Campaign Tactics Depend on Being Significant

COVID highlighted what is significant

The COVID pandemic has made us all aware of what is significant in our lives. Our health is significant. Our time together, in person, has become more significant. Our friends and relatives – our loved ones – are more significant today than they were a year ago because the pandemic has shown how much each individual is cherished. Even the casual stranger is significant because they may be that first responder that saves your life. A mere gesture, a nod of the head perhaps, that acknowledges your presence is significant.

Politics highlights voting significance

Recent politics, too, has made our perspectives and values significant. We realize that our world views are not all the same or even clustered close together on a spectrum of possibilities. Our differences and diversity are significant.

Yet, presidential elections are guilty of making American citizens insignificant. Fading into the background as we cast our ballots, giving others more significant attention, occurs in two ways:

  • You cast your ballot in one of the plurality of states that are not considered battleground states. Your state becomes insignificant.
  • You cast your ballot for a candidate who fails to win the plurality of votes in your state. Your vote becomes insignificant.

We are all told that it is patriotic to vote and that our vote matters. We cast our ballots and watch the presidential election results on TV as each state is declared for one candidate or another. All of the votes in that state do not need to be counted for the news media to arrive at their predictions. A dominant consensus shown by a large percentage of the voting is enough.

Voting preferences emerge well before any ballots are cast. They are determined by polling and a state’s voting history. Such assessments guide campaigns to focus their time, energy, and money in specific (significant) states because doing so may capture electoral votes that captured with a little persuasion. A little campaign effort can deliver all of a state’s electoral votes.

Candidate visits highlight campaign tactics

Consider this map. It shows the number of campaign visits made by the presidential candidates in the 2020 election.

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The first thing to notice is that many states, 33 of them, were not visited at all by a presidential candidate! Why? It’s simply because it was a foregone conclusion how most of the voters (the plurality) in those states would vote. A state known to lean largely Democratic (Biden voters) did not entice Republican (Trump) campaigners to waste their candidate’s time there. Conversely, if a state was known to lean Republican, the Democrat campaign did not encourage Biden to make a visit. It’s a tactic to conserve and focus resources. It seems to work.

The second thing to notice is that some states were visited numerous times. 17 states had 212 visits. Four of those states captured 124 visits – more than half! Six more states were visited 71 times! That’s significant!

WTA makes states and voters insignificant

These visited states are battleground states and they emerge not because voters there have higher turnouts than other states. It’s not because their values are more important or relevant. It’s because the Winner-Takes-All (WTA) approach makes these states more electorally competitive.

WTA divides the nation into 51 election contests (50 states plus Washington, D.C.) rather than treating the presidential election as one national event. Sound strange? Every state sorts the ballots and awards Electoral College representation to only those cast for the candidate winning the plurality. All of the other presidential choices are essentially discarded before engaging with the Electoral College. This sorting causes tens of millions of ballots to not be significant! It’s called vote suppression. 69,100,705 ballots were set aside in 2020 because they were not significant!

Question: Was your ballot significant or was it essentially ignored? Voting significance depends upon where you live – not your presidential choice!

Maine and Nebraska draw campaign attention

Another thing to notice about the map is that two states stand out. Maine was visited twice and Nebraska was visited once (their visit numbers are in red). They have a slightly different approach in that they exercise congressional district voting. That means that some electoral votes can be won even if the state’s plurality of votes are cast for another candidate.

That’s significant!

Maine, which can be considered a democratic “blue” state, awarded one of its four electoral votes to Trump. He must have thought it worth his time to visit there to get one more vote. Meanwhile, Nebraska is considered a republican “red” state yet it awarded one of its five electoral votes to Biden. His single visit gave his campaign significant results.

Equal Voice Voting makes all states and all voters significant

Equal Voice Voting (EVV) would cause the campaigns to rethink their tactics. EVV removes the WTA approach and causes electoral votes to be awarded on a proportional basis. Had the voting remained the same with EVV in place across the nation, every state except for three and Washington, D.C., would have divided their electoral votes. Every state would be significant!

North Dakota and Wyoming would still have cast all three of their respective electoral votes for Trump. Vermont and Washington, D.C. would still have cast all three of their respective electoral votes for Biden.

To add a bit more significance, all of those 69 million plus votes that were set aside without Electoral College representation would have come into play. All of them would have been significant. Using EVV, All Votes Matter!

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Click here to read the Introduction to All Votes Matter!
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By Jerry Spriggs and the Equal Voice Voting Team

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