Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Columns

November 2, 2012

RONNIE ELLIS: Your vote counts more than you think

FRANKFORT — If you’re looking for predictions about Tuesday, you’ve come to the wrong place. I don’t know who will be elected president or if Republicans will take control of the Senate.

I am confident Mitt Romney will easily win Kentucky.

Romney is such an overwhelming favorite that some partisans on both sides may not feel excited about voting. But even with an Electoral College system of electing presidents (we really have 50 rather than one presidential election), those who feel strongly about either Romney or Barack Obama should vote Tuesday.

Given the closeness of the race nationally, it’s not inconceivable we could see some sort of a 2000 repeat where one candidate wins the popular vote but loses the Electoral College. If the Electoral College tally is close enough, there will be talk of recounts and challenges in some states where the vote is especially close.

Then the popular vote total will be more important and, whichever side wins, that vote will argue its candidate should be president. But if the narrow Electoral College winner also has a few more votes nationally, he is more likely to be viewed as the “legitimate” winner.

Actually, under our system a surprising number of presidents have been elected with less than 50 percent of the popular vote.  Many only won a plurality of votes. For instance, Bill Clinton got less than 50 percent of the vote in 1992 when Ross Perot staged a fairly vigorous third-party candidacy, but Clinton got more votes than Perot or George W. H. Bush and he easily won the Electoral College.

That’s the system we have; those are the rules and both sides plan their campaigns accordingly. As one Democratic wag said to an unhappy Republican friend of mine after the 1992 election: “No, Clinton didn’t get 50 percent of the votes. But he won 100 percent of the White House.”

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