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The Suddenly Exciting Presidential Election

Discussion in 'Alley of Lingering Sighs' started by Aldeth the Foppish Idiot, Oct 2, 2012.

  1. The Great Snook Gems: 31/31
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    Mitt slayed last night in what may have been the most exciting night of the campaign.



    In the interest of fairness here's Obama also

     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 19, 2015
  2. Merlanni

    Merlanni ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!)

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    A few cracks in Obama's fa├žade. A few stabs under the belt.

    This is more like it. Just let them talk for 10 minutes after which you turn off their microphone.

    You American think that it is difficult to choose? In our election you could vote on over a dozen parties.
     
  3. The Shaman Gems: 28/31
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    I think I've come across some articles/"factchecks" who say it was the group that took the initiative, but apparently they had been working with most candidates. Not that big of an issue either way, he did work with them apparently.
     
  4. Aldeth the Foppish Idiot

    Aldeth the Foppish Idiot Armed with My Mallet O' Thinking Veteran

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    Well, at the time I wrote it, it looked like Obama was a lock. Things have tightened considerably in the last two weeks. That having been said, you're right.

    My first inclination would be to answer that is has all to do with the sizable gender gap that has been evident throughout this campaign, according to just about every nation poll you see. You can click on the link for a more detailed analysis of it, but the short version is that while the popular vote is nearly tied, Obama leads by about 9 percentage points among women, and Romney leads by about 9 percentage points among men.

    That's obviously a huge difference. If only women voted, even historically red states would go blue, and if only men voted, the electoral map would look similar to Reagan's in 1984. So I think it's not so much hysteria among Obama supports, but among women. Of course, given the gender gap you may consider Obama supporters and women to be one and the same.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2012
  5. Death Rabbit

    Death Rabbit Straight, no chaser Adored Veteran Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    I'm glad you changed the title. This is what I think of when anyone refers to anything as the most/least [adjective] [noun] ...ever!



    (skip to 0:54 if you don't have the full minute, or, are deathly afraid of 1980s fashion)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 19, 2015
  6. Marceror

    Marceror Chaos Shall Be Sown In Their Footsteps Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) BoM XenForo Migration Contributor [2015] (for helping support the migration to new forum software!)

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    DR, you either have an amazing memory, or this commercial greatly scarred you. Either way, my condolences that this has been with you for so long. :(
     
  7. Death Rabbit

    Death Rabbit Straight, no chaser Adored Veteran Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    I have a weird thing for 80's nostalgia, particularly, commercials.
     
  8. dmc

    dmc Speak softly and carry a big briefcase Staff Member Distinguished Member ★ SPS Account Holder Resourceful Adored Veteran New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!)

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    Ouch. My brain hurts. Jason Alexander with hair. Singing about a hamburger. Ouch.
     
  9. Aldeth the Foppish Idiot

    Aldeth the Foppish Idiot Armed with My Mallet O' Thinking Veteran

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    Time to Narrow the Focus?

    I've been doing a little bit of electoral math here, and you don't get extra credit for exceeding the 270 electoral votes needed to win. Looking at the recent poll movement, despite my arguing to the contrary in the OP, Ohio and Florida look to be really important again. And these two states are moving in entirely different directions. Both states, after being pretty much toss-ups for the last several weeks, aren't looking that way now.

    Romney is currently about the 70% favorate to carry Florida (which is absolutely a must-win state for him), and Obama is also a 70% favorite to win Ohio. (The exact numbers at the moment are 69.4% chance of Romney in Florida, and 70.2% of Obama in Ohio, but I rounded both to 70%.) Now, with the list of battleground states I posted earlier, perhaps there's a means of narrowing that list a little more.

    There are on fact two other states that Obama is at least a 70% favorite in: Wisconsin and Nevada. With the 237 electoral votes Obama appears certain to win, if we add 18 for Ohio, 10 for Wisconsin, and 6 for Nevada, we get to 271. Colorado and Virginia are true toss-ups at this point in the race, while two other states in the OP - Iowa and New Hampshire, still lean Democrat. Of the two, New Hampshire seems rather unimportant here - with just 4 electoral votes, there are very few map combinations you can think up where those 4 votes are going to put you over the top - regardless of which candidate you're talking about. But at this point, there appears to be more like 7, not 10 true battleground states, and all three that I moved off the original list seem to be going to Romney.

    Obama could substitute Iowa for Nevada, as they both have 6 votes, but if you sub out Nevada for New Hampshire, you end up with 269, an exact tie, and Romney wins ties based on what will likely remain a Republican controlled House after the election.

    So the question really becomes where do you spend your resources? Romney doesn't have much choice - he basically has to try to compete everywhere as he needs to win most of those toss-up states because he has fewer votes from his "sure thing" states. But if you're Obama, does it make sense to put on a big press to try to get Florida back in your column? I'm not sure it does. Virginia and Colorado are still worth going after, because if you win one of them, it makes life a lot easier elsewhere.... provided you carry Ohio of course.

    And so I keep coming back to Ohio. It's just hard to make up those 18 votes if you lose them. You need to carry both Colorado AND Virginia (23 combined) to do that. And that is equally true from Romney's point of view as well - if you don't carry Ohio you basically have to carry everything else that's up for grabs - Virginia and Colorado are must wins in this scenario, and you need three out of four from Iowa, Wisconsin, New Hampshire AND Nevada. (So I guess that's where New Hampshire is important for Romney, as he wins on ties.)
     
  10. Master of Nuhn

    Master of Nuhn Wear it like a crown Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    I just can't wrap my head around the fact that with only 2 candidates, elections are still this puzzling.
     
  11. Vukodlak Gems: 22/31
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    [​IMG] Here's something I posted four years ago:

    And yet again... I always thought of the US presidential election system as bizarre, but I think it's time to downgrade to 'idiotic'.
     
  12. Aldeth the Foppish Idiot

    Aldeth the Foppish Idiot Armed with My Mallet O' Thinking Veteran

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    Vukodlack,

    To make it as brief as possible, the system in the US doesn't just count up all the votes a candidate gets and whoever has the most wins. Rather each state is awarded a certain number of votes, called electoral college votes, based on it's population. Every state receives a minimum of 3 electoral college votes, and it goes all the way up to 55, which California gets as the most populous state in the US.

    All told there are 538 electoral college votes available, of which a candidate needs 270 to win a presidential election. (In the case of an exact 269-269 tie, the House of Representatives elects the new president.)

    Ohio has 18 electoral college votes, while Florida has 29. And it's not that those 47 combined votes count any more or less than any other votes. They are less than 10% of the votes available, and it may seem strange that those who states can decide the election. But the only reason they are so important in the last few election cycles is because each candidates already have a lot of "sure thing" electoral votes coming from other states.

    The only reason Florida and Ohio take on such importance is that they represent states that can plausibly vote either Republican or Democrat. (Which is why they are termed "swing states" - they swing back and forth in their support for the two parties.) Since both candidates have over 200 "sure thing" votes, the gains from Florida and Ohio go a long way in getting them to that magic number of 270.

    But here's the thing: Swing states aren't static. Ohio and Florida haven't ALWAYS been the states that have determined the outcome of elections, and they won't always be - neither one was anywhere close to a swing state in 1984 or 1988. (Remember that the southeastern portion of the US was almost entirely Democrat prior to 1960. It's almost the complete reverse of that today.) If we fast-forward 20 years, Texas may become a swing state. Texas is a "sure thing" Republican state right now, but it has a fast growing Hispanic population, which tends to vote Democrat.

    The only reason some states take on additional importance is when the following criteria are met: The election is reasonably close, and both candidates are assured of winning at least 200 of the 270 electoral college votes necessary to win the presidency. With 400+ of the 538 electoral college votes effectively off the table, the remaining 100 or so take on additional importance, because it's how the candidates perfrom in those few remaining states that will determine the winner. And of course if half of the remaining electoral college votes are concentrated in just two of those states, those two states will become extremely important.
     
  13. Gaear

    Gaear ★ SPS Account Holder Resourceful

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    It's similar to how moderate undecided voters tend to determine election winners. They're vote doesn't count any more than anyone else's, but the fact that they could go either way makes whichever way they do go more significant.
     
  14. Blackthorne TA

    Blackthorne TA Master in his Own Mind Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    That's another thing that pisses me off about California: The all-or-nothing electoral vote scheme. If it were proportional, California would have to be more than a Hollywood fundraiser destination during the elections.
     
  15. Vukodlak Gems: 22/31
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    I am well aware. That would be far too simple and straightforward...
     
  16. Aldeth the Foppish Idiot

    Aldeth the Foppish Idiot Armed with My Mallet O' Thinking Veteran

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    And not to be too picky, but Florida and Ohio did NOT decide the 2008 presidential election. Obama won 365 electoral votes in 2008. Back in 2008, the electoral worth of states was different, because it's recalculated every 10 years. Florida had two fewer electoral votes, but was perfectly balanced in thta Ohio had two more. So the two states still accounted for 47 of the 538 votes. So, even if Obama had lost both of them, he still would have had more than enough to win the election.

    The thing I wouldn't like about that is would give even more disproportionate weight to the low population states. All of the states that have just three electoral votes would have only one Congressional district. Therefore, these states would remain "winner take all" because whoever won that single Congresssional district would necessarily win the state as well.
     
  17. Blackthorne TA

    Blackthorne TA Master in his Own Mind Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    Not necessarily. That would be true only if the state chose the Congressional district method of apportioning electoral votes. If they chose straight proportional, then the three would be divided in proportion to the popular vote.
     
  18. Aldeth the Foppish Idiot

    Aldeth the Foppish Idiot Armed with My Mallet O' Thinking Veteran

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    I agree. But the problem with that theory is that of the examples we have, that hasn't been done. Right now, there are only two states that allow for the division of their popular vote, and it's not done proportionately.

    The two states that do this are Nebraska and Maine. The way they do it is that an electoral vote is awarded for each Congressional district you win, and the additional two are awarded for whomever has the most total votes in the state. Since both of these states have relatively few electoral votes (Nebraska has 5 while Maine has 4) it does ensure that whomever wins the state overall also gets the most votes.

    In the case of Maine, the only outcome that would not give all the votes to a single candidate would be 3-1. That hasn't happened yet. Every year since adopting this system both Congressional districts have voted Democrat, and thus all 4 votes have gone to the Democratic candidate.

    In the case of Nebraska, you can get outcomes of 5-0, 4-1, or 3-2. In this case the state winner gets the most electoral votes as well (as there is no way to win the state without winning at least one of the three districts). In 2004, Bush won all 3 districts and thus all 5 electoral votes. But in 2008, Obama won the district that has Omaha, while losing the other two. McCain also had more total votes in the state, so in 2008, it was broken down as McCain 4, Obama 1.

    Now if they did it your way, I wouldn't mind it as much. I would have to imagine that in many of the plains states, about 1/3 of the vote is for the Democrat. While that means they have no freakin' chance of winning the state, it would mean that they could get a vote out of a straight proportional system.

    But even a straight proportional system has it's share of problems (which is why I don't think it's been adopted anywhere). How close do you need to get to a given percentage to get the electoral vote? Let's take one of those states with 3 electoral votes, like North Dakota. What happens if the Democratic candidate receives 25% of the vote. Is that worth an electoral vote? What if he gets 30%? Or take Maine with it's 4 electoral votes. How close do you need to get to 50% for it to be split 2-2?

    In these cases, the more electoral votes you have the easier it is to split. In your home state of California BTA, with 55 electoral votes, you could get the electoral vote count to mirror the popular vote count very closely.
     
  19. Rotku

    Rotku I believe I can fly Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!)

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    It surely depends on what type of proportional system you choose. It is not like the USA would be breaking new ground here - there are plenty of well established, well tested methods throughout the world that can be put in place. For examples, check the Sainte-Lague and D'Hondt method (just avoid Italy's system).
     
  20. Aldeth the Foppish Idiot

    Aldeth the Foppish Idiot Armed with My Mallet O' Thinking Veteran

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    I'm not saying it can't be done, I'm saying it hasn't been. And one of the main reasons (IMO) that I think it hasn't been adopted in too many states is twofold. One I have already mentioned. I think you're going to have a hard time getting people to agree on just HOW to proportionally divide the vote. However, the second may be more obvious: Why, in a state that is controlled predominantly by one party, woulld you want to change the system so that it benefits the other party?

    Let's take a deeply Republican state like Alabama. It has 9 electoral votes. Alabama has been sufficiently gerrymandered so that even though about one third of the state votes Democrat, 6 of Alabama's 7 Congressional Districts are served by a Republican. Both senators are Republican, and there is a Republican governor. Obviously Democrats are at a disadvantage here. Why would Republicans who control the state legislature want to change the system in place so that Democrats could now earn three out of Alabama's nine electoral votes?
     
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