TAKEN AS A GROUP, THE SUPER TUESDAY PRIMARY STATES ACCOUNT FOR 279 ELECTORAL VOTES, NINE MORE THAN THE NUMBER NEEDED TO ELECT A PRESIDENT
Hubbub, now, there’s a word most folks don’t drop into their daily conversation much these days. Yet, here I am asking about the hubbub surrounding the early Presidential primaries in both parties. Why? Simply put, in the words of that great American philosopher, Bugs Bunny, “What’s all the hubbub, bub?”
In his day, Mr. Bunny probably had a better handle on the goings on in the world than many newspaper pundits. Then again, in Bugs’ day, there were far fewer media outlets than there are today, and, therefore, far fewer self proclaimed pundits. Yet, in considering the furor over these early primaries, I am sure Bugs would still be asking anyone who cared to listen exactly what the hubbub was, bub.
While nobody can force states to hold their primary elections on particular dates, the Democratic Party has tried to strong arm some states into joining with a larger group of states that have jointly decided to create a Super Tuesday primary on February 2.
Certain smaller states have refused to be intimidated by threats that their votes at the Democratic convention will not be counted if they hold their votes prior to Super Tuesday. In fact, one very large state, Florida, has basically told the party to take their super primary and shove it where the sun don’t shine, y’all.
Parliamentary governments, like Great Britain’s, choose their leaders through a tiered system. First, the people elect local representatives to their House of Commons. Then, the House of Commons chooses the Prime Minister from among its members.
Our country does not choose its president in this manner. Our country does not have a direct vote for its leader either. The founders of this country came up with a somewhat arcane way for us to elect a president, The Electoral College. This is how it works.
Each state has a slate of electors equal to that state’s members in the Senate and the House of Representatives. No state can have fewer than 3 electors. On election-day, we vote for a slate of electors pledged to vote for a particular candidate on the first vote. Currently, there is no weighted distribution of electors. The person that wins a given state gets all of that state’s electors, regardless of the percentage by which they won. This system opens the door to a myriad of weird happenings, including the potential of a candidate losing the popular vote but winning the electoral vote. That has happened several times, most recently in the presidential election of 2000.
The founders of our country chose this method of selecting our leader for two reasons. First they wanted to give smaller states some greater say in the final choice of a president than the size of their populations would otherwise allow. Additionally, the founders did not believe that the general populace possessed enough sense to directly elect their leader. In the final analysis, the framers of the United States Constitution were the same type of elitists, in many ways, as the Brits that they had overthrown. But that’s something we rarely like to bring up.
So, here you have some smaller states with far more impact on the final outcome of our most important election than their size should support. Yet, they want more. And how do they get that extra clout? They get it by holding their primary elections earlier than the larger states, that’s how.
Now, I don’t blame the small states for their little power grabs. I do, however, blame the media for giving those early primaries far more importance than they deserve. More time is spent in Iowa by the national press prior to its quadrennial Presidential caucus than is spent there any at other time, and Iowa doesn’t even hold a real primary. Their caucuses are more like barbeques where people express their preferences for candidates from their parties while chompin’ on a few ribs. Often the candidates that have the best grub get the most votes.
And New Hampshire, does anyone really care that much about whom a group of libertarian maple farmers want to be President? I certainly don’t. Sorry, that may make be a snob from the big city, but political correctness has never really been my strong suit.
Consider some of the smaller states involved in those early primaries, and their overall impact on the national election.
Iowa holds its caucuses on January 3. It has 7 electoral votes.
New Hampshire holds its primary on January 8. It has 4 electoral votes.
Nevada with 5 votes casts its primary ballots on January 19.
South Carolina, the largest of these early voting states, holding a grand total of 8 electoral votes, goes to the polls on January 26.
All of the pundits from the mainstream media are fawning over these small states as if the presidential election actually turned on their votes. Campaigns could feasibly end as a result of losses in Iowa and New Hampshire. Yet these 4 states hold a grand total of 23 electoral votes, less than half of the number of votes held by California with 55 and a bit more than 2/3 of the number of votes of New York which has 31. Both New York and California hold their primaries on Super Tuesday. They are joined by;
State Electoral Votes
New Jersey 15
New Mexico 5
North Dakota 3
Taken together as a group, the Super Tuesday primary states account for 279 electoral votes, nine more than the number needed to elect a president.
Now, certainly, it is highly unlikely that the majority of the voters in all of these states will vote for the same candidate. But, face it, if they did, who would care about the way Iowa and New Hampshire voted in their respective caucus or primary. In fact, no matter what the division of votes, when the final tally is taken, it is highly unlikely that the entire process will be all that influenced by the choices made by the voters of Iowa and/or New Hampshire.
Yet, the press has made their pre election elections so gawd awful important that the folks in those states have taken to believing their own press.
Certainly, every vote counts in every election. Had African Americans in huge numbers not been denied their franchise in Florida in 2000, George W. Bush might never have become President. Had Diebold machines not been programmed to count backwards when the Democratic candidate took the lead in Ohio, John Kerry might well have prevented Bush from stealing the White House twice.
But, as I asked a few months ago, Whyowa?
Or as Bugs Bunny so aptly put it in 1943’s epic production of Falling Hare, “What’s all the hubbub, bub?”
HENRY A. HONIG – THE PUNDIT