A game of inches

By | November 3, 2010

In sports, you either win or lose or tie.  And when it comes to final championships there are no ties.  If you win in Basketball 110-109, you get the win and they get the lose. In football, if you are within 1 inch of the end-zone, that means you are NOT in the end zone.  To sum it up: Close is only for horseshoes and hand-grenades.

In politics it is the same way, if you win a national election by a single electoral vote, then you get to be president for the whole time.  There are no ties.  There is no rule that says each candidate gets to spend some time in office depending on the amount of votes they get.  In politics a win is a win.

However, the talking heads (pundits) should know the difference between the winner and the “will of the people”.  If 49.9% of the vote says YES and 50.1% say NO, that is not a clear message of “the will of the people”.  If anything the people are saying that they are mixed on the subject.  Why do idiots on TV insist that a slim victory is equal to complete landslide.

The Election yesterday wasn’t a clear signal from Americans at all.  It was a completely convoluted mixed signal at best.  Look at what the congress looks like now.

Looks pretty close to a tie. People love the underdog and they love instant gratification.  In that environment, the people will vote all over the place and generally give mixed signals over and over.  We love you!  We hate you!  Half of us changed our minds!  Which half?!

Life doesn’t have a win or lose.  You just get to keep playing.  Politics and sports is a game of inches, but life is a game of miles.  How far will you go in your life?  What will you leave behind?  What are you looking forward to?  These questions are more important than what I will find on the ballot box.

7 thoughts on “A game of inches

  1. Art

    Hey Glen,

    I really enjoy your blog. I usually stay out of any political debates, but I have to disagree with you on this one – or more specifically I disagree with your numbers.

    Technically, the House and Senate are “close” in their overall numbers. But not every member was up for reelection. Only 37 Senators and 38 Governors were running – but also all 435 House members. (Wikipedia)

    By my count, Republicans won 26/37 (70%) available Senate seats and 24/38 (63%) Governorships. In the House, Republicans won 239/425 (56%) of the available seats.

    I suppose the question now becomes what percentage constitutes a landslide. Given that Congree needs a 2/3 majority to overturn a presidential veto, I think that should be a pretty good number. In that case, there WAS a landslide victory for Republicans in the Senate and a near landslide victory for Governorships. In the House, I would agree with you that there was NOT a landslide victory.

    As a registered Independent voter I don’t like the extreme views presented by either major party – and the media. However, I will say that the current election results were not nearly as “slim” as you say – and I WOULD suggest that the results are a clear signal from Americans.

    Is that necessarily the same thing as the “will of the people” on any particular issue? I don’t think so. People are just fired up.

    Reply
  2. Dan

    Although many republicans won (all or nothing), how many won by significant amount. Let’s say 20% points is very significant (which is still 60%-40%). By that standard, only 8 Republicans and 5 democrats won by a “significant margin”. Al the rest were pretty close. Even if you say 14% points is significant (which is 57%-43%), that is 18 wins for Republicans and 20for Democrats. The point is that most of the wins of both sides came is relatively close elections. 45 races of them were decided by difference 5% or less. I agree with Glen, the public is mostly split on the issues. It would be interesting to see what the total votes for each party (everything combined) would be (which is how a parliament might choose how many people they get to have.

    election results, source: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/elections/2010/house_final_results.html

    Reply
  3. Glen Lipka Post author

    Thanks Art, I’m glad you like the blog. Dan beat me to the punch, but he hit the nail right on the head. Counting “wins” isn’t the same as counting “votes”. Win looks like 1-0. Votes look like 51% – 49%. Dan’s stats are helpful there.

    Today on the radio a politician said, “The american people have spoken and what they want is…”. I wish he would have rephrased and said, “Slightly more than half of the people who actually voted (half of everyone who can vote) have spoken and what they want today (different than before) is…”

    Reply
  4. toto

    btw:
    The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. Elections wouldn’t be about winning states. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps. Every vote, everywhere would be equal and counted for and directly assist the candidate for whom it was cast. Candidates would need to care about voters across the nation, not just undecided voters in a handful of swing states.

    Now 2/3rds of the states and voters are ignored — 19 of the 22 smallest and medium-small states, and big states like California, Georgia, New York, and Texas. The current winner-take-all laws (i.e., awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in each state) used by 48 of the 50 states, and not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution, ensure that the candidates do not reach out to all of the states and their voters. Candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or care about the voter concerns in the dozens of states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind. Voter turnout in the “battleground” states has been 67%, while turnout in the “spectator” states was 61%. Policies important to the citizens of ‘flyover’ states are not as highly prioritized as policies important to ‘battleground’ states when it comes to governing.

    The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes–that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    The bill uses the power given to each state by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for president. It does not abolish the Electoral College, which would need a constitutional amendment, and could be stopped by states with as little as 3% of the U.S. population. Historically, virtually all of the major changes in the method of electing the President, including ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote and 48 current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have come about by state legislative action, without federal constitutional amendments.

    The bill has been endorsed or voted for by 1,922 state legislators (in 50 states) who have sponsored and/or cast recorded votes in favor of the bill.

    In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). The recent Washington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University poll shows 72% support for direct nationwide election of the President. Support for a national popular vote is strong in virtually every state, partisan, and demographic group surveyed in recent polls in closely divided battleground states: Colorado– 68%, Iowa –75%, Michigan– 73%, Missouri– 70%, New Hampshire– 69%, Nevada– 72%, New Mexico– 76%, North Carolina– 74%, Ohio– 70%, Pennsylvania — 78%, Virginia — 74%, and Wisconsin — 71%; in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): Alaska — 70%, DC — 76%, Delaware –75%, Maine — 77%, Nebraska — 74%, New Hampshire –69%, Nevada — 72%, New Mexico — 76%, Rhode Island — 74%, and Vermont — 75%; in Southern and border states: Arkansas –80%, Kentucky — 80%, Mississippi –77%, Missouri — 70%, North Carolina — 74%, and Virginia — 74%; and in other states polled: California — 70%, Connecticut — 74% , Massachusetts — 73%, Minnesota — 75%, New York — 79%, Washington — 77%, and West Virginia- 81%.

    Most voters don’t care whether their presidential candidate wins or loses in their state . . . they care whether he/she wins the White House. Voters want to know, that even if they were on the losing side, their vote actually was counted and mattered to their candidate.

    The National Popular Vote bill has passed 31 state legislative chambers, in 21 small, medium-small, medium, and large states, including one house in Arkansas (6), Connecticut (7), Delaware (3), The District of Columbia (3), Maine (4), Michigan (17), Nevada (5), New Mexico (5), New York (31), North Carolina (15), and Oregon (7), and both houses in California (55), Colorado (9), Hawaii (4), Illinois (21), New Jersey (15), Maryland (10), Massachusetts (12), Rhode Island (4), Vermont (3), and Washington (11). The bill has been enacted by the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Washington. These seven states possess 76 electoral votes — 28% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.

    See http://www.NationalPopularVote.com

    Reply
  5. Glen Lipka Post author

    Wow, long comment. Certainly a good idea, but misses the point. 51% of the popular vote does equal America. Its equal to slightly more than half the people who actually bothered to vote. Politicians should stop saying “America has spoken” when they barely got the win.

    Reply
  6. Dan

    I looked and I looked and I looked, but no where on the web is there a single document or page that has the voting results of every 2010 election (Senate, House, and Governor). The CBS news site had it split, a separate page for every state. So I put it all together, got rid of all the graphics and formatting and can now share it with the world. Go to http://dan.kokopop.com/ for the internet’s only (as far as I can see), complete list of every election in 2010 (US House, US Senate, and Governor’s), which includes the number of votes cast. You can download the raw data in a nice clean excel document. This data, among other things could be used to put an end to the Republican landside spin…

    49.5% of voters choose a Republican for Governor
    51.1% of voters choose a Republican for US Senate
    53.4% of voters choose a Republican for US House of Representatives

    (of course, that is also spin since not all of the people who didn’t vote Republican were to vote for a Democrat (there were many 3rd parties). Long live Data!
    http://dan.kokopop.com/?p=586

    Reply

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