Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Election Reading 1876 Tilden Vs Hayes

During the election I picked up a book, I thought some fiction would help distract me. I started 1876 by Gore Vidal, he has written a series of historical novels, many about the USA.

So I proceeded to read 1876, it had some familiar names I had seen before in another book, 'Empire' unfortunately in the wrong order. And then, towards the end of the book, guess what happened? A General Election! One remarkably similar to the election Bush 'won' from Gore!

Tilden(Dem) and Hayes(Rep) both thought Tilden had won, based on the popular vote. The result in the Electoral College was in question because the states of Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina each sent two sets of Electoral Votes to Congress.

Republicans had taken over the state governments in the South after the civil war (1865), but were unpopular with the overwhelmingly Democratic white southerners, many of whom resented what they perceived as interference from the North and blamed the Republicans for the Civil War. Republicans then were almost universally preferred by the South's newly enfranchised black voters. Both sides claimed victory though the Democratic claim was tainted by violence and the Republican by fraud.

The first contested election was that of 1800 when both Thomas Jefferson and his running mate, Aaron Burr, received 73 electoral votes, throwing the election into the House of Representatives. (After 36 ballots, the House chose Jefferson.) The consequence of the 1800 election was the 12th Amendment, providing that electors vote separately for president and vice-president.

The 1824 election saw a four-way split of electoral votes, with the House eventually choosing John Quincy Adams as president even though Andrew Jackson had received more electoral votes.

The 1876 election was a true mess, with disputes over which slates of electors had won in four different states. The final determination as to which slates of electors had in fact been elected was made on an 8-7 vote by a congressional commission. The commission's decision gave Rutherford Hayes 185 electoral votes and the presidency. The winner of the popular vote, Samuel Tilden, finished with 184 electoral votes.

In 1888, Republican Benjamin Harrison lost the popular vote to Grover Cleveland, but won narrowly in the Electoral College.

Then, in 2000, trouble brewed again when electoral victory hinged upon a terribly close and challenged fight for Florida's 25 electoral votes. The fight for Florida's votes went twice to the U. S. Supreme Court. It ended up with the five most conservative members of the Florida Court handing the presidency to George W. Bush.

A solution to this odd form of democracy is the National Popular Vote bill. In 2007, Maryland became the first state to enact the bill, then Hawaii, Illinois, and Virginia. Republicans have been skeptical of the National Popular Vote Bill because many "red" states are rural and have smaller populations (giving them disproportionate power in the Electoral College.

Watching the ConDem manoeuvres of the last few days, its interesting to see how other countries do it.

In looking up some of the data above, I found a few other interesting sites.

This website claims the more syllables in the name the candidate has, the more likely to win. It cites 28 Vs 12 cases in the USA.

While a local Green Blogger looks at the position on the ballot paper, a name beginning with A will be at the top, and so seen first. The statistical evidence points to a small advantage, 264 votes in a constituency. I am not about to change my name to get a few more votes.

This website compares how the GE would have looked under different systems. I have copied the data for the South East below.

Con Lab LD Other
75 4 4 1

Con Lab LD Other
74 4 5 1

Con Lab LD Other
63 3 4 1

Con Lab LD Other
50 11 23

All but STV would predict a Green Vote. But STV gives more votes to the LibDems.
I wonder which system the LD prefer?


Anonymous said...

The small states are the most disadvantaged group of states under the current system of electing the President. Political clout comes from being a closely divided battleground state, not the two-vote bonus.

12 of the 13 smallest states (3-4 electoral votes) are almost invariably non-competitive, and ignored, in presidential elections. Six regularly vote Republican (Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota),, and six regularly vote Democratic (Rhode Island, Delaware, Hawaii, Vermont, Maine, and DC) in presidential elections. So despite the fact that these 12 states together possess 40 electoral votes, because they are not closely divided battleground states, none of these 12 states get visits, advertising or polling or policy considerations by presidential candidates.

These 12 states together contain 11 million people. Because of the two electoral-vote bonus that each state receives, the 12 non-competitive small states have 40 electoral votes. However, the two-vote bonus is an entirely illusory advantage to the small states. Ohio has 11 million people and has "only" 20 electoral votes. As we all know, the 11 million people in Ohio are the center of attention in presidential campaigns, while the 11 million people in the 12 non-competitive small states are utterly irrelevant. Nationwide election of the President would make each of the voters in the 12 smallest states as important as an Ohio voter.

The concept of a national popular vote for President is far from being politically "radioactive" in small states, because the small states recognize they are the most disadvantaged group of states under the current system.

In the 13 smallest states, the National Popular Vote bill already has been approved by eight state legislative chambers, including one house in Delaware and Maine and both houses in Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Vermont. It has been enacted by Hawaii.

Anonymous said...

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. Candidates would need to care about voters across the nation, not just undecided voters in a handful of swing states.

The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes--that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

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. The National Popular Vote bill does not try to abolish the Electoral College, which would need a constitutional amendment, and could be stopped by states with as little as 3% of the U.S. population. Historically, virtually all of the major changes in the method of electing the President (for example, ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote) have come about without federal constitutional amendments, by state legislative action.

The bill has been endorsed or voted for by over 1,775 state legislators (in 48 states) who have sponsored and/or cast recorded votes in favor of the bill.

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). The recent Washington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University poll shows 72% support for direct nationwide election of the President. Support for a national popular vote is strong in virtually every state, partisan, and demographic group surveyed in recent polls in closely divided battleground states: Colorado-- 68%, Iowa --75%, Michigan-- 73%, Missouri-- 70%, New Hampshire-- 69%, Nevada-- 72%, New Mexico-- 76%, North Carolina-- 74%, Ohio-- 70%, Pennsylvania -- 78%, Virginia -- 74%, and Wisconsin -- 71%; in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): Alaska -- 70%, DC -- 76%, Delaware --75%, Maine -- 77%, Nebraska -- 74%, New Hampshire --69%, Nevada -- 72%, New Mexico -- 76%, Rhode Island -- 74%, and Vermont -- 75%; in Southern and border states: Arkansas --80%, Kentucky -- 80%, Mississippi --77%, Missouri -- 70%, North Carolina -- 74%, and Virginia -- 74%; and in other states polled: California -- 70%, Connecticut -- 74% , Massachusetts -- 73%, Minnesota -- 75%, New York -- 79%, Washington -- 77%, and West Virginia- 81%.

The National Popular Vote bill has passed 29 state legislative chambers, in 19 small, medium-small, medium, and large states, including one house in Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Oregon, and both houses in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. The bill has been enacted by Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, and Washington. These five states possess 61 electoral votes -- 23% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.