Money, battleground states, politics, and maps

An interesting piece from NPR.  What should, or could, be done to address the issues raised by this piece?  Or should nothing be done?  Your comments, please.  Happy Election Day!

13 responses to “Money, battleground states, politics, and maps”

  1. govrobin1 says :

    Unfortunately, I believe that as long as the electoral system remains the system by which the United States elects our presidents, this issue of paying excessive attention to particular battleground states will remain the case. When states are consistently won by one particular party, they are often pushed aside in the heat of the campaigning process because they are generally considered sure-fire wins for a particular candidate. With time and money being equivalent to gold in these campaigns, the strategies used to win the 270 electoral votes required to win the election do not include excessive campaigning (including money and time spent on that state) in the “nonbattleground” states. Presidential races are races to capture the moderate vote. If the republican candidate can win more moderate votes, they have a much greater chance of winning the election, but due to the fact that the Electoral College functions on a state by state basis there is not much gained by campaigning in states which are composed of mostly decided voters. All in all, I believe that unless the method of electing a president were to switch to a direct popular vote forcing candidates to win over undecided voters across the country, this method of campaigning will remain unaltered.

  2. sarahb7 says :

    From a tactical standpoint, it makes sense to target the undecided voters in the toss up states, only because that’s the surest way to win the presidency based on the way our electoral college works. It makes no sense to waste resources on states like New Jersey and California that are decidedly liberal. But I think that an inordinate amount of time and money is being spent on these few states that could be better spent elsewhere. Looking states like Nevada that are spending almost 6 dollars per voter, its strikes me that our country is still in a serious recession, and citizens as well as private businesses are spending their money on donations to political organizations. I think that by counting votes by state the power of the individual vote is diminished, and if candidates had to try to sway the popular vote in their direction instead of states the issue of a disproportionate amount of attention being given to undecided states would be improved.

  3. mattgiannottione says :

    I agree with Sarah in that in order to win an election, the candidate must win the states not the people, thus, candidates are inclined to leave states un-campaigned. Abandoning decided areas of the country to go to war in battle ground states leaves many minorities harshly unrepresented. The election process this way feels cold and uneven due to the winner takes all system. Its almost to the point that we could hypothetically see republicans not even feeling motivated to vote in California or New York due to the expected outcome and lack of advertising there. I strongly believe that the winner take all program is unfair to individual voters in close races that lose a state to a few thousand votes while their competitors take all the electoral college votes. This leaves scores unrepresented, without a voice. We could all learn a thing or two about Maine and Nebraska with their voting system. If the nation were to change to the “Congressional District Method” we would see that inflated map much less bloated due to spending more evenly spread.

  4. jack7 says :

    I think that we have to accept the downfalls of Electoral College system, of which there are many. Matt is totally right in saying that many people and states received little to no attention from the candidates because they were so clearly going to vote one way or the other, and that creates the issue of, for example, conservative Republicans in California being discouraged from voting at all. But, I think that some of this unavoidable, because the population concentration and size of particularly important demographics in the battleground states are, on the whole, high compared to many other states. This is the result of a million factors. If candidates just want to secure certain demographics, they should and will go to where those demographic have the most power. This was clearly shown in Obama’s victory in Ohio, which benefitted greatly from the auto bailout, and he smartly targeted blue-collar workers in that state. It may feel unfair that nobody is trying to win me over with their advertisements and rallies in New Jersey, but that is because NJ consistently goes to the Democratic candidate, so, as far as Obama and Romney were concerned, I’m a done deal.

  5. katiepetrino4 says :

    The issue here boils down to the Electoral College. The problems with the system are easy to see, but there are also drawbacks with other methods. Switching to a popular vote system would create a similar problem: campaigns would funnel money into areas with large populations. Urban areas and densely populated states would become the most highly contested places, yet much of our country remains relatively rural.The Electoral College helps to ensure that even the people from smaller, less densely populated states are well represented in the presidential race. We are both a nation of people and state which is reflected by our current system. It is certainly not a perfect one, but by giving the president a mandate to govern (by a clear majority of votes) and representing all parts of our country, the Electoral College system is the best option.

  6. molly4 says :

    The issue with a winner takes all election process is that it leads candidates to disregard certain states throughout the campaign. Not bothering to campaign in certain states that are considered strongly liberal or conservative is only further deepening the polarization of certain states to either end of the political and ideological spectrum. For example, in a state like California that is considered an automatic win for the democratic candidate, republican candidates are unlikely to expend much effort on the campaign there, thus exposing California citizens to far more pro-democrat advertisements than pro-republican. The result of this skewed exposure will likely be that California voters become even more liberal and will further lessen the chance of a republican winning its electoral votes. Due to the winner takes all system of the Electoral College, it makes sense not to bother campaigning in a state where the majority are already voting against you. However, it further splits the electorate to the sides of the spectrum and lessens the number of swing voters in the future. It is important to have swing voters, because they are the people who have not yet made up their minds about the candidates, and more objectively take into consideration the policies of each candidate. I worry that voters are buying into the idea of political parties too much, in that growing attached to a certain party can blind one to the content of its ideals.

  7. benjamin1 says :

    This sums up simply and beautifully, how blown out of proportion election spending has become. The electoral college system yields itself to radical spending games from campaigns, as this clearly demonstrates. This information, though not too surprising, is severely distressing, and calls for us to rethink, and restructure the way our country does elections.

  8. Nick4 says :

    Something to consider: the electoral college calls for far less spending. In this video, there are 12 battleground states. Candidates and Super PACs generally focus the majority of their money on those states. If elections were to be called by popular vote, candidates and super PACs would have to focus on many more states. Not only would they be pouring money into the swing states to try to get a higher percentage of votes, they would also focus on the highest populated states. It’s also possible that a candidate would focus on all of the less-populated states rather than the higher-populated states (if you add up the population of the less-populated states, it equals the population of the higher-populated states). My point is that the candidates would have to focus on practically every state. This would require a lot more money. While this is only one aspect of the effects of switching to popular vote, it’s an important one, considering how much money they already spend on campaigns. I think we can all think of better ways to spend campaign money, and agree that there is no need to spend more on it.

  9. Dan1 says :

    The information was surprising, although I did know certain states are the main focus of campaigns. The numbers showing how much comes into the state for political ads was alarming. It made me feel as though the election really revolves around how much money is spent in these states. I think America needs an alternative to this situation, perhaps going to the popular vote system.

  10. thetuck1 says :

    Surely, no one can blame candidates and PACs for spending all their money in the battleground states, for they really do decide the elections time and time again. Consider what is known as the most important swing state: Ohio. The last time the winner of the election lost Ohio was in 1960. The electoral college system is certainly flawed, especially when someone can win the popular vote and still lose the election, as Gore did in 2000. Any system of voting is going to have positives and negatives; certainly, there are benefits to keep in mind about the electoral college, as Katie pointed out in her comment. But we must ask ourselves which system has less drawbacks, and more benefits.

  11. Ryan4 says :

    I agree with those stated above that based solely on the Electoral System of today, the money and concentration of people in the United States is simply the nature of the beast. Ideally I would repopulate all of the United States into even populations to balance out electoral college votes per state. But, seeing as how this is something of a ridiculous claim, I’m not quite sure what should be done. At this point, I wouldn’t say change to a proportional representation system because nothing would change – there would still be money focused on high population areas. So as long as rural states make up the majority of the United States, we will continue to be faced with this problem.

  12. Jen1 says :

    It’s so ironic the system that was made to protect the states with lower populations (rural) benefits the states with high populations (urban). It’s also peculiar that we (the founding fathers mostly) made it difficult to change the system to ensure stability and structure, whereas today, we (people of 2012) find it a hindrance. I definitely think the Electoral College system is up for a change, but would popular vote really be the best option? I don’t think so. Popular vote would make little to no difference. Popular vote will have the most impact on the “purple states” because the process of winner-take-all is gone, giving both parties theoretical even ground. But, the most “purple-ly” states are already the ones that are currently considered battle-ground/swing states. And these states, according to the video, are already the ones PACs and campaigns spend the most money in and focus the most time on. This does not solve our dilemma. But then I get thinking, is this really a problem. The point of the Electoral College is to have a systematic way of electing the president. I doubt there will ever be a “perfect system,” so what’s wrong with sticking to the one that we’ve been using for centuries? It’s been working for us so far.

  13. Connor1 says :

    it didn’t surprise me to see that much more money is spent in the battleground states, because the election is inevitably going to come down to who wins these states…so why not spend more of your money there? If you’re the democratic party and you know you’re going to win New York and California, then spend all of that money that you’d originally spend on those states and make some good use of it and go buy yourself a victory, because all of the battleground states, which the most money is spent in, went to the Democratic Party. Even though they are battle ground states, i was sort of surprised to see how much money is spent in some of the more rural states, but like i said before, you need to break the bank on those battle ground states. And in regards to the next election, the Republicans need to find a way to appeal to those states with a higher electoral college because it is irrelevant to win the bigger portion of the map and the popular vote if you aren’t winning the states that are going to get you points.

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