Monday, October 22, 2012

Did Richard Milhous Nixon win the popular vote in 1960?

A fascinating blog post by Sean Trende at RealClearPolitics says yes, although the real answer is that the question is incoherent because of the way Alabama voted for its electors.

Meanwhile, according to Nate Silver there is currently a 5.4% chance that Mitt Romney will win the popular vote but lose the election this time around (see "scenario analysis" in right sidebar at link).

And Ross Douthat wonders whether, in such an event, the Electoral College could survive.

I wonder, on the other hand, whether the Electoral College could ever be killed.


  1. Interesting stuff. Although I tend to doubt that more people in Alabama voted for Nixon htna Kennedy. Though as you point out, the goofy way they did the voting prevents us from knowing.

    The electoral college will never be killed because both political parties can point to a time when it helped them when the presidency.

  2. I'm sure you're right that more Alabamans preferred Kennedy to Nixon. But it was a legitimate three-way election. As the RCP article points out, Kennedy essentially lost the Democratic primary in that his slate of electors got beat out by the Dixiecrat slate, and likely would have been completely shut out if the Dixiecrats hadn't diluted their power by running 24 candidates for the 11 slots. Given that, it actually does seem likely that Nixon was the first-choice of more Alabamans than JFK was.

    For another interesting post on the electoral college, see here.


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