Ivan's Blog

Featuring Ivan Trembow's Self-Important, Random Rants on Mixed Martial Arts, Video Games, Pro Wrestling, Television, Politics, Sports, and High-Quality Wool Socks

Tuesday, November 02, 2004
Politics--- I would like to take a moment to discuss the importance of the electoral college. Contrary to the views of many pundits who do not understand it, the electoral college is vital to having "fair" elections. If it weren't for the electoral college, the candidates could focus their entire campaigns on eight or nine heavily populated states that hold more than half of America's population, and completely ignore the other 40+ states. The founding fathers of this country created the electoral college for that very reason--- so that candidates couldn't just go into heavily-populated areas and "buy votes" by exclusively catering to those areas. Even as it is with the electoral college, it is heavily weighted with the more heavily populated states getting a lot more electoral votes (California's 55 electoral votes are more than double the amount of any other state).

People who do not understand the importance of the electoral college also justify their positions by saying, "The candidates are spending all of their time in ten states anyway!" That is true, but it is also missing the entire point. With a nationwide popular vote instead of the electoral college, candidates could focus exclusively on the eight or nine most heavily-populated states in the country, and they could focus on those same states every single election. With the electoral college, the candidates have to appease all 50 states but spend most of their final campaigning time in 10-15 "swing states."

This is the way it has always been and is perfectly fair because what constitutes a "swing state" has nothing to do with a state's population... instead, the swing states are the states where the polls are the closest, the states where the citizens are the most divided on who they should vote for, and therefore the states where the candidates' visits and words are all the more important in helping the public make up its collective mind.

Also, as states become increasingly more conservative or liberal over time, the list of swing states is always going to be different in any given election. A swing state this year might not be a swing state in 2008 if the public sways strongly in the direction of one party or the other, and there are plenty of non-swing states this year that could very well be swing states in 2008 (including my state of Maryland).

It's a reality of politics that 10-15 states are going to get most of the candidates' attention in the final weeks of a presidential campaign. Doesn't it make more sense for those states to be largely different in every election and determined by which states are the most closely contested, rather than the same in every election and determined solely by which states are the most heavily populated?