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National Popular Vote’s misleading baseball analogy
Guest Author • Oct 03, 2011 reports that National Popular Vote has launched a new advertising campaign in Pennsylvania. NPV hopes to dampen enthusiasm for a proposal to award Pennsylvania’s electors by congressional district. Simultaneously, it hopes to draw attention to its own plan to award states’ electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote.

A voice in the ad pretends to be an announcer at a baseball game:

“It’s all tied up folks, bottom of the 9th, the bases loaded, here comes the pitch – Golly did he get a hold of that one! It’s going, it’s going, it’s gone! A home run! But stand by folks, the baseball Electoral College is chewing this one over. Philly loses; they lose! Sorry folks, under electoral college rules, the team with the most runs doesn’t always win.”

At first glance, NPV's argument sounds irrefutable. None of us have ever been to a baseball game in which a team scores the most runs, but still loses. NPV hopes to stoke our sense of unfairness. That Electoral College! It is just wrong that the team scoring the most runs loses!

But NPV relied on the wrong analogy. The Electoral College is not like a single baseball game, but like the World Series. In the World Series, the team winning the most games wins. This may or may not be the same as the team that scored the most runs throughout the course of those seven games. We don't find this unfair. Instead, we understand that the rules of baseball rely upon “number of games won” instead of “number of runs scored” for a reason. The champion of baseball should be the most well-rounded team, as demonstrated by an ability to win games in a variety of circumstances. The champion of baseball should not be a team that wins lopsided victories, perhaps when a particular hitter is matched against a particular pitcher.

NPV is correct that baseball will show us how the presidential election game should work. But the correct analogy is the World Series, not a single baseball game. America’s presidential election system seeks a well-rounded candidate who can win electoral victories in many circumstances. It is not looking for a candidate who can rack up a lot votes in one region, state or with the voters of one special interest group.

This post originally appeared on Tara's Facebook page, here: