It’s all getting rather tiresome. When Democrats lose in a presidential race, particularly if they’ve won the popular vote, but not the electoral vote, they blame the electoral college. When Republicans lose, after doing everything they can to disenfranchise voters, they cry fraud.
Neither complaint is productive. Amending the U.S. Constitution to eliminate the electoral college is not happening. An attempt to bypass the electoral college by persuading states to allocate their electoral votes based on the national popular vote will surely run aground in conservative states that benefit from the status quo. Meanwhile, and only partly due to asinine legal representation, the courts seem, to put it very, very mildly, less than impressed with Donald Trump’s cries of election fraud and his efforts to overturn the election results by manipulating the electoral college process seem similarly doomed.
I’m generally not a fan of game theory. I’ve argued that there are serious difficulties with the assumption that all players pursue the same goal, and indeed that this assumption falls short with Democrats’ goals and Donald Trump’s goals. But if we are going to talk about the rules of “the game,” here being electoral politics, and if it is impossible to change those rules, then it behooves us to try to win the game under the rules as they are.
Instead, all we hear is whining. The rules are unfair!!!! Spare me.
- David Benfell, “Mitigating the democratic deficit in the United States,” Not Housebroken, July 15, 2018, https://disunitedstates.org/2018/07/15/mitigating-the-democratic-deficit-in-the-united-states/↩
- Miranda Bryant, “Trump faces pressure from Republicans to drop ‘corrosive’ fight to overturn election,” Guardian, November 22, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/nov/22/trump-republicans-pressure-fight-overturn-election; Josh Gerstein, “Trump campaign revises Pennsylvania suit, again,” Politico, November 18, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/11/18/trump-pennsylvania-election-lawsuit-437996; Robin Givhan, “Rudy Giuliani is a mess,” Washington Post, November 18, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/11/18/rudy-giuliani-is-mess/↩
- Aaron Blake, “Trump lawyers suffer embarrassing rebukes from judges over voter fraud claims,” Washington Post, November 11, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/11/11/trump-lawyers-suffer-embarrassing-rebukes-judges-over-voter-fraud-claims/; Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein, “Trump team eyes legal, political Hail Marys as options for comeback fade,” Politico, November 6, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/11/06/trump-legal-political-lawsuit-election-434786; Marjorie Cohn, “Trump’s Frivolous Lawsuits Are the Tip of the Iceberg in His Refusal to Concede,” Truthout, November 11, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-frivolous-lawsuits-are-the-tip-of-the-iceberg-in-his-refusal-to-concede/; Pam Fessler, “Led By Giuliani, Trump Campaign Effort To Stop Certification Falters In Pennsylvania,” National Public Radio, November 17, 2020, https://www.npr.org/2020/11/17/936027693/led-by-giuliani-trump-campaign-effort-to-stop-certification-falters-in-pennsylva; Jon Swaine, “In scathing opinion, federal judge dismisses Trump campaign lawsuit in Pennsylvania,” Washington Post, November 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/us-judge-dismisses-trump-campaign-lawsuit-in-pa/2020/11/21/cc097fbe-2c50-11eb-9b14-ad872157ebc9_story.html; Paula Reed Ward, “Federal judge to consider whether to dismiss case filed by Trump campaign in Pa.,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 17, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/federal-judge-to-consider-whether-to-dismiss-case-filed-by-trump-campaign-in-pa/↩
- Marjorie Cohn, “Trump’s Frivolous Lawsuits Are the Tip of the Iceberg in His Refusal to Concede,” Truthout, November 11, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-frivolous-lawsuits-are-the-tip-of-the-iceberg-in-his-refusal-to-concede/; Toluse Olorunnipa, Amy B. Wang, and Chelsea Janes, “Trump’s quest to overturn election runs into quiet resistance from local and state Republicans,” Washington Post, November 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-michigan-georgia-pennsylvania-certify-votes-state-lawmakers/2020/11/21/1f410296-2b9e-11eb-8fa2-06e7cbb145c0_story.html; Kayla Ruble and Tom Hamburger, “Board in key Michigan county fails, then agrees, to certify vote totals by deadline,” Washington Post, November 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/michigan-vote-canvassing-board/2020/11/17/12141222-287c-11eb-8fa2-06e7cbb145c0_story.html; Philip Rucker, Amy Gardner, and Josh Dawsey, “Trump uses power of presidency to try to overturn the election and stay in office,” Washington Post, November 19, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-uses-power-of-presidency-to-try-to-overturn-the-election-and-stay-in-office/2020/11/19/bc89caa6-2a9f-11eb-8fa2-06e7cbb145c0_story.html; Stephanie Saul, “Lindsey Graham’s Long-Shot Mission to Unravel the Election Results,” New York Times, November 17, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/17/us/politics/lindsey-graham-georgia-trump-biden.html↩
- David Benfell, “The limits of game theory in U.S. politics,” Not Housebroken, December 20, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/20/the-limits-of-game-theory-in-u-s-politics/↩