Saturday, September 01, 2007

How Stupid Would Californians Have to Be?

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I started wondering when the residents of my state elected Arnold Schwarzenegger as their Governor, but this poll on the recent proposal to split California’s electoral votes really has me worried:
The Field Poll found that 47 percent of registered voters back a change to California's system for electoral votes, with 35 percent opposed. Republicans generally support the change more than Democrats.

When pollsters explained the political implication that Democratic presidential candidates might lose some electoral votes under a proportional system, the numbers changed: 49 percent supported the change and 42 percent opposed it (my emphasis).
In-f**king-credible! You can argue for a national popular vote all you want, and I’ll be right there with you. But for any State with a clear majority of Democratic or Republican voters to consider a proposal like this, without having it apply equally to all other States, is patently ridiculous!

If you are a Californian who plans on voting Democratic in 2008, and you consider this a reasonable proposal, please consider the following “back of a napkin” analysis:

According to the most recent statistics, California has about 15.6 million registered voters and 55 electoral votes. That’s 285,000 voters per delegate. Currently, Republicans hold 19 congressional seats, so presumably this proposal would give those 19 delegates to the Republican candidate. That’s 19 x 285,000, or the approximate equivalent of 5.4 million votes.

If you are planning to vote Democratic in 2008, voting for this measure would potentially negate your vote, plus the votes of every other Democratic voter you have ever known, or will ever know, in your life! Hell, it would probably negate the votes of every Democratic voter you, or anyone else you know, will ever know in their lives! For most people, it would probably even go so far as to negate Kevin Bacon’s vote!

And the main argument presented in favor of the proposal – that it would increase California’s influence by encouraging candidates to campaign here? Absolute horseshit!!!

Consider that California currently has 55 electoral votes, and assume that under this proposal 19 of them would go to the Republican candidate, with the remaining 36 going to the Democratic candidate. If this measure were to pass, 19 Republican votes would cancel out 19 of the Democratic votes, leaving the state with the fifth largest economy in the world with the same electoral clout as the State of Michigan, which currently has 17 electoral votes; and exactly half of the electoral clout of the State of Texas, which currently has 34 electoral votes!

Any Democratic voter in California who even signs a petition to get this measure on the ballot deserves to be immediately lobotomized!

Not that I’m advocating lobotomies, mind you, because that would certainly increase the pool of Republican voters, and if this measure passes and the Republicans pick up another 6 congressional districts, California would be reduced to the electoral clout of the State of Utah!


  1. The proposal to divide California's electoral votes by congressional district feeds on everyone's frustration with the current system of electing the President. The district approach is worse than the current system, even if were applied in all 50 states.

    The current system gave Bush 271 electoral votes in 2000 (with 270 needed to win), but, if the district approach were used nationally, Bush would have gotten 55% of the country’s congressional districts. In 2004, Bush’s won 50.7% of the popular vote, but 59% of the districts.

    Under the current system, voters in two thirds of the states are ignored, because their state is solidly red or blue. Only one third of the states are competitive. The proposed ballot measure would not, as claimed, make California relevant in presidential elections. The presidential race is a foregone conclusion in 50 of the state’s 53 grossly gerrymandered congressional districts. . Candidates would have no incentive to pay any more attention than they do now to the remaining 50 districts or the state as a whole.

    A national popular vote is a better way to make every voter relevant. See

  2. Giraffe8:21 PM

    Democrats can't possibly fall for this, do you think? It is only an initiative for California, not Texas or Florida or Ohio or anywhere else? Putting is on the ballet just before the election 2008 appears to be a sneaky way to slip it through if the democrats are all stupid. Maybe they want the Democrats to spend alot of money fighting this so they won't be able to use it elsewhere. Smacks of Carl Rove.

  3. Here's the thing--it is in danger of passing because it requires a very small fraction of the voters to be stupid. In California in 2004, Kerry got 54% of the vote and Bush got 44% (2% went to third parties and rounding).

    Now--you have to start by assuming that the Republicans know darn well this is a pro-Republican measure, so--smart or stupid--they're ALL voting for it. So they only need to find THIRTEEN PERCENT of the Democrats whose soft hearts are matched with heads soft enough think "making everyone's vote count" is what the ballot measure is about.

    (13% of 54% of the population is 7%--enough to get the majority. And the 1.5% who voted for third parties will likely support the measure overwhelmingly in the hope that someday they might be able to see their party's name in the electoral vote tally.)

  4. Relax. In spite of how the early polling numbers look they indicate this initiative is in trouble.

    Initiatives that have under 50% support in initial polling rarely end up passing. What these numbers show is that people think some sort of change in the electoral system may be a good idea, they are interested in looking at ideas. As they learn more about the particulars of this initiative support is likely to drop.

    Also consider that there may be competing initiatives on the ballot that will confuse voters and drive down the yes votes on both. In frustration, voters are more likely to vote no on competing initiatives rather than try to figure them out.

    If we can keep it off the ballot, all the better, but even if it does make it, passage is doubtful.

  5. Giraffe9:10 AM

    It is sad that ballots are written to confuse voters. Voting is complicated enough without deliberate tricks thrown in. Feinstein is talking about getting rid of the electoral college now. We better just be vigilant about what we've got and make sure we have honest vote counting and get everybody out there. More registration of young people.