Saturday, October 20, 2012

Electoral Map - 2012 Obama vs Romney

Real Clear Politics is our favorite campaign watching website, and you'll see there that the race has become amazingly close, with current electoral college totals about as narrow as you can get: Obama / Biden: 277 Romney / Ryan: 261 Shades of the Bush v Gore Election 2000 fiasco? Probably NOT likely since that race hinged on a remarkably close state race in Florida as well as close electoral totals, but it's certainly possible that we'll see the same problems come up - or perhaps other flukes in our fluky system. Arguably the electoral college itself is a mistake, and we were disappointed that it was not abolished after the problems in 2000 where Al Gore won the popular vote only to lose the election due in main part to a poorly designed ballot in Palm Beach County, Florida (designed by Democrats, but a ballot that led to thousands of undervotes that almost certainly would have tipped the election in Gore's favor). Contrary to what many believe the Supreme Court decision to stop the recount did NOT change the outcome. The Bush v. Gore case, even if won by Gore, would still have led to a Bush victory since the counties where the vote count was challenged would not have changed the outcome using the most likely recount scenarios. Given the remaining weeks in the election, another debate looming, and hundreds of millions yet to be spent on advertising in battleground states it's no longer reasonable to assume Obama will coast to victory as many election watchers have suggested for many months. Romney's excellent performances in the debates have combined with massive outspending on the Romney side from the super pacs. The Political Action Committees have been fueled with millions per day thanks to the Supreme Court's decision to allow massive corporate contributions. Assuming a close election goes in Romney's favor it's almost impossible not to conclude that the decision in "Citizens United" changed the outcome given that spending will be much greater on the Romney side of the equation. If Obama wins it'll be fair to suggest that some observers exaggerated the role of this type of spending on elections. However in any case it's clear that money talks, and talks big, in American Politics. Only the naive can believe that our democracy remains in anything like a pristine ideal form where informed voters listen, learn, and participate in a transparent and open process resulting in the election of candidates that truly represent the will and consent of the governed. On the contrary we've got more of a marketing commercialized democracy where candidates are chosen as much by their ability to market themselves as for their ideological views, competence, or other virtues.

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