Thursday, October 25, 2012

Ignoring 273 Million Americans - The 2012 Presidential Campaign

The mainstream media consistently covers campaign events across the nation, however, if you watch the coverage closely, you'll notice that certain states seem to get way more of the presidential candidates' time than others.  It's not your imagination.

According to The Center for Voting and Democracy, three states are getting most of the attention; Florida, Ohio and Virginia.  While most of us consider Pennsylvania to be a key swing state, it has been displaced by "lucky" Virginia.  For your information, the three aforementioned states account for only 12.5 percent of America's population but account for the majority of ad spending and campaign events by both Republican and Democratic vice-presidential and presidential candidates.  Here are some interesting statistics from both sides of the campaign:

1.) President Obama, Vice President Biden, Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan have held 61.3 percent of their campaign events in Florida, Ohio and Virginia between September 7th and October 17th.

2.) These three states were the lucky recipients of 54.3 percent of the $544 million spent on advertising by both sides since April 11th, 2012.

3.) Florida and Ohio hosted about half of all major party campaign events in the fall campaigns of 2004, 2008 and 2012.

4.) Nearly two-thirds of all states were not visited by a major party presidential or vice-presidential nominee during the peak seasons of the 2008 and 2012 campaigns.

5.) During the current campaign, Ohio has hosted the same number of presidential and vice-presidential campaign events as the 30 smallest states in the union combined (in case you were wondering, the number thus far is 34).  For your information, Ohio has a paltry 18 electoral votes compared to a total of 158 for the 30 smallest states.

6.)  This year's sad and ignored voters in Pennsylvania had hosted 13.4 percent of the nation's campaign events in the fall of 2008; this has dropped off to a mere 0.1 percent in the 2012 cycle.

Let's look at some data from the two presidential elections showing the percentage of visits and campaign events held in each of the four states and the percentage of total advertising spent in each state in 2004, 2008 and 2012:

On average, over the last three elections, Florida has benefitted from 17.5 percent of all campaign events and 21.3 percent of national campaign ad spending, hitting a high of 27.1 percent in 2004.  On average, Ohio has seen 21.9 percent of all campaign events and 16.3 percent of national campaign ad spending.  This cycle, Ohio has hosted a whopping 28.6 percent of all campaign events over the period from September 7th to October 17th.  On average, Pennsylvania has seen 7.1 percent of all campaign events and 14.2 percent of national campaign ad spending.  As I noted above, Pennsylvania has seen its participation in campaign events drop to a miserable 0.1 percent of the total this cycle, down from 13.4 percent in 2008.  Virginia has seen its "fortunes" rise from 0 percent of both campaign events and ad spending in 2004 to 16.8 percent of campaign events and 17.6 percent of national ad spending in 2012.  Lucky them!  By the way, Pennsylvania has 20 electoral votes compared to Virginia's 13.

WIth 61.3 percent of the 2012 campaign events held after the Democratic National Convention being located in only three states, this means that only 38.7 percent were held in the remaining 48 states including Washington, D.C.  If only that were true.  In fact, the remaining 38.7 percent of campaign events were held in just eight states leaving 40 states out in the cold.  A total of 32 states did not/have not hosted a single fall campaign event in both 2008 and 2012.

In closing and just in case you weren't aware of the latest population statistics, Florida, Ohio and Virginia have a combined population of 39 million people or just over 12 percent of the total population of the United States.  This means that nearly 273 million Americans are repeatedly getting very little (if any) attention from the presidential campaign tours.  Perhaps the all or none aspect of the Electoral College system really is in need of at least some readjustment.


  1. In truth, the EC needs tweaks but is really based on a rather normal concept: No one cares once your vote is solid.

    Virginia is now 'in play' because it did the unthinkable: it stopped always voting Republican. Once it showed that it could switch sides, it gets heavy attention.

    Texas, in the news few years, is theorized to get the same treatment as the demographics change the voting block. The second Texas runs even a close election, it'll be the new Ohio.

    In contrast, the majority of americans have decided who they will vote for long before we even knew who would run. You could literally switch Obama to Republican and Romney to Democrat, without changing a thing about them, and a large number of people will keep to the same party.

    Why bother even talking to such people? If such a person is voting against me that strongly, talking to them won't change their mind. If they are for me, all I need is to make sure they vote: beyond that I have more important people to talk to.

    That's why no one cares about Massachusetts. We KNOW it'll go Obama. We KNOW Georgia will go Romney. We KNOW California will go Obama. No amount of money will change that.

    The EC can use tweaks. Georgia IS Republican, but Atlanta typically votes democrat, but the EC means the entire city has no voice. We vote on the hope that someday Georgia will pull a Virginia. Someday...

    But even if you tweak it, there WILL be preferred spots. Make it population based and it'll be Swing Cities that matter. Atlanta will still be ignored since we WILL vote Democrat. Same for if you use other methods to tweak. 273 million will still be ignored. It'll just be a matter of which ones.

    What will make people relevant will be the ability to change their mind. It's the person says "I don't know who" or, better, " I was for X, but not anymore" (no, the ones who switch between elections don't count. I mean DURING the same year) that matters. Once we stop vilifying the other side we'll have more people willing to switch sides. Then politicians can't just ignore a group since they may turn on them.

    The whole 'silent majority' issue may help as well. Both sides thing they have more people, so it's just a matter of getting EVERYONE on their side to vote: not getting new people over. Makes sense with only 50% of the populous voting. Perhaps once we get that number up to 80-90% both sides will realize the only way to get more on their side is to convince the other side.

    For now, though, we have what we have.

  2. As a Canadian the EC system, the primaries and the final election seems like a way to avoid "mob rule." (Let me be clear, Canada is not the ideal.) It seems conventions were highjacked by wealthy guys and have stayed that way. I think primaries were a way to get away from this control but they seem to have been highjacked as well. If you have 100,000 Republicans or Democrates or 500,000 you win only one primary. Primaries seem to be one year of grueling activity which gives a lot of time to develop inconsistency. Romney doesn't seem like a true "conservative" to me. What he had going for him in the primaries was 1) he didn't mess up and 2) he has so much money, he decimated his opponents with ugle advertising.

  3. Anon, you are correct. The founding fathers did NOT like the idea of 'mob rule'. A good few elements were put in for that reason. The EC also made sure that some of the smaller countries had a voice. Note that our biggest states include California and Texas yet it's smaller places such as Ohio. Jeesh, New Hampshire has some say and it's small as anything.

    The primaries are really meant to be a 'party only' thing. If you think of it as less a part of the election process and more of a Team picking their representative for battle then it makes a LOT more sense. Note that the entire element of having parties is a concept NOT liked by those same founders.

    Romney...ahh Romney. For those who don't know, Romney was the governor of Massachusetts, one of the most Left (in USA terms) places in the country. He actually was pretty Left for a Republican then. When he first started, he was firmly seen as Center and 'the person no Republican would want but should have if they want a chance'.

    Then he went heavy right. That's why he's deemed Flip-Flop

    You ae right btw: he won by not messing up and having a lot of money.

    What REALLY did it in, though, for the flip/flop talk is an interview when one of his folks was asked about his Right shift during the primary and how to handle the general. His response: It's like an Etch-a-sketch: after the Primaries you can just shake it up and start up new.

    I actually was thinking "Obama or Romney, we'll be fine either way" before the primary. After primary, I couldn't stand him. Now I'm just worried about whether we'll get Mass Romney, Primary Romney, Convention Romney, or Debate Romney. I liked #1, I..can tolerate #4 with a Democratic Senate. I couldn't stand #2 and I'd rather have Bush Jr. than #3.

    US politics.. YAY.. well, we get some nice memes and laughs out of it now. You guys should try it. The little I hear of Canadian politics shows it might do for a few jokes. We can loan you Gingrich to help show how it's done.