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Overview of Presidential Elections

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1 Overview of Presidential Elections

2 The American “Party Systems”
Framers' Non-Partisan System ( ) First Party System ( ) Democratic-Republicans vs Federalists (agrarian/labor) (commercial/financial) (mostly South & “West”) (Northeast & especially N.E.) Congressional Caucus nominating system Era of Good Feelings and One-Party Factionalism ( ) collapse of Federalist Party collapse of Congressional Caucus

3 “Party Systems” (cont.)
Second Party System ( ) Democrats vs. Whigs (Nat. Reps.+ Anti-Masonic) (agrarian and lower-class) (commercial and upper-class) largely non-sectional rise of mass parties and campaigns origins of party organization based on patronage greatly increased franchise and turnout creation national nominating convention extensive third party activity (and fusion) Civil War Disruption ( ) Democrats vs. Republicans (N. Whigs + Free Soil) (pro-South) (North)

4 “Party Systems” (cont.)
Third Party System ( ) Democrats vs Republicans (agrarian + labor + immigrants) (commercial/industrial) (South plus some North) (most of North) very close and high-turnout elections from 1874 onward frequent divided government after 1876, consolidation of “Solid South” rise of political machines based on patronage highpoint of party-dominant nominating politics introduction of Australian ballot and anti-fusion laws agrarian protest third party movements

5 “Party Systems” (cont.)
Fourth Party System ( ) Democrats (+ Populists) vs Republicans agrarian plus immigrants) (commercial/industrial) (South plus some West and some cities) (Northeast & Midwest) maximal sectionalism black disenfranchisement in the Jim Crow South rise of Progressive political reforms voter registration, primaries, initiative and referendum, etc. decline of voting turnout rise of “mixed system” of nomination (with Pres. primaries) political machines begin to decline

6 “Party Systems” (cont.)
Fifth (New Deal) Party System ( ) Democrats vs Republicans (labor/ethnic/urban plus South) (business & prof. [outside of South]) class based politics (outside of South) New Deal vs. anti-New Deal increased turnout civil rights movement and cracks in the old “Solid [Democratic] South” conflict between “new reformers” and “old bosses” origins of mass media campaigns, etc.

7 “Party Systems” (cont.)
Sixth Party System ( ?) Democrats vs Republicans (“liberals”) (“conservatives”) (pro-New Deal remnant) (anti-New Deal remnant) (great majority of non-whites) (majority of whites) largely non-sectional but low turnout rise of social/cultural issues rise of candidate-oriented Pres. nominating politics migration of white Southerners from Dem ==> Rep weaken party identification and “affect” in electorate rise of candidate-centered politics and media campaigns era of divided government (Rep. Presidents vs. Dem. House)

8 “Party Systems” (cont.)
Seventh Party System (2000? - ???) Democrats vs Republicans (“blue states”) (“red states”) coastal America middle America secular America religious America (great majority of non-whites) (majority of whites) increased turnout dominance of social/cultural issues solidification of “solid Republican South” (Cong. + Pres.) strengthened party identification in electorate greatly strengthen party unity in Congress extremely close Presidential and Congressional elections resumption of unified government

9 Realigning Elections 1796-1800 ushering in First Party System
ushering in Second Party System ushering in Third Party System 1896 ushering in Fourth Party System ushering in Fifth Party System ushering in Sixth Party System 2000-??? Ushering in ????

10 Landslide Elections

Election Margin in Votes As % of Total Vote Electoral Vote , % ** , % ,000* 0.16% , % ** , % , % * Because of peculiarities in the Alabama ballot in 1960, there is some dispute about how to calculate the Alabama (and thus also the national) popular vote. ** “Reversal of winners” election.

Election EV to win Winner Runner-up Other Winner’s 2-P Pop Vote % – % * – %** * – % % % % – % – % – %** * Gore and Ford each lost one of these electoral votes due to “faith-less electors.” ** “Reversal of winners” election. (1876 election was resolved by a special Electoral Commission.)

13 “Wrong Winner” (“Reversal of Winners”) Elections
A “wrong winner” or “reversal of winners” (or Electoral College “misfire”) is said to occur when the candidate elected on the basis of electoral votes trails behind his leading opponent in popular votes. Such outcomes can occur under any electoral system based on districts (such as states in the Electoral College). They are actually more common in many parlia-mentary systems than in U.S. Presidential elections.

14 Reversal of Winners Elections (cont.)
Election Winner Runner-up Winner’s 2-P PV [Bush (R)] 267 [Gore (D)] % [Harrison (R)] [Cleveland (D) % [Hayes (R)] 184 [Tilden (D)] % The 1876 election was decided (on inauguration eve) by a (partisan) Electoral Commission that awarded all of 20 disputed electoral votes to Hayes. Unlike Gore and Cleveland (and Nixon [or Kennedy], and Jackson) Tilden won an absolute majority (51%) of the total popular vote. Note that, of the two undoubted “wrong winner” elections, 1888 was “worse” than 2000 in that, while the (relative) popular vote margins were about the same, Bush won with the smallest electoral vote margin since 1876, while Harrison won quite decisively in the Electoral College.

15 Reversal of Winners Elections (cont.)
If Kennedy is credited with only 5/11 of the popular votes cast for Democratic electors in Alabama in 1960 (5 of whom cast their electoral votes for Kennedy and 6 of whom were unpledged and cast their electoral votes for Sen. Harry F. Byrd), Nixon had a popular plurality of 58,000, producing the the following reversal of winners: 303 [Kennedy (D)] [Nixon (R)] % But by this accounting Nixon beat Kennedy by a greater than 3 to 2 popular vote margin in Alabama, without winning a single electoral vote from Alabama. Sometimes 1824 (when Jackson won electoral and popular vote pluralities but Adams was elected by the House) is added to the “wrong winner” list. But this accounting suggests that runoffs are either unnecessary or produce “wrong winners.”

16 “Manufactured Majority” (“Minority President”) Elections
In single-winner First-Past-the-Post elections, it is common for the leading party to win an (often comfortable) majority of parliamentary seats, even if it polled less than half of the total (“popular”) vote for parliamentary candidates. The British call such an outcome a manufactured majority. Every British election since WWII has produced a manufactured majority. That is, in no election since WWII has a British party won as much as 50% of the vote. At the same time, every election but one has given either the Labour or Conservative parties a majority seats in the House of Commons. [The February 1974 election produced a “hung parliament,” comparable to “Electoral College deadlock.] In the most recent general election Tony Blair’s Labour Party won 356 seats (55.1% of the total) with 35.3% of the votes. (In1997, Labour won 418 seats (63.4%) with 43.2% of the vote.)

17 “Manufactured Majority” (“Minority President”) Elections (cont.)
The analogous outcome in U.S. Presi-dential elections is when a candidate is elected with a majority of electoral votes but less that 50% of the popular votes. Such “minority Presidents” are common, though not nearly as common as manu-factured majorities in Britain (or Canada).

18 “Manufactured Majority” (“Minority President”) Elections (cont.)
Manufactured majorities and minority Presidents can occur only if at least one of the following conditions holds: the major candidate contest is extremely close and third parties win a small fraction of the popular vote (e.g., 1948, 1960); third parties win a substantial fraction of the popular vote (e.g., 1992, 1996); or there is a reversal of winners. Manufactured majorities are typical in Britain (and Canada) because third party activity there is quite extensive. There also have been two reversal-of-winners elections in Britain since WWII.

19 “Minority Presidents”
The following tables shows all “minority Presidents” since 1824. Asterisks indicate which elections entailed a reversal of winners) EFNC is the effective number of candidates, which is calculated by taking each candidate’s proportion of the popular vote and squaring it; adding up the squared proportions; and taking the reciprocal of this sum. The table also indicates third party activity in each election.

20 “Minority Presidents” (cont.)
Year Winner EV Required PV% EFNC Third Parties Bush (R) * 2.16 [Green, Reform, Libertarian] Clinton (D) [Reform, Green, Libertarian] Clinton (D) [Independent, Libertarian] Nixon (R) [American Independent] Kennedy (D) [Socialist-Labor, Unpledged] Truman (D) [States Rights, Progressive] Wilson (D) [Socialist, Prohibition] Wilson (D) [Progressive, Socialist] Cleveland (D) [Populist, Prohibition] Harrison (R) * 2.15 [Prohibition, Union Labor] Cleveland (D) [Greenback, Prohibition] Garfield (R) [Greenback] Hayes (R) * 2.04 [Greenback] Lincoln (R) [N Dem., S Dem., Const. Union] Buchanan (D) [Republican/Whig-American] Taylor (W) [Free Soil] Polk (D) [Liberty] * Reversal of winners.

21 Closest Presidential Elections with Respect to “Marginal” and “Pivotal” States
Rank all the states in terms of the winning candidate’s percent of the two-party popular vote, with his best state at the top and his worst at the bottom. The pivotal (or median) state in this ranking is the state that does not have a majority of electoral votes either above it or below it. The winner’s marginal state is the lowest ranked state in which the winner’s percent of the two-party vote exceeds 50%. Clearly the winner’s marginal state can rank no higher than the pivotal state. The distance between the marginal and pivotal states is the number of states that lie between them in the ranking. The distance is zero if the marginal and pivotal states are the same.

22 “Pivotal” and Marginal” States in 2004
RANK STATE R2PC EVCM 1 UT … … …. … 27 FL 28 NV 29 >>OH 30 NM 31 >IW 32 WS 33 NH 34 PA … … …. … 51 DC >>OH is the pivotal state >IW is Bush’s marginal state The distance between the pivotal and marginal states is their difference in rank – put otherwise, it is one greater than the number of states between them. The distance is zero if the pivotal and marginal states are the same state. The distance is 1 if they are different states but no other state lies between them. In 2004, the distance was = 2, with NM in between.

23 Pivotal and Marginal States in Selected Elections

24 “Tipability” of the Electoral Vote
Reference is commonly made to what we may call the “tipability” of the electoral vote. This refers to the minimum number of popular votes that would have to switch from one candidate to the other in order to “tip” the electoral vote. This number is invariably less (and often much less) than the number of vote switches required to “tip” the national popular vote. Most commonly, tipability is presented in negative light, as it (in the absence of an actual reversal of winners) indicates the minimum number of popular vote switches required to produce a reversal of winners. But some analysts see tipability as a positive feature of the Electoral College, because it is healthy for winning candidates to feel that they might easily have lost.

25 “Tipability” in 2004 Rank State Margin/2 Cum Margin Cum Kerry EV
Rank all the states in terms of the winning candidate’s popular vote margin over the losing candidate, with the winner’s best state at the top and his worst at the bottom. Rank State Margin/ Cum Margin Cum Kerry EV 1 TX 846, 20 OH 68, 28 AK 32, , 29 NV 10, , [tie] 30 IW , 31 NM 32 NH 33 WS , 51 NY -596,

26 “Tipability” in 2004 (cont.)
Tipability tables show Margin/2 because that represents the number of votes that would have to switch from the winner to the loser in order to switch the state’s electoral votes. Kerry won 252 electoral votes. A switch of 6,789 votes in IW would have given him 259 electoral votes. An additional switch of 4,137 votes in NM (for a cumulative switch of 10,926 in the two states) would have given him 264 electoral votes. An additional switch of 10,784 votes in NV (for a cumulative switch of 21,670 in the three states) would have produced a electoral vote tie. And an additional switch of 39,906 votes in AK (for a cumulative switch of 54,576) would have given him 272 electoral votes and the White House. It can be verified that no other combination of states would have given Kerry an electoral vote majority with a smaller number of total switches. Thus a switch of 54,576 popular votes (occurring in precisely the right states) could have tipped the electoral vote in Kerry’s favor. This is in contrast to a switch of 1,506,086 popular votes (occurring anywhere) required to give Kerry a popular vote victory. As noted, the electoral college vote is invariably more “tipable” than the popular vote.

27 “Tipability” in 2004 (cont.)
Note, however, it is a lot more plausible that Kerry might have carried Ohio (where he received 48.67% of the vote) than AK (where he received only 36.17% of the vote). Moreover, if Kerry had carried OH (requiring a switch of 68,242 votes) he would not have had to carry any other additional state to win an electoral college majority of 272. In this respect, the “tipability” concept is quite artificial. It is more fundamentally artificial because the presumed vote switches must occur in precisely the right states in precisely the required numbers (no more and no less). It would be more reasonable to assume that vote shifting circumstances would shift across states at a uniform rate. Under this assumption, as we shall see, U.S. presidential elections (with the exception of the highly unusual 1860 election) are virtually equally “tipable” with respect to popular and electoral votes (because reversals of winners are generated only when the popular vote is almost equally split).

28 “Tipability” in Recent Elections
Election Vote Shift to Tip PV Minimal Vote Shift to Tip EV ,506, ,576* 2000* , ,102, ,000 ,903, ,000 ,539, ,000 ,439, ,617,000 ,210, ,074,000 , ,244 * 21,670 to tie EC vote. **Popular and EC vote shifts are in opposite directions due to “reversal of winners.” Note. EV tipability calculations are provisional

29 Some Notable Presidential Elections: 1912
The chart shows the major party popular vote percentages throughout the 4th Party System. Note that 1912 appears to be entirely un-exceptional (1916 is the exception)

30 1912 (cont.) But in 1912 the Republican vote was split between Taft and Roosevelt, who were spoilers to each other. The Democrats picked up the pieces, with Wilson becoming the plurality winner By 1916, the Repub-lican split was healed and Wilson barely won re-election. The story is even more exaggerated when we look at electoral votes.

31 Electoral Map: 1912

32 Counterfactual Electoral Map: 1912

33 Some Notable Presidential Elections: 1860
At first blush the 1860 looks similar, with the roles of the parties reversed. In the Third Party System, the Democrats had been dominant vs. their Whig (and later Republican) opponents. But in 1860 the Democratic split into Northern and Southern factions, each running its own ticket. There was also a fourth ticket, the Constitutional Union ticket, made up largely of former Southern Whigs.

34 Election Results: 1860 Candidate Party Pop. Vote % EV
Lincoln Republican Douglas Northern Democrat Breckinridge Southern Democrat Bell Constitutional Union Total Democratic Popular Vote 47.55 Total anti-Lincoln Popular Vote 60.16 It appears that Douglas and Breckinridge were spoilers against each other (like Taft and Roosevelt in 1912). Under a direct popular vote system, this would have been true. But under the Electoral College system, Douglas and Breckinridge were not spoilers against each other.

35 Electoral Map:1860

36 Counterfactual 1860 Election
Suppose the Democrats could have held their Northern and Southern wings together and won all the votes captured by each wing separately. Suppose further that it had been a Democratic vs. Republican straight fight and that the Democrats had also won all the Constitutional Union vote. And for good measure suppose that the Democrats had won all NJ electoral votes (actually split between Lincoln and Douglas).

37 Outcome of 1860 Counterfactual Election
Party Pop. Vote % EV Republican Ticket Democratic Ticket Thus, in an importance sense the election of Lincoln was the mother of all “wrong winners.”

38 Counterfactual 1860 Electoral Map

39 Districted Electoral Systems
A districted election system is an electoral system in which voters are partitioned into (in practice geographi-cally defined) districts. Each district is apportioned a number of (what we’ll call) electoral votes. The candidate or party that wins the most popular votes in a district wins all of its electoral votes. The candidate or party that wins the most electoral votes nationwide wins the election. The British (and Canadian) electoral systems are simple districted systems, in that each district has one “electoral vote.” The U.S. Electoral College system is a more complex districted electoral system, in that different “districts” (states) have different numbers of electoral votes.

40 Reversal of Winners Any districted electoral system can produce a reversal of winners. That is, the candidate or party that wins the most popular votes may fail to win the most electoral votes (and therefore lose the election). Two distinct characteristics of districted electoral systems can contribute to reversals of winners: apportionment effects; and distribution effects. Both effects contributed to the 1860 reversal of winners but in quite different ways.

41 Apportionment Effects
A perfectly apportioned districted electoral system is one in which apportionment effects are totally eliminated. In a perfectly apportioned system, each district’s electoral vote is precisely propor-tional to its popular vote in every election. As a practical matter, no districted electoral system can perfectly apportioned.

42 Imperfect Apportionment
The U.S. Electoral College system is (highly) imperfectly apportioned, in many ways that we have noted. House seats (and electoral votes) are apportioned on the basis of total population, not on the basis of the voting age population, or the voting eligible population, or registered voters, or actual voters in a given election (and turnout varies considerably from state to state). House seats (and electoral votes) must be apportioned in whole numbers and therefore can’t be precisely proportional to anything. Small states are guaranteed a minimum of three electoral votes. Much the same imperfections apply (in lesser or greater degree) in all districted systems.

43 Apportionment Effects (cont.)
In highly abstract analysis of its workings, Alan Natapoff (an MIT physicist) largely endorsed the Electoral College but proposed that each state’s electoral vote be precisely proportional to its share of the national popular vote. Since this implies fractional electoral votes, the office of elector would have to be abolished. Natapoff’s system would eliminate apportionment effects from the Electoral College system (while fully retaining its distributional effects). Reversal of winners would still be possible under Ntapoff’s perfectly apportioned system.

44 Popular Votes Electoral Votes
Distribution Effects Distribution effects in districted electoral system result from the winner-take-all at the district level character of these systems. Such effects can be powerful even in simple districted systems, and perfectly apportioned systems. One candidate’s or party’s vote may be more “efficiently” distributed than the other’s, causing a reversal of winners independent of apportionment effects. Here is the simplest possible example od distrubution effects producing a reversal of winners in a “perfectly apportioned” district system There are 9 voters partitioned into 3 districts, and candidates D and R win popular votes as follows: (R,R,D) (R,R,D) (D,D,D): Popular Votes Electoral Votes D R R’s votes are more efficiently distributed, so R wins a majority of electoral votes with a minority of electoral votes.

45 The 25%-75% Rule What is the most extreme logically possible example of a “wrong winner” in perfectly apportioned system? One candidate or party wins just over 50% of the popular votes in just over 50% of the (simple) districts or in complex districts that collectively have just over 50% of the electoral votes. These districts also have just over 50% of the popular vote (because apportionment is perfect). The winning candidate or party therefore wins just over 50% of the electoral votes with just over 25% (50+% of 50+%) of the popular vote and the other candidate with almost 75% of the popular vote loses. If the candidate or party with the favorable vote distri-bution is also favored by imperfect apportionment, a reversal of winners could be even more extreme.

46 Apportionment vs. Distribution Effects in 1860
The 1860 election was based on highly imper-fect apportionment. The southern states (for the last time) benefited from the 3/5 compromise pertaining to apportionment. The southern states had on average smaller popula-tions than the northern states and therefore benefited disproportionately from the small state guarantee. Even within the free population, suffrage was more restricted in the south than in the north. Turnout among eligible voters was lower in the south than the north.

47 Apportionment vs. Distribution Effects in 1860 (cont.)
But all these apportionment effects favored the south and therefore the Democrats. Thus the pro-Republican reversal of winners was entirely due to distribution effects. The magnitude of the reversal of winners in 1860 would have been even greater in the absence of the countervailing apportionment effects.

48 Apportionment vs. Distribution Effects in 1860 (cont.)
Lincoln was the majority winner in all northern states except NJ, CA, and OR. Thus he also would have carried these states against a united opposition. These states together held a (modest) majority of the electoral votes. Lincoln carried many of these states (especially the more populous ones) by modest margins in the 50%-55% range. Lincoln received almost no votes in any southern (slave) states (and literally none in most of them).

49 Apportionment vs. Distribution Effects in 1860 (cont.)
Thus the popular vote distribution closely approximated the 25%-75% pattern. Lincoln carried the northern states that held a bit more than half the electoral votes (and a larger majority of the [free] population), generally by modest popular vote margins. On the other hand, the anti-Lincoln opposition: carried the southern states with a bit less than half of the electoral votes (and substantially less than half of the [free] population by essentially 100% margins; and lost all other states other than NJ, CA, and OR by relatively narrow margins.

50 1860 Election If the most salient characteristic of the Electoral College is that it may produce a reversal of winners, one’s evaluation of the EC may depend on whether one thinks Lincoln should have been elected President in 1860. Concluding descriptive note: to a considerable their were two parallel Presidential elections in 1860: on in the north between Lincoln and Douglas; one in the south between Breckinridge and Douglas.

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