Bad Arguments for the Electoral College

Conservatives love the Electoral College. It is the only way that they were able to elect Donald Trump in 2016. In defending this antiquated institution, they unfortunately will bring out the same old tired arguments when the truth clearly shows that they cannot win without a system that is rigged in their favor. They gerrymander districts, they kick voters off the roles, and they hold on to the Electoral College that gives small states far too much power than even the founders intended.

Let’s start there. In his article against the attempts to pass the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPV), Trent England suggests that small-town and rural America will be “reduced to serfdom” by the big bad mean city-folk. He feels that rural America will be taken advantage of if you don’t allow the Electoral College to stand as it is. Is that true though? Our founders put in a mechanism that exists simply to help smaller states from being trampled over by the larger ones. It is called the United States Senate. In the Senate, each state has the same power. While the electoral college does grant a state more say by allowing it to count all seats held in both chambers of Congress, I have discussed on my podcast previously that the number of House seats is artificially low. If we took the smallest population state (Wyoming) and used it as a base, and then counted how many “Wyomings” worth of population existed in each state, we would see that we would need about 100 more seats in the House than we currently have.

England says that the Electoral College makes it more difficult to win the Presidency. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Donald Trump won with fewer votes than Hillary Clinton. He literally had to convince fewer people than he would have needed to convince had we used a popular vote system. The Electoral College makes it so that you don’t have to campaign hard. In fact, anywhere between six and ten states are considered “in play” in any given election. While these may fluctuate every four years, candidates only have to campaign in these few states instead of having to convince all fifty that they are the right person for the job. How is that not making the campaign easier?

This also brings up the whole myth of the “flyover state”. Conservatives argue that eliminating the Electoral College will cause these rural states to be excluded from the process. I argue that the current system excludes many people from the process as it is. Many of those people live in those rural states. Candidates only need to focus on those ten states. Let’s look at the states that Donald Trump visited in the general election. Shall we?

Donald Trump Campaign Rallies

Each green dot represents a campaign rally. Notice where these rallies do not take place. None took place in Idaho. None took place in Montana. None took place in all these rural flyover areas. Why? Because the GOP knows that they have these states in the bag. There is no reason for either Presidential candidate to go to these states. The candidates are already treating them as flyover states. What would opening up the popular vote do? It would make every Democrat in those states important again. It would make every Republican in “safe” blue states important again as well. Candidates would have every reason to try and get every single possible vote they could get. These states would no longer be flown over.

England also states that by passing the NPV, states are violating the Constitution. I don’t believe this to be true. Each state is allowed to split up their electors as they see fit. Two states award electors by congressional district with two at-large electors to represent the Senate seats. If a state determines that it will award the electoral votes to whoever wins the national popular vote, then that is their prerogative.

Conservatives are scared that with more people voting, they are more likely to lose. That is why you see all these attempts by Conservatives to keep the vote down. Enacting a popular vote would absolutely drive up voter turnout because people in states that previously didn’t matter will now matter. The way that Conservatives fight this shows us that this is only good for liberals. That is why Conservatives have to come up with these bad arguments in support of the Electoral College. They need to hope that enough people will believe them. Now you know why you shouldn’t.

A Flood of Tax Dollars

Do sports teams benefit cities enough to justify the tax dollars spent on them? Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards seems to think so as he rolls out a $450 million plan to renovate the Superdome that comes with a 15 year extension for the Saints to stay in New Orleans.

Of course the Saints and officials with the Superdome itself will tell you that these upgrades are needed for the the dome to be competitive. There is always the lingering threat that some other city will build the Saints a new stadium and lure the team away with something nice and shiny.

Roger Noll, a Stanford economist, calls this idea hogwash. With infrequent use, the tax dollars generated by these stadiums will never justify the money spent on them. To Noll, “[a]renas are used more often”.

But it is difficult to take Noll’s words as the gospel in New Orleans. Other stadiums may only be used for 10 games a year. The dome is used year round. Concerts, Mardi Gras balls, monster truck shows, and many other events make use of the Superdome. When the Rolling Stones finally performed in New Orleans, they used the Superdome as their venue. It was a great show.

I also have some questions that I do not feel get answered by economists when discussing these issues. Let’s say the Saints don’t extend the deal with the state because we said that Louisiana’s portion of the plan could be better spent other places (ignoring for a second that the Saints are putting up about a third of the money and the rest is going to come from bonds). If the Saints go away and the season ticket holders are now holding extra money to spend, who is to say that money will be spent here in New Orleans? What if those people decide that they will take an extra trip to Disney World instead. Perhaps they will take a cruise. At least with the Saints here, the locals will spend money to support their beloved team. Without the Saints, money could very well leave the state.

With the Saints picking up $150 million of the cost and $210 million raised via a bond issue, I assume the other $90 million would be provided by the Louisiana itself. This would mean that in order to justify the amount of money raised with bonds the Saints would have to generate $14 million plus bond interest each year for 15 years to pay off the bond. If they are able to generate that amount, then the bond is clearly worth it.

What if the amount of money generated doesn’t equal $14 million plus interest. Is it worth it to see the team go? There are some immeasurable factors that come with having a team in general, let alone one like the Saints. New Orleans has always loved the Saints. Even in the bad years, we supported our team. The rebirth of the City of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina came hand in hand with the reopening of the Superdome. On a national stage, via the Saints, New Orleans announced “we are back”. It didn’t matter that we won or lost (of course the fact that we beat the Falcons made it that much more sweet). What mattered is that we were not going to give up.

New Orleans has a lot of pressing issues that still need to be resoled. Recent flooding issues being the biggest of them all. Unnamed rain storms flood areas that Katrina never touched. Our pumps are aged and failing. We absolutely need help in getting those fixed. We did get some of that this year from the Louisiana legislative session. We all know that we need more. But what would New Orleans be without the Saints? They kept us afloat during the hard times, it is difficult to justify letting them go now. We can walk and chew gum at the same time. When we need something to hope for, why let our best shot at redemption go down the drain?

There is one more thing to consider. Governor Edwards faces a potentially difficult reelection bid for a second term in a state where he probably shouldn’t have won a first term. Only by making the runoff with David “serious sins” Vitter did Edwards manage to pull off a first term. In the same election, a Republican won the Lt. Governor’s seat by a similar margin. Twelve percent of Louisiana voters felt that Edwards was just conservative enough to support over the former Senator who admitted to serious sins involving prostitutes.

Governor Edwards repaid those Conservatives by signing a redundant abortion ban following the wave of “heartbeat bills” that passed in the South. Louisiana already had an abortion ban that would trigger if Roe v Wade was overturned, so his signing this new law was merely a symbolic gesture.

Now that Edwards tossed a bone to the extremist Conservatives, he may need to throw everyone else a bone as well. That could very well be the reason he is supporting the new renovations to the dome. If voters in the New Orleans area knew that Edwards simply let the Saints go, his grim changes of reelection could vanish. By seeing a commitment to the area, perhaps enough voters will keep his campaign afloat.

Liberal Dan Radio 08/14/2019: #BlueWave with Shaniyat Chowdhury NY-05

On the August 14, 2019 epsiode of Liberal Dan Radio

Did Epstein really commit suicide? Some people think it’s just a conspiracy theory that he was really murdered. Others believe the idea that he killed himself is just too coincidental. 

There was a USA Today editorial about the Electoral College vs the Popular Vote and it followed all the typical fallacies made in support of keeping the Electoral College. I have debunked them on Twitter and I will be discussing them here as well (unless the author decides he wants to discuss the issue on the show, in which case I have an open invitation to call in at 9PM my time). 

I will also have Shaniyat Chowdhury, candidate for the NY-05 district in Congress. We will be discussing his campaign and what he intends to bring to the US Congress. 

Those issues, headlines, hypocrite of the week, and words of redneck wisdom;  Wednesday at 8pm Central on Liberal Dan Radio: Talk From The Left, That’s Right. 

If you are listening after the live broadcast you can always comment on the show thread or leave a response on the Liberal Dan Facebook Page or the Liberal Dan Radio Twitter account

Thanks to Ross Bugden – Music on YouTube is where I got my show intro here.
“Hypocrite of the Week” – Music: If I Had a Chicken – Kevin MacLeod

Liberal Dan Radio 8/7/2019: #BlueWave with Javahn Walker NJ-06

On the August 7, 2019 episode of Liberal Dan Radio

Multiple mass shootings have taken place over the past week. I will be discussing the issue of gun control and disproportionate policing by law enforcement in the top half of the show. 

And then at 8:30 PM central I will be inviting Javahn Walker, candidate for the NJ-06 congressional race. We will see what Mr. Walker has to offer and why he believes he will be an improvement over the incumbant. 

Those issues, headlines, words of redneck wisdom, and hypocrite of the week at 8pm Central on Blog Talk Radio. 

Remember, if you are listening after the live broadcast you can leave your comments on the Liberal Dan Radio Facebook Page and on the show thread here. 

Thanks to Ross Bugden – Music on YouTube is where I got my show intro here.
“Hypocrite of the Week” – Music: If I Had a Chicken – Kevin MacLeod

*Note: The title of the show is not meant as an endorsement. All candidates are welcome to discuss their campaign on the show.