If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It!
Proportional Selection of Electors Would Not Have Changed the Result At All

Democrats, displeased that their candidate for President has lost the 2000 election
by what they would call a whisker, have been increasing their demand that the
electoral college system we use to elect the President be changed or done away
with completely. After all, he did get more popular votes. It does serve its purposes, but those are beside the point when it does not come out the way one would like it to be.

One of the suggestions put forward is to alter the voting in the electoral college
to have the electoral votes from each state divided on a proportional basis among
the candidates who get enough votes. The alternative of having electors chosen
in each congressional district, with the winner of the state getting the other two,
is already in place in Maine and Nebraska, but this year that did not change the way
those two states' electoral votes would be cast.

Were a form of proportional division of electors put in place, we can see how the
electoral vote might have been altered from the apparently 271 votes Bush will have
to Gore's 267. Giving each candidate approximately the percentage of electoral
votes that he got as a proportion of the electorate, but so that the candidate getting
the most votes in any state would at least get a simple majority of electors from
each state, the tally would come out something like 273 for Bush to Gore's 265.

In most recent elections, the margin of victory in the electoral vote would have been
greatly diminished. In the case of Clinton, his margin in the electoral vote was temed
a landslide, and used as a rationale of a mandate. In fact, it is probable that such
a system would have resulted in no one having received a majority in the electoral vote in 1992, and perhaps not in 1996, either, which would have thrown the election into the Congress. Clinton might have won in the House in 1992, but not in 1996,
had the partisan alignments been as they were.

The congressional district selection plan would probably have tipped the scale even
slightly more toward Bush. On the assumption that Bush carried only the Congressional districts which elected Republicans, which on the average is very
close to reality, Bush would have gotten 221 electors across the country. Since
he did so by carrying 33 states to Gore's 17 plus the District of Columbia, Bush
would have had 287 electors to 253 for Gore.

Proportional Divison of Electors for Presidential Election 2000

Bush Gore
Alabama 5 4
Alaska 2 1
Arizona 5 3
Arkansas 5 3
California 25 29
Colorado 5 3
Connecticut 3 5
Delaware 1 2
District of Columbia 0 3
Florida 13 12
Georgia 7 6
Hawaii 1 3
Idaho 3 1
Illinois 10 12
Indiana 8 4
Iowa 3 4
Kansas 4 2
Kentucky 5 3
Louisana 5 4
Maryland 4 6
Massachusetts 4 8
Michigan 8 10
Minnesota 4 6
Mississippi 4 3
Missouri 6 5
Montana 2 1
Nebraska 3 2
Nevada 3 1
New Hampshire 3 1
New Jersey 7 8
New Mexico 2 3
New York 12 21
North Carolina 8 6
North Dakota 2 1
Ohio 11 10
Oklahoma 5 3
Oregon 3 4
Pennsylvania 11 12
Rhode Island 1 3
South Carolina 5 3
South Dakota 2 1
Tennessee 6 5
Texas 19 13
Utah 3 2
Vermont 1 2
Virginia 7 6
Washington 6 5
West Virginia 3 2
Wisconsin 5 6
Wyoming 2 1

Total 273 265

For those who would like to see the electoral college abolished altogether and have
the Presidential election hinge solely on the popular vote, there are a host of things
to be considered. One of the many consequences of abolishing the electoral college would be a gradual splintering of the two party system. The result would be the
regular election of Presidents by minority pluralities. The impact would have ramifications for all levels of political office, as the parties were splintered. This would make all levels of elected officials less able to govern effectively.

Another impact of this would be to thus enhance the power of the administrative state and decrease the influence of elected officials, and the voters who cast ballots for them, over policy. Touted as a measure to increase democracy, it would make us
much less democratic.

V. O. Key described our political parties as a spider web across the political landscape, and that would probably cease to be so much the case in the wake of the electoral college system. Not only would there be more parties, but they would be weaker, as well. That might be the progressive impulse, but it is hardly a very
democratic one. In any case, we have a republic, not a democracy, and if we are
going to do away with the electoral college, why not throw in the US Senate, as well? Indeed, the entire federal system of states might be seen as archaic and
in need of being replaced. Of course, a good perusal of the executive orders of
Bill Clinton would indicate that this is just the direction in which we have been
headed.

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