Popular Vote vs. Congressional districting vote

Since the election and with the impending lemur-like plunge over the fiscal cliff looming, the vitriol from either side of me has become rampant. Accusations of the President not willing to concede to “Plan B” and reduced government spending, and the Republican House stonewalling on any attempt to raise taxes.

I started thinking, as have a few other pundits including David Wasserman over at the Cook Political Report, if the election would have turned out differently had all the states awarded their electoral vote a la Maine and Nebraska. (For those of you who do not know, these states award one vote per congressional district, not winner take all based on popular vote.)

After some searching, and data crunching, this is what I’ve come up with. (My sources are listed at the bottom of this article.)

In the 2012 election, Mitt Romney would have won.

how would the elections have changed if we used the congressional method

how would the elections have changed if we used the congressional method

And there it is.

Or is it? I suppose the Republicans will call this a victory and prance about saying that while Obama won the popular vote, he isn’t the majority of the nation’s president. But, really, it doesn’t change any other election result. I took this further back, and the next election swung by the ME/NB method was the 1960 election. We end up with a tie in 1976.

Looking at the results post 1988, I wonder what effect gerrymandering had on the results.

Gerrymander2We all know that gerrymandering is “bad”.

We all have heard one side vs. the other lambasting each other for their redistricting at the other party’s expense.

And we’ve all, I hope, stood in amazement at the sheer hypocrisy of the parties.

If the election shifted to the ME/NB method how often would the parties attempt to gerrymander their way to victory?

In California, they’ve attempted to dampen the ill-affects of the gerrymandering game by having a non-partisan standing committee to address the boundaries of the state’s congressional districts. By all accounts, the California Citizens Redistricting Commission works.

Looking at the results above, did gerrymandering affect the outcomes?

Nope.

Well, okay. Twice.

1960 and 2012.

2012 can be attributed to more people coming out to vote against the incumbant.

1960 election came down to a difference of 0.17% in the popular vote. With numbers this tight, it is fairly obvious that a switch to any different accounting method would change the results.

In the long-run, however, even with the gerrymandering game in play, whether we elect the president via a popular vote-winner-take-all election or the ME/NB method, the results, at least for the past, would be fair and equal.

What the ME/NB would mean for America, is that people may feel that their voice actually matters. For Republicans living in the rural districts of California (eighteen total districts voted Republican), their vote wouldn’t be washed away by the urban centers along the coast. Democrats in Texas (9th, 15th, 16th, 18th, 20th, 23rd, 28th-30th, 33rd-35th districts) can legitimately claim that their vote went to their candidate.

If the end goal of the elections, as trumpeted by the Obama machine, is to get out the vote, then what better way than to have everyone in each district feel that they had their own little part in the election?

I say that America gives this a try. Let’s end the winner take all method where a candidate need only win a quarter of the states to become president.

Sources:

http://www.uselectionatlas.org/RESULTS/national.php?year=2012&off=0&elect=0&f=0

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/11/19/1163009/-Daily-Kos-Elections-presidential-results-by-congressional-district-for-the-2012-2008-elections#

http://www.polidata.us/books/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerrymandering#Recent_steps

http://www.fairvote.org/redistricting#.UNyQIKVrhzI

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2012/11/the_supreme_court_may_gut_the_voting_rights_act_and_make_gerrymandering.html

http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2083189,00.html

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Ghetto Chavez

Recently, a new ad campaign was launched by Venezualan President Hugo Chavez nicknamed “Ghetto Chavez.” In an attempt to appeal to the youth, various artists have depicted Chavez as a younger, more-in-touch-with-the-youth man. He’s seen rapping, riding a motorcycle, boxing, and even dunking a basketball. Much of this attempt to reinvent the 58-year-old president is because as he seeks another six-year term, he finds himself set against a younger, dynamic rival–Governor Henrique Capriles of Miranda state.

Ghetto Chavez

So, I got to wondering. What would our candidates look like if they were to adopt “Ghetto Chavez”? Both candidates have admitted that they are looking to the youth vote, with both President Obama and Mitt Romney making repeated visits to state colleges and universities. And, in light of his “forty-seven percent” statement, Romney may very well need the youth to win this election. So, who would they appeal to specifically? What might they rap? Would they be even remotely credible?

Well, here’s my take:

Ghetto Obama

Ghetto Obama

Musical influence: Jay-Z, Dead Prez, NAS

Audience: President Obama has a built-in audience as he’s already appeared at Jay-Z concerts in video promoting the election and “rocking the vote.” In 2008, Obama carried sixty-six percent of the youth vote. He is looking at dwindling numbers as the 18-year-olds that poured out to vote are now graduating seniors looking at a bleak economy, soaring debt, and unemployment that hovers around eight percent. They accepted the “Hope” and “Change” but are now wondering where it went, and are realizing that politicians say one thing, and do something else. Obama will still get a fair share of the youth vote–after all, it is the youth how seek to change their world while the middle-aged seem set in their ways.

Song to Rap: “Hell Yeah” by Dead Prez and Jay-Z

Every job I ever had I had to get on the first day
I find out how to pimp on the system
Two steps ahead of the manager
Gettin’ over on the regular tax free money out of the register

I’m not the one to kiss ass for the top position
I take mine off the top like a politician
Where I’m from doin’ dirt is a part of living
I got mouths to feed, dawg, I gots to get it

Credibility: President Obama wins this category if only because, like Bill Clinton, Obama has cornered the niche on utilizing the tools that the youth use themselves: Obama has 27 million “likes” on Facebook, over 18 million Twitter followers, can be seen at major concerts opening up the festivities with a “rock the vote” message, and even in video games. Right now, Obama’s message to college kids is one of the cost of college. However, Gen-Y wants more. Obama is going to have to rock hard with the college kids and his soft rock message of student loans is going to get lost in the white noise of the election.

Ghetto Romney

Ghetto Romney

Musical influence: Eminem, Vanilla-Ice, Snow

Audience: Other than the modern, college Republican kid who grew up with Rap music, Romney’s audience isn’t quite up on the “ghetto” mystique. It is rather unusual to go to a Tea Party fundraiser and find Eminem playing in the background. However, Romney does have that new youth group to tap; in 2008, 62 percent of college kids identified themselves as Democrat with 30 percent Republican. In 2010, that number had changed: 54 percent Democrat and 40 percent Republican. Rap music has become more mainstream as R&B supplants “classic rock” on the airwaves. Cee-Lo Green judges on Fox’s “The Voice.” Beyonce and Alicia Keys are household names among America’s youth, and Beyonce is married to Jay-Z, one of Obama’s favorite musicians on his iPod.

Song to Rap: “White America” by Eminem

See the problem is I speak to suburban kids
Who otherwise woulda never knew these words exist
These moms probly woulda never gave two squirts of piss
Till I created so much mothafuckin’ turbulence
Straight out the tube right into ya livin’ rooms I came
And kids flipped when they knew I was produced by Dre
Thats all it took and they were instantly hooked right in

Credibility: Romney’s… well, let’s just say that with the Barry Manilow crowd, Mitt’s got the ballroom abuzz. The Republican handlers helped Romney’s “street-cred” with the selection of the hip, 42-year-old Paul Ryan, an avid Zeppelin listener and p90x trainer. He’s someone the youth can connect to. What Ryan brings to the Republican party is a person who has proposed solutions to problems while in Congress–rather than complain or blame–and though many college students may feel his policies are not in line with theirs, he is still someone who has presented a plan and stuck to it. For the seniors who voted for President Obama and his “change” four years ago, they now look to someone who has proposed change and fought for it.

Is Syria Becoming A Political Tool?

Streets of Aleppo, Syria, 19 Sept. 2012

In the pantheon of despotic leaders, it is easily understood that both Libya’s Gaddafi and Syria’s Assad were equal in the tyrannical curmudgeon category. So, then it begs the question why the United States was so willing to bring down the Gaddafi regime, and yet push the Syrian conflict away as though it was a plagued leper?

When the Obama Administration supported the rise of the Arab Spring, it was ostentatiously a support for the rise of democratic regimes in North Africa. If it was truly a support for the rise of democratic governments, then why not the support for Yemen as they had their revolutions also? This opens the door for wide speculation. Let’s put to bed one major inherent falsehood.

Oil. If supporting revolution for oil was really the root of Obama’s outward support, then his administration was misinformed. Though unfathomably cruel, to the point that his own immediate family was trying to distance themselves from him, the Gaddafi family was a great deal more stable than the uncertain future of Libya. In fact, since Libya handed over the Lockerbie bomber to England (and prior), most western oil companies were able to operate in Libya with little to no interference from the Gaddafi government.

So, why then offer aid to an unstable, and mostly unknown, rebellion against Gaddafi, and yet leave hundreds of thousands to die in Syria?

Some reasons bantered about include: Geopolitics, military strength/Allies, local factions, and war fatigue. All but one of these makes sense when looking inward toward U.S. politics. Let’s look at the options in more detail.

1. Geopolitics: As State Farm says, “Like a good neighbor.” In the case of Libya, the choice to send military aid was an easy one–Egypt and Tunisia were already leading the way in the Arab Spring rebellions, so what was there to lose? Syria, on the other hand, borders Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, Iraq, and Jordan. The proponents of geopolitics as the reason we are not involved (or even seeing the events unfolding on television right now) is because the United States does not want to be involved in a volatile Middle East crisis right now. This does not hold water in the fact that the Obama Administration is involved with relations between Iran and Israel (two players in the Syrian game also). What they are really saying is that Obama is playing careful right now…

2. Military Strength/Allies: Weapons of Mass Destruction. Where have we heard that phrase before? It becomes a tricky play when deciding to invade a foreign, sovereign nation. We could call it a humanitarian effort, but we aren’t or we’d be there yesterday. We could call it an attempt to rid a nation of using WMDs against their people. Yes. Syria DOES have bio- and chemical-weapons. They also have a darn strong military. However, so did Gaddafi. His chemical weapons cache was found after his death; a cache that he was supposed to have dismantled in 2003. What Gaddafi did not have, though, is a stable military. He preferred to keep his army fragmented in order to keep a powerful military coup from happening. Either way, WMDs can’t be the reason either. The last thing the President needs in an election year is a war over WMDs.

So then, where does that leave the Allies segment?

Gaddafi was summarily dismissed by even the Arab League. He was a lone wolf, in a wolf kill zone. Assad? He’s got the support of Tehran, and, in turn, Hezbollah and Hamas. It could also be assumed with Tel Aviv’s thorny relationship with Iran at this moment, that Netanyahu would prefer the stable, however bloody, Assad regime than the unknown squabbling for power on his back door.

3. Local Factions: One of the biggest stumbling blocks for the EU, China, Russia, and the United States in dealing with Syria’s uprising is who do we work with. Even the various factions couldn’t tell anyone that answer. In part, the reason the West is avoiding Syria is because Syria cannot tell us who to talk with. If the United States did commit troops to the crisis, would we also be responsible for the clean up, and, who do we pick to rebuild the mess?

4. War Fatigue: Ultimately, the reason that the United States is not dealing with, or even acknowledging the crisis (as seen with the dearth of coverage on the major networks), Syria is because it is an election year. Simply put. Around sixty percent of Americans feel the effort in Afghanistan is a waste, and nearly fifty-five percent want the troops pulled out now. Looking at the geopoliticalmilitary strength/allies, and local factions arguments, what is not being discussed, but hidden in the messages, is that it would be political suicide for any politician to argue for soldiers in Syria. WMD comments would fly from the party machinery. The majority of Americans would vote against the candidate that said we should be in Syria simply because they are tired of Afghanistan. Because of Assad’s military strength, it would be a prolonged war or it would be a television nightmare with civilian casualty numbers soaring higher than Nielsen ratings for the Super Bowl.

Mitt Romney has said that he would be willing to commit troops to Syria if he were elected in order “to prevent the spread of chemical weapons”. Obama, on the other hand, has been more elusive on his Syrian stance and has called out Romney for “suggesting that we start another war.” It is hard to believe that the Obama Administration would see Gaddafi a logical target and ignore Assad and Syria. As it stands, there are reports that the Administration is working via the CIA to funnel weapons through Turkey and Saudi Arabia to the Syrian rebels. As it is, we are war-weary and neither candidate wants to get tied to a strong Syrian policy this close to the election.

Unfortunately for the people fighting for their lives each day on the bloodied streets of Aleppo, America will continue to ignore their crisis for another six weeks, at the least. Maybe then, something will happen; most likely, Syrians will be on their own until after the inauguration, and even then the newly elected President will hope that the crisis in Syria resolves itself.

CIA and FBI Find Men Responsible For Benghazi Attack

Tripoli–Two days after President Obama oversaw the return of three Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, killed in the Consul attack in Benghazi, members of the U.S. State Department, along with agents of the CIA and FBI, met with Libyan leaders in Tripoli. The objective of the meeting was to find the man or men responsible for the attacks.

Obama had said, via his weekly radio address, “I have made it clear that the United States has a profound respect for people of all faiths,” Obama said in his weekly radio address. “Yet there is never any justification for violence …. There is no excuse for attacks on our embassies and consulates.”

In response to repeated accusations from the Republican Party, including Presidential candidate Mitt Romney,

I’m outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi. It’s disgraceful that the Obama Administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.

Obama has ordered a full-scale investigation. “I will not be soft on terrorism,” Obama said during a campaign stop in Las Vegas. “I will not allow Benghazi to become another Beirut.” This is an obvious reference to the 1983 Beirut Marine Barracks bombing; an event that would bring all the jihadist splinter groups together under one banner–Hezbollah.

The sudden about face from the Obama Administration is leaving Republicans confused. “Obama’s Cold War references harken to a day when Truman ran the Presidency and the buck stopped there,” said a senior Romney advisor. “We’ll have to see if Obama is trying to shape himself in these last few days before the election as another Truman, or if he will continue with Clinton’s foreign policy of lobbing a few missiles into sovereign nations and calling it foreign policy.”

“Obama is pulling out a card from the Republicans,” an Obama aid said. “People want quick justice, just like Reagan after the discotheque bombing in 1986. Obama is willing to get his hands dirty.”

Knowing the likelihood of singling out the attackers on the Consulate building attack as a sketch to the bad side of worse to none, Obama himself came up with the plan now being implemented in Tripoli.

Along side Libyan leaders, Senior State Department officials toured Abu Salem prison. Several men facing the death penalty under the newly installed Sharia law were interviewed by intelligence officers from the three agencies. The number one question was whether or not the men would be willing to stand trial for the attack, be found guilty, and executed. The rationale by a State Department official who spoke on condition of anonymity was “they are already going to be put to death, we might as well give them the opportunity to save face before their nation.” The interviews lasted about three hours.

Three men facing the death penalty for the rape of a young girl have agreed to the tribunal which will be held next week in Tripoli. In accordance with Sharia law, the United States will pay diyya to the families of the three men in exchange for their cooperation.

“This should appease the stupid, war-hawk, Neo-Cons,” an Obama spokesperson said in Tripoli.

Flashback Friday: Mitt the Landon, Obama the FDR

It is 1936. The Depression rages. Unemployment is at 16.9%, the lowest it has been since 1931. Government spending (expenditures and investments) is at $13.1 billion (2012 numbers).

The Republican party has just nominated Alfred Landon to run against the immensely popular Franklin D. Roosevelt. Despite what Literary Digest says (they predicted a Landon victory based on a “voluntary” poll of their readers who are primarily Republicans), FDR is a shoe in for another term.

Lucy Mercer (1891-1948)

Lucy Mercer (1891-1948) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Roosevelt has taken to the airwaves to promote his successes, namely the CCC, PWA, and AAA. Americans are happy to get a paycheck, no matter where the money is coming from. The press has chosen to not run negative ads about either candidate, and is even concealing FDR’s early bout with polio and his two affairs: one with Lucy Mercer–his wife’s personal assistant–that had begun in 1916, and another with Missy LeHand, his personal secretary.

Despite these possible taints to his presidency, the Republican Party chose, instead, to focus on the New Deal. Though many Republicans found it hard to deny that a number of the relief programs created by the President were helping, they still focused on the programs as ineffective and overly costly to the United States. They also cast their views abroad. Looking at the programs coming into prominence in Germany and Italy, the Republicans saw distinct similarities. The Hitler Youth and their road, bridge, and park building campaigns echoed too closely to the CCC. Landon would champion the cry that Roosevelt was moving America into a Socialist Dictatorship.

Of course, we all know that FDR would win, and would win the presidency two more times.  We also know that FDR’s plans were differentiated into three groups: Relief [short-term jobs to get people back on their feet, i.e. CCC], Recovery [temporary programs designed to pump the economy as a whole, i.e. AAA], and Reform [long-term programs that were meant to ensure the Depression would never happen again, i.e. FDIC]. And we also know that FDR did not intend to maintain massive government spending… see Roosevelt Recession, causes.

I just find it very funny that no matter how much things change, there are always similarities in our current world.

Here’s to the Republicans who continue to call the President a Socialist Dictator, but can offer little in the ways to improve the economy. Here’s to the Democrats for continuing to insist in putting forth a government spending program that will continue to inflate the deficit despite the “advice” of the man who started it all.