The Electoral Game

by Steve Bowler on November 4, 2008 · 3 comments

in uncategorized

I doubt it’s going to come to it tonight, but folks love to debate about how we should just switch to a more easy to understand popular vote when it comes to electing our POTUS every four years, especially when there have been a time or two when one candidate won the popular vote, and another one won the electoral college.

Now, before anyone gets in a huff, I’m not going to talk politics.  I’m going to talk about political systems.  Because hey, it’s a lot like a game.

Some of the guys at work have started playing Warcraft 3 again during lunch, and while I hate playing the game personally (losing in it doesn’t make me feel unskilled; it makes me feel dumb), I love hearing them talk strategy.   “Okay, you go anti-air and I’m going to start off with a quick creeping to level up to a level 3 Hero” or “You start off with a grunt rush while I tech up and stay on defense.”  Hell, we even watched a video today where pros not only started off with plebe rushes (seriously, using workers as troops), and even used wisps offensively.  And before anyone else jumps down my throat for not already knowing these strats, keep in mind I don’t play.

I love the strategy.  I even don’t mind watching some of the videos showing how the battle played out.

So here I am, watching the returns coming in on election night thinking that this is a lot like watching a Warcraft 3 replay (or watching two pros duke it out) in realtime, only this is for all the marbles, as the expression goes.  There’s even these kickass realtime aps that allow you to get even more detailed info on a county-by-county state level!

Red/Blue maps of the country are just so much more interesting to look at.  There’s sites that even have the results of previous elections.  How did Bush win in ’04?  Ah, I see, he grabbed the conservative middle-ground and appealed to the farm-belt and southern states.  How did Bush Sr. win in 1988?  Whoah.  PURE PWNAGE.  How did Clinton win in 92?  Looks like he went for the urban vote and still had a broad appeal across middle-ground states.  It’s like watching different players play the exact same map (well, almost exact same with a few different electoral votes per state over the years) over and over, yet coming up with drastically different ways to win.  Especially if you look at how Carter won in 1976 vs. how Reagan won in 80and 84 (I’d offer links to images but unfortunately you’re going to have to head over to the site linked above and use the drop down tool).

This is sooooooo much more interesting to me than a miasma of purple across the entire country.  If we just went by popular vote, we’d have Bush in ’04 winning by 1 or 2 percent.  And Bush in ’00 winning by…1 or 2 percent.  Probably Obama winning by a handful more %.  It’s boring.  And it tells us nothing about how they achieved victory.  You can’t see the strategy, the history of how the campaign evolved.  It’s literally too simple of a system to be even remotely interesting.

I thought I was ready for this election to be over.  I’ve said previously that I was sick to death of the campaign, and I still stand by that.  But I want the analysis and the statistics and the strategy to last just a bit longer.  Mind you, I don’t want it to extend into other branches of government to resolve it, but sometimes I wish that the drama of the actual vote counting took a bit longer than just one night.  It’s like watching the only Warcraft game held at the national level, and it’s only played every 4 years.

Would people sit and watch election night coverage if it was just two competing health bars pushing each other back and forth around the 50% mark instead of seeing who took which “battlegrounds” (media’s word, not mine)?  I wouldn’t.

That’s not much of a game, now, is it?


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