After two hours of trying to get our truck out of our steep, long driveway (the snow at the bottom of it is knee high and compacted – and a snowblower is out of the question because I’ve been there, done that with a gravel driveway before), I’ve decided to dive (or drive) into a new blog.  Speaking of snowdrifts…

As we Americans know (or should know), thanks to our Constitution, our president is only indirectly elected according to popular vote, but is directly chosen by electoral vote.  I won’t get into the reasons why this is both a good and bad idea.  Like most things, we think it’s okay when it works and we hate it when it doesn’t. 

Let’s take my state, Ohio.  We’ll say (hypothetically) that Clinton is running against McCain in November.  If Clinton only wins Ohio by 100 popular votes, essentially a 50% to 50% tie, she will still receive ALL of Ohio’s 20 electoral votes. 

Why 20?  Each state in America has two senators, regardless of size or population.  This gives each state an equal voice in the Senate, one of the two bodies that comprise the United States Congress.  But in the other congressional body, the House of Representatives, each state has a different number of representatives (congresspersons), based on each state’s population.  Ohio has 18 representatives.  Wyoming, which has a much lower population, only has one representative in the House, but still (like every other state) has two Senators.  Add the number of Senators from a state to the number of Representatives from that same state and you have the number of electoral votes the Constitution grants to a state.  For Ohio, that’s 2+18 or 20.  (The District of Columbia, which is not a state and has no senators, is a different story that I won’t go into here.)

So the loser of a state in the general election in November will get none of that state’s electoral votes, even if he or she only barely loses.  That’s how it is in 48 of the 50 United States (Nebraska and Maine do allow for their electoral votes to be divided between candidates – but with only 5 and 4 votes, respectively, it will be rare for that to matter).

Where am I going with this?

Much ado is made of the fact that in the Democratic primaries and caucuses so far, Barack Obama was won a larger number of states (26) than has Hillary Clinton (14) – and has a slight lead in pledged delgates (according to CNN, he has 1527 so far, to her 1428, with 2021 needed to win).  But neither candidate can hit the magic number 2021, even by winning every remaining state by a 55-45 ratio, without help from superdelegates and/or a revote in Florida and Michigan (two fairly populous states whose delegates aren’t being counted because their Governors decided to hold their primary elections earlier than Democratic National Convention rules allow).

I want to look at it in a different way, however.  What if delegates were awarded on a “winner takes all” basis like the electoral votes will be awarded in the main election in November?  Guess what… that would put Hillary Clinton in the lead!  And by a significant margin, I might add….

Here’s a listing of the states (with their respective number of electoral votes in parentheses).  Check it out:

Obama has won:    Clinton has won:    Haven’t voted yet:       Voted, but not counted:
Maine (4)                N. Hampshire (4)    Pennsylvania (21)        Michigan (17)
Vermont (3)            New York (31)        West Virginia (5)          Florida (27)
Connecticut (7)       Massachus. (12)     North Carolina (15)
Delaware (3)          Rhode Island (4)     Kentucky (8)
Maryland (10)         New Jersey (15)     Indiana (11)
Virginia (13)            Texas (34)              Mississippi (6)
South Carolina (8)  Arkansas (6)           South Dakota (3)
Georgia (8)             Tennessee (11)      Oregon (7)
Alabama (9)            Oklahoma (7)         Montana (3)
Louisiana (9)           Arizona (10)
Hawai’i (4)               New Mexico (5)
Alaska (3)                Nevada (5)
Washington (11)     California (55)
Idaho (4)                 Ohio (20)
Wyoming (3)
Colorado (9)
Utah (5)
Nebraska (5)
Kansas (6)
Missouri (11)
Iowa (7)
North Dakota (3)
Minnesota (10)
Wisconsin (10)
Illinois (21)
District of Columbia (3)

Let’s leave out Michigan and Florida, who went overwhelmingly for Clinton, but whose votes don’t count (I believe they should be allowed a fair and square revote – and I believe that if they are, Hillary Clinton would still win, for reasons I’ll save for a future blog).  If we just go with the states that have voted so far and whose delegates are counting so far, the states Barack Obama has won add up to 196 electoral votes and the states Hillary Clinton has won add up to 219.  So she’s leading by 23 electoral votes so far.  If I’m right and Florida and Michigan still choose Clinton after theyre allowed to re-vote, that’ll give Clinton 263 electoral votes to Obama’s 196 – and only 270 are required to win the presidency.

Now let’s look at the states that still must vote.  The way things seem to be going, Pennslyvania, which resembles Ohio in numerous important ways, is almost certain to go for Clinton (who won by a considerable margin in Ohio).  Even if you give Obama all eight of the remaining states (and I think that’s a stretch, since Indiana is also a lot like Ohio – and two or three others are likely to go for Clinton as well), Obama still loses to Clinton in electoral votes.

And although electoral votes play no role in the primaries, they WILL matter, whether we like it or not, in the November general election.  Remember 2000?  Al Gore won more of the popular vote in the United States than George W. Bush.  But because Bush won the state of Florida by a slim margin and was therefore able to claim ALL of Florida’s electoral votes, Bush won the presidency.  And it’s not the first time something similar has happened in American history (remember Rutherford B. Hayes?).

I realize the fact that Clinton beat Obama in California, Ohio and other big states doesn’t mean that with Clinton out of the race Obama won’t beat McCain in those states.  He very well could.  But it does mean that at the time these primaries were held, Clinton had more support than Obama in most of the bigger states that could be essential to a Democratic victory in the November general election.

In November, a candidate can win the 11 most populous&nb
sp;states, lose the other 39, and STILL win the presidency (by 271 electoral votes to 267).  The eleven I speak of are California (55), Texas (34), New York (31), Florida (27), Illinois (21), Pennsylvania (21), Ohio (20), Michigan (17), Georgia (17), New Jersey (15), and North Carolina (15).  Of these, so far Obama has won only Illinois (his home state) and Georgia.  Pennsylvania and North Carolina have yet to vote, but are leaning toward Clinton.  And the rest?…

We NEED a Democratic victory in November.  And the Democratic leader can win more states than McCain (all 39 of the smallest is just one example) and still wind up losing the election.  So while it’s good to be able to win more states, one could reasonably argue that you’ll have a better chance of beating the Republicans if you can win more of the bigger states.

On a side note, thank goodness the Clintons have recently suggested that Hillary, if she wins the nomination (and I believe she will) might choose Obama as her vice-presidential running mate.  This, in my opinion would be the best solution, giving the Democrats (and our country) the best of both worlds, and the best opportunity to deal a long-needed defeat to a Republican Party that is leading us into unneccesary wars, giving tax subsidies to the oil companies who are making record profits, ruining our economy, curtailing our rights more and more by the minute, and speeding us down the path of environmental catastrophe.

If you haven’t done so yet, please visit my recent blog entitled Clinton/Obama – The Dream Team.  And thank you for bearing with me through this longer-than-usual blog.  I now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

Advertisements