Measuring America’s Governance

  • U.S.: #28 of 35 developed democracies in Voter participation. (OECD)
  • Worse than All European & Nordic Countries – plus Israel, Tunisia. (International Democracy Index)

Metric for Elections Legitimacy

Calculate the “ Electoral Mass ” — % support from the Electorate

What % of the Voter-Eligible Population (VEP) backs the winning candidate? Margins?

Note – VEP far overstates participation: Only ~60% of Age 18+ adults register (VEP = ~0.60 x VAP)

Primaries

Nominees “win” ~8%, by ~2% margins. Winner gets 1-in-12 voters, 1-in-35 margin.

  • Virtually no electoral mass — still lower in caucuses.
  • Partisan “true believer” factions, ideological, single-issues.
  • Fewer moderate “normal people” with diverse issue views.

General

Candidates “win” with ~25%, by ~4% margins. Winner gets 1-in-4 voters, 1-in-25 margin.

  • Winners “lose” ±75% of the electorate.
  • Hobson’s choice, take one or the other.
  • Both beholden to Party issue positions, plutocrats.

Democracy Death Spiral

Two-Party Negative Feedback Loops

  • ↓Fewer voters => ↑Factional candidates => ↓Fewer voters.
  • ↑Factional Candidates => ↑Polarizing campaigns =>
  • ↓Fewer voters => ↑Factional governance.
  • ↑Factional governance => ↑Gridlock =>
  • ↓Governmentdysfunction => ↑Unmet National Needs
  • ==> Collapsed political mechanics

2016 Presidential

58% turnout (Gallup 2016)

Winner got only 27% “Electoral Mass.”

  • 46% of vote, on 58% turnout (0.46 x 0.58 = 0.27)
  • Only 72% of vote was “For” — 28% was “Against” opponent.
  • Net “Base” support = 19% (0.78 x 0.27 = 0.19) (CBS Exit poll).

Two most disfavored, double-digit negative candidates in 70 yrs.

  •  (Net-negative) unfavorability: R ‒25% & D ‒18%.
  • Only one candidate ever net-negative (Goldwater ’64)
  • 20% of vote was “Lesser Evil” — 1-in-5 disfavored both.
  • Election swung on that “Least-Worst” split : R-Winner beat D-Loser as “Least Worst” by +17% (47-30%).

Other Data Points

“Electoral Mass” in recent elections

2017 Virginia State-wide — 3 offices ~~ only 48% turnout.

  • Primaries – Win margins: 1.1% | 0.9% | 0.2%.
  • Winning “Electoral Mass”: 25.6% | 24.8% | 25.1%.General – Winning margins: 4.2% | 3.1% | 2.1%.

2017 Alabama U.S. Senate ~ only 40% turnout.

  • Primaries — Win “Mass”: 3.3%, 7.8%, margins 0.3%, 0.5%
  • General Election – Win “Mass”: 20%, margin, 0.007%.
  • “Both major political parties are viewed unfavorably by more than half of Alabama voters.” (CBS exit poll)

2018 Arizona 8th District Special ~~ only 38% turnout.

  • Primaries – Winning “Mass”: D-4.8%, R-5.6%.
  • General Election – Winning” Mass: 20.1%, margin, 2.0%.