ISBN is

978-0-300-08036-0 / 9780300080360

The Electoral College Primer 2000

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Publisher:Yale University Press

Edition:Softcover

Language:English

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About the book:

"One man, one vote" may be a familiar democratic motto, but it hardly applies to American presidential elections. That's because of the United States' bizarre electoral college system, which makes it possible for candidates who finish second in the popular vote to triumph in the electoral count. In fact, this has happened at least twice (1876 and 1888). On two other occasions (1800 and 1824), the House of Representatives picked the president when nobody won an electoral-college majority. Thomas Jefferson once described this circumstance as "the most dangerous blot on our Constitution." In the brief but comprehensive Electoral College Primer 2000, Lawrence D. Longley and Neal R. Peirce show why Jefferson's assessment was right on target. They have a keen understanding of the electoral college's vulnerabilities. Through a few simple calculations, for example, they show that Californians have more than two-and-a-half times the voting power of Montana residents. More alarming, however, they describe how a small shift in the popular vote can enact a huge change in the electoral college outcome. They count 22 "hairbreadth elections" in American history, including the 1960 race between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon--if 8,971 votes in Illinois and Missouri had switched from Kennedy to Nixon that year, the result would have been an electoral college deadlock. It's amazing the system has held up as well as it has over the years; Longley and Peirce persuasively argue that it's only a matter of time before it breaks down completely. --John J. Miller

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