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Posted at 3:59 PM ET, 12/13/2010

Why Bloomberg can't win -- and won't run

By Ezra Klein


It's the electoral college, stupid. Jonathan Capehart -- who advised Bloomberg during one of his earlier campaigns -- lays it out:

Let's say Bloomberg gets the dream scenario that gives him the opening to jump in the race: Palin (or another ultra-conservative) as the Republican nominee and a politically weakened President Obama suffering from a still-sour economy. The problem wouldn't be that the American people wouldn't vote for him. The problem would be securing electors in enough states to put him over the 270 electoral vote threshold.

Remember, presidents aren't elected directly by the people. They are voted in by the electors in each state. It's a complicated legal affair that would require Team Bloomberg to battle the Democratic and Republican parties in every state to get on the ballot and, thus, have electors in place to vote for him. Then the new Congress gets into the act by certifying the votes of the electors that were cast on the Monday after the second Wednesday in December. Objections can be raised at this meeting. And if no presidential candidate wins a majority of the electoral vote, each state delegation in the House would vote for the president. The Senate would vote for the vice president. You think a Republican-controlled House (or Democratic-controlled if they win it back in 2012) is going to let an independent take the presidency without a fight? Hahahaha.

Photo credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

By Ezra Klein  | December 13, 2010; 3:59 PM ET
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I agree that Bloomberg winning is highly unlikely, but I don't think the Electoral College argument is as foolproof as you imply. Even if it isn't exact, there is a correlation between popular vote and Electoral College results. Were a third-party candidate ever to win a plurality of the vote, they would very likely win the Electoral College too, even possibly taking a majority.

Posted by: Isa8686 | December 13, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

There is a correlation between the electoral college results and the popular vote, but that's really an artifact of the status quo, where elections are largely a uniform swing on a two-party system. Throw a third party into the mix and things get a lot messier. Look at the mathematically similar situation of the UK Parliament. (Ie, a bunch of winner-takes-all districts with basically three parties.) There there are three parties but there's a rather flagrant gap between how many votes the Lib Dems get and how many seats they get.

The electoral college isn't an absolute barrier to third parties, but in order for the numbers to add up Bloomberg would have to do VERY well AND he'd have to focus his votes into the right part of the country.

Posted by: usergoogol | December 13, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

He wins plurality in enough states and takes the electoral votes, the only way. That depends on the electors being more honest than the elected liars in DC.

Good luck with that.

Posted by: hopeadoped | December 13, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

It's Duverger's Law, stupid.

Although the electoral college is a nice, tall tree set at the front of Duverger's forest.

Posted by: mudlock | December 13, 2010 6:49 PM | Report abuse

By 2012, The National Popular Vote bill could 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. Every vote, everywhere would be 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.

The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes—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. 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.

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). 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: CO— 68%, IA —75%, MI— 73%, MO— 70%, NH— 69%, NV— 72%, NM— 76%, NC— 74%, OH— 70%, PA — 78%, VA — 74%, and WI — 71%; in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): AK – 70%, DC – 76%, DE —75%, ME — 77%, NE — 74%, NH —69%, NV — 72%, NM — 76%, RI — 74%, and VT — 75%; in Southern and border states: AR —80%, KY — 80%, MS —77%, MO — 70%, NC — 74%, and VA — 74%; and in other states polled: CA — 70%, CT — 74% , MA — 73%, MN – 75%, NY — 79%, WA — 77%, and WV- 81%.

The National Popular Vote bill has passed 31 state legislative chambers, in 21 small, medium-small, medium, and large states, including one house in AR (6), CT (7), DE (3), DC (3), ME (4), MI (17), NV (5), NM (5), NY (31), NC (15), and OR (7), and both houses in CA (55), CO (9), HI (4), IL (21), NJ (15), MD (10), MA(12), RI (4), VT (3), and WA (11). The bill has been enacted by DC, HI, IL, NJ, MD, MA, and WA. These 7 states possess 76 electoral votes — 28% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.

Posted by: mvymvy | December 13, 2010 8:28 PM | Report abuse

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