Election speculation

In the wake of this week’s never-ending recount, there have been a number of proposals to change the way the President is elected.

One of those, direct election, would complete the transformation of the United States from a republic to a democracy (and it would obviously have ended up with a Gore win) — but it would need a Constitutional amendment, and, as the Curmudgeon pointed out on Wednesday, there are enough small states which would significantly lose power to make it unlikely that the necessary number of states would ratify such an amendment.

The other proposals retain the Electoral College. One of those would allocate each state’s electoral votes in proportion to the popular vote in that state, and the other would give one electoral vote to the winner of each Congressional district and two more to the winner of the state as a whole. Both of those preserve, to some extent, the power of the smaller states, but they avoid the huge amplification effect we’ve seen this year.

The proportional allocation proposal is very subject to choices in rounding rules — assuming each candidate must be given an integral number of electoral votes, you can still get very interesting results. For example, look at Minnesota’s totals:

Gore:    1110192  48.13%
Bush:    1168091  45.74% 
Nader:    126579   5.22%
Buchanan:  22256   0.92%

Minnesota has 10 electoral votes; should Nader get one of those votes? If so, should it be taken from Gore or Bush?

Allocating the votes on a district-by-district basis would avoid those particular errors. I can’t find district-by-district returns anywhere to do an analysis, though.

A Modest Proposal

I did some more analysis of what would happen if electoral votes were allocated in proportion to the popular vote in each state; it’s too long to put inline here, but feel free to read the details. In short, though, getting to a clear result requires a number of steps, and it’s not clear that it’d work any better than today’s system.

And that raises another question

If the election does go to the House, each state gets one vote. The Republicans control the House (both in the old and new Congresses), but which party controls more state delegations? I can’t find the data in a compact, crunchable form anywhere…does anyone reading this know?

Wine of the Night

When Jeffrey had his Walkathon last month, we bid on and won a French Wine and Chocolate basket. Tonight, after watching Duck Soup, we decided it was time to try it. The chocolate (Rumpelmayer Angelina 72%) was ok, but the wine was a real winner! It was a Chateau Mossé 1995 Vignes des Causses, Appellation Rivesaltes Contrôlée, and I highly recommend it with chocolate (it would probably go well with cheese, too, much like a port).

Since none of us liked the French chocolate much, we decided to see if any of the other chocolates would go well with the wine. My favorite was a Leysieffer Halbherbe Schokolade 55%, and Diane liked that one, too. We also tried three flavors of Droste pastilles (milk, bittersweet, and orange — I didn’t particularly like the bittersweet but the other two were OK, and Pete thought the orange pastille was the best chocolate we had), an 85% Leysieffer (which, though it was chocolate of the year in 1998, didn’t do much for any of us), Callebaut Extra Fine Milk Chocolate (Jeffrey’s favorite (no, he didn’t get the wine)), a Hershey bar (Debbie’s favorite), Dove Promises, and Double Chocolate Frangos. Not a bad way to spend an evening, and I can still type, even though we did kill the wine.