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Presidential Election System Best D vs. Best R General Election. History Mechanics Problems. Presidential Election: Best Dem vs. Best Rep. HISTORY. The process for electing the President is one of the most misunderstood concepts in all of US Govt
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Presidential Election SystemBest D vs. Best RGeneral Election History Mechanics Problems
Presidential Election: Best Dem vs. Best Rep.HISTORY • The process for electing the President is one of the most misunderstood concepts in all of US Govt • the creation of the Electoral College by the founding fathers gave the nation an indirect method for selecting the chief executive • keep in mind the atmosphere of skepticism in 1787 Philadelphia surrounding the development of a singular executive, which did not exist under the Articles • the founding fathers were doubtful the mass public had the ability to make such an important decision, yet a commitment to a strict separation of powers would keep the Congress out of the process • Created an intermediate body of the most educated and intellectual • in many cases this group would be closely aligned with the state legislatures • philosophically, the system has evolved since its origin--it is now largely a tool of the major political parties • Party leaders are chosen to vote for President, PARTY REGULARS, who in almost every instance vote for their parties nominee
Presidential Election: Best Dem vs. Best Rep.PROCESS OVERVIEW • the Electoral College involves a progression that begins with the popular vote on general election day and ends with a tally of electoral votes in Congress in January following the election
Presidential Election: Best Dem vs. Best Rep.Mechanics--POPULAR VOTE • general election day (Tuesday after the first Monday in November every four years) • citizens cast their ballot for President and Vice President---this is called the popular vote • while theoretically one votedfor Barack Obama or John McCain, when they went to the polls in 2008, the vote is actually cast for a slate of Republican or Democratic electors equal to the number of US Congressmen from that state (Georgia has 15 electors) • these electors are committed party regulars determined at some point by some method during the election year by their respective parties (another party task) • the popular vote is critical in that only the party electors receiving a plurality (the most votes) of the popular vote will cast votes in the electoral vote to be held in December • this is a "winner take all" system in all states except Nebraska and Maine (District Plan) • the winning party in all other states sends all its electors to the state capitol in December • it is all or nothing---losing parties send no electors to cast votes at the state capitol even though all parties have chosen electors in the event the party carried the state’s popular vote
Presidential Election: Best Dem vs. Best Rep.Mechanics--ELECTORS • these electors are committed party regulars determined at some point by some method during the election year by their respective parties (another party task) • the popular vote is critical in that only the party electors receiving a plurality (the most votes) of the popular vote will cast votes in the electoral vote to be held in December • this is a "winner take all" system in all states except Nebraska and Maine (District Plan) • the winning party in all other states sends all its electors to the state capitol in December • it is all or nothing---losing parties send no electors to cast votes at the state capitol even though all parties have chosen electors in the event the party carried the state’s popular vote • Third parties with names on the ballot in the state choose electors in the unlikely event they should win the popular vote in that state
Presidential Election: Best Dem vs. Best Rep.Mechanics—ELECTORAL VOTE • the official vote for the President is held on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December following the general election • this is called the electoral vote • on this day the winning electors report to their respective state capitols to cast their vote for the President and Vice President (separate ballot….12thAmendment) • while these electors are technically free agents and can vote for whomever they choose…..history proves them to be party agents, voting for the nominee of the party • the system works because of this party loyalty • the electors vote for the same person that you vote for, the nominee of the party as determined by the nomination system that they were largely responsible for creating • we determine what electors get to go and vote by our turnout in the general election
Presidential Election: Best Dem vs. Best Rep.Mechanics—RACE FOR 270 • for a candidate to be elected president they must receive a majority of the electoral vote, or 270 of a possible 538 (435 House; 100 Senators, 3 DC) • this majority of 270 becomes the target number for the presidential campaigns • it is the basis for the development of the strategies each campaign makes in trying to capture the presidency • efforts will be focused on a handful of states with the largest number of electoral votes that are determined to be winnable---these are called “battleground” states • if no candidate receives the required majority, the election is thrown into Congress---the House of Representatives elects the President and the Senate chooses the VP
Presidential Election: Best Dem vs. Best Rep.Mechanics—TALLY of ELECTORAL VOTES • following the vote of electors, sealed electoral votes are sent to the US Congress by state officials • the official tally of electoral votes is taken immediately after the newly elected Congress convenes in January following the November elections • this is done in a joint session (both House and Senate members) and presided over by the Vice President, who acts as President of the Senate • the votes are recorded in alphabetical order by two tellers • The results are announced by the Vice President and entered into the official records of the House and Senate • the inauguration of the President takes place on January 20 in Washington, D.C.
Presidential Election: Best Dem vs. Best Rep.PROBLEMS • Popular Vote Winner does NOT win the Electoral Vote • “Faithless Electors” • House Vote
Presidential Election: Best Dem vs. Best Rep.PROBLEMS • Popular vote winner does not win electoral vote---this is certainly possible though not probable • the previous three were: Andrew Jackson in 1824, Samuel Tilden in 1876, Grover Cleveland in 1888 • generally, this happens when one candidate wins small states by significant popular vote margins while gaining little ground in electoral votes while his opponent wins large "swing" states by small popular vote amounts yet amasses huge electoral vote totals • the 2000 Bush/Gore election became the fourth time for this to happen and the first in modern political history • Al Gore won the popular vote by some 337,000 votes, but lost the presidency using a different scenario---Gore won the large urban and minority vote in the Northeast and states like California by significant percentages---Bush won a multitude of more rural, less populated states in the heartland and the South by significant percentages---the election was determined electorally in a handful of states (Florida, New Mexico, Wisconsin) with razor thin popular vote differences
Presidential Election: Best Dem vs. Best Rep.PROBLEMS— “35/35 Rule” • Makes very unusual the idea that the popular vote winner will lose • each candidate of a major party is all but assured of 35% of the vote in each state--- • roughly 35% of the population considers themselves Democrat and 35% considers themselves Republican • the actual vote "up for grabs" is 30% and any candidate is fortunate and unlikely to get 60% of this vote • popular vote totals in states will be reasonably close, due to effectiveness of campaigning by each party • a popular vote difference of 55% to 45% in a state is considered a landslide---generally popular vote differences are much closer
Presidential Election: Best Dem vs. Best Rep.PROBLEMS • "Faithless electors"—any elector that casts a vote for someone other than the official party nominee • nothing in the Constitution prohibits this independent casting of the ballot • the potential is certainly there for this to impact an election • history tells us it is unlikely in that only 9 "faithless electoral" votes have been cast in all of Electoral College history • note and interesting dynamic to faithless electors---that Republican electors cast a vote for another Republican other than the nominee and a Democratic elector did likewise in West Virginia • Republicans don’t go vote for Democrats and vice versa; they vote within their parties for another nominee • never has this potential flaw changed the results of an election
Presidential Election: Best Dem vs. Best Rep.PROBLEMS • House vote---a House vote for President is problematic • the rules involved in a House vote make it very undemocratic • each state casts one vote (California 35mil. vs. Alaska 600,000) • the Senate chooses the VP, creating the possibility of a split ticket • the potential exists for states to lose their votes and no one receives a majority to be elected President • the House has chosen the President twice in history (I800, 1824) and has not done so in modern political history • the presence of a strong third party candidate makes this a possibility that many House members would just as soon not have to consider
Presidential Election: Best Dem vs. Best Rep.RACE for 270 • Presidential politics is ultimately about winning the election and capturing the White House---to do this, the candidate/party must receive a majority of the 538 total electors, or 270 • 270 is the most high profile and important number in presidential politics • everything the campaigns do once the nomination is secured is driven by the quest for 270 • the finite resources of the campaign (money, time, candidate, volunteers, staff) are all dedicated to the race for 270 • to get to 270 each candidate and campaign staff carefully take polls, study the map of the US and then do the math • Where do we go? What do we say? What issues do we focus on? to persuade voters in the right combination of states to total 270 electors (remember that all electors in a state go to the winning candidate) • some states stack up better for Republicans and some for Democrats----thus the well known tags of “red” and “blue” states---