This won’t be popular

September 19, 2008

I like this analogy (at the Huffington Post, of all places) explaining why, given the electoral college reality, it is both misleading and damaging to go on and on about the “popular vote.”

The year is 1960, and the underdog Pittsburgh Pirates face off against the feared New York Yankees in the World Series. The Pirates take the first game in a squeaker, 6-4, before being blown out in the next two games, the Yankees winning 16-3 and 10-0 to take the lead. The Pirates aren’t demoralized, though – they fight back, winning the next two games 3-2 and 5-2 on the strength of good pitching. But the Bronx Bombers strike again, demolishing the Pirates 12-0 to tie the series at three games each. The pivotal seventh game goes into the bottom of the ninth inning, when Pirate Bill Mazeroski hits a pitch over the left field wall to win the series for Pittsburgh by a score of 10-9.

 

But wait a minute. Did Pittsburgh really win? I mean, the game of baseball is all about scoring runs, isn’t it? And if we add up the runs, it’s clear the Yankees were better: they outscored Pittsburgh 55-27. Clearly the Yankees were really the winners – the Pirates’ World Series victory was illegitimate!

 

Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? After all, the goal of each team was to win four games, not get the most runs over the course of the series. Yet this is exactly what people do when they talk about “winning the popular vote”. This measure is like adding up runs in a baseball series: it is tallying the votes of 51 separate contests, which is not equivalent to properly measuring popular vote across an entire nation.

He doesn’t argue for or against the electoral college. He just points out that it’s the system in place, so it governs what the candidates do — the rules determine the goal, and the goal determines the strategy.

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3 Responses to “This won’t be popular”

  1. Doug Says:

    Which was why the Clinton supporters’ arguments for, say, ignoring caucus states were so ridiculous. The object of the contest was to maximize delegates.

    The problem with Bush wasn’t that Gore was more popular with Americans; it was the fraud in Florida engineered by brother Jeb. (Scrubbing the voter registrations prior to the election, for example.)

  2. gadfly Says:

    Democrats succeeded in preventing military absentee ballots from being counted in the 2000 election in all but 12 Florida counties. I guess fairness is determined by the perception of whose ox is being gored (pun intended).

    Re-counts in Florida were requested by algore and conducted only in Democratic-majority counties where precincts were controlled by Democrats.

    When the dust had settled, USA Today and the Miami Herald conducted their own post-election recount using the agreed-upon rules of counting “undervote” ballots (where no presidential candidate was chosen). Bush won the recount.

    Gore lost and Kerry lost. Obama will lose. Get over it.

  3. tim zank Says:

    Gadfly, very well put, but it will fall on deaf ears. Not necessarily Doug’s, he’s smarter than the average bear, but the mindset of most of the whacked out left edge loonies is that the election was stolen from them and absolutely nothing (truth, facts etc) will ever change their mind. They don’t have thought process that will allow for facts, common sense and the like. For them it’s all passion and emotion.

    You can argue with a liberal until your blue in the face (pun intended) and it will make no difference, as the liberal philosophy is a religion and you’ll never change a true believers mind whether it’s christianity, judaism, islam, or liberalism.

    Conservatives have the ability to actually change their minds when presented with common sense facts because conservatives have an built-in penchant for self betterment and self preservation. Liberals need someone to pull their leash.


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