Monday, November 21, 2011

Electoral What-If-ery Fiskiness

Brian Wang links to an electoral analysis post on the Conservative page of the broad-spectrum political commentary Nolan Chart blog. Contributing columnist Abraham Hamadeh addresses the question, “What if Ron Paul runs as an independent?”.
Ron Paul could potentially capture enough Electoral votes to prevent both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney from reaching the 270 Electoral votes needed to become president. If this scenario plays out, the presidential election would be decided in the House of Representatives with the top three highest electoral vote getters being decided on who becomes president. In 2012, the House will most likely still be Republican controlled, leaving Mitt Romney and Ron Paul vowing for the highest office. With the growing number of tea party representatives in Congress, the election could look more similar to a European parliament vote, in building coalitions with many factions to support a prime minister.

Where to start?

Mr. Hamadeh notes several times in his article that Dr. Paul has repeatedly stated he isn't considering a third-party run for the Presidency, so it seems clear from the outset that this whole effort is an example of making the known facts fit a premise to illustrate a preconceived notion and not any sort of critical analysis.

Mr. Hamadeh's seeming conviction that Gov. Mitt Romney will be the presumptive GOP candidate is inconsistent with his own observation elsewhere in the article that, "Mitt Romney can barely capture 20 percent of Republican primary voters ...".

Mr. Hamadeh makes clear his shallow grasp of US electoral procedures (or the most basic of data searches) with his attempted description of the role played by the US Congress in an election in which no candidate secures sufficient Electoral College votes to attain the office. From wikipedia:
Pursuant to the Twelfth Amendment, the House of Representatives is required to go into session immediately to vote for President if no candidate for President receives a majority of the electoral votes (since 1964, 270 of the 538 electoral votes).

In this event, the House of Representatives is limited to choosing from among the three candidates who received the most electoral votes. Each state delegation votes en bloc - its members have a single vote collectively (and the District of Columbia does not receive a vote). A candidate must receive an absolute majority of state delegation votes (currently 26) in order for that candidate to become the President-elect. Additionally, delegations from at least two-thirds of all the states must be present for voting to take place. The House continues balloting until it elects a President.

The House of Representatives has chosen the President only twice: once under Article II, Section 1, Clause 3 (in 1801) and once under the Twelfth Amendment (in 1825).

And, as provided for by the referenced Twelfth Amendment:
Under the Twelfth Amendment, the House has the power to elect the President if no presidential candidate receives a majority of votes in the Electoral College. The Twelfth Amendment requires the House to choose from the three candidates with the highest numbers of electoral votes. The Constitution provides that "the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote." Electoral College deadlocks are rare; in the history of the United States, the House has only had to break a deadlock twice. In 1800, it elected Thomas Jefferson over Aaron Burr; in 1824, it elected John Quincy Adams over Andrew Jackson and William H. Crawford. The Senate elects the Vice President if the Electoral College deadlocks.

{I seems fair to note that two distinct constitutional issues were addressed by the House in the two historic occasions it had the duty to resolve an electoral question. Jefferson and Burr were the two candidates running on the same (and then new political concept) party ticket, for President and Vice-President respectively. They each won the same number of votes from the Electoral College which had no legislative authority to determine which to award what office to. The House wisely agreed that each man was entitled to the office he had campaigned for, making Jefferson our second President. Adams, Jackson and Crawford were from competing parties, so the House fulfilled it's intended 12th Amendment function in this instance.}

From this it can be seen that, quite unlike a parliamentary coalition to determine a prime minister, each state's delegation (however many members of the House that may entail) gets one vote and a majority of all the states (again, that would be a minimum of 26 for the Obama supporters amongst us) must vote for a candidate for him/her to attain office. In the event the House is somehow unable to resolve the issue "before the fourth day of March next following", the newly-elected Vice-President fills the office of President until the electoral conflict is resolved. In no case is there any form of party coalition, nor is the President's (or VP's) term of office in any way dependent upon retaining Congressional support. Mr. Hamadeh's allusion to parliamentary procedures and conditions is misleading at best.

And all this from only one paragraph.

Next Big Future disappoints this time

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