American competitive democracy survives

Most elections in the United States are not close, which has raised concerns among social scientists and reform advocates about the vibrancy of American democracy. In this paper, we demonstrate that while individual elections are often uncompetitive, hierarchicaltemporal, and geographic variation in the locus of competition results in most of the country regularly experiencing close elections. In the four-cycle period between 2006 and 2012, 89% of Americans were in a highly competitive jurisdiction for at least one office. Since 1914, about half the states have never gone more than four election cycles without a close statewide contest. More Americans witness competition than citizens of Canada or the UK, other nations with SMSP-based systems. The dispersed competition we find also results in nearly all Americans being represented by both political parties for different offices.

That is from Bernard L. Fraga, and Eitan D. Hersh, via the excellent Kevin Lewis.

Comments

The party in power in 2008 was so unpopular that a black man was elected president. A black man. Two years later the black man was, well, a black man, and so was his party. Has there ever been a time in our history when race played a more important role in shaping the election dynamics? Indeed, the Republican Party has adopted a policy based on the idea that to protect the sanctity of the right to vote, the government must restrict the right to vote. Democracy survives? It depends on the meaning of democracy.

One better.
35 million Californians compete in voting to elect two senators.
In Montana 1 million compete for senators. This is neither competitive nor a democracy. The formal term is republic as in, 'not meant to be democratic at the federal senate level'. So, why do we use the improper term, democracy? Why not call it how it is defined in our language and law, republic. Calling states democratic does not help when 2/3 of government is federal.

How come the government isn't allowed to prescribe medication?

Given the financial crisis in full swing during the fall of 2008, someone's left shoe would have beaten the Republican candidate.

... and done a lot less damage while in office.

Yeah, Trump could do a lot less damage in jail.

This is a retarded take.

Your explanation requires millions of people to not be racist in 2008 and to be racist in 2010.

A much more likely explanation is that upon undertaking office Obama tackled the healthcare industry and demanded that massive changes be made.

Millions were unemployed, and Obama took the chance on upending health insurance to slightly increase the financial status of lower middle class. Instead of making it more likely to hire, he made it so small companies had to take on additional costs.

And yet in 2012 he won again, easily.

... for the same reason Trump won in 2016. A deeply awful opponent.

Lol, he follows up a "retarded take" with a genuinely *retarded take*. Trumptards gonna Trumptard!

a black man? If you are a Black man, no, a black democrat in America, the New York Times is your foremost enemy. If race empathy is the valve, then a ponzi scheme of metaphors, an account management nightmare on the op-ed front, the valve is so broke (you know you like that), that there is no semblance of consciousness. It is a dead machine.

Why is B.H. Obama even considered a black man? How much cutaneous melanin is required to be considered black? That is, in scientific terms.
While BHO may have had enough "African" genetic content to pass as African, he was sorely lacking in black experience, being raised by a white mother (probably a CIA agent) and white grandparents on a Pacific island. BHO as black closely approximates Rachel Dolezal.

That's some really low standards for competitiveness: It's looking at different levels at the same time, and calling any level being competitive at all in 16 frigging years. If a single race is competitive, representation is healthy in half the districts?! A dictatorship could get those levels by allowing elections on unimportant positions.

If we look for democracy at specific levels, then suddenly things are not so rosy. Many states have competitive senate and governor races, but their congressional elections, and even state congressional elections are downright pointless, and made more pointless with every redistricting.

Also note the comparison with other smsp systems. That's like being proud of daily driving the fastest, safest car built in the the 1940s.

The American system allows presidents to win elections while losing the popular vote by over two million votes, in practice. The senate can be controlled with less than 40% of the votes cast. In congress, not only are most elections a waste of time, but we can see fun like North Carolina, when a 50-50 vote split gives a 10-2 representation split. So the best that one can get out of a link like the one in the OP is that first past the post is a relic that should be as acceptable as poll taxes and letting only white men vote.

And yet proportional representation also routinely returns governments that lack 50% support. Somehow minority governments are not exactly unheard of in proportional systems. Worse they tend to be very open to "grand coalitions" that make it exceedingly difficult for the electorate to "throw the bums out" when you need entirely new parties to arise to stop traditional horse trading and king making from disenfranchising the electorate on many issues.

The real genius of the American electorate is the primary. In one-party states it becomes the de facto election and somehow manages to be competitive while allowing tea partiers, socialists, and the like to all oust opponents who refuse to back specific policies.

Arrow and Gibbard showed pretty well that getting the populace's will reflected into political leadership cannot be a simple process.

Frankly complaining about 'error' margins of ~2.5% is pretty weak. You have way more silliness with overhang seats and decoy parties (where Fidez won 2/3rds of the seats at 45% of the vote). In Germany, Israel, Italy, etc. you routinely see around that many people lose their votes due to minimum thresholds for entering parliament.

In any event, the NC results have just about nothing to do with first past the post. You could have single transferable voting and the combination of gerrymandering and Democratic voter concentration would still give a lopsided result.

Oddly enough there seems to be no country in the world with elections that are universally deemed to have matched popular wishes. The US system is vastly superior in actually empowering the average voter as by far most political power is concentrated in the hands of party leaders and unlike in the rest of the world where wresting that power away requires forging new parties, in the US it just requires your regularly scheduled primary.

Both the senate and the electoral college were designed to reflect a federal rather than a unitary system, so complaining about them is pointless unless you make a thorough argument for a unitary system in the American context instead of just presuming its superiority.

I can't read it right now, but I would love to see those numbers raced against random chance. I mean, eventually you will find one freak down-ballot race some time, but that can mean nothing given your D or R hegemony everywhere else.

'D or R hegemony'

Yep, you can have all the competition you want when picking between the two halves of the status quo.

oh just give me closed list proportional representation like in Israel or the Netherlands so I don't have to be insulted by a choice between toxic buffoons each cycle and so that our corrupt courts don't beggar themselves further picking and choosing which gerrymandering process to insinuate themselves into. better yet, just pull the plug on this whole doomed entity soon to be the Chinese vassal formerly known as the United States, and let which states survive that may.

Netherlands has *open* list PR

I nominate you for the Serena Williams Award for political hysteria.

an assuage of infidelities (don't look now Nate Chinen is writing about Kamasi Washington.)

“There’s a linkage between taxes, regulation, confidence, business investment and wages,” Mr. Kudlow said. “It’s changed the thinking of people.”

Mr. Baker quotes someone who cannot even decipher what "it" is, no more fathom what "chang[ing] the thinking of people" entails.

Does NNT have the answer?
https://twitter.com/nntaleb/status/1038934453974790144?s=19

Good points made above, and my $0.02 is that democracy is the option to elect a politician, and even if voter turnout is weak, that option is valued. What a lot of people don't realize however is that Big Government is stacked against you. Recently I reached out to a 'liberal' pol that represents me in Northern VA, and their congressional aide was not helpful for a routine immigration matter (trying to get my hot Filipina into the USA). They blew me off in a predictable manner. At the end of the day, government exists to protect and promote itself, not unlike a monopolistic corporation (i.e., 'corporate fat' and inertia is legendary), and to the extent they perform any service is just an aside. Thus that paper that links big government with development confuses cause and effect. Do you realize that to get an eviction in Northern VA takes several months? You lose lots of rent before the tenant is evicted, due to lengthy and extensive legal deferrals, as well as a crowded judicial calendar. Same with patents. Same with everything except maybe criminal law, where the US constitution mandates a speedy trial. The USA survives with Big Government despite it, not because of it. I rather live in the Philippines, where the federal government I once calculated spends $20 a year on citizens, as opposed to the USA's $20k a year. Things get done about the same here, except for the terrible rough roads (well, California also has terrible rough roads, no asphalt on the concrete roads, come to think of it). And in Greece, weak government is not a big deal to most people, things get done anyway. The crisis there was largely due to government loans from French and Germany banks gone bad, and the ordinary people now have to pay for it. Most of that loaned money was stolen or misused by a handful of people (I happen to even know some who got rich from solar farm loans from the EU, and with loans to overbuild government buildings that are half empty now, pure overcharging fraud and waste,and BTW the 30 years in the making Athens to Patras road is *still* not finished, Big Dig indeed).

The Chicago Way...

Ever hear of gerrymandering?

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