This book describes what the authors identify as an emerging political crisis in U.S. politics: the possible winning of the presidency by a candidate with far fewer votes than his or her opponent. David W. Abbott and James P. Levine stress both the irrationality and peculiar nature of the current electoral system, emphasizing recent and current political developments. On the basis of their computer analysis of past elections and modern political realities, the authors predict that within twenty years it is very likely that the United States will produce a wrong winner. In explaining how this phenomenon could occur, Abbott and Levine introduce the concept of the wasted vote; winning lopsided majorities in states is worth no more than winning states by one vote, due to the antiquated winner-take-all principle.
The book gives a brief historical overview of the electoral college and the structure of the existing electoral system. In addition to a detailed discussion of the wrong winner problem, the authors also explain that if no candidate gets a majority of votes in the electoral college because of the presence of a third party candidate, the House of Representatives must choose the president under an odd set of ground rules. This creates the potential for all kinds of nefarious political shenanigans. The authors conclude that the only satisfactory solution to the electoral system's shortcomings is the total abolition of the electoral college and a shift to direct election of the president by the people. Wrong Winner will be an excellent supplementary text in American Government, Parties, Voting, and Public Choice courses. It will also be of interest to political professionals, journalists, and political scientists.
About the Author
DAVID W. ABBOTT is Associate Professor of Political Science at Brooklyn College. He has taught and written in the field of American politics and electoral behavior for twenty-five years. He co-edited Political Parties, and has also conducted extensive public opinion survey research.
JAMES P. LEVINE is a Professor of Political Science at Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. His focus is the judicial process, a field in which he has written numerous articles and three books, the most recent of which is Juries and Politics, to be published in 1991. Dr. Levine has also taught and published several articles on American politics.
Table of Contents
The Coming Constitutional Crisis
Electoral College Biases
Distorted Election Interpretations
Letting the People Decide
The Politics of Electoral College Abolition
Epilogue: A Plea for Democracy