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The Electoral College Won't Keep Bloomberg Down - A FairVote Analysis

by Paul Fidalgo // Published June 29, 2007
Do you think the Electoral College might be New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg"s biggest obstacle in a race for the White House? Think again.

All you need to do is look at the example of Ross Perot in 1992. The albatross often hung around his neck is that he clearly had no chance to win because he didn"t earn a single electoral vote. His problem, however, was that he won 19% of the popular vote- -- a strong run, but not strong enough to win under any system.

So what does that mean for Bloomberg? Let"s assume Perot was able to win just under 35%, less than twice his real total. If we also assume that his rate of growth is the same in every state, and he draws evenly from Bush and Clinton (as reflected by exit polls), Perot overwhelmingly wins in the Electoral College, even as Clinton wins the popular vote.

The point is that in a scenario with a truly strong third party candidacy, the Electoral College does not prevent an independent candidate from winning. In the above example, Perot could even have afforded to lose California and still have cruised to victory.

There are lots of other ways the 1992 election could have gone. Shave a few percentage points off of Perot"s total in the above scenario, and no one wins an electoral vote majority, and the fate of the presidency and vice-presidency are thrown into the chaos of votes in Congress.

Click over to FairVote"s "Perot Simulator" to check the numbers in all of these hypotheticals, and you"ll see that while there may be a lot of factors that could hinder a Bloomberg White House victory, the Electoral College is not necessarily one of them.

Final Point: Action in states could have a big impact on conventional calculations around a potentially strong third party run. States are starting to sign onto a plan that could establish a national popular vote for president as early as 2008. (See www.nationalpopularvote.com). Other states are seriously debating instant runoff voting, an extremely popular voting method in cities that protects majority rule while accommodating voter choice. (See www.instantrunoff.com). Stay tuned.