now were were final, Hillary Clinton would win the popular vote, Donald Trump the electoral vote. Naturally, that has Hillary fans indignant, probably because they have no idea what the electoral vote is and why we have it.

For those who didn’t pay attention in high school history or civics class, as well as my readers from outside the United States, we Americans don’t directly vote for President and Vice President. Instead, we vote for electors, and in almost every state (Maine being the only exception, I think), the candidate whose electors get the most votes ends up winning the votes of all that state’s electors. The number of electors equals the number of the state’s United States Senators (two per state) plus the number of its members of Congress (proportional to the population), such that larger states get more electoral votes, but no state gets fewer than three. So it doesn’t matter how many total people prefer any given candidate, but rather how many electors each candidate wins. If that sounds un-democratic, that’s because the United States isn’t actually a pure democracy. It’s a federal republic, and even though state and local offices are elected purely democratically, our constitution provides that it is the various states that elect the president and vice president.

What’s the point of the Electoral College? Simply put, it exists to prevent the country’s few humongous states from drowning out the voices of the rest of the citizenry. For the sake of convenience, let’s say the are five states, which break down by population and number of electors this way:

State Population Electors
California 12,400,000 55
Florida 6,500,000 29
Ohio 4,075,000 18
Kansas 1,350,000 6
Montana 675,000 3

Now here is a possible presidential election scenario:

State Candidate A Candidate B Electoral Votes
California 5,900,000 (47.58%) 6,500,000 (52.42%) 55 for Candidate B
Florida 3,400,000 (52.31%) 3,100,000 (47.69%) 29 for Candidate A
Ohio 2,120,000 (52.02%) 1,955,000 (47.98%) 18 for Candidate A
Kansas 705,000 (52.22%) 645,000 (47.78%) 6 for Candidate A
Montana 350,000 (51.85%) 320,000 (48.15%) 3 for Candidate A
Total 12,475,000 (49.90%) 12,525,000 (50.10%) Candidate A 56 – Candidate B 55

First, a few points. The elector numbers are real for the five states. The populations are fictitious but proportional to the actual populations of these states. Only a portion of the total population, adult citizens, are eligible to vote, and not all of them actually do so. There are many more than five states. The margins of victory from state to state aren’t that similar. Understanding all that, let’s examine at the results of our hypothetical election.

Candidate A wins Florida, Ohio, Kansas, and Montana by decent margins (3-6%). Candidate B wins California by a slightly larger margin. Because California is so populous, Candidate B gets more total votes, but by a slim margin—only one-fifth of one percent. By popular vote, Candidate B very narrowly wins the presidency, even though four other states in different parts of the country with different concerns and interests preferred Candidate A.

But using the Electoral College, Candidate A—the candidate preferred by four of the five states—wins by one electoral vote. The more populous states got more electoral votes, which is as it should be, but the votes of the citizens in the four smaller states weren’t totally negated by the votes of Californians. It’s a compromise between simple majority rule and the premise, enshrined in our founding documents, of state sovereignty. It’s the same reason why Representatives are apportioned by population, but in the Senate all states are equal.

In only a few instances in our history has the winner of the popular vote not won the Electoral College, but when it has, it’s for reasons foreseen by the framers, when the popular vote was extremely close and the “tyranny of the majority” in a few big states would have essentially out-muscled the voters in the more numerous smaller states.

In a republic such as ours, I believe that compromise is entirely appropriate.

Categories: government, politics

Two Presidents: Compare and Contrast

Tuesday, July 2, 2013, 12:44 EDT 2 comments

Current U.S. President Barack Obama and his predecessor, George W. Bush, have both been in Africa recently. Buzzfeed has pictures from one event each.

Bush helped clean, paint, and restore a women’s health clinic, and promoted cancer screening programs.

Bush helps renovate women's clinic in Zambia

Photo by Paul Morse for the George W. Bush Presidential Center

Obama stood in Nelson Mandela’s former prison cell, looked through the bars, and wrote a note.

Obama visits Nelson Mandela's former prison cell in South Africa

Image by Carolyn Kaster / AP

Guess who the African people like better? I’ll give you a hint: it’s the guy who has actually helped them rather than just talking about helping them.

Ten Reasons Why Obama’s Re-Election Is a Good Thing

Wednesday, November 7, 2012, 21:24 EDT Leave a comment

10. Another 4 years of the ever-entertaining Crazy Uncle Joe.

9. We get to laugh as the President continues to blame all of his screw-ups on Bush.

8. We’ll find out exactly what “flexibility” he was talking about with Medvedev.

7. New gambling game—guessing how much more energy prices will “necessarily skyrocket” under his plan.

6. Literacy rates jump as record numbers of Americans learn how to spell “Benghazi.”

5. Finally, an answer to the 32-year-old question, “What would a 2nd Carter term have looked like?”

4. Federal budget? We don’t need no steenkin’ federal budget!

3. QE 4-7.

2. None of those riots and assassinations Obama supporters on Twitter were promising if Romney won.

1. Taxpayers can have the satisfaction of sending the First Lady on more of those lavish vacations we can’t afford to take ourselves.

Categories: funny/satire, politics

An Unintentionally Revealing Quote by Our President

Tuesday, October 9, 2012, 18:07 EDT Leave a comment

From WNEW-FM in Washington, DC (emphasis mine):

“I very much intend to win this election,” Obama told donors in San Francisco Monday night. “But we’re only going to do it if everybody is almost obsessive for the next 29 days.”

From Merriam-Webster Online (emphasis mine):

ob-ses-sive > adj.
1 a : tending to cause obsession
b : excessive often to an unreasonable degree

So Obama thinks that the only way he can win re-election is if people give him unreasonably excessive support. One might say that’s the only reason he was elected in the first place.

Categories: politics

Obama’s Going Out of Business Sale

Wednesday, September 5, 2012, 23:02 EDT Leave a comment

A few weeks ago, I signed up for email alerts from the Obama re-election campaign. I’m not interested in helping re-elect him; I’m not even interested in what his campaign has to say in periodic emails to his supporters. (And by “periodic,” I mean daily. At least.)

The reason I signed up was because I learned, via Glenn Reynolds, that people who signed up would be entered into a drawing to attend the Democratic National Convention and sit with the First Lady. Unlike previous such drawings, this one did not require a campaign donation to enter. I figured that on the off chance that I was picked, it would be fun to give Mrs. Obama a piece of my mind for a few minutes.

Now that they have my email address (an alternate address, just in case they sell their list and I end up on a slew of other lists), I get in my inbox what supporters get: requests for donations. They come from the President, the First Lady, the Vice President, campaign officials, even that Georgetown University graduate student who thinks that everyone else should pay for her birth control pills. All the messages contain one or more of these themes:

  • The Republicans are raising more money than we are! Send us money!
  • If we lose, we won’t be able to finish the important work we started in 2008! Send us money!
  • Republicans hate women! Send us money!
  • Mitt Romney is a lying liar! Send us money!
  • We need lots of money before midnight tonight! Send us money!

What they always ask for, by the way, is “a contribution of $3 or more,” although one email, which must have been sent when they were feeling especially desperate, asked for $5 or more. Sometimes they don’t say anything else except “send money.”

Yesterday’s message was a little different. The subject was “25% OFF everything in the store!”

Obama store 25% off sale

All I could think of is, “Going-out-of-business sale!”

Seriously, Team O must be in a hell of a bind if they have to discount their campaign merchandise to get people to buy it. But should we be surprised? They also spent last week and weekend going into bars around Charlotte, North Carolina, giving away convention tickets because they were afraid of having empty seats (a la Clint Eastwood? Heh!) at Obama’s re-nomination acceptance speech. Today they finally gave up and moved the speech to a much smaller indoor venue, ostensibly because of the weather, a factor that didn’t deter them four years ago. They may be stupid, but they aren’t too stupid to read the hand writing on the wall.

In case you’re wondering, by the way, I didn’t buy anything at the campaign store. I do have standards.

Categories: politics

My Take on the R&R Ticket

Wednesday, August 15, 2012, 23:03 EDT Leave a comment

Romney 2012 campaign logoRepublican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s recent selection of Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin to be his running mate has prompted reaction from left, right, and center. What has been missing until now is the reaction of the Den Mother.

Let me say it up front. I’m not a big Mitt Romney fan.  While I believe he would be about a thousand percent better than Barack Obama simply from an economic standpoint (and, really, who wouldn’t?), that doesn’t mean I like him.  I don’t.  Polls have shown that his “likability” factor, whatever that means, just isn’t that high.  If the election is about whom you’d want to have a beer summit with, Romney loses. It’s his Achilles heel. [Edit: And not just because Romney is a Mormon and doesn’t drink.]

Every presidential candidate has one. Traditionally, the selection of a running mate is designed to offset the candidate’s biggest vulnerability. John Kennedy was a New England Catholic who needed to appeal to southern Protestant voters, so he picked Lyndon Johnson. Jimmy Carter was a southern Governor who needed northern votes and contacts in Washington, so he picked Walter Mondale. Barack Obama was an inexperienced newcomer who needed to add someone with experience, so he picked Joe Biden. Or maybe the Biden pick was intended to make Obama appear more statesmanlike next to such a buffoon.

But seriously, Romney’s likability gap isn’t his only problem. He isn’t all that trusted among conservatives, who don’t care for his past flip-flops on key conservative issues. They seem to find him fiscally acceptable (with the exception of Romneycare) but their support is reluctant. He appears to have overcome both these obstacles with the Ryan selection.

I don’t know a lot about Ryan except that he is a rising star in the Republican party and he has formulated a federal budget framework that begins to tackle the problem of future unfunded entitlement liability. Some key Democrats have praised his plan as sensible and necessary, or at least they did before he became a threat to their incumbent’s re-election. I also know that he is immensely popular in his home state among voters of both parties and no party. He has the likability factor to go along with the conservative chops many GOP voters think Romney lacks.

As for Ryan’s less substantive characteristics, namely his age and physical appearance, those might be issues for some voters but not for me. I don’t care that he’s younger than I am. I’ve never gone for the “black Irish” look. His workout regimen is important to me only insofar as it keeps him healthy. But, God help us, there are voters for whom appearance is a factor. In that regard, he doesn’t hurt.

And the thought of Ryan being a heartbeat away from the presidency doesn’t make me break out in a cold sweat, the way I do when I think of Joe “Gaffe Factory” Biden interacting with the world’s leaders.

Besides, “Ryan” fits well with that Romney campaign logo.

Overall, in my humble estimation, this was a good pick. Now let’s go have an election.

Categories: politics

So Many Topics, So Little Time

Tuesday, July 24, 2012, 17:12 EDT Leave a comment

Recent lack of blogging here at Musings hasn’t been for lack of subject matter. On the contrary, my brain currently contains the seeds of posts about the following topics:

  • The Sandusky/Penn State scandal, the Freeh report, and the NCAA sanctions
  • International Olympic Committee refusal to honor the victims of the 1972 Olympic massacre at this week’s opening ceremony
  • President Obama’s “You didn’t build that” remarks and campaign claims that he didn’t actually say what the video shows him saying
  • Egypt’s new government and the country’s descent into Islamic intolerance
  • The Colorado movie theater shooting and Brian Ross’s wishful thinking

Check in over the next week for the Den Mother’s unique perspective on those issues and more.

Nothing Says “I Can Relate to the Middle Class” Like Cheesy Overpriced Merchandise by Jet-Setting Designers

Friday, June 1, 2012, 15:40 EDT Leave a comment

The Obama re-election campaign is once again doing what it does best: talk the Ordinary Americans talk while walking the Rich and Famous walk. (Hat tip: Matt Drudge.)

In the Obama spirit of wasting money, supporters of the O-Team can go to the President’s re-election campaign web site and lay down $45 to $95 for an item from “Runway to Win,” described as “a project by fashion designers in support of Obama 2012.” And what a project it is. (Sorry, no link here. You’ll have to look it up.)

There are few things Americans love more than t-shirts, so you can get any number of fabulous designer t-shirts starting at $45, like this one that says a bunch of stuff too small for someone to actually read without violating the wearer’s personal space. Decapitated body not included.

Obama 2012 designer t-shirt

If clothing that looks like your toddler drew on it isn’t your bag, you can buy an actual bag instead. Maybe one of these nylon totes, suitable for sustainable grocery shopping or taxpayer-funded international luxury jaunts with the First Lady, for a mere $85.

Obama 2012 nylon tote bags

But practicality can be such a drag. If you’re hip enough, check out this fine art pin, made from some metal apparently not worth identifying, for the low low price of just $50. What makes it either fine or art? If you have to ask, you won’t understand the answer.

Obama 2012 fine art pin

Or how about this 2×2′ silk scarf in a distinctive paisley cotton boll motif, for just $95? Can we look at it for more than 10 seconds without doing permanent retinal damage? Yes We Can, if we wear protective eyewear!

Obama 2012 scart

On the other hand, if you’re going to throw away, er, spend $95, you might want something that boldly declares, as the president so often does, “LET ME BE CLEAR.” Like this zip-up sweatshirt. Oy.

Obama 2012 zipper sweatshirt

This is all highly valuable stuff, and we know that because not only is it from Fashion Designers, but it’s all designed to Support Obama 2012. You won’t find anything nearly so cool on the Mitt Romney campaign site, because Romney isn’t nearly as cool as the Big O.

Categories: funny/satire, politics

President Me!Me!Me!, Part III

Wednesday, May 16, 2012, 15:02 EDT Leave a comment

Newsweek anoints Obama as "The First Gay President"Has there ever been a politician or candidate as transparently in love with himself as Barack Obama? Granted, the farcical media coverage he gets, like this week’s Newsweek cover (Hey look, our president is a holy man-god! A gay holy man-god! Oooohhhhh!), doesn’t do anything to deflate his laughably oversized ego.

It isn’t Newsweek‘s fault, though. Narcissism this severe truly comes from within, even if others validate it, much as someone’s poor diet might worsen her diabetes but didn’t cause it. Still, when I first saw the following story yesterday on a blog (can’t remember which one), I thought it was a joke. Seeing it today in Investor’s Business Daily makes me more inclined to believe it.

It was probably to be expected from a monstrous political ego that considers himself among the top two presidents of the 21st century.

But faced with the apparently frightening possibility of losing his reelection bid, Barack Obama has inserted himself into the online White House bios of almost every president in the last nine decades. To somehow share and compare their achievements. At one point Obama even draws his wife into the biographical additions.

It would be funny if it wasn’t so hilarious. Remember the grandiose but short-lived little party hats that Richard Nixon designed for his special presidential guard unit?

Imagine the emotional insecurities of a grown man who would have henchman find and gratuitously insert even the faintest link between this 44th president and almost every president back to Calvin Coolidge –“On Feb. 22, 1924 Calvin Coolidge became the first president to make a public radio address to the American people…..President Obama became the first president to hold virtual gatherings and town halls.”

Just to be sure this wasn’t a put-on, I checked WhiteHouse.gov, and it’s true, every bit of it. See for yourself. Go to the Presidents page and click on anyone from Calvin Coolidge (#30) to George W. Bush (#43). The only president in that span whose biography isn’t tainted is Gerald Ford.

This is so pathetic, it’s like…actually, it isn’t like anything we’ve ever seen. It is incomparably, unprecedentedly vainglorious, a sure sign that Obama is either in full panic mode or actually believes that anything a former President did, he can do better.

Of course, there’s another possibility, alluded to in the article: that Obama is so insecure that he has to keep pumping himself up in an endless attempt to get people to like him. I’ll have to ask my psychiatrist friend if that’s a component of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. How else can anyone explain the emanations from the Obama echo chamber a few weeks ago, when All the President’s Lemmings were babbling about how “cool” he was? Don’t think that didn’t come straight from the top. It’s as if he craves attention and acceptance.

I would like to believe that this presidential bio gaffe was the idea of someone else in the administration (when I think “gaffe,” I automatically think “Biden”) or even in the campaign (illegal as that would be), but I fear otherwise. My guess is that it was the brainchild of the president himself and, though others might have tried to talk him out of it, in the end Barack gets what Barack wants. If I were one of his supporters, I’d be embarrassed.

Categories: politics

President Me!Me!Me! Revisited

Wednesday, May 2, 2012, 07:34 EDT Leave a comment

Sometimes, I worry about President Obama. It must be very strenuous, patting himself on the back all the time.

I refer, of course, to The One’s curiously high opinion of himself. This is the guy who reportedly thinks he’d be a better campaign manager than his campaign manager, a better speechwriter than his speechwriters, and even a better chief of staff than his chief of staff. Oh, and did you know that he, and he alone, made the gutsy decision to kill Osama bin Laden? I just figured I’d let you know, in case you missed the thousand or so times he’s mentioned it over the past year. And he’s talking about it now more than ever, what with this being an election year and all.

To be fair, we probably shouldn’t begrudge Obama the chance to brag about the only thing he’s actually done right in three years, even if it was SEAL Team Six that did it while Obama was home watching the operation unfold on TV. The fact is that the Pentagon came up with a plan and Obama didn’t nix it. Good for him.

The trouble is that the Narcissist-in-Chief can’t let it go at that. Now he’s making up stuff (emphasis mine).

Read more…

Categories: politics