Contest in full swing for 2012

Published 5:29 pm Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The 2012 presidential contest has begun and is in full swing. President Barack Obama is running hard and raising tons of money. The GOP field is formulating and these aspirants are also out shaking the money tree.
It costs a lot to run for president. These funds will be raised in all 50 states. Sadly, however, the campaign dollars will only be spent in about a dozen states. We in Alabama will not be part of the presidential election process. However, neither will the two largest states, California and New York.
The antiquated system of electing our president through an electoral college has made most Americans votes for president irrelevant. This is sad and egregiously wrong. It is unconscionable that a country that calls itself the greatest democracy in the world does not elect its national president by a direct vote of the people in which the person who gets the most votes is elected president.
This archaic system should have been shelved a century ago when we began electing our U.S. Senators directly. It is as outdated as not allowing women the right to vote. Under our current system the candidate who receives the most votes in each state gets all that state’s electoral votes. There is a distinct likelihood that a candidate can win the presidency without getting the most votes. It happened as late as 2000. On several occasions in our nation’s history this flawed electoral college system has caused the election of president to be thrown into the U.S. House of Represen-tatives for a final decision on the presidency.
Most voters now live in states that are predictably predisposed to vote for a certain party’s candidate. We in Alabama, along with our sister southern states of South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee and Louisiana, are reliably red Republican states. The more liberal and populous states of New York and California are safe blue Democratic states.
Because of this winner take all electoral college presidential candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise or pay attention to the concerns of voters in states like ours.
We were not alone. This was the case in most of the states in the Union, unlike our neighbor to the south, Florida, which is the ultimate swing state. In contrast, the central part of the Sunshine State received 28 presidential campaign visits and over $50 million in television advertising.
Indeed in 2008 the presidential candidates concentrated two thirds of their campaign visits and ad money in the November general election campaign in just six closely divided “battleground” states. In total 99 percent of all campaign dollars were spent in 16 states.
The presidential race will be fun to watch from afar. Too bad we will not be a part of it.

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