Hillary wins the popular vote – not

Update: See also Counting Absentee Votes

Okay, let’s address this “Hillary might win the popular vote, isn’t that Electoral College situation just awful” thing head on.

No, it’s not awful.  It’s great, and it protects the importance of your vote.  It’s also uniquely American and demonstrates yet again the once-in-creation brilliance of the Founding Fathers.

First of all, she’s probably not going to win the actual number of votes cast.  She may win the number of votes counted, but not the votes cast.

States don’t count their absentee ballots unless the number of outstanding absentee ballots is larger than the state margin of difference.  If there is a margin of 1,000 votes counted and there are 1,300 absentee ballots outstanding, then the state tabulates those.  If the number of outstanding absentee ballots wouldn’t influence the election results, then the absentee ballots aren’t counted.

Who votes by absentee ballot?  Students overseas, the military, businesspeople on trips, etc.  The historical breakout for absentee ballots is about 67-33% Republican.  In 2000, when Al Gore “won” the popular vote nationally by 500,000 votes and the liberal media screamed bloody murder, there were 2 million absentee ballots in California alone.  A 67-33 breakout of those yields a 1.33- to 0.667-million Republican vote advantage, so Bush would have gotten a 667,000-vote margin from California’s uncounted absentee ballots alone!  So much for Gore’s 500,000 popular vote “victory.”  (That was the headline on the N.Y. Times, and it was the lead story on NBC Nightly News, right?  No?  You’re kidding.)

Getting back to the “win the popular vote/lose the Electoral College” scenario: Thank G-d we have that, or else California and N.Y. would determine every election.  Every time.

I’ll draw a boxing analogy for you.  In boxing, the scoring for a completed fight (one where there’s no knockout, but instead goes the full distance) is done either on a Rounds basis or a Points basis (agreed upon in advance).  Let’s say it’s a 10-round fight, scored on the Rounds basis.  The judges decide which boxer wins each round, and the fight is scored 7-3 or 6-4 or 8-2.

The other way a fight can be scored is on the Points basis.  Under this system, a fighter is given 10 points for winning the round, and the loser gets 1-9 points, depending on how close or badly he loses it.

Let’s say Jones has two really big rounds where he knocks Jackson down a few times and really has him in trouble, winning those two rounds by scores of 10-6.  But Jones wins only two other rounds, and those by very close 10-9 margins.

Jackson wins the 6 other rounds, all by 10-9 margins.  No question that Jackson won those six rounds, but they weren’t overly dramatic.  Just solid wins.

So Jackson wins by rounds, 6-4.

Jones wins by points, 94-90.

California and N.Y. are the 10-6 rounds.  Those two states will unduly and disproportionately affect the election every time.  The other big-population states are all 10-9 rounds.  That means that the vast majority of 48 states and their populations will be subject to the whim and desire of just two states.  If those two states have similar demographics and voting preferences at any particular point in time (which they do now), then those two states call the shots for the entire country.

But the Electoral College brilliantly smooths out the variances in the voting proclivities among states and regions.  Farmers in the middle of the country and importers and exporters on the shore get roughly equal say, as do Madison Ave. execs and factory workers in Tennessee.

Shortcomings?  Sure.  The E.C. can make an R vote meaningless in a very few heavily D states or vice versa.  But without the Electoral College, the country’s entire population is subject to the disproportionate voting preferences of the few most populous states.

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