The results of Japan’s September 2005 parliamentary elections have been held up by the Japanese media as demonstrating a stunning mandate for Prime Minster Junichiro Koizumi, leader of the nation’s Liberal Democratic Party. FairVote’s analysis of the election results, however, indicates that this mandate was far from clear, with Koizumi’s party in fact winning just 38% of the popular vote. As our International Spotlight research series demonstrates, time and again, a nation’s choice of electoral system often has just as much impact on the election results, as candidate or party popularity and other factors.
The Shrinking Battleground uses a model of “state partisanship” to explain why the United States has experienced a decrease in the number of competitive battleground states in presidential elections, how these partisan divisions are hardening and what impact they have on American democracy. The fundamental reality is that fewer and fewer Americans play a meaningful role in electing the president – and that the major party campaigns act on that understanding with utter disregard for the interests and views of most voters outside of swing states. The result is a two-tiered system for voters, with damaging impact on voter turnout, racial fairness, political equality and the future of American democracy. The mounting evidence makes it clear that the solution is to establish a direct election of the president so that all votes count equally and the principles of majority rule and one person, one vote are respected.
The Electoral College is more than just an antiquated anachronism that can misfire and elect the candidate who loses the national vote; it has come to establish and entrench political inequality. If not reformed, the Electoral College will relegate two-thirds of Americans to the sidelines during presidential elections for years to come.