Friday, February 06, 2009

HB1339 and HB1204

The print media continues to misrepresent HB1204, the tax increase on tobacco products. The DemGaz this morning claimed that monies raised by the measure will go for "rural health centers", an expansion of ARKids first, a trauma system, and maybe even do your dishes and eliminate halitosis.

I say the truth is that as the bill is actually written, it won't do anymore to fund any of that stuff than any other tax dollar committed to general revenues. So who is telling it to you straight, this little ole' blog or the mighty DemGazette? Please read the text of the bill yourself and see what they have put in writing. Then use what you discover to make a rational decision about who is a more credible source for information for you.

I suspect that Beebe wanted to use almost all of the revenue raised by HB1204 that is not going to the trauma system (in other words about 3/4ths of the loot) for matching funds from Medicaid. So what sort of expansion of Medicaid was in the works from the Obama administration? "Family planning", which has always meant contraceptives and abortion. Planned Parenthood, the nation's #1 abortion provider/referrer, has been the organization which has benefited most from Medicaid's "family planning" "services".

To be commended are Representatives Pam Adcock and Stephanie Flowers, the two Democrats who broke with Beebe to vote against this bill. If they realized that it was a taxpayer funding for abortion/contraceptives bill more than it was a trauma center bill, then they are the sharpest crayons in the Democratic box. I got inside word that at least one of those two DID realize the future abortion/contraceptive implications for the bill. Good for them. As for the rest of the "pro-life" Democrats, their walk did not match their talk. Meanwhile on the Republican side, Rep. Roy Ragland may have made a quick end to his rumored campaign for Lt. Governor by not only voting for a tax increase in a time of government budgetary surplus, but doing it on a vote that also steps on Pro-lifer's toes. Ouch.


HB 1339, the political hack employment act, would lock Arkansas' electors into voting for President whoever won the national popular vote, regardless of the vote in this state. Word is that legislators are getting wined and dined on this one by national interests like never before. Why? I suspect it is because the way Presidential elections are done now means that most of the money is spent in maybe ten key swing states. TV and radio stations in non-swing states want a piece of that action. Political hacks who get hired to run political campaigns (yeah, three fingers pointing back at me on that one) around the nation want in on the action too. A popular vote win would spread campaign dollars out. I believe that is the real reason for the push behind this bill.

Advocates say that polls favor it, but that is only because the people are being misinformed about it by the same big media that stands to benefit from the measure. I say again something you know in your heart but is hard to keep in one's head just because they are out there so much- you simply cannot trust the mainstream media to tell you the truth. It is irrational to listen to what they have to say as if it were true because there are too many known instances where they slant it.

One man, one vote still applies the way we do it now, it just applies on a state by state basis. In order to make it apply uniformly, you would not only need to adopt this bill, you would also need to dissolve the US Senate where each state gets two senators regardless of size. I remind you that these two measures- the selection of the President and the selection of Senators, were tilted to slightly favor smaller states because it was a pre-condition for them to join into a United States in the first place. This bill is tantamount to changing the agreement by which they consented to form the U.S. without their consent. Smaller states, of which we are one, will get steam-rolled.

Under this bill, a candidate who won overwhelmingly in California and New York but lost narrowly in 48 other states including this one would get all of Arkansas' electoral votes. Even if one of their campaign promises was to use Arkansas as the radioactive waste dump for the whole nation. Even if they promised to use Arkansans as a food source for California and New York they would get all of Arkansas' electoral votes. The UNITED STATES is just that, a collection of states who ceded some authority to a central government by mutual consent. Change the weighted influence of the smaller states, and you change the agreement by which the UNITED STATES was formed.


Blogger mvymvy said...

The major shortcoming of the current system of electing the President is that presidential candidates concentrate their attention on a handful of closely divided "battleground" states. Arkansas is not a battleground state. 98% of the 2008 campaign events involving a presidential or vice-presidential candidate occurred in just 15 closely divided “battleground” states. Over half (57%) of the events were in just four states (Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Virginia). Similarly, 98% of ad spending took place in these 15 “battleground” states. Similarly, in 2004, candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their money and campaign visits in five states and over 99% of their money in 16 states. Two-thirds of the states and people have been merely spectators to the presidential elections. Candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or worry about the voter concerns in states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind. The reason for this is the winner-take-all rule enacted by 48 states, under which all of a state's electoral votes are awarded to the candidate who gets the most votes in each separate state.

Another shortcoming of the current system is that a candidate can win the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide. This has occurred in one of every 14 presidential elections.

In the past six decades, there have been six presidential elections in which a shift of a relatively small number of votes in one or two states would have elected (and, of course, in 2000, did elect) a presidential candidate who lost the popular vote nationwide.

1:25 PM, February 09, 2009  
Blogger mvymvy said...


A survey of 800 Arkansas voters conducted on December 15-16, 2008 showed 80% overall support for a national popular vote for President.

Support was 88% among Democrats, 71% among Republicans, and 79% among independents.

By age, support was 89% among 18-29 year olds, 76% among 30-45 year olds, 80% among 46-65 year olds, and 80% for those older than 65.

By gender, support was 88% among women and 71% among men.

By race, support was 81% among whites (representing 80% of respondents), 80% among African-Americans (representing 16% of respondents), and 68% among Others (representing 4% of respondents).

1:25 PM, February 09, 2009  
Blogger mvymvy said...

The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

Every vote would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections.

The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes—that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

The Constitution gives every state the power to allocate its electoral votes for president, as well as to change state law on how those votes are awarded.

The bill is currently endorsed by 1,246 state legislators — 460 sponsors (in 48 states) and an additional 786 legislators who have cast recorded votes in favor of the bill.

The National Popular Vote bill has been endorsed by the New York Times, Chicago Sun-Times, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Hartford Courant, Miami Herald, Sarasota Herald Tribune, Sacramento Bee, The Tennessean, Fayetteville Observer, Anderson Herald Bulletin, Wichita Falls Times, The Columbian, and other newspapers. The bill has been endorsed by Common Cause, Fair Vote, and numerous other organizations.

In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). The recent Washington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University poll shows 72% support for direct nationwide election of the President. This national result is similar to recent polls in Arkansas (80%), California (70%), Colorado (68%), Connecticut (73%), Delaware (75%), Kentucky (80%), Maine (71%), Massachusetts (73%), Michigan (73%), Mississippi (77%), Missouri (70%), New Hampshire (69%), Nebraska (74%), Nevada (72%), New Mexico (76%), New York (79%), North Carolina (74%), Ohio (70%), Pennsylvania (78%), Rhode Island (74%), Vermont (75%), Virginia (74%), Washington (77%), and Wisconsin (71%).

The National Popular Vote bill has passed 22 state legislative chambers, including one house in Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, Michigan, North Carolina, and Washington, and both houses in California, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The bill has been enacted by Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, and Maryland. These four states possess 50 electoral votes — 19% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.


1:26 PM, February 09, 2009  
Blogger mvymvy said...

The small states are the most disadvantaged of all under the current system of electing the President. Political clout comes from being a closely divided battleground state, not the two-vote bonus.

Small states are almost invariably non-competitive in presidential election. Only 1 of the 13 smallest states are battleground states (and only 5 of the 25 smallest states are battlegrounds).

Of the 13 smallest states, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Alaska regularly vote Republican, and Rhode Island, Delaware, Hawaii, Vermont, Maine, and DC regularly vote Democratic. These 12 states together contain 11 million people. Because of the two electoral-vote bonus that each state receives, the 12 non-competitive small states have 40 electoral votes. However, the two-vote bonus is an entirely illusory advantage to the small states. Ohio has 11 million people and has "only" 20 electoral votes. As we all know, the 11 million people in Ohio are the center of attention in presidential campaigns, while the 11 million people in the 12 non-competitive small states are utterly irrelevant. Nationwide election of the President would make each of the voters in the 12 smallest states as important as an Ohio voter.

The fact that the bonus of two electoral votes is an illusory benefit to the small states has been widely recognized by the small states for some time. In 1966, Delaware led a group of 12 predominantly low-population states (North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Kentucky, Florida, Pennsylvania) in suing New York in the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that New York's use of the winner-take-all effectively disenfranchised voters in their states. The Court declined to hear the case (presumably because of the well-established constitutional provision that the manner of awarding electoral votes is exclusively a state decision). Ironically, defendant New York is no longer a battleground state (as it was in the 1960s) and today suffers the very same disenfranchisement as the 12 non-competitive low-population states. A vote in New York is, today, equal to a vote in Wyoming--both are equally worthless and irrelevant in presidential elections.

The concept of a national popular vote for President is far from being politically “radioactive” in small states, because the small states recognize they are the most disadvantaged group of states under the current system.

The National Popular Vote bill already has been approved by a total of seven state legislative chambers in small states, including one house in Maine and both houses in Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Vermont. It has been enacted by Hawaii.

1:26 PM, February 09, 2009  
Blogger mvymvy said...

Most of the medium-small states (with five or six electoral votes) are similarly non-competitive in presidential elections (and therefore similarly disadvantaged). In fact, of the 22 medium-smallest states (those with three, four, five, or six electoral votes), only New Hampshire (with four electoral votes), New Mexico (five electoral votes), and Nevada (five electoral votes) have been battleground states in recent elections.

Because so few of the 22 small and medium-small states are closely divided battleground states in presidential elections, the current system actually shifts power from voters in the small and medium-small states to voters in a handful of big states. The New York Times reported early in 2008 (May 11, 2008) that both major political parties were already in agreement that there would be at most 14 battleground states in 2008 (involving only 166 of the 538 electoral votes). In other words, three-quarters of the states were to be ignored under the current system in the 2008 election. Michigan (17 electoral votes), Ohio (20), Pennsylvania (21), and Florida (27) contain over half of the electoral votes that will matter in 2008 (85 of the 166 electoral votes). There are only three battleground states among the 22 small and medium-small states (i.e., New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Nevada). These three states contain only 14 of the 166 electoral votes. Anyone concerned about the relative power of big states and small states should realize that the current system shifts power from voters in the small and medium-small states to voters in a handful of big states.

Recent polls show a high level of support for a nationwide election for President in, for example, Vermont (75%), Maine (71%), Rhode Island (74%), Kentucky (80%), Oregon (76%), Washington (77%), North Carolina (74%), and Arkansas (80%). More than 70% of the American people have favored a nationwide election for President since the Gallup poll started asking this question in 1944. The recent Washington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University poll shows 72% support for direct nationwide election of the President. This recent national result is similar to recent statewide polls in California (69%), Connecticut (73%), Massachusetts (73%), Michigan (70%), and Missouri (70%).

1:27 PM, February 09, 2009  
Blogger mvymvy said...

The 11 most populous states contain 56% of the population of the United States and that a candidate would win the Presidency if 100% of the voters in these 11 states voted for one candidate. However, if anyone is concerned about the this theoretical possibility, it should be pointed out that, under the current system, a candidate could win the Presidency by winning a mere 51% of the vote in these same 11 states — that is, a mere 26% of the nation’s votes.

Of course, the political reality is that the 11 largest states rarely act in concert on any political question. In terms of recent presidential elections, the 11 largest states include five “red” states (Texas, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and Georgia) and six “blue” states (California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New Jersey). The fact is that the big states are just about as closely divided as the rest of the country. For example, among the four largest states, the two largest Republican states (Texas and Florida) generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Bush, while the two largest Democratic states generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Kerry.

Moreover, the notion that any candidate could win 100% of the vote in one group of states and 0% in another group of states is far-fetched. Indeed, among the 11 most populous states, the highest levels of popular support were found in the following seven non-battleground states:
● Texas (62% Republican),
● New York (59% Democratic),
● Georgia (58% Republican),
● North Carolina (56% Republican),
● Illinois (55% Democratic),
● California (55% Democratic), and
● New Jersey (53% Democratic).

In addition, the margins generated by the nation’s largest states are hardly overwhelming in relation to the 122,000,000 votes cast nationally. Among the 11 most populous states, the highest margins were the following seven non-battleground states:
● Texas — 1,691,267 Republican
● New York — 1,192,436 Democratic
● Georgia — 544,634 Republican
● North Carolina — 426,778 Republican
● Illinois — 513,342 Democratic
● California — 1,023,560 Democratic
● New Jersey — 211,826 Democratic

To put these numbers in perspective, Oklahoma (7 electoral votes) alone generated a margin of 455,000 votes for Bush in 2004 — larger than the margin generated by the 9th and 10th largest states, namely New Jersey and North Carolina (each with 15 electoral votes). Utah (5 electoral votes) alone generated a margin of 385,000 votes for Bush in 2004.

1:27 PM, February 09, 2009  
Blogger mvymvy said...

Keep in mind that the main media at the moment, namely TV, costs much more per impression in big cities than in smaller towns and rural area. So, if you just looked at TV, candidates get more bang for the buck in smaller towns and rural areas.

For example, in California, candidates for governor or U.S. Senate don't campaign just in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and those places don't control the outcome (otherwise CA wouldn't have recently had governors Reagan, Dukemejian, Wilson, and Schwarzenegger). A vote in rural Alpine county is just an important as a vote in Los Angeles.

If the National Popular Vote bill were to become law, it would not change the need for candidates to build a winning coalition across demographics. Any candidate who yielded, for example, the 21% of Americans who live in rural areas in favor of a "big city" approach would not likely win the national popular vote. Candidates would still have to appeal to a broad range of demographics, and perhaps even more so, because the election wouldn't be capable of coming down to just one demographic, such as voters in Ohio.

1:29 PM, February 09, 2009  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

Welcome to Arkansas Watch. I welcome intelligent discussion of the issues. You have raised a lot of issues here, and I would like to take them one a time beginning with your first post. At some point I wish you would address the points I raised in the original post, rather than repeating the generic talking points.

What you list as "The major shortcoming" of the current system is that presidential candidates concentrate their attention on a handful of "battleground states". I can't agree that this is a "major shortfall", all political races will look for the swing vote. A candidate for state rep. will try to ID the swing vote and concentrate there. It is not a "shortcoming", it is just the way campaigns are conducted. Why campaign in areas that have already made up their mind for or against?

The fact that a state is not a "battleground" state simply means that the majority have made up their minds. Why is that a problem? It is only a problem, as I noted in the article, if you are a member of the political class and you want a cut of the consulting fees or you are a broadcast station and you want a share of the advertising dollars.

Getting a bigger cut of the gravy for a special interest is not a compelling reason to fundamentally alter the American method of selecting a president.

You mention that candidates have no reason to worry about voter concerns in non-battleground states, but in point of fact the reason they are non-battleground is that one candidate or another has addressed the concerns of the majority of that state's voters so well that the state is already in their column.

The focus on battleground states is a result of better technology and measurement with polling, but technology also allows us more access to information even if the candidate never comes to our state. I don't need Obama to come to our state, I can and did listen to him on the internet- unfiltered, many times. Anyone who wants to know can look it up, play their campaign ads from the website, ect...

This is a non-problem, unless you want to make money as a political consultant or media buyer and you don't live in a battleground state.

Now you mention the "winner take all rule" for 48 states. Wouldn't the wider adoption of the less radical change- the Maine-Nebraska rule, solve the (from your perspective) problem by putting electoral votes from Congressional districts up for grabs even if a state as a whole is out of reach? Why not advocate for a Maine-Nebraska rule once a majority of states adopt it? I'd join you in supporting it right now.

You also describe as a "shortcoming" that the person who does not win the popular vote can win the Presidency and that changing a few votes in key states in many elections would have changed the outcome. Again, this is not a problem, it is the way the system is designed to work because our Federal government began as a bargain between sovereign states. The goal is to get broad support over many regions of the country, not overwhelming majorities in four or five big states while losing almost all of the rest of them. It is a system that respects the fact that ours is a big country made up of different regions and cultures.

Your complaint that elections are close is again, a sign that the two parties are fielding competitive candidates, not a sign of failure. At least they are competitive relative to one another. I for one would like to see more parties field competitive candidates.

7:08 PM, February 09, 2009  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

Your second post was about poll numbers. Again I say those are people who have not studied the issue but who simply reflect what local media outlets tell them about it- and local media outlets want a share of the presidential campaign gravy.

In your 3rd post you say this new plan would ...

"Every vote would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. "

Such votes are already far more "equal" than votes for US Senate, where Wyoming gets 2 senators and so does California. This is the agreement that the big states made in order to calm the small state's fears about joining a union. Now you want to do an end-run around the agreement. So can small states elect to leave the union now since you are proposing to nullify the intent of the Constitution regarding their proportion of representation in Presidential elections?

And besides, each vote is LESS relevant under your plan, not more. I have a much better chance of being the deciding vote for my state than I do my nation, and a better chance still of being the deciding vote in my congressional district. That is why I ask again, why don't you push for the Maine-Nebraska plan?

7:21 PM, February 09, 2009  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

Post 4 starts with a statement I completely disagree with...

"The small states are the most disadvantaged of all under the current system of electing the President. Political clout comes from being a closely divided battleground state, not the two-vote bonus."

1) not being a battelground state is NOT a real problem to anyone but the political class of that state who miss out on the campaign gravy. I maintain it just means that the majority in that state have made a decision between the two major candidates (and that limit is a bigger problem).

2) Nor have you shown that small states are "the most disadvantaged of all" in the current system. This is not only because you have failed to demonstrate who not being a battle ground state is a real disadvantage rather than a sign that one party has produced a candidate that the majority of a state's citizens can really get behind. It is also because it is just wrong. Under our system, the states that are battleground can change from decade to decade or even election to election, so battleground status is transitory. The two extra delegates is a constant. A constant advantage for small states that they would loose should your proposal be adopted because it undermines weighted porportionality.

And again in this post you repeat the claim that votes in non-battelground states are "worthless". That is nonsense. What they are is "safe". They are safe because the citizens of that state are by a solid majority settled on a particular candidate. Should that candidate say something offensive to the voters of that state, the "worthless and irrelevant" vote could switch and cost said candidate the election.

It really does not matter how many times you repeat the claim that non-battleground votes "don't count", the plain fact is they still do, even if they are safe votes. And under the current system, they count just a little more if they are from a small state.

Your comparison of the 11 million people in small states to the fate of Ohio is apples and oranges because Ohio has been swing while most of the little ones have not been. BUT THAT COULD CHANGE. And when it does, the electoral votes of those little states will count more than Ohios and so given the same amount of "swing", the rational Presidential candidate would slightly favor the small states over Ohio.

And stats about how many chambers have passed this thing are completely unimpressive. Our house passed a "Thomas Paine day" for crying out loud. Legislatures pass some stupid stuff. If you live in a small state, this would be another one.

7:38 PM, February 09, 2009  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

If your post 6 has a point, it has escaped me. It seems to be a bunch of hypotheticals, but usually these are connected to a point that favors a position in the topic at hand.


Post 7 simply tells me that you want to go from ignoring safe states to ignoring safe demographics. Again, not a compelling reason to change the way the United States picks a President.

7:43 PM, February 09, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, the popular vote is bad...?

7:33 PM, February 10, 2009  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

Without principle and respect for the rights of the little guy, Democracy is three wolves and a sheep voting on what's for dinner.

We have a great system, it balances interests well, it just doesn't make media and political pros around the country as much money as they would like to have.

8:39 PM, February 12, 2009  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

And I have answered all the stuff thrown at me, why won't someone answer my question about adopting the Maine-Nebraska rule instead?

8:42 PM, February 12, 2009  
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5:54 AM, February 01, 2010  

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