I just learned, via Americablog, that my home state has come through for Obama; the AP reports:
President-elect Obama has won North Carolina, a symbolic triumph in a state that hadn’t voted for a Democrat in more than a generation.
The Associated Press declared Obama the winner Thursday after canvassing counties in North Carolina to determine the number of outstanding provisional ballots.
That survey found that there are not enough remaining ballots for Republican John McCain to close a 13,693-vote deficit.
North Carolina’s 15 electoral votes brings Obama’s total to 364 — nearly 100 more than necessary to win the White House. Missouri is the only state that remains too close to call.
Obama’s win in North Carolina was the first for a Democratic presidential candidate since Jimmy Carter won the state in 1976.
This was a damn close race: out of some 4,200,000 votes cast, less than 14,000 made the difference. I really feel like my vote mattered this time around! (Though I still don’t really like the electoral college system.)
In both Missouri and North Carolina, the difference between McCain and Obama is only about 0.5% of the total votes. The National Institute of Standard and Testing has measured the error rate of current voting machines to be about 5%. While the errors are principally caused by voter confusion, the underlying issue is that a ballot represents a given voter’s intent only 95% of the time. Can you imagine trying to publish a scientific paper claiming that either candidate has won? Any reviewer who saw that the error bars are ten times as large as the measured difference would justifiably through the paper out as inconclusive. (And along those lines, CNN still is not calling either Missouri or North Carolina, even though all the votes are in.)
I don’t have an easy fix for this problem, but as a scientist, this conundrum really bugs me. It’s especially damning in the electoral college system, where all the votes go toward one candidate, regardless of how the close the election is.
Urghh… I meant “throw… out” not “through… out”
The electoral college is a relic that worked well three hundred years ago. Today, its main virtue is to convert a 3% win into a landslide with the mandate that comes with it.
PD wrote: “It’s especially damning in the electoral college system, where all the votes go toward one candidate, regardless of how the close the election is.”
The Ridger wrote: “The electoral college is a relic that worked well three hundred years ago. Today, its main virtue is to convert a 3% win into a landslide with the mandate that comes with it.”
I have no argument with either statement. I’ve been against the electoral college for a while as the ultimate ‘decider’ of elections. This election, I can see a little bit how it serves as a sort of informal ‘will of the states’ measurement which dictates mandates, as TR said. In the hyper-polarized election climate these days, it’s hard to imagine a mandate via the popular vote ever occurring again. If people weren’t voting for Obama in a landslide this election, I can’t imagine them landsliding in any other.
In the end, though, popular vote should really be the ultimate election decider.