Money & the 2008 Election

NY Times has an interesting, if improbable, look at how Michael Bloomberg could focus all of his energy at one or two large states, and use these as bargaining chips if neither the Democrats or Republicans manage to get a majority in the Electoral College. Of course, if one of them does manage to get a majority, or if Mr Bloomberg doesn’t decide to run for president, this whole strategy is for naught.

I think a better strategy would be to offer every Electoral College voter 2 million dollars to vote for Bloomberg instead of their candidate. To get a majority, Bloomberg would need 270 voters to change their vote, for a total cost of $540 million, comparable to the cost of an election campaign. Of course, this could fail too.

All this strategizing says to me that the Electoral College is an idea that has long outlived its usefulness. Every election year, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and Missouri get twice as much attention as California, a state with the world’s 7th largest economy and one sixth of the country’s population. There is no Electoral College equivalent at any other level of government in the US; it would be silly if governor’s races were decided by how many counties a candidate won. It’s about time we switched to popular voting for the president, like every other industrialized country.

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