Saturday, December 1, 2012
With thanks to Real Clear Politics, for their "create your own map" feature, see, http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2012/president/obama_vs_romney_create_your_own_electoral_college_map.html, I wondered what would it be like if the result of the Presidential Campaign looked like the Powerball Map. First, here is the map.
To begin with there are 538 Electoral College votes. How, you ask did we get that number. It is simple, there are 435 Members of Congress and 100 Senators. Add those two numbers together and you get 535. The three missing votes come from the District of Columbia. As you remember, the minimum number of votes a state can have in the Congress is 3. Each state gets at least 1 Representative to the House and 2 Senators. Missing from this map are the U.S. Virgin Islands, which shows up on the Powerball Map but since they are not a state not on the Electoral College Map.
What would be the circumstances that would cause Hawaii, California, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming to join with two states from the Heart of Dixie, Mississippi and Alabama and be the losers in the Electoral College? This is a big loss because the winner gets 449 votes to the loser's 89; And a victory of 449 votes is a landslide.
History shows us big wins (or losses depending on perspective). In 1964 LBJ beat Goldwater by 486 to 52. Goldwater was painted as an extremist and carried only Arizona, the Gulf States of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and the old Dixie States of Georgia and South Carolina.
In 1972 Tricky Dick Nixon rode his secret plan to end the War in Vietnam to a landslide victory over McGovern, who won only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia. That margin was 520 to 17. Nixon did not finish the term, he resigned in disgrace on August 8, 1974.
Ronald Reagan swept into a 1980 victory with a populist conservative message and tough talk against Iran, who was holding Americans taken during a siege of our embassy. Reagan defeated Carter by 489 to 49, and the hostages were released on inauguration day.
Carter got more electoral college votes against Reagan than did his Vice President who lost four years later by a margin of 525 to 13. Regan easily handled Mondale in the Presidential Debates, sexism may have played a role as Geraldine Ferraro was the Democratic Party's choice for Veep, and the negatives in the first term didn't stick to Reagan who was called the "Teflon President". Mondale won his home state of Minnesota and the District of Columbia.
George H. W. Bush beat Dukakis in 1988 by 426 to 111 painting the Massachusetts Governor as a crime coddling liberal. Dukakis carried Washington, Oregon, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, West Virginia, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Hawaii, and the District of Columbia. Since 1988 no candidate has topped the 400 electoral vote count.
Winning by large margins is not always good. In a college level Political Science course, years ago, Southwest Missouri State's Professor Alice Fleetwood Bartee suggested the best wins are the closest wins. Employing the theory of Occam's Razor, otherwise called the law of economy, she taught that winning the simple majority puts less pressure on the Administration to satisfy competing pressures. So winning a great majority means that the President has to deliver on promises to competing groups, which often spells doom for reelection.
In 1928 Republican Herbert C. Hoover beat the Democratic candidate Alfred E. Smith by 444 to 87. Smith carried Massachusetts, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina.
Four years later FDR trounced Hoover 472 to 59. Of course there was enormous economic pain following the Wall Street Stock Market Crash of 1929 and the onset of the Great Depression. In 1936 FDR continued on to another legendary win beating Kansan Alf Landon 523 to 8. Republicans started to make inroads in 1940 win they ran Wendell L. Willke, who only lost to FDR by 449 to 82. In 1944 FDR again topped the 400 electoral college vote mark besting Thomas E. Dewey 432 to 99. FDR died April 12, 1945, having won more electoral college votes than anyone else in history.
The 400 vote total didn't get topped until Ike ran in 1952. The man who commanded the Allied Forces in Europe in World War II beat Adlai Stephenson by 442 to 89. Four years late he did it again 457 to 73.