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4/25/2015Political Science Module Developed by PQE 1 The Electoral College Edited by Me.

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1 4/25/2015Political Science Module Developed by PQE 1 The Electoral College Edited by Me

2 4/25/2015 Political Science Module Developed by PQE 2 Key Terms Electoral College Electors Political Legitimacy Winner-Take-All Election System Small State Bias Direct Popular Election

3 4/25/2015 Political Science Module Developed by PQE 3 The 2000 Election The Popular Vote Al Gore50,996,039 George W. Bush 50,456,141 The Electoral Vote George W. Bush271 Al Gore267

4 4/25/2015 Political Science Module Developed by PQE 4 Historical Background The framers of the Constitution disagreed on how to elect a president—congressional selection or direct popular election. The electoral college was a compromise, combining features of both approaches.

5 4/25/2015 Political Science Module Developed by PQE 5 The Electoral College and Federalism The electoral college also reflects the federal nature of the Constitution because it ensures that the states have a role in selecting the president.

6 4/25/2015 Political Science Module Developed by PQE 6 State Electoral Votes Each state is entitled to as many electoral votes as the sum of its representation in the U.S. House and Senate Texas: 32 House members plus 2 senators = 34 electoral votes Arkansas: 4 House members plus 2 senators = 6 electoral votes Total: 435 House members plus 100 senators plus 3 electors for the District of Columbia = 538 electoral votes

7 4/25/2015 Political Science Module Developed by PQE 7 Electors Individuals selected in each state to officially cast that state’s electoral votes. Montana selects 3 electors to cast the state’s 3 electoral votes. Framers anticipated that electors would be state leaders who would exercise good judgment. Today, party leaders select competing slates of electors who are typically long-time party activists. There are few faithless electors.

8 4/25/2015 Political Science Module Developed by PQE 8 Selection of Electors Each state determines the manner of selection. All but two states use a winner-take-all statewide election system (If Candidate A gets the most votes in a state, Candidate A gets the whole slate of electors.) Maine and Nebraska award electors based on the statewide vote and the vote in each of the state’s congressional districts.

9 Super Delegates National party leaders who automatically get a delegate slot at the national convention. They can vote they way they want—not necessarily how the majority wants them to. But that has never happened. 4/25/2015 Political Science Module Developed by PQE 9

10 4/25/2015 Political Science Module Developed by PQE 10 Voters and Electors A Texan who voted for Bush was really voting for a slate of electors pledged to cast the state’s electoral votes for Bush. In 2000, Bush won all of Florida’s 25 electoral votes because the final official vote tally showed him ahead of Gore by about 600 votes.

11 4/25/2015 Political Science Module Developed by PQE 11 The Real Election In December, the electors gather in their respective state capitols to cast ballots for president and vice president. In January, Congress convenes, opens the ballots received from each state, and announces the official outcome.

12 4/25/2015 Political Science Module Developed by PQE 12 What if no one receives a majority? To win, a candidate needs a majority, that is, 270 electoral votes. If no candidate has a majority, the House selects the president from among the three presidential candidates with the most electoral votes. Each state delegation has one vote. (This happened in 1824 when Congress chose John Quincy Adams over Andrew Jackson and William Crawford.) If no candidate has a majority, the Senate selects the vice president from the top two vice-presidential candidates.

13 4/25/2015 Political Science Module Developed by PQE 13 The Popular Vote One candidate may win states by lopsided margins while the other wins states by narrow margins. Another may win states by narrow margins One candidate may be helped by winning most of the smaller states, which get at least three electoral votes regardless of population.

14 4/25/2015 Political Science Module Developed by PQE 14 Popular Vote v. the Electoral Vote Electoral votes are not proportional to the popular votes! The consequences…. Bush over Gore in 2000 Benjamin Harrison over Grover Cleveland in 1888 Rutherford B. Hayes over Samuel Tilden in 1876

15 4/25/2015 Political Science Module Developed by PQE 15 Criticisms of the Electoral College The popular vote winner may lose the presidency. Electors may vote for persons other than their party’s presidential and vice presidential candidates. If no candidate receives a majority, Congress will pick the president and vice president.

16 4/25/2015 Political Science Module Developed by PQE 16 Political Legitimacy Political legitimacy is the popular acceptance of a government and its officials as rightful authorities in the exercise of power.

17 4/25/2015 Political Science Module Developed by PQE 17 Political Legitimacy and the Electoral College Proponents “ It conveys legitimacy to the winner in most closely fought presidential elections.” (For example, Bill Clinton won 69 percent of the electoral vote in 1992 despite capturing only 43 percent of the popular vote. The electoral college gave Clinton the appearance of the majority support necessary to be an effective president.)

18 4/25/2015 Political Science Module Developed by PQE 18 But don’t forget Florida The 2000 election demonstrated that the electoral college can sometimes undermine a president’s legitimacy. (Because of the electoral college, the outcome of the national presidential election was in doubt for more than a month even though one candidate enjoyed a clear popular vote plurality nationwide. The U.S. Supreme Court eventually determined the outcome of the election by halting the vote count in Florida.)

19 4/25/2015 Political Science Module Developed by PQE 19 Proposals for Reform Eliminate electors but still count electoral votes. Select electors based on the proportion of the vote each candidate gets in each state. Select electors by congressional districts with two electors chosen at large in each state. Choose the president by direct popular election.

20 4/25/2015 Political Science Module Developed by PQE 20 Will Reform Happen? Amending the Constitution is not easy. Small states would be opposed to reform because they benefit from the current system. Groups that are concentrated in states with large numbers of electoral votes (such as Cuban Americans, Jewish Americans, urban residents, etc.) would be opposed to reform because it would diminish their influence.

21 4/25/2015 Political Science Module Developed by PQE 21 Review Question North Carolina has 13 U.S. representatives. How many electoral votes does the state have?

22 4/25/2015 Political Science Module Developed by PQE 22 Answer North Carolina has 15 electoral votes. The formula is the number of U.S. senators, which is two for each state, plus the number of U.S. representatives. Two plus 13 equals 15.

23 4/25/2015 Political Science Module Developed by PQE 23 Review Question Who are electors?

24 4/25/2015 Political Science Module Developed by PQE 24 Answer They are individuals selected in each state to officially cast that state’s electoral votes. Electors are typically long-time party activists who are selected by their state party organization as a reward for their loyalty to the party. In most states, electors are officially pledged to support their party’s presidential and vice presidential candidates.

25 4/25/2015 Political Science Module Developed by PQE 25 Review Question Does it matter whether a candidate carries a state by a few votes or a lot of votes?

26 4/25/2015 Political Science Module Developed by PQE 26 Answer No. A candidate receives all of a state’s electoral votes whether the candidate carries the state by one vote or a million votes. In every state except Nebraska and Maine, the race is winner take all.

27 4/25/2015 Political Science Module Developed by PQE 27 Review Question What is the small state bias?

28 4/25/2015 Political Science Module Developed by PQE 28 Answer The electoral college has a small state bias because every state gets at least three electoral votes regardless of its population. As a result, small states such as Alaska, Wyoming, and South Dakota enjoy a greater percentage of electoral votes than they would merit based strictly on population.

29 4/25/2015 Political Science Module Developed by PQE 29 Review Question Why would most Cuban American political leaders likely oppose replacing the electoral college with direct popular election?

30 4/25/2015 Political Science Module Developed by PQE 30 Answer The electoral college gives Cuban Americans a disproportionate influence in national politics because of their concentration in the state of Florida, a state with a sizable number of electoral votes that is closely divided politically. Candidates for president cannot afford to ignore the political concerns of Cuban Americans because of their role in Florida elections.

31 4/25/2015 Political Science Module Developed by PQE 31 Discussion Question Why didn’t the 2000 election trigger a major effort to reform the electoral college?

32 4/25/2015 Political Science Module Developed by PQE 32 Discussion Question How does the electoral college impact candidate strategy in presidential election campaigns?

33 4/25/2015 Political Science Module Developed by PQE 33 Discussion Question Do you favor or oppose replacing the electoral college with a different system for selecting a president? If you support reform, what sort of system would you prefer?


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