Political Culture and Voting Systems in the United States: An Examination of the 2000 Presidential Election

Political Culture and Voting Systems in the United States: An Examination of the 2000 Presidential Election

Political Culture and Voting Systems in the United States: An Examination of the 2000 Presidential Election

Political Culture and Voting Systems in the United States: An Examination of the 2000 Presidential Election

Synopsis

As the 2000 presidentidal election suggests, the particular type of voting system employed in a given venue can impact the outcome of elections, not only within an individual state, but as Fyfe and Miller explore, across the states as well.

Excerpt

The 2000 presidential election has been the focus of a great deal of scholarship. The sheer closeness of the contest is undoubtedly the primary motivational factor that has led many evaluators to scrutinize what really happened, particularly in the state of Florida, and to ascertain why the choice of the people, Democrat Al Gore, did not occupy 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as of January 20, 2001. The proximity of this race is depicted in Table 1.1.

With more than 105 million votes cast, the “official” margin of difference between Gore and Republican George W. Bush, who both garnered the support of more than 50 million individuals, was 540,520 votes. This was fewer than the more than 613,000 voters who voted for candidates other than Gore, Bush, Ralph Nader, or Pat Buchanan (see Table 1.1). The more important tally under Article II of the U.S. Constitution, however, is the vote in the Electoral College. The framers of the Constitution stipulated that to be elected president, a candidate must receive a simple majority in the Electoral College. Today, there are 538 total electoral votes. Thus, 270 votes are needed to win the election; otherwise, the electoral outcome is determined in the U.S. House of Representatives. Unlike some other elections, where the popular vote was close but the vote in the Electoral College exaggerated the margin of victory (e.g., John F. Kennedy versus Richard Nixon in 1960), the Electoral College vote was indeed reflective of a very close election and a divided electorate, as is illustrated in Table 1.2.

By “winning” Florida, Bush received 271 votes in the Electoral College (one more than is required by the Constitution). A number of different scenarios would have catapulted Gore into the White House (besides the Florida court battles). A victory in his home state (Tennessee) would have made him president. . .

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