Saturday, October 09, 2004

American Democracy (1)

OK, so, American Democracy.

Well, a while or so ago I was pointed in the direction of Electoral Vote which basically showed a battle ground break down of the American elections. What is striking, from a first glimpse, is just how much of the map is Red (i.e. Republican). The whole middle of the continent is Red. But that’s where no-one lives. Many of those middle red states are virtually empty, hence why Montana, North and South Dakota and Wyoming all have the minimum constitutional allocation of Electoral College votes.

Digression – I should explain. The US Constitution does not account for direct election of the President:

Clause 2: Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.

Article II, Section 1, Clause 2.

That is, states vote for the president, using Electoral methods of their own choosing. The number of votes each state has is determined by:

Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed.

14th Amendment.

That is, by a process of apportionment which mathematically allocates the 435 Seats in the House of Representatives among the 50 States. The method is intended to make the allocation as equal as possible so that each representative has the same number of constituents as the rest.

However, a quick look at the breakdowns shows how this doesn’t quite work.

Wyoming had an assessed population of 495,304 which means they have 1 Representative (3 Presidential Electoral votes). Montana has 905,316 and 1 Representative (3 Presidential Electoral votes). That is Wyoming, the Electoral College votes per capita is 165,101 but in Montana it is 301,772. That is, Montana voters have nearly have the voting strength of Wyoming’s, despite have near double the population.

Now, the average apportionment is one representative per 646,952. According to the figures, just over half the population lives in states with lower apportionment rates, 141 to 140 million above and below.

In fact, for the most part, there is little deviation from the mid-range, except at the top and bottom. That is, Montana and Wyoming. Although the difference between the two is immense. Obviously, this is worse in big states above the median, because that means many millions of voters being effectively disenfranchised – as in New York, Texas and Florida (back to those in a while).

This, though, becomes worse when you add in the electoral votes from the Senators. That is, each state has two Senators in the House, and thus Two Electoral College Votes. Now, in any state with less than a million people, that means they have 1 Representative, and 2 Senators. 3 Electoral College Votes, with the non-proportional (i.e. not aligned to population levels) forming two thirds of their vote. Thus Wyoming voters are 165,101 per College Vote, whereas California is 616,924 (3.73 times as many voters per Electors). This is because California has 53 (out of 435 – 12%) Representatives, because it’s population is so large, so the Senatorial weighting has little impact.

What this means, back of a fag-packet maths. That on Average the Dems have are likely to win have 470,400 more or less per Electoral College Vote, Whereas the Reps. States’ are an average of 415,400 (ish).

Enough for now, more later on this fascinating topic.


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