Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The electoral college is bullshit, but not for the reasons you think

As election day proceeds, so far without incident (did I just jinx it?) much of the whining across news sites is about which voters matter, and which voters don't.  Cue the whining about the electoral college.

So, let's get this straight, folks.  The electoral college is bullshit.  Nobody designing an electoral system on the basis of "first principles" would create the electoral college.  It is a kludge, created at the Constitutional Convention to get the states to ratify the Constitution.  No electoral college, no Constitution, and hence no country.  That still means the system is idiotic.

However, not for the reasons you think.

I live in Ohio.  Why?  Because they won't let me teach at Case Western Reserve University from a beach on Maui.  That doesn't mean I matter.  Any one voter is irrelevant.  Any one voter has zero chance of swaying the outcome of a presidential election.  We are all, each of us, gnats who could disappear without the country ever noticing.  I occasionally pop up on national tv or write a book, and that's still true for me.  One voter won't sway an election.  That's what happens when the population of the country approaches 325,000,000.  Even in Florida in 2000, the final tally had Bush ahead by 537 votes.  One voter flipping would have reduced the margin to 535.  So, no, living in Ohio doesn't mean I matter more than a voter in California.  Neither of us matter.  I'm OK with that, and you should be too.  Otherwise, you are demanding too much power over a country with 325,000,000 people in it.  Get over yourself and stop demanding power over everyone else.

And as a state, California is factored into the electoral college.  California gets 55 electoral votes.  Clinton will win them.  California is relevant.  Without those electoral votes, Clinton would be toast.  So, those of you in solid blue states like California, quit your fuckin' whining.  Those of you in solid red states like Texas, same deal.  Your states matter.  You don't matter, but neither do I.  Why?  325,000,000.

The electoral college is still stupid.  It is a screwed up mathematical aggregation system because of the Senate issue, arbitrary thresholds at the state level introduce distortions, and I could go on, but I won't bother today.  Regardless, living in Ohio doesn't make me relevant because Ohio won't be decided by one vote, and California, where I lived previously, is factored into the electoral college too, so quit whining.  If you are going to complain about the electoral college, do it properly.  The problems aren't what you think.  Maybe later I'll do a more rigorous critique.


  1. 325,000,000 registered voters means that 325,000,000 should count and every ONE of those votes should matter california is a blue state that does not mean their 55 electors have to vote blue and if they don't the majority did not matter they may as well have not voted at all 55 peoples personal opinion should not voice the opinion of California unless those appointed elects are legally bound to uphold the state majority that goes true for every state , our votes do not matter so I suggest we stop voting 538 electors are going to sway it how thy choose regardless and the rest of the country can just suck it up

    1. well you used one comma so obviously you know what they are and what they do... Please use more in the future. Reading this made my head hurt.