Who Picks the President? ...Not You

Posted on November 03, 2005

FairVote today released its new report Who Picks the President? The report analyzes major party candidate visits and campaign spending in the peak season of the 2004 presidential campaign and combines these two measures to create an 'attention index.' Results show seven states get the bulk of campaign attention. Another seven get more attention than average.  The remaining 37 get next to nothing.

“How can we have a system that locks out the bulk of our country from presidential elections?” said FairVote chairman and former Illinois Republican Congressman John B. Anderson. “Long gone are the days when politicians at that level listen to people everywhere.”

The report tallies advertisements and visits for the last five weeks of the 2004 presidential campaign. Some of the findings were:

* Florida alone had more ads than 45 states and the District of Columbia combined. Even with just 6% of the population, 27% of ad money from candidates and issue groups was spent to influence their vote.

*In total, just three states – Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania – received a majority of ad spending and 45% of presidential and vice presidential candidate visits. These three states account for 14% of the US population. Similarly, no resources were spent in 23 states.

*Based on population, Iowa, Ohio and New Hampshire were the top three attention getting states but have just over 5% of the country's population.

The attention index would be “1” if every voter were treated equally. In fact, only 14 states scored better than one. The bottom 37 states (and DC) reached a score of only 0.69. Fully 19 states had a score of zero, indicating their irrelevance in the election. California, Texas, and New York were near bottom as well as most of the nation’s small population states.

“In 1960 most of the nation was up for grabs and therefore campaigns were widespread.  Recently we've seen a significant shrinking of competitive states and the trend seems to be hardening. Today's campaigns are able to hone in so precisely that a huge majority of the country is stuck as a passive spectator to our one national election,” said Anderson, who received 7% of the national vote in 1980 when running for president as an independent.

FairVote also examined the impact on small states, those commonly thought to be protected by the Electoral College. Small states were also given less than their share of attention. Only states with over 15 electoral votes were given extra attention, but even these had low median scores – highlighting the fact that a few states get incredible amounts of attention while others get none.

Who Picks the President? is the second in a series of FairVote reports on presidential elections and the Electoral College. Its Shrinking Battleground report, released in July, demonstrated that the number of battleground states has steadily dwindled, dropping nearly in half in the past 50 years.

To read the full report visit: www.fairvote.org/whopicks
To read The Shrinking Battleground visit: www.fairvote.org/shrinking

FairVote is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that studies the impact of electoral rules and systems on turnout, representation and electoral competition.


2004 Peak Season Campaign Attention Index

Ranking

State

TV ad % spent in state

Visit % in state

Visit%+TV ad% / 2

% US Pop

Index

1

Iowa

3.96%

12.71%

8.34%

1.01%

8.29

2

Ohio

19.90%

16.49%

18.20%

3.90%

4.66

3

New Hampshire

1.94%

2.06%

2.00%

0.44%

4.52

4

Wisconsin

6.09%

10.65%

8.37%

1.88%

4.46

5

New Mexico

3.41%

2.06%

2.74%

0.65%

4.22

6

Florida

27.07%

20.96%

24.02%

5.92%

4.05

7

Nevada

3.62%

2.41%

3.01%

0.80%

3.79

8

Pennsylvania

15.51%

7.90%

11.70%

4.22%

2.77

9

Minnesota

4.52%

4.81%

4.67%

1.74%

2.69

10

Colorado

2.95%

3.44%

3.20%

1.57%

2.04

11

Michigan

5.69%

6.53%

6.11%

3.44%

1.77

12

Maine

0.91%

0.34%

0.63%

0.45%

1.40

13

Oregon

0.96%

1.72%

1.34%

1.22%

1.09

14

West Virginia

0.93%

0.34%

0.64%

0.62%

1.03

15

Missouri

0.99%

1.72%

1.36%

1.96%

0.69

16

Hawaii

0.16%

0.34%

0.25%

0.43%

0.59

17

Arizona

0.04%

1.72%

0.88%

1.96%

0.45

18

New Jersey

0.00%

1.37%

0.69%

2.96%

0.23

19

Kansas

0.00%

0.34%

0.17%

0.93%

0.18

20

Massachusetts

0.00%

0.69%

0.34%

2.19%

0.16

21

Washington

0.50%

0.00%

0.25%

2.11%

0.12

22

Arkansas

0.20%

0.00%

0.10%

0.94%

0.11

23

Maryland

0.00%

0.34%

0.17%

1.89%

0.09

24

Oklahoma

0.10%

0.00%

0.05%

1.20%

0.04

25

Tennessee

0.15%

0.00%

0.08%

2.01%

0.04

26

North Carolina

0.18%

0.00%

0.09%

2.91%

0.03

27

California

0.00%

0.69%

0.34%

12.22%

0.03

28

Louisiana

0.09%

0.00%

0.04%

1.54%

0.03

29

New York

0.01%

0.34%

0.18%

6.55%

0.03

30

Dist of Columbia

0.01%

0.00%

0.01%

0.28%

0.02

31

Alabama

0.04%

0.00%

0.02%

1.54%

0.01

32

South Carolina

0.02%

0.00%

0.01%

1.43%

0.01

51

Wyoming

0.00%

0.00%

0.00%

0.17%

0.00

51

Delaware

0.00%

0.00%

0.00%

0.19%

0.00

51

Vermont

0.00%

0.00%

0.00%

0.21%

0.00

51

North Dakota

0.00%

0.00%

0.00%

0.22%

0.00

51

Alaska

0.00%

0.00%

0.00%

0.22%

0.00

51

South Dakota

0.00%

0.00%

0.00%

0.26%

0.00

51

Montana

0.00%

0.00%

0.00%

0.32%

0.00

51

Rhode Island

0.00%

0.00%

0.00%

0.37%

0.00

51

Idaho

0.00%

0.00%

0.00%

0.47%

0.00

51

Nebraska

0.00%

0.00%

0.00%

0.59%

0.00

51

Utah

0.00%

0.00%

0.00%

0.81%

0.00

51

Mississippi

0.00%

0.00%

0.00%

0.99%

0.00

51

Connecticut

0.00%

0.00%

0.00%

1.19%

0.00

51

Kentucky

0.00%

0.00%

0.00%

1.41%

0.00

51

Indiana

0.00%

0.00%

0.00%

2.12%

0.00

51

Virginia

0.00%

0.00%

0.00%

2.54%

0.00

51

Georgia

0.00%

0.00%

0.00%

3.01%

0.00

51

Illinois

0.00%

0.00%

0.00%

4.33%

0.00

51

Texas

0.00%

0.00%

0.00%

7.66%

0.00

 


Total





avg. 1.0

 


 
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