The Electoral College and Popular Vote

EDIT: Whoops. Forgot to proofread my work and left in the notes to myself to add the links to support my words.

rxl2yIt seems like the proctologist business is booming because there seems to be a lot of butts that are hurt over the recent United States 2016 Presidential Election. Namely, over its results. The God-Emperor Donald J. Trump, the madman himself, has won the presidential election. That’s right, despite almost every news station, newspaper, news website, celebrities, hell, despite what several popular YouTubers said about Trump being ‘deplorable’, he won. I guess it just goes to show that attempting to no-platform ideas you disagree with doesn’t work forever.

So being the tolerant leftists that they are they stood down and accepted… oh wait. They didn’t. Which is fairly odd because Clinton herself said that Trump was undermining democracy by saying he wouldn’t accept the outcome if he lost. She said this on national television during the third (and I believe the second) presidential debate. Now those of you that watch the full clip will know that Clinton called Trump out on it because he’s a Presidential candidate, but if we are to believe the idea of citizen representatives we have to extend it to all citizens of the United States. So these (presumably) Clinton supporters (or at least a large chunk of them are) are protesting, undermining democracy in the same way their candidate said that which they hate was undermining democracy! Irony and hypocrisy make such a delicious combo. So now they’re protesting, blocking streets, beating up 74-year old men, and damaging property. Now the point of this post isn’t to point out the hypocrisy in people or even the left, I’d be here all day. However, I believe there is something of value to come out of these… protests.

There’s a kink in this victory, the Honorable President-Elect Donald J. Trump may have won the electoral college votes (barring any shenanigans in December), but he LOST the popular vote by about half a million votes (illegal immigrant vote came out this time). So now we run into the fifth case of the person that won the popular vote losing the electoral college vote (again, assuming no elector shenanigans). We’ve had this happen five times in the history of our United States. George Washington was our first president in 1789 and Donald Trump will be our president in 2017. 2017-1789 = 228. But we only have an election every 4 years, so 228/4 = 57. So we’ve had 5 out of 57 elections or 8.7% of elections in which the president did not become the president with the popular vote.

So where are we at today? Well, those same leftists I mentioned earlier are proposing that Clinton should be the president despite losing the Electoral College system vote because she won the popular vote. I cannot agree to this and I’ll tell you why. It’s a simple matter of cities holding the most power.

First, CGP Grey (fantastic YouTuber, highly recommend just watching a playlist of his content) argues against the Electoral College because of a mathematical quirk. In this, he counters the ‘Presidential candidates will only visit densely populated states in a popular vote system’ argument with the swing state condition that we’re in right now. I don’t like his argument here. Right now and for the past several elections, candidates have focused on the swing states. While true, the argue is entirely based on the situation now. That situation can change, and his argument only holds while those swing states remain those swing states. Theoretically any state can become a swing state and I would not be surprised if with some population distribution we could make ALL of them swing states. So I don’t like the ‘swing states exist and presidents ignore all other states’ argument.

Second, CGP Grey (same video above) lists the more pressing problem with Electoral College in that 75% of the country can vote against a candidate and that candidate can still win. This would be a problem if we Americans lived in a true democracy, but we don’t. I think the question here is whether or not we want to accept such a possibility if it were to occur. Is it really fair that 25% of people in the country can decide who leads our nation for the next four years?

Third, CGP Grey has made (another?) follow-up video in which he addresses the concerns that I might have with the Electoral College – trust. Do we really trust the electors to vote as the states requested? It’s illegal in some states to not do so, but are the consequences of not doing so steep enough? The answers to these questions are up to you but I do believe they’re worth talking about.

Now onto my contribution. The reason I brought this up is because all of a sudden people care whether or not the United States President is selected democratically by popular vote or continues to be selected by the Electoral College. More specifically, I wanted to take a look at this:

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So this is a list of the most highly populated areas in the United States. The implication being that such a small area of the United States would have great power over the United States. Should the president be elected solely by people that live in what looks like an impossibly tiny faction of the United States? I disagreed, but I wanted to see how far this rabbit hole goes so I went digging.

First, I found the average number of electoral votes per state. We have 538 electoral votes, 50 states and 1 Washington D.C. That’s an average of over 10 electoral votes per state. A state cannot have a fraction of a vote, so let’s round down to 10 electoral votes per person. If you look at every state worth 10 or more electoral votes, it looks like this:

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(Don’t focus too much on them being marked for Trump, it’s for visualization purposes only)

10 is the average number of electoral votes, therefore there should be about 25 states here, right? Half of the states should be above the average, half of the states should be below it. There are 21 states here. That’s not too far off, but it’s still only 80% the number of states that it should be. What’s the problem? As you can see, 42% of states control 70% of the electoral college votes. Is this fair? It might be. Let’s look at this list of cities with the most population in the United States.

Of the 50 cities, only 4 are not listed within the states I’ve marked red on the map above. Which means if, assuming you win the most populous cities in the United States under a popular vote system, you control the presidency. But I wonder, how many cities do you need to control to control the presidency? For the 2016 election, there were 146,311,000 registered voters. You only need 50% + 1 vote to win, so you need 73,155,501 votes to win. So how do the cities stack up? Well, if every person in every one of those 50 cities voted for you, you’d have 50,102,395 votes. You wouldn’t have the presidency outright, but you’d be 67% of the way there. The odds of this happening are probably negligible but visiting these areas can still give you impact on surrounding cities, so hopefully that balances things out. Assuming you won every state that had one of these major cities in them, you’d have an electoral map that looked like this:

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So this is better in that it includes more of the country, but it’s still 29 states (well, 28 states and D.C.). Most of those states would probably be ignored because they had little to no population. I suspect the midwest as a group would probably be mostly ignored under a popular vote system. So there’s no reason for someone in the Dakotas to bother getting excited about any president because they can disregard the Dakotas completely.

I think the main reason people are opposed to the electoral college is because of the influence a republican vote has in California. Why bother voting republican if you’re in California? It’s loaded with democrats and there’s no way you can topple that might. Because you vote for the votes of your state, you may as well not bother getting out of bed that day. But if you’re in a popular vote system, aha! Now your vote matters even if you’re a republican in California. I don’t like this line of logic. Surely if the republicans made themselves distinguishable in California, they might attract more campaign time for those sweet 55 electoral votes. Maybe after a few cycles of this, republicans can make a swing state of California. But you’ll never be heard if you do not vote.

I think the main press for popular vote by the left is because of their base demographic. Democrats are known for their love of social programs. Where are the people that are on these social programs? They’re in the cities! So the left is confident that in a popular vote system that they’ll have more power. Of those 50 cities, how many were in California? 8. There were 8 cities that account for 9,066,724 votes. These 8 cities in California account for over 10% of the votes needed to win the presidency. And they’re all in one small area. The electoral college allows the states with fewer people to be competitive with the larger states… in theory (swing states are still a thing whether we like it or not).

To be clear, I’m not saying that the current system is perfect, but I do believe that it is better than one based on pure popular vote. I’m not suggesting any alternative method. I’m just asking you to reconsider your outrage when it comes to popular vote and the electoral college. That’ll be it from me, thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

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The Electoral College and Popular Vote

Why I Oppose Free College Tuition

It’s weird to hear that out of a millennial and possibly hypocritical to hear it from someone with a college degree but here we go: I oppose free college tuition. Here’s why.

The first and perhaps most important reason I don’t want free college tuition is because I do not want to invite the taxpayer into my education decisions. I think something most people forget when it comes to subsidization programs is that when you subsidize something like health care, you’ve invited the taxpayer into your life. Let’s consider an example: birth control. There’s a funding of birth control argument going on in the United States right now. Some people want the government to fund birth control to those that wish to claim it. That’s fine, you’re allowed to want whatever you want to want. When you want something subsidized by the government though, that’s when things get hairy. Now it’s not you paying for it, it’s not you spending your money on something that you want but rather you spending my money, and my neighbor’s money, and so on for something that you want. And now that you’re spending our money on something that you want, we get to have a little say in how we’d like our money to be spent.

Now let’s apply this to education. Secondary schools have a curriculum set by the state and partially by the feds. Some schools offer electives, but by and large they conform to an education standard that you have no control over and the student has no control over. We already see this in part for higher education in the general education courses. But those usually take 1-2 years to complete, after which you are free to select courses that suit your major and your liking. If we were to subsidize education, those options could be largely restricted, in fact even the degrees you may obtain could be severely restricted. Now that the taxpayer is funding your education, the taxpayer gets to decide what gets taught and what doesn’t get taught. They get to decide what degrees get handed out.

What you’ve also done is invited the taxpayer to set minimum requirements on entry into college. I may be wrong, but at this time I think pretty much anyone willing to pay for college may go to college. There’s a joke which says colleges would offer underwater basket-weaving as a major if it were profitable to do so. Which I personally find great. If you want to go to school for underwater basket-weaving and you can afford it, good on you! That’s the American dream! But if the taxpayer gets involved and says that they think that it’s a waste of time to send students with a high school GPA less than 3.0 to college, suddenly colleges get a lot emptier.

You’ve also invited the taxpayer to set the requirements to maintain that funding. Let’s say you have to maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher throughout all of your years in college. Seems reasonable enough, right? Well let’s take that bright student and suppose something happens in their lives halfway through their education which causes their grades to drop. Let’s not use romance… let’s say there’s a death in the family. The student’s uncle dies. The student gets depressed, their grades drop below the 3.0 GPA minimum and now they can’t get funding for the year because of something entirely beyond their control. The student, no matter how bright they may be has lost their chance because their funding got handed to someone else who fit the requirements through no fault of their own.

Let’s revisit the restriction of majors thing. Now I don’t suspect majors will no longer be offered, rather that the student that wants to major in whatever may not be eligible for free tuition. Let’s take a relatively useless degree like Gender Studies. A Gender Studies degree isn’t good for a lot of jobs. Taxpayers don’t want their money to be handed out to degrees which don’t enrich the country. They don’t want their money going to degrees that don’t result in good jobs. What this means is that STEM degrees will likely be the only degrees in which a student may be eligible for free tuition. A possible benefit to this sort of system is that it will encourage people to go to higher education for STEM degrees, but it’s not like those programs aren’t in place right now. If you’re a black woman that wants a STEM degree, the government and various charities will THROW MONEY AT YOU to get it (for the sake of ‘diversity’).

People also tend to note that we’ve run into an issue of ‘escalation’ in which a college degree today is the high school degree of 30 years ago. While true, you don’t solve the problem by making college tuition free. We actually have the exact experiment to prove the results already – high school (depending on location) is already subsidized mostly by the government. It has been that way for quite some time. Pretty much everyone is getting a high school degree. Imagine now that you subsidize college and everyone gets a Bachelor’s degree. You’ve raised the floor to where a Bachelor’s degree is no longer useful and now employers will want a Master’s degree. And then you’ll inevitably turn around and say ‘Now we gotta subsidize graduate school’ to the point where all education is subsidized. You’ve turned an investment towards getting higher income potential into the floor. College will no longer increase income potential like it (arguably) does today. Instead it will become the minimum requirement, and people who fail to excel in high school, or people who fail out of high school will be left to the wolves. The dropout rate in the United States is about 6.5%. Do you think that 6.5% is struggling today to get jobs because of high school diploma requirements? Imagine a world in which the high school diploma is no longer the floor. They’re going to struggle even harder. To put that into perspective – the current unemployment rate is around 5% (I know about the workforce participation business, let’s just set that aside). If the high school diploma is the floor right now, and the unemployment rate is 5%, do you imagine that if we raise the floor to college degree that the unemployment rate will increase or decrease? Do you think that 6.5% will be able to get a job or not? Those inter-city students that Teach for America focuses on? They are probably screwed.

In summary, I don’t see free tuition as a benefit. I only see it as a way of restricting options and harming the lower class. I do see the benefits that it may yield in the way of providing a path for more STEM degrees, but I don’t see the trade-off as worth it. I already complain about public education as being a way of putting all students into boxes by manufacture date, with a curriculum designed to make them all equal. Do not bring this to higher education. The only outcome I see for free tuition is a fleet of drones produced every year, and that’s not the America that I want to live in. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

Why I Oppose Free College Tuition