EC Fantasy (Yet Again)

As we approach the vote, the fantasies keep coming.

electoral-college-sabatoThe headline at Politico is quite dramatic, Lessig: 20 Trump electors could flip.  The first paragraph of the piece is likewise:

Larry Lessig, a Harvard University constitutional law professor who made a brief run for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, claimed Tuesday that 20 Republican members of the Electoral College are considering voting against Donald Trump, a figure that would put anti-Trump activists more than halfway toward stalling Trump’s election.

Of course, astute readers will note the word “could” in the headline as well as the ever important “considering” in the body of the paragraph.  And, of course, the fact that such a remarkable outcome is still not enough to flip the election should not escape anyone’s attention.

Further, later in the story we find the far less dramatic truth:

Lessig provided no evidence to back up his claim, but says his group has heard from 20 Republicans open to breaking with Trump. It’s unclear whether any of these potential anti-Trump GOP electors reside in states with laws that force them to vote for Trump or else be replaced by a pro-Trump alternate.

So, “no evidence” for the broader claim and only potentiality in terms of the actual anti-Trumpness of said electors.

The story does confirm one Texas elector who claims he will not vote Trump, but we knew about him already.

While it is not impossible that something new and out of the ordinary could happen, the odds remain rather decidedly opposed to such an outcome.

Indeed, I will restate what I wrote a couple of weeks ago:

Institutions do not typically take on whole new behavioral patterns unless there is some substantial shock to a system or if the participants in a given process have some deep agreement on changing that process for whatever reason.  While I understand that many think of the election of Trump as a major shock to the system, the reality is that that a huge chunk of the electorate found him wholly acceptable as a candidate (and as a president).  As such, the notion that a couple of weeks of hearing  ”President-elect Trump” is enough to radically changes the minds of those who were willing to vote for him after over a year of campaigning and substantial media exposure strains credulity.

Also, to repeat:  there have been a total of 9 faithless electors in the last 100+ years.  To think that dozens will suddenly defect is an insane expectation.  Yes, the majority of voters rejected Trump last month, but anyone paying attention knows that the Republican Party has been tolerating, if not outright accepting Trump since election night.  Any serious large-scale rejection requires a significant slice of the Republican electorate being in the mood to accept such an outcome.  I do not see any evidence that this is even vaguely possible.  The partisan actors selected in a partisan processes will vote party next week. And they will do so under the clear influence of a set of norms that are over two centuries old.

To paraphrase the Kinks:  don’t wanna spend your life in an electoral college fantasy.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. John says:

    You say you want a revolution
    Well, you know
    We all want to change the world
    You tell me that it’s evolution
    Well, you know
    We all want to change the world

    But when you talk about destruction
    Don’t you know that you can count me out
    Don’t you know it’s gonna be
    All right, all right, all right

    You say you got a real solution
    Well, you know
    We’d all love to see the plan
    You ask me for a contribution
    Well, you know
    We’re doing what we can

    But if you want money for people with minds that hate
    All I can tell is brother you have to wait
    Don’t you know it’s gonna be
    All right, all right, all right

    You say you’ll change the constitution
    Well, you know
    We all want to change your head
    You tell me it’s the institution
    Well, you know
    You better free you mind instead

    But if you go carrying pictures of deplorable Trump
    You ain’t going to make it with anyone anyhow
    Don’t you know it’s gonna be
    All right, all right, all right
    All right, all right, all right
    All right, all right, all right
    All right, all right

  2. Mr. Bluster says:

    You really got me with that Kinks tribute…

  3. Pch101 says:

    In 1836, 23 out of 170 electors pledged to Martin Van Buren did not vote for his VP Richard M. Johnson. Without an electoral vote majority, Johnson became VP only because he won the vote in the Senate. So never say never.

    Then again, those electors opted to be faithless because Johnson was in a relationship with a black woman. It would seem that an interracial relationship was more offensive than anything that Trump had to say about minorities almost 200 years later.

  4. bill says:

    so will larry lessig be ridiculed for this nonsense or just another forgotten fool?

  5. Stormy Dragon says:

    Clearly what this situation requires is a montage of left-wing celebrities.

    Because as we know, if there’s one thing hard-core Republican party activists love, it’s condescending lectures from left-wing celebrities. Right? RIGHT!?

  6. michael reynolds says:

    Trump will be sworn in.

    He will be sworn in, but he will not be the legitimately elected president of the United States. He lost the popular vote, and what vote he got was tainted by Russian interference. Trump actively collaborated with, and publicly urged-on the Putin-Assange conspiracy.

    This election was stolen. I strongly suspect Trump was an active participant through one or more of the lackeys he shares with Putin. This was an act of war by Putin, and if I’m right an act of treason by Trump.

  7. @michael reynolds: I am profoundly unhappy with Trump’s election and fear he will be a disastrous president. I am a clear supporter of the popular vote–and am not a newcomer to that position.

    Having said that: 1) the system is one in which the electoral vote elects the president, not the popular vote. So claims she won are incorrect. 2) The election was not stolen and if we promote that view we are going to actually further erode our democracy. I will try and write why I feel this way soon.

  8. michael reynolds says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I don’t claim she won.

    But legality is not identical to legitimacy. He is the legal POTUS; he is not the legitimate POTUS. He has no right to the office he will hold because that office was a gift in part from a hostile foreign power. A process seriously warped and tainted by direct foreign interference – interference the goal of which was to harm the United States – can not be legitimate.

    Trump is to be endured at best, and fought without let-up. He will be our national shame and the American people will have to separate themselves from this man and declare that while he holds office legally, he will never speak for the American people.

  9. MarkedMan says:

    I believe that GWB was a disastrously bad President but despite that I would not have called for faithless electors in 2004. But this is different. Trump is unfit for the presidency in ways and to a degree we have never before experienced. The call for the electors is not about whether the train is headed in a direction they prefer but rather whether it is about to careen so dangerously off the tracks that it is time to break the glass and pull the emergency brake. And as a matter of conscience it shouldn’t matter whether they will be successful. This is about looking yourself in the mirror down the road and being able to say you did everything in your power to prevent disaster.

  10. MBunge says:

    If the Electoral College were not to elect Trump, it would go to the House of Representatives, right? Why would the GOP-controlled House not just elect Trump anyway? It would certainly be far easier than trying to come up with another candidate, though the thought of liberals getting Paul Ryan appointed President and so he can shred Social Security and Medicare is pretty amusing.

    And I know the butthurt prevents some people from thinking rationally, but there are a couple of important points we should all understand.

    1. Republicans may have thought Obama was an illegitimate President and acted like it, but they didn’t really say it out loud. Michael Reynolds is breaking a very important political norm and while the butthurt prevents him from thinking clearly, the rest of us should consider that once anyone breaks a norm and gets away with it, everybody else can do it…including those nasty people on the other side. If a small number of votes had gone the other way, Hillary would have won the White House while losing a majority of states. Would you have wanted those states to declare her illigitimate and undermine her authority?

    2. To date, no one has any evidence the Wikileaks revelations had any impact on the race. Furthermore, no one has provided any credible evidence they were false. So, you may want to think long and hard before arguing an election should be nullified because the voters were exposed to the truth and it MAY have influenced them. That argument might just possibly produce a few moral, ethical and practical consequences you could find slightly objectionable.

    Mike

  11. michael reynolds says:

    @MBunge:

    1) The norm was broken by Trump. He deliberately, openly, explicitly used the fruits of Russian hacking and indeed encourage Putin to do more.

    2) Don’t be absurd. A major ‘scandal’ story breaks and Hillary’s polls drop and there’s no connection? Bullsh!t. And you know it.

  12. SenyorDave says:

    @MBunge: Republicans may have thought Obama was an illegitimate President and acted like it, but they didn’t really say it out loud.

    Are you serious? What exactly do you think the birther movement was about? A large portion of the GOP in Congress was silent on the whole thing, and some members were actual active birthers themselves. And remember, our predator-elect was one of the main spokesman of the birther movement, pushing the racist narrative long after President Obama showed his Birth Certificate.

    Trump will be seated as the president barring some incredible revelation or some undisclosed illness. That is an unfortunate truth. Hopefully, he won’t get involved in policy, and will be content to resume his lifelong grifting (now he won’t have to worry about pesky laws limiting his con jobs). As horrible and dopey as Pence is (I have heard his nickname was Congressman Dense), at least he is an adult, not a 6th grader who spends his time tweeting about how mean everyone is to him.

  13. michael reynolds says:

    What we have here is Bernard in Westworld. The big reveal that Bernard was a robot came when we saw that he was incapable of seeing a door that was quite clearly there.

    People instinctively reject what they are not programmed to expect. We don’t expect our elections to be stolen by collusion in illegal acts between a hostile foreign power and a corrupt candidate.

    And yet: there it is. The door exists.

    1) Putin directed an intelligence operation with the intention of undermining American democracy and getting the worst possible person elected.

    2) Trump actively assisted in this effort by using the fruits of Putin’s crimes.

    And now we’re supposed to pretend this didn’t happen? Because we don’t expect there to be a door? Because we haven’t been programmed to see the door?

    No. I’ll stay with reality.

  14. KM says:

    @MBunge :

    If the Electoral College were not to elect Trump, it would go to the House of Representatives, right? Why would the GOP-controlled House not just elect Trump anyway?

    This is actually a fascinating question. *If* the EC doesn’t certify Trump, the onus falls to a political body that heavily favors him in terms of party but not necessarily his person. Many of them don’t like him or have actively spoke against him. How many of them would be willing to cut a deal with Dems to get what they want then take a chance on putting this idiot in charge? How many mercenary souls would be willing to dangle the Presidency in front of a hated Clinton and be “want it? we own you now!” ? A lot of backroom deals and personal calculations would go into determining if they would benefit more from a Trump presidency vs a Clinton one.

    Trump being rejected by the EC means he’d be damaged goods to a political body that cares only for its own re-election prospects. Don’t count on them for an automatic win.

    t would certainly be far easier than trying to come up with another candidate, though the thought of liberals getting Paul Ryan appointed President and so he can shred Social Security and Medicare is pretty amusing.

    It would be Pence or Hillary, not some random yahoo they pick. People would likely riot a bit over their selection but would be able to justify it with “well, at least they were on a ticket.” Just randomly picking a (R) to make President? Might as well watch the country burn for all the outright anger and violence that would occur. Both Left and Right would see it as a violation of the Constitution and frankly would do something about it. This election cycle has brought out the nuts.

  15. Pch101 says:

    @KM:

    12th amendment:

    The person having the greatest Number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President

    If the electoral college failed to give 270 to anyone, then the House could choose between Clinton, Trump and Johnson. They can’t horsetrade for a different candidate.

    The electors could theoretically choose someone else who wasn’t on the ballot, but the House doesn’t have that luxury.

  16. @KM: If the EC does not deliver at least 270 EVs to Trump, the House can ONLY pick from the top three EV voter-getters in the EC. They cannot pick whomever they want.

    There are only three viable paths for the EC to reject Trump:

    1) For a huge chunk of of GOP electors to vote for some other candidate, thus making the House contest Trump, Candidate X, and Hillary. This is the only way it gets to the House, realistically speaking.

    2) A coalition of anti-Trump GOPers and pretty much all the Dems agree on an alternative (coordinating this is nearly impossible).

    3) A chunk of Trump electors vote with the Dems for Hillary.

    #3 is the most viable option, and is highly, highly unlikely.

  17. Also: Trump defections that lead to 269-269 send the vote to the House, but Trump would be selected by the GOP majority in that body.

  18. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    The point isn’t that he won’t be elected. Of course he will.

    The point is to delegitimize him. He ends up being the president who won the electoral vote, but lost the popular vote. That’s only happened five times in our history, all five of which benefitted Republicans, and up until this year, the largest loser margin by far was Bush II over Gore.

    Trump’s loser margin is over five times greater than Bush II’s was. Trump lost by more popular votes than Teddy Roosevelt WON by. It serves up the central theme of the next four years:

    “He’s incompetent. He’s illegitimate. He’s making a royal mess of everything that he touches”.

    And it makes it easier for congressional Republicans to stab him in the back if need be. If it comes down to having to choose between backing Trump or saving their own seats, they’ll throw him under the bus in a second. Because the above gives them cover.

  19. C. Clavin says:

    @michael reynolds:

    that office was a gift in part from a hostile foreign power

    And James Comey

  20. C. Clavin says:

    Having the EC not vote for Trump may be a fantasy…but it’s one I am harboring for now.
    Frankly, I have others that are even less likely to happen.
    http://www.1zoom.net/big2/39/232921-frederika.jpg

  21. Kylopod says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    That’s only happened five times in our history, all five of which benefitted Republicans

    Minor nitpick: the 1824 election did not “benefit Republicans,” a party that did not yet exist at the time.

  22. @HarvardLaw92: There is a danger to be associated with delegitimizing a constitutionally elected official.

    Indeed, the attempts to delegitimize Obama helped get us Trump.

    Also: any subversion of the EC is more likely to lead to some seeing the Democratic Party as the problem, not the EC, which risks further and deeper polarization.

  23. Neil Hudelson says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Trump is to be endured at best, and fought without let-up.

    Just going to leave this right here….https://action.aclu.org/donate-aclu?redirect=donate&ms=web_donate_redirect

  24. BTW: I do think that the only way to get reform in the short term is via a very serious political crisis. But be careful what one wishes for in that regard.

  25. michael reynolds says:

    @Neil Hudelson:
    I’ll be giving the ACLU a nice cut of my Trump tax cut.

  26. Pch101 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    The Republicans have built the Southern Strategy version of the party on polarization.

    The GOP’s strategy has been to pander to white conservative cultural values, and there is absolutely nothing that the Democrats can do to change that.

    Liberals need to stop worrying about placating conservatives and to focus instead on winning at all costs. Attempts at compromise on major issues merely create vulnerabilities that will be exploited whenever possible.

  27. Hillary lost because she thought that Demographics were going to save her. Liberals are losing elections because they think that the so called Demographics are going to save them in long term. Liberals need to build political infrastructure, even in the Deep South, and stop waiting Hispanics growing up and becoming voters to save them.

  28. Pch101 says:

    @Andre Kenji de Sousa:

    In practical terms, what you are suggesting is next to impossible.

  29. @Pch101: Simply waiting for Hispanics to either become citizens or to enter voting age, taking Blacks for granted and ignoring every other demographic group is not a strategy either.

  30. Pch101 says:

    @Andre Kenji de Sousa:

    Your description of the situation is inaccurate and a bit cliched, frankly.

    And given America’s extensive history of race-driven politics, approaches that appeal to certain demographic groups will naturally alienate others, so there is no way for either side to please them all. That forces the Dems to rely upon turning out a large percentage of their base while winning over just enough independents.

  31. @Pch101: 1-) Low turnout among Black Voters and losses among White Voters are correlated for Democrats. That’s less racialized than it looks. Blacks, Hispanics and Whites shares a lot of issues.

    2-) Liberal pundits are arguing that Demographic changes make Democratic Wins inevitable for ten years.Thomas F. Schaller even argued that Democrats should ignore the South, there is that:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/11/the-emerging-democratic-majority-turns-10/265005/

    3-) The Democrats are not going to win among White Voters without College Degree and among Evangelicals. But they need to control their losses among these groups. It´s simple as that.

    If you don´t control your losses among White Voters, the Black Voters in the Deep South have very little use.

  32. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kylopod:

    Minor nitpick: it benefitted Adams, who at the time was under the Democratic-Republican party, which later split, with Adams transitioning to the Whig Party, which later split, with Adams Northern contingent becoming what we know today as the Republican party.

    I do my homework too, thanks.

  33. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    You mean beyond the danger we’re already in? Let’s be realistic – this experiment that began 227 years ago has failed. It either radically reforms itself, which I agree will require a major crisis to motivate, or it ceases to exist altogether – which is where we’re headed.

    The choices are to sit around in rhetorical smoke filled coffee houses like a herd of frightened cats, or do something about it. I prefer the latter.

  34. Kylopod says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Minor nitpick: it benefitted Adams, who at the time was under the Democratic-Republican party, which later split, with Adams transitioning to the Whig Party, which later split, with Adams Northern contingent becoming what we know today as the Republican party.

    I do my homework too, thanks.

    Okay…so now “benefit” has the additional meaning of “set up some of the conditions that may have led indirectly to the creation of thirty years later”?

    You’ve done your homework all right, in the “dog ate my homework” sense. 🙂

    (Jeez, you really can’t admit a simple error?)

  35. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kylopod:

    I don’t see it as an error. You do. That’s your issue, not mine.

    Moving on …

  36. @HarvardLaw92:

    The choices are to sit around in rhetorical smoke filled coffee houses like a herd of frightened cats, or do something about it.

    I don’t think thinking through the consequences of specific choices constitutes acting like frightened cats.

  37. Ratufa says:

    @Andre Kenji de Sousa:

    The Democrats are not going to win among White Voters without College Degree and among Evangelicals. But they need to control their losses among these groups. It´s simple as that.

    Yes. Yes Yes. Yes. Yes.

    This is particularly important because some of the states that Democrats need to win consist of a few Democratic-voting urban areas surrounded by rural areas that look a lot like the South wrt voting patterns. Limiting your losses on those areas reduces the risk of another fiasco like the current one.

    Claims that it’s impossible for Democrats to go after those voters seem a bit strange, given that one of the frequently-made points on these forums is that Hillary’s policies would have been better for those voters than Trump’s policies. Perhap Hillary should have spent more ad time and debate time talking about those policies.

  38. Pch101 says:

    @Andre Kenji de Sousa:

    But they need to control their losses among these groups.

    Nobody claimed otherwise. However, that comes from winning over a few more percentage points of independents, not from conquering committed Republicans.

    There is absolutely no way that the Democrats are going to win over right-wing values voters in the South. None. The Democrats would have to stop being Democrats in order for that happen.

    The Democratic party that dominated the South prior to the civil rights movement is not the same Democratic party that exists today.

    There was a time that northeastern liberals and southeastern social conservatives could share a party, but that is no longer true. Even Blue Dog conservatives weren’t far enough to the right to please them, which is why those voters moved to the GOP.

  39. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I don’t think thinking through the consequences of specific choices constitutes acting like frightened cats.

    It does when that’s all that will ever happen. I’m all for analysis and consideration, but this requires more than an academic exercise. All philosophy classes have ever produced in terms of tangible outcomes are conversation.

    Democrats tend, especially lately, to sit around rending garments and being generally horrified while cowering in the corner. If you want to counter this thing the other side has set into motion, you’re going to have to get down into the same gutter and utilize the same tactics, otherwise the party is going to continue to be the 90 pound nerd who gets his ass kicked.

    Cold hard truth.

  40. Ratufa says:

    @Pch101:

    I don’t think there has been much, if any, talk on these forums about Democrats winning over hard-core racists, evangelical Christians, right-wingers, or staunch Republicans. On the other hand, there has been a lot of talk about how Trump voters are all racist, stupid, uneducated, misogynistic, or have other characteristics that would cause them to not vote for Democrats.

    But, many counties, particularly those located in the rust belt, were won by Obama in previous elections and went to Trump in this election: Given some of the numbers involved, it’s very plausible that many Obama voters switched to Trump:

    http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/usappblog/2016/11/11/23174/

    So, from the practical standpoint of wanting to win elections, perhaps it would be best to focus on how to get those previous Obama voters to vote for Democrats, again.

  41. Pch101 says:

    @Ratufa:

    I get it. But that means winning a few votes from independents, not a lot of votes from the right.

    The fact is that a majority of whites and a majority of independent voters did NOT vote for Obama.

    Obama won because of relatively high Democratic turnout and demographic shifts in states such as Colorado and Virginia. Obama was also able to capture a couple of additional percentage points of independents in comparison to Clinton.

    But Obama still didn’t win a majority of independents and he obviously didn’t need to. So please stop overstating the value of white voters. They are part of the electorate and cannot be completely ignored; however, they are not the entire electorate and Democrats cannot serve them at the expense of minority voters — the GOP has a lock on the resentful white guy market.

    Obama was also able to run on a message of hope and change. That would have been much more difficult for any Democrat running in 2016 following a two-term Democratic presidency, for obvious reasons.

    To a certain extent, this is Obama’s fault for not throwing a few more bones at these people. He should have literally paid them off with visible shiny projects in their backyards in the months prior to the 2016 election. (You would have thought that saving the auto industry from complete collapse would have been enough, but entitled people have lots of demands and short memories.)

  42. Ratufa says:

    @Pch101:

    So please stop overstating the value of white voters. They are part of the electorate and cannot be completely ignored; however, they are not the entire electorate and Democrats cannot serve them at the expense of minority voters — the GOP has a lock on the resentful white guy market.

    I think you’re arguing with strawmen. Who here (except maybe some of the conservatives) has argued that Democrats should go after white voters at the expense of minority voters? My own arguments wrt what Clinton should have done have mostly been about strategy and general economic issues.

    Given the closeness of the election in some key states, a few extra points from independent voters would have mattered.

  43. Pch101 says:

    @Ratufa:

    Who here (except maybe some of the conservatives) has argued that Democrats should go after white voters at the expense of minority voters?

    It is quite difficult to overtly reach out to white voters without trashing minority voters in the process, since resentful whites want a candidate who articulates their resentment. That is what will make it next to impossible for Dems to reach most of the South until demographics change in their favor — the Dems cannot speak to those people, period.

    And I could make the same reference to strawmen. I have said repeatedly on this thread that it is necessary to reach a few more independents. How many more times do I need to say it in order to get the point across?

    However, the main point is that Democrats are stuck with the task of getting Democrats to show up. Low turnout favors Republicans, so the Dems have to hustle.

  44. Kylopod says:

    @Ratufa:

    Given the closeness of the election in some key states, a few extra points from independent voters would have mattered.

    A few extra points from Democrats would have mattered more.

    Consider this: In Pennsylvania, Dems constituted 42% of the electorate. Add just one percentage point and assume her share of that bloc would have been the same (still significantly lower than what Obama got in 2012), and she wins the state. (You can do the math for Wisconsin and Michigan if you like. I suspect you’ll see a similar effect.)

    This is what gets me: in this election, like many others, people have this tendency to read sweeping implications into what are in reality very tiny fluctuations in voter behavior.

  45. Ratufa says:

    @Pch101:

    It is quite difficult to overtly reach out to white voters without trashing minority voters in the process, since resentful whites want a candidate who articulates their resentment.

    At no point have I said that Hillary should have made identity-politics arguments that specifically appeal to white people. That’s your straw man. What I’ve said is that Hillary should have spent much more time talking about the economic concerns that rust belt and other voters have. She could have talked about her plans to help those voters. She could have run ads about those plans, and also about how Trump’s businesses have mistreated contractors and other people they’ve hired. Sure, it would have been a hard sell, particularly given her background, but she was running against a billionaire with a long and shady history.

    @Kylopod:

    Talking more about economics might also have caused more Democrats to go out and vote for her.

  46. Pch101 says:

    What I’ve said is that Hillary should have spent much more time talking about the economic concerns that rust belt and other voters have. She could have talked about her plans to help those voters.

    I’ve noted frequently on this website that some efforts should have been made to appeal to such people. I even said that above, so I’m not sure how you would believe otherwise.

    However:

    -Such promises would be a lie, since there isn’t much that the feds can do to help them. (I’m fine with lying to them, but there are some who may have ethical constraints that force them to be more honest than they otherwise should be.)

    -It is difficult for a candidate who is a member of the party of an outgoing two-term president to run on a change/reform/throw-out-the-bums platform, for obvious reasons

    -The main challenge for Democrats is getting Democrats and Democrat leaners to show up, as low turnout makes the difference. Democrats have little hope of reaching committed Republicans; instead, they have to appeal to their own crowd while also winning a large minority of independents.

    Anyone who suggests that the Dems have an honest shot at turning deep red Southern states blue anytime soon is naive at best.

  47. @Pch101: @Pch101:

    There is absolutely no way that the Democrats are going to win over right-wing values voters in the South. None. The Democrats would have to stop being Democrats in order for that happen.

    But Democrats don’t need to win right wing values voters in the South.They need to win some votes among White that are not Evangelicals and control their losses with White Voters in General. There are lots of Registered Democrats voting for Republicans, specially in the Midwest and the South.

    Both Obama and Bill Clinton managed to do that, Gore, Kerry and hillary did not.

  48. Pch101 says:

    @Andre Kenji de Sousa:

    You ought to use some data before leaping to the conclusions that you reach.

    In 2012, Romney won 59% of the white vote.

    In 2016, Trump won 57% of the white vote.

    How do facts like those possibly support your thesis?

    And even if you were correct, you don’t have a coherent path for getting there, which leaves us with a lot of cool sounding rhetoric but absolutely no plan for achieving anything.

    You need to understand that a lot of American politics are driven by culture, not by policy. That makes it difficult to get a bunch of white guys to flip a U-turn in favor of the Democrats.

    And Obama should have made it clear that elections can be won without them, anyway.

  49. @HarvardLaw92: I think you have an exceptional, and unfounded, amount of confidence in your particular plan of action. Your assumption is predicated on the notion of sowing seeds of illegitimacy in an institution in a way that you think will lead to the wrath being poured on that institution. I see a very real potential that if you were successful, the wrath would largely be aimed at the Democratic Party (who, btw, do not need convincing of the problems with the EC).

    I am not sure encouraging view of illegitimacy of our institutions at the moment than an authoritarian-leaning president is about to take office, especially when his party is having a love-fest with Vladimir Putin.

    This is not to say do nothing, nor is it to say that sometimes crises lead to reforms. It is to say, however, that looking at other precarious circumstances from around the world that tipping the situation towards the positive reforms you prefer via the methods you are suggesting strike me less, not more, likely.

    We are likely better off if Trump fails within the context of accepted institutions, painful as that will be, than we are giving him an excuse for his failure (such as Democrats seeking to delegitimize him).

  50. @Pch101: Not to mention any assessment of this situation in broad demographic terms can’t ignore that Clinton did win roughly 3 million more votes than did Trump. Only the exigencies of a bizarre institution gave us President Trump.

  51. @Steven L. Taylor:

    I see a very real potential that if you were successful, the wrath would largely be aimed at the Democratic Party (who, btw, do not need convincing of the problems with the EC).

    And to expand on this: if Republican voters simply see any flaws in the EC as the fault of Democratic meddling, that will not decrease Republican confidence in the EC. It will, instead, simply give additional reasons to see the Democrats as the enemy, and not the opposition. This will foster more, not less, authoritarian threats in our system. And, moreover (and counter to your goals) will, in my informed opinion, lead them to reinforce their belief in the EC, seeing the flaws exposed as simply the result of their enemies not letting the institution function as the Blessed Founders Intended.

  52. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    By all means, offer up a counter-proposal that consists of more than sitting around and talking about how awful the state of affairs is.

    I generally respect academia, but I admit to having a very limited amount of patience with its tendency to discuss everything to death while actually taking precious little, if any, real action to effect change.

    Give me a better idea and I’ll consider it, but I’m well past fed-up with “chatter chatter chatter”.

  53. @HarvardLaw92: If action A will lead to a bad outcome, then simply acting is not the best option.

    I hate to tell you, but at the moment I am not sure there is a good option, save trying to educate people. Which, weirdly, requires a lot of talking. I can guarantee you of that,

    And, to be fair, while you are asserting action, the truth is you aren’t doing a lot more than talking, either. There is not going to be a disruption of the EC on Monday.

    Instead, we are going to have to work to change minds about Trump and make sure people understand the consequences of his election. It is a long term response.

  54. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Pch101:

    But that means winning a few votes from independents,

    Yeah, and that would probably made the difference. So what’s your point? You don’t like not being the smartest guy in the room?

  55. Pch101 says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker:

    It’s pretty simple: The white guy thesis is bulls**t.

  56. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I hate to tell you, but at the moment I am not sure there is a good option, save trying to educate people.

    I hate to tell you, but you’re dealing with a largely stupid electorate which reacts out of emotion and which gets its news from Facebook. They outnumber you. They outnumber me, and they always will. They do not – and this is important – want to be educated. They want to be lied to. As I said above, if you want the Dems to have a seat in this game, they’re going to have to wise up and play the same game the Republicans are playing. It works for a reason.

    And, to be fair, while you are asserting action, the truth is you aren’t doing a lot more than talking, either. There is not going to be a disruption of the EC on Monday.

    I’m not sure where you, or anybody else for that matter, got the impression that anything we’re working on relates to the current EC, but that does seem to be the erroneous consensus. You’re talking about something that requires a healthy amount of logistical and strategic planning. It has always been intended for 2020.

    Instead, we are going to have to work to change minds about Trump and make sure people understand the consequences of his election. It is a long term response.

    Trump is his own worst enemy. He will screw up on a biblical scale. You don’t work to change minds about that. You work to CAPITALIZE on that and use it to your advantage. The single most productive thing that could possibly happen for the Democratic Party is for Trump and the GOP to run the country off of the rails over the next two to four years. Our job isn’t to stop them. Our job is to hang that around their necks. Jesus … 🙄

    This is the one thing that just drives me crazy about Democrats in general and academics in particular. They seem to think that if they play fair and have better ideas, why people will just have an epiphany and come knocking on their door en masse. That’s about as naive & ivory tower as it gets. Dems have to wise up and start playing the game to win, discomfort about the tactics required be damned, or like I said above, they’re going to continue to be the proverbial 90 pound weakling getting sand kicked in his face.

    Say what you like about the GOP, and they disgust me as much as the next guy, but they do know how to win elections in this country. Get on board or get run over. Sheesh …

  57. @HarvardLaw92: Your condescension is certainly persuasive.

  58. Ratufa says:

    @Pch101:

    In 2012, Romney won 59% of the white vote.
    In 2016, Trump won 57% of the white vote.

    Without more information, it’s hard to interpret those numbers. For example, if those are national numbers, they don’t tell us much about what happened in specific key states. More telling are county-by-county breakdowns of how people voted in the states Hillary was expected to win, and comparing 2016 totals with 2012 totals. It turns out that, in many cases, counties that went heavily for Obama in 2012 either went for Trump or were barely won by Clinton. For example:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/10/upshot/why-trump-won-working-class-whites.html?_r=0

  59. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Which I reading as “I’m choosing to take umbrage rather than address the point”

    Which I suspect is because you know that I’m right about it …

    Have a nice evening

  60. @HarvardLaw92: You may read it as you wish. Mainly I find your argument about your course of action to be unpersuasive (and more than a bit vague).

    I was trying to engage in a conversation above about why I thought your approach could be problematic. Instead of engaging those points you went to:

    The choices are to sit around in rhetorical smoke filled coffee houses like a herd of frightened cats, or do something about it.

    I still tried to continue with a conversation. I would have been more than happy to discuss substantive differences. Instead, I got complaints about academics and Democrats wanting to talk too much. Indeed, that is really all that your last several comments were: complaints with some condescension thrown in about the value of action over discussion (which is especially weird since your plan of action, it would appear, is for years into the future, so it is unclear why a little further discussion is unwarranted).

    If you wish you assume you have gotten the better of me, so be it (I did not see this as a contest, until you seemed to want to turn it into one). But (if we want to get into blanket statements about classes of people), I have found that lawyers have a bad tendency to reduce discussions to zero sum calculations, even when not appropriate or necessary. We poor benighted academics often have the capacity to raise concerns and want to understand their implications and can even see the merits of various positions all at once before coming to a final conclusion. (And, since we are in a blog comment section, conversation is sort of what we are doing, yes? You want to invite me to a meeting focused on a specific action, then there is a different sort of approach, yes?).

    For example: there is a degree to which I agree that the only way to get reform is through disruption. I also know the dangers of disruption. And if your goal is power politics (and yes, politics is ultimately a power game), then actually the better way to win the game is not some massive disruption of the EC, it is by simply addressing what happened in some key states.

    The funny thing is, the intellectual, pie-in-the-sky, “ideas matter” route is the disruption route, because the EC is philosophically problematic.

    If, however, what you want is the “win the game” approach: it is a hell of a lot easier to find better tactics to win WI, PA, and MI.

    The problem with disruption is that it isn’t easy to control.

  61. Pch101 says:

    @Ratufa:

    It’s easy to interpret those numbers: The white guy theory being offered here doesn’t correspond with reality.

  62. Pch101 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    The problem is that civility doesn’t work when the other guy is trying to kill you.

    The Democrats need a plan to dismantle and destroy the existing Republican party, not just peacefully coexist with it. The alternative to going to war is to have more of the very disruption that you claim to fear, as the GOP will keep using disruption because they think that it works.

    It’s not as if the alternative to Democratic-driven disruption is to have no disruption at all. Unless the GOP is stopped, they will only get worse.

  63. @Pch101: Well, at this point it would all depend on the definition of terms. My conversation with HarvardLaw92 was about the EC specifically, or so I understood it to be the case.

    I do think that if we, in general, are not careful, we run the risk of pushing things in an even more authoritarian direction.

  64. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I have found that lawyers have a bad tendency to reduce discussions to zero sum calculations, even when not appropriate or necessary. We poor benighted academics often have the capacity to raise concerns and want to understand their implications and can even see the merits of various positions all at once before coming to a final conclusion.

    Lawyers set out with a tangible goal in mind – an outcome that they want to achieve:

    Winning

    And they employ every dirty trick, every scorched earth tactic and every possible hint of an advantage in order to get it.

    Know why? Because politics, like real world law, is not some sort of delightful ongoing bake sale where everybody gets a ribbon for participating. Like PCH said above, the other guy is trying to kill you, so put down the hymnal, stop singing Kumbahyah and pick up a weapon.

    It IS a zero sum game. There will be a winner and a loser, and I don’t like to lose. I’ll go so far to say that I am where I am and I earn what I earn because I very rarely do. My clients are paying for Sherman, not Mother Teresa. I’d rather the other guy not be destroyed in the process, but like Sherman, if that’s what’s required to win then so be it.

    As I said, I respect academia, but by its nature it has a tendency to talk things to death without ever actually doing anything to win. I suspect this is because the goal of academia is the conversation itself. At some point, the “do something to win” crowd has to get involved or all you end up with is a smoke drenched French coffeehouse filled with tortured intellectuals.

    That? I’m a classic type A, so I have enormous, profound, abiding disdain for that. If you have ideas about what we should DO, then I’m all ears, but I’m not interested in garment rending & sitting shiva.

  65. @HarvardLaw92: Yet, this, this right here, is a conversation. The interchange itself does not have to be treated like a zero sum contest (which is what I was referring to). No one is going to win a blog comment thread.

    But, more importantly, even in your attempt to win, it is worth noting that you might learn something in a conversation.

    But, instead, you feel the need to combative, for reasons that I do not fully get save for the fact that it is too easy to sometime want to Win the Thread.

  66. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    But, instead, you feel the need to combative, for reasons that I do not fully get

    LOL, I am a gigantic Type A attorney. Have we met?

    I don’t even play video games to have fun. I play them to win. If you can’t win, there is no point in playing to begin with. You’re about as likely to understand me as I am to understand you.

    That having been said, EVERYthing is a zero-sum game.

  67. And like I said above: you are better off working on voter turnout in key states than in trying some longshot plan to subvert the EC, which, even if your plan works, is a long-term solution.

    Since I don’t think that your EC plan is viable, or will accomplish the goals that you have stated, I would state that you plan is a bad one. That isn’t rending garments or sitting in coffee house.

  68. @HarvardLaw92:

    That having been said, EVERYthing is a zero-sum game.

    No, it isn’t.

    But I understand where you are coming from, although it raises the question of why one should engage with you, if the only point of conversing is combat. I think you would agree, if weren’t now in a contest, that two people can have a conversation, and both be enriched. That is a positive sum game.

  69. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    trying some longshot plan to subvert the EC, which, even if your plan works, is a long-term solution.

    Remind me how long it took to get rid of Jim Crow? The EC is more damaging to the country – present consequences of it being pointed out in specific relief – than Jim Crow ever was.

    You want to believe that the American voter is a rationale animal who can be reached. I just think that belief is – and this is putting it as kindly as I possibly can – naive. Better to do away with the skewing and start playing on the same field as the Republicans.

    This isn’t Marquess of Queensberry boxing. It’s a street brawl. Pardon me for saying that you’re not equipped for that scenario. I’m a wartime consigliere, so I am.

  70. At this point, all I can say is that last paragraph gave me a nice chuckle. At some point these kinds of assertions are simply amusing from an pseudonymous commenter in a blog comment box. This is especially true when you can’t even address objections and questions.

    I will gladly eat crow a decade from now (or however long you figure it will take) once you have defeated the EC.

  71. Pch101 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I sincerely doubt that anyone is expecting the electoral college to disappear anytime soon, anymore than the House Republicans kept voting to repeal Obamacare because they expected to turn that effort into new law while Obama was in office.

    The main point of complaining about the electoral college is much like the repeated repeal votes for ACA: the goal is to challenge the legitimacy of a Trump presidency by every and whatever means necessary.

    Hell, I’ve gone on record here more than once as someone who embraces the underlying principle of the electoral college, yet I favor all of the ruckus because it is a means to a different end that has very little to do with the electoral college itself. I

  72. @Pch101: As you know, I have zero problem complaining about the EC. 😉

  73. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    At some point these kinds of assertions are simply amusing

    Remind me how many column inches you’ve spent now fretting about the potential consequences stemming from the plans of a “pseudonymous commenter in a blog comment box”?

    Sounds to me like to take it just a little seriously, despite having gone for the veiled ad hominem now that your nose has been tweaked.

    This is especially true when you can’t even address objections and questions.

    I’m interested in neither your objections nor your concerns, which is why I ignore them. If you have suggestions for improvement, I’m all ears, otherwise I’ve decided on my course of action; you can decide on yours.

    You know, as opposed to chattering away in the coffee house about a “pseudonymous commenter in a blog comment box” 🙂

    Have a nice day.

  74. @HarvardLaw92: One thing lawyers and academics have in common, they both like to get the last word. 😉

    Cheers.

  75. Ratufa says:

    @Pch101:

    It’s easy to interpret those numbers: The white guy theory being offered here doesn’t correspond with reality.

    It doesn’t correspond with reality that Hillary did much worse than Obama in a number of blue-collar, largely white, rural counties in key rust belt states? I’ve provided several links in this thread to support that version of reality.

    I agree with your previous statements that Hillary should have done something to appeal to that demographic. To repeat myself, I’m not proposing that the Democrats specifically cater to white voters. I’m saying (and I think you agree) that Hillary should have spent more time talking about economic issues in general. Wrt your comment that the government can’t do all that much to help these voters, there’s some truth to that. But, off the top of my head, there are various issues she could could have talked about, such as the minimum wage, educational expenses, helping to curb abusive employer practices (e.g. wage theft, flexible shift abuse), etc. To repeat myself again, nobody is claiming that doing any of that would win over hard-core Republicans or cause a deep red state to turn blue. But, it could help prevent another close loss in some battleground states.

  76. @HarvardLaw92: And clearly, I have plenty of competitive in me as well–so sure, lots of electrons in this thread. I do like to make my point, although it is sometimes a pointless exercise. Yes, a malady of the academy.

    But, I will point out: you come to my coffeehouse to chat, so I guess I don’t get the point of being so disparaging about it. 🙂

  77. Pch101 says:

    @Ratufa:

    Obama managed to get Democratic voters in Milwaukee and Detroit to show up in ways that Clinton did not. That’s what made the difference in those states.

    I realize that doesn’t fit in the white-guy-uber-alles paradigm. but that’s just reality.

  78. Ratufa says:

    @Pch101:

    Obama managed to get Democratic voters in Milwaukee and Detroit to show up in ways that Clinton did not. That’s what made the difference in those states.

    Many factors contributed to Clinton’s loss, including lower turnout by some key Democratic constituencies, strategic errors by her campaign, her perceived mail issues, James Comey, her long history as a Washington insider, voter suppression by Republicans, Russian scheming, the fact that a Democrat has occupied the White House for the past 8 years, economic and social problems affecting rural rust belt voters, etc etc. What’s more, it’s absurd to think that Clinton would do as well as Obama with some groups, such as African-American voters. The reasons for that aren’t just racial, it is also the case that many of these voters look at the past 8 years of Democratic control of the Presidency and don’t see evidence that Obama’s policies have improved their lives in any significant way.

    Singling out any one of those factors and saying that it was the reason why Clinton lost is an over simplification, given how close the vote totals were in MI, PA, and WI.

    I realize that doesn’t fit in the white-guy-uber-alles paradigm. but that’s just reality.

    I believe that this discussion was started by Andre’s comments in a few posts that, “[Democrats] need to win some votes among Whites that are not Evangelicals and control their losses with White Voters in General.” Hence, the initial focus on “white guys”. Personally, I think focusing on race in this case is a bit of a distraction. It’s tough to see how the Democratic Party can specifically attract white voters without alienating current constituencies, and possibly compromising core Democratic values. It may be more fruitful to try to attract votes from other GOP demographics, such as rural voters, voters without a college degree, etc.