Picking the president by popular plurality? Prospects and partisan politics

January 1, 2011

Picking the president by popular plurality? Prospects and partisan politics

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Post-mortems on the 2010 midterm election have quickly segued into forecasts about the 2012 presidential election. Topics under discussion include how durable and cohesive the new Republican House majority will prove to be; who should be regarded as front-runners for the Republican nomination for president; how redistricting will play out in major states and others.

Much less discussed, so far, is another notion that might sound equally far-fetched: whether the 2012 presidential election will be the first ever to be decided by plurality rule (i.e. whichever candidate secures the most votes across the whole country wins the office). It is not likely that the presidential-election rulebook will be thrown out before 2012, but it is also not impossible, strange though that sounds.

This issue of Policy Forum explains how the election rules for the U.S. presidency can be changed, what changes have already taken place, and what barriers stand in the way of a most-votes-wins scenario for 2012 (or later).


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Research Area: Politics & Government

Policy Initiative: none

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