Too Old and Outdated: Our Governance System

I was reading the conclusion of a book on climate change, The Great Warming, and came across this line by author Brian Fagan. He writes: “In an earlier book, I described industrial society as a huge supertanker that takes many miles to stop and maneuvers slowly. I accused our society of being oblivious and inattentive, of ignoring the climatic danger signals that lie ahead.”

This post is not about that threat to our society, although one could devote endless posts on that subject. Rather, this is about the outdated system of governance that we have to operate our 21st century society. For starters let us look at the method used to elect our president- the Electoral College. Each state is allotted 2 senators and therefore  given 2 electoral votes. Additionally, each state is given one more electoral vote for each representative in Congress. These are assigned per 700,000 citizens.

However, a state like Wyoming is given 3 electoral votes even though the entire state has only 580,000 people. Likewise, Vermont. Mathematically, Wyoming receives one electoral vote per 192,000 people. Hell, it has no city larger than 55,000! On the other end of the scale, California is awarded one electoral vote for every 700,000 citizens. This ratio holds true for the top dozen most populous states. The two Dakotas and Alaska round out the bottom 5 states whose electoral vote averages 230,000 people. Thirteen other states, at the top, average one vote per 650,000 people.

One man, one vote! Not.

The map of the 2012 Presidential election displays this voting anomaly. Note the massive RED west of the Mississippi which belies the fact that the BLUE state vote was 332 over RED 206.

Election Map Final 615.jpg

President Obama won 26 states; Romney 24, yet that mathematical ratio is not represented in the 336:206 Electoral College vote. Here’s a map with a more significant representation of the 2012 vote:

Election2012 3-D

The 3-D image clearly shows the urban clustering in the United States while indicating the vast areas of sparse population west of the Mississippi.

The question arises: are we still an agrarian society? Our Founding Fathers believed so and set up our system of governance based on that reality of the times. A few of them believed that we would always remain agrarian. So much for that ‘wisdom.’

Alas, we are left with the fact that we have a governing system terribly outdated. Can we live with it? What is the trend?  More urban or more agrarian? How will it ever be changed?

The answers are beyond my pay level.


26 thoughts on “Too Old and Outdated: Our Governance System

  1. The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps. There would no longer be a handful of ‘battleground’ states where voters and policies are more important than those of the voters in 80% of the states that now are just ‘spectators’ and ignored after the conventions.

    When the bill is enacted by states with a majority of the electoral votes– enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538), all the electoral votes from the enacting states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC.

    The presidential election system that we have today was not designed, anticipated, or favored by the Founding Fathers but, instead, is the product of decades of evolutionary change precipitated by the emergence of political parties and enactment by 48 states of winner-take-all laws, not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution.

    The bill uses the power given to each state by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for President. States can, and frequently have, changed their method of awarding electoral votes over the years. Historically, virtually all of the major changes in the method of electing the President, including ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote and 48 current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have come about by state legislative action.

    In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). Support for a national popular vote is strong among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group in virtually every state surveyed in recent polls in recent closely divided Battleground states: CO – 68%, FL – 78%, IA 75%, MI – 73%, MO – 70%, NH – 69%, NV – 72%, NM– 76%, NC – 74%, OH – 70%, PA – 78%, VA – 74%, and WI – 71%; in Small states (3 to 5 electoral votes): AK – 70%, DC – 76%, DE – 75%, ID – 77%, ME – 77%, MT – 72%, NE 74%, NH – 69%, NV – 72%, NM – 76%, OK – 81%, RI – 74%, SD – 71%, UT – 70%, VT – 75%, WV – 81%, and WY – 69%; in Southern and Border states: AR – 80%, KY- 80%, MS – 77%, MO – 70%, NC – 74%, OK – 81%, SC – 71%, TN – 83%, VA – 74%, and WV – 81%; and in other states polled: AZ – 67%, CA – 70%, CT – 74%, MA – 73%, MN – 75%, NY – 79%, OR – 76%, and WA – 77%. Americans believe that the candidate who receives the most votes should win.

    The bill has passed 32 state legislative chambers in 21 states with 243 electoral votes. The bill has been enacted by 10 jurisdictions with 136 electoral votes – 50.4% of the 270 necessary to go into effect.

    Follow National Popular Vote on Facebook via NationalPopularVoteInc

  2. I have to doubt these percentages. What dates between 1944 and 2012 do
    they represent. What is the source? As a resident of MS with a 77% thatis just unbelievable. Moreover, I just don’t see the GOP with less registered
    voters than the 90% of urban population of ever subscribing to such a system. Only takes, what, 12 states to veto it?

    There is a suggestion out there that is more plausible of acceptance. Each
    state on its own, under the laws of choosing electors, could decree that its
    electors are chosen on who has the majority national vote. This gives power
    to the states as their votes go to the winner and you take Party patronage
    rewards into account, you see. It’s more possible in that a constitutional
    amendment is not necessary. Theoretically, states would not want to be cut
    off from the Federal money. Case in point: Kasich of Ohio taking the BILLIONS for expanding Medicaid to 300,000 in Ohio; Brewer of AZ. There are idelogues out there likr Perry, Jindhal, and Bryant(MS)

    1. A survey of Mississippi voters conducted on December 21-22, 2008 showed 74% overall support for a national popular vote for President.

      By political affiliation, support for a national popular vote was 79% for a national popular vote among Democrats, 75% among Republicans, and 75% among Others.

      By age, support for a national popular vote was 81% among 18-29 year olds, 79% among 30-45 year olds, 75% among 46-65 year olds, and 76% for those older than 65.

      By gender, support for a national popular vote was 82% among women and 71% among men.

      By race, support for a national popular vote was 80% among whites (representing 61% of respondents), 72% among African Americans (representing 36% of respondents), and 60% among Others (representing 3% of respondents).

    2. The Gallup poll in 1944 asked:
      “It has been suggested that the electoral vote system be discontinued and Presidents of the United States be elected by total popular vote alone. Do you favor or oppose this proposal?”
      65% Favored

      In 1977, 73% favored, and in 1980, 67% favored when the Gallup poll asked:
      “Would you approve or disapprove of an amendment to the Constitution which would do away with the electoral college and base the election of a President on the total vote cast throughout the nation?”

      In a recent Gallup poll, support for a national popular vote, by political affiliation, was: 53% among Republicans, 61% among Independents, and 71% among Democrats.

    3. When states with a combined total of at least 270 electoral votes enact the National Popular Vote bill, the candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC would get the needed majority of 270+ electoral votes from the enacting states.

      The bill has 50.4% of the 270 electoral votes of states necessary to go into effect.

      While, to abolish the Electoral College would need a constitutional amendment, and could be stopped by states with as little as 3% of the U.S. population.

    4. National Popular Vote is not a constitutional amendment, and is more plausible of acceptance than a constitutional amendment. It is enacted by states. They agree to award their electors to the winner of the national popular vote.

      The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC), without needing to amend the Constitution.

      The National Popular Vote bill would change current state winner-take-all laws that award all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who get the most popular votes in each separate state (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but since enacted by 48 states), to a system guaranteeing the majority of Electoral College votes for, and the Presidency to, the candidate getting the most popular votes in the entire United States.

      The bill preserves the constitutionally mandated Electoral College and state control of elections. It ensures that every vote is equal, every voter will matter, in every state, in every presidential election, and the candidate with the most votes wins, as in virtually every other election in the country.

      1. The ‘problem’ that I have with polling information is twofold. First, much depends on the wording of the question. Second, the American electorate remains fairly uninformed about governance.

        Thus, polls often produce odd even inaccurate results in many cases. If the Electoral College question were asked to a citizen of Wyoming, for example, he/she might initially be in favor of eliminating that program until they gain more information re their own state’s unique power.

        1. A survey of Wyoming voters showed 69% overall support for the idea that the President of the United States should be the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states.

          Voters were asked “How do you think we should elect the President: Should it be the candidate who gets the most votes in all 50 states, or the current electoral college system?”

          By political affiliation, support for a national popular vote was 66% among Republicans, 77% among Democrats, and 72% among others.
          By gender, support was 76% among women and 62% among men.
          By age, support was 70% among 18-29 year olds, 68% among 30-45 year olds, 70% among 46-65 year olds, and 70% for those older than 65.


        2. In state polls of voters each with a second question that specifically emphasized that their state’s electoral votes would be awarded to the winner of the national popular vote in all 50 states, not necessarily their state’s winner, there was only a 4-8% decrease of support.

          Question 1: “How do you think we should elect the President: Should it be the candidate who gets the most votes in all 50 states, or the current Electoral College system?”

          Question 2: “Do you think it more important that a state’s electoral votes be cast for the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in that state, or is it more important to guarantee that the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states becomes president?”

          Support for a National Popular Vote
          South Dakota — 75% for Question 1, 67% for Question 2.

          Connecticut — 74% for Question 1, 68% for Question 2.

          Utah — 70% for Question 1, 66% for Question 2.

        3. Wyoming has no “unique power” in presidential elections.

          In 2012, 24 of the nation’s 27 smallest states received no attention at all from presidential campaigns after the conventions.- including not a single dollar in presidential campaign ad money after Mitt Romney became the presumptive Republican nominee on April 11. They were ignored despite their supposed numerical advantage in the Electoral College. In fact, the 8.6 million eligible voters in Ohio received more campaign ads and campaign visits from the major party campaigns than the 42 million eligible voters in those 27 smallest states combined.

          Now with state-by-state winner-take-all laws (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but since enacted by 48 states), presidential elections ignore 12 of the 13 lowest population states (3-4 electoral votes), that are non-competitive in presidential elections. 6 regularly vote Republican (AK, ID, MT, WY, ND, and SD), and 6 regularly vote Democratic (RI, DE, HI, VT, ME, and DC) in presidential elections. Voters in states that are reliably red or blue don’t matter. Candidates ignore those states and the issues they care about most.

          Kerry won more electoral votes than Bush (21 versus 19) in the 12 least-populous non-battleground states, despite the fact that Bush won 650,421 popular votes compared to Kerry’s 444,115 votes. The reason is that the red states are redder than the blue states are blue. If the boundaries of the 13 least-populous states had been drawn recently, there would be accusations that they were a Democratic gerrymander.

          Support for a national popular vote is strong in every smallest state surveyed in recent polls among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group. Support in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): AK -70%, DC -76%, DE –75%, ID -77%, ME – 77%, MT- 72%, NE – 74%, NH–69%, NE – 72%, NM – 76%, RI – 74%, SD- 71%, UT- 70%, VT – 75%, WV- 81%, and WY- 69%.

          Among the 13 lowest population states, the National Popular Vote bill has passed in nine state legislative chambers, and been enacted by 4 jurisdictions.

        4. Votes now in Wyoming and 39 other states are irrelevant and taken for granted in presidential elections.

          A nationwide presidential campaign, with every vote equal, would be run the way presidential candidates campaign to win the electoral votes of closely divided battleground states, such as Ohio and Florida, under the state-by-state winner-take-all methods.

          The itineraries of presidential candidates in battleground states (and their allocation of other campaign resources in battleground states) reflect the political reality that every gubernatorial or senatorial candidate knows. When and where every vote is equal, a campaign must be run everywhere.

          With National Popular Vote, when every vote is equal, everywhere, it makes sense for presidential candidates to try and elevate their votes where they are and aren’t so well liked. But, under the state-by-state winner-take-all laws, it makes no sense for a Democrat to try and do that in Vermont or Wyoming, or for a Republican to try it in Wyoming or Vermont.

          Seven western states (Arizona, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming), with only about a third of California’s population, generated almost the same popular-vote margin (1,219,595) for George W. Bush in 2004 as John Kerry’s margin in California (1,235,659). But, John Kerry received 55 electoral votes from California, while Bush received only 33 from the seven western states.

  3. I believe we are in agreement. No constitutional amendment is required. A state just needs to pass the enabling legislation. I wrote a good year ago
    about this proposal, when M_R wrote a POST about our electoral process.
    Isn’t former Senator Thompson a proponent of this legislation?

  4. National Popular Vote has support from a nonpartisan coalition of legislators, scholars, constitutionalists and grassroots activists.

    Former Tennessee U.S. Senator and 2008 presidential candidate Fred Thompson (R), former Illinois Governor Jim Edgar (R), and former U.S. Representative Tom Tancredo (R-CO) are co-champions of National Popular Vote.

    In 1969, The U.S. House of Representatives voted for a national popular vote by a 338–70 margin. It was endorsed by Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and various members of Congress who later ran for Vice President and President such as then-Congressman George H.W. Bush, and then-Senator Bob Dole.

    On June 7, 2011, the Republican-controlled New York Senate passed the National Popular Vote bill by a 47–13 margin, with Republicans favoring the bill by 21–11. Republicans endorsed by the Conservative Party favored the bill 17–7.

    In May 2011, Jason Cabel Roe, a lifelong conservative activist and professional political consultant wrote in National Popular Vote is Good for Republicans: “I strongly support National Popular Vote. It is good for Republicans, it is good for conservatives . . . , and it is good for America. National Popular Vote is not a grand conspiracy hatched by the Left to manipulate the election outcome.
    It is a bipartisan effort of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents to allow every state – and every voter – to have a say in the selection of our President, and not just the 15 Battle Ground States [that then existed in 2011].

    National Popular Vote is not a change that can be easily explained, nor the ramifications thought through in sound bites. It takes a keen political mind to understand just how much it can help . . . Republicans. . . . Opponents either have a knee-jerk reaction to the idea or don’t fully understand it. . . . We believe that the more exposure and discussion the reform has the more support that will build for it.”

    National Popular Vote’s National Advisory Board includes former Senators Jake Garn (R–UT), and David Durenberger (R–MN) and former congressman John Buchanan (R–AL).

    Saul Anuzis, former Chairman of the Michigan Republican Party for five years and a former candidate for chairman of the Republican National Committee, supports the National Popular Vote plan as the fairest way to make sure every vote matters, and also as a way to help Conservative Republican candidates. This is not a partisan issue and the NPV plan would not help either party over the other.

    Rich Bolen, a Constitutional scholar, attorney at law, and Republican Party Chairman for Lexington County, South Carolina, wrote:”A Conservative Case for National Popular Vote: Why I support a state-based plan to reform the Electoral College.”

    Some other supporters who wrote forewords to “Every Vote Equal: A State-Based Plan for Electing the President by National Popular Vote ” include:

    Laura Brod served in the Minnesota House of Representatives from 2003 to 2010 and was the ranking Republican member of the Tax Committee. She was the Minnesota Public Sector Chair for ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) and active in the Council of State Governments.

    James Brulte served as Republican Leader of the California State Assembly from 1992 to 1996, California State Senator from 1996 to 2004, and Senate Republican leader from 2000 to 2004.

    Ray Haynes served as the National Chairman of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in 2000. He served in the California State Senate from 1994 to 2002 and was elected to the Assembly in 1992 and 2002

    Dean Murray is a member of the New York State Assembly. He was a Tea Party organizer before being elected to the Assembly as a Republican, Conservative Party member in February 2010. He was described by Fox News as the first Tea Party candidate elected to office in the United States.

    Thomas L. Pearce served as a Michigan State Representative from 2005–2010 and was appointed Dean of the Republican Caucus. He has led several faith-based initiatives in Lansing.

    More than 2,110 state legislators (in 50 states) have sponsored and/or cast recorded votes in favor of the National Popular Vote bill.

  5. I don’t understand all this GOP support. What am I missing, TOTO? It doesn’t possible that the GOP can support an electoral system that
    will keep them from winning the presidency.

    1. Most Americans don’t care whether their presidential candidate wins or loses in their state . . . they care whether he/she wins the White House. Voters want to know, that even if they were on the losing side, their vote actually was directly and equally counted and mattered to their candidate. Most Americans think it’s wrong for the candidate with the most popular votes to lose. We don’t allow this in any other election in our representative republic.

      By state (electoral college votes), by political affiliation, support for a national popular vote in recent polls has been:

      Alaska (3)- 78% among (Democrats), 66% among (Republicans), 70% among Nonpartisan voters, 82% among Alaska Independent Party voters, and 69% among others.
      Arkansas (6)- 88% (D), 71% (R), and 79% (Independents).
      Arizona – 60% (R), 79% (D), and 57% others
      California (55)– 76% (D), 61% (R), and 74% (I)
      Colorado (9)- 79% (D), 56% (R), and 70% (I).
      Connecticut (7)- 80% (D), 67% (R), and 71% others
      Delaware (3)- 79% (D), 69% (R), and 76% (I)
      District of Columbia (3)- 80% (D), 48% (R), and 74% of (I)
      Florida (29)- 88% (D), 68% (R), and 76% others
      Idaho(4) – 84% (D), 75% (R), and 75% others
      Iowa (6)- 82% (D), 63% (R), and 77% others
      Kentucky (8)- 88% (D), 71% (R), and 70% (I)
      Maine (4) – 85% (D), 70% (R), and 73% others
      Massachusetts (11)- 86% (D), 54% (R), and 68% others
      Michigan (16)- 78% (D), 68% (R), and 73% (I)
      Minnesota (10)- 84% (D), 69% (R), and 68% others
      Mississippi (6)- 79% (D), 75% (R), and 75% Others
      Montana – 67% (R), 80% (D), and 70% others
      Nebraska (5)- 79% (D), 70% (R), and 75% Others
      Nevada (5)- 80% (D), 66% (R), and 68% Others
      New Hampshire (4)- 80% (D), 57% (R), and 69% (I)
      New Mexico (5)- 84% (D), 64% (R), and 68% (I)
      New York (29) – 86% (D), 66% (R), 78% Independence Party members, 50% Conservative Party members, 100% Working Families Party members, and 70% Others
      North Carolina (15)- 75% liberal (D), 78% moderate (D), 76% conservative (D), 89% liberal (R), 62% moderate (R) , 70% conservative (R), and 80% (I)
      Ohio (18)- 81% (D), 65% (R), and 61% Others
      Oklahoma (7)- 84% (D), 75% (R), and 75% others
      Oregon (7)- 82% (D), 70% (R), and 72% (I)
      Pennsylvania (20)- 87% (D), 68% (R), and 76% (I)
      Rhode Island (4)- 86% liberal (D), 85% moderate (D), 60% conservative (D), 71% liberal (R), 63% moderate (R), 35% conservative (R), and 78% (I),
      South Carolina – 64% (R), 81% (D), and 68% others
      South Dakota (3)- 84% (D), 67% (R), and 75% others
      Tennessee 73% (R), 78% (D)
      Utah (6)- 82% (D), 66% (R), and 75% others
      Vermont (3)- 86% (D); 61% (R), and 74% Others
      Virginia (13)- 79% liberal (D), 86% moderate (D), 79% conservative (D), 76% liberal (R), 63% moderate (R), and 54% conservative (R), and 79% Others
      Washington (12)- 88% (D), 65% (R), and 73% others
      West Virginia (5)- 87% (D), 75% (R), and 73% others
      Wisconsin (10)- 81% (D), 63% (R), and 67% (I)
      Wyoming (3) – 77% (D), 66% (R), and 72% (I)

    2. More than 2,110 state legislators (in 50 states) have sponsored and/or cast recorded votes in favor of the National Popular Vote bill.

      The National Popular Vote bill also has been endorsed by the New York Times (NY), Chicago Sun-Times (IL), Minneapolis Star-Tribune (MN), Los Angeles Times (CA), Boston Globe (MA), Sacramento Bee (CA), Anderson Herald Bulletin (IN), Fayetteville Observer(NC), Hartford Courant (CT), The Tennessean (TN), Daily Astorian (OR), Sarasota Herald Tribune (FL), Miami Herald (FL), Connecticut Post (CT), Wichita Falls Times Record News (TX), Cape Cod Times (MA), The Daily News, Milford Daily News (MA), Patriot Ledger(MA), Denver Post (CO), Westport News and Fairfield Citizen News (CT), The Baxter Bulletin(AR), Frederick News Post (MD), Kent County Times(RI), Enterprise News(MA), The Columbian (WA), as well as the League of Women Voters, Common Cause, FairVote, Sierra Club, NAACP, National Black Caucus of State Legislators, ACLU, the National Latino Congreso, Asian American Action Fund, DEMOS, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, Public Citizen, U.S. PIRG, the Brennan Center for Justice, and Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund.

  6. TOTO: You haven’t answered my question of why the GOP believes this will
    let them win the Presidency. The purpose is to win the election, as you said
    above. Democratic Presidential candidates are already winning the
    popular vote. 90% of Americans live in the urban area. They are only going
    to increase in population. 10 million Latinos ae coming into the electoral
    system, and they are overwhelmingly Democratic. What am I missing
    that leads the GOP to support this measuire. The organization you mentiioned above are groups that lean progressive or democracratic.
    Where is the Business RoundTable, The Chamber of the Commerce, National Association of Manufactures, etc?

    1. Republicans, who support a national popular vote, believe like most Americans, that every vote, every where should be equal and matter, and the candidate with the most votes should win.

      The population of the top five cities (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Philadelphia) is only 6% of the population of the United States and the population of the top 50 cities (going as far down as Arlington, TX) is only 15% of the population of the United States.

      Suburbs and exurbs often vote Republican.

      If big cities controlled the outcome of elections, the governors and U.S. Senators would be Democratic in virtually every state with a significant city.

  7. And what do you think of the concept, M_R? Isn’t this a way to progressively change the electoral college without the impossibility
    of amending the Constitution?

    1. It is, in fact, the ONLY way because there will never be enough states to ratify an amendment.

      Back to the problem with our laws of governance: should we move on to problem #2?

    1. Yes on VA Blue.

      The 2nd problem is the ineffectiveness of Congress and the unfair distribution of senators. Re the senators, California and Wyoming have two each. How asinine!

      Re the House, each member represents 700,000 people [on average]. WAY TOO MANY people to be represented by one congressman.

  8. It’s the system, my friend!! It’s the Great Compromise of 1787 that
    enabled the Constitution to come into existence. Go get rid of Portman.
    Is it the framework of government that is responsible or the fact that the liv
    base of the Ohio Democratic Party stays home on election day? Don’t tell
    us, M_R, that a base which can turn out to rescind an unpopular collective
    bargaining law is unable to elect 2 Democratic senators. Only one reason,
    they stay home.

    BTW, will Portman have a tea party primaried?

  9. …or the fact that the liv base of the Ohio Democratic Party stays home on election day?

    Yes THEY do. Today is Election Day and I’ll let you know tomorrow who voted and if THEY voted.

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