Sunday, November 4, 2012

Some information about the USA presidential election

Next Tuesday there will be presidential election in the USA. The process is a little different from the elections in Spain, but there are also some similar aspects, such as the fact that the people don´t elect the president. In Spain, the Cortes (Parliament) do it. In the USA, this is a task of the Electoral College, formed by the electors of every federal State. The electors (Congress members and Senators) are chosen by the people, but the party which gets more votes on a State gets all the electors of that State. For example, if Barack Obama gets 99,000 votes in Oklahoma and Mitt Romney gets 89,999 votes there, the 7 electors of the State will go to the Democrats.

Here you have a list of the electoral votes every State has:

On the following videos you will understand the role of this Electoral College in the final results of the elections. That´s why the main candidates calculate the States where they can win and focus all their attention on the so called "swing States", the ones where the results are still not decided or change everytime there are elections. Those swing States are the ones where the candidates can attract undecided voters. The main candidates have spent most of their time and money there and they have campaigned very little in the States where they consider the results are decided yet. 

And this is a historical review of the results of all the presidential elections since the foundation of the USA:

If you want to learn more about elections in the USA, click on the following link:

You probably think that Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are the only candidates to the USA Presidency, but there are more. The mass media use to focus their attention only on the cadidates of the two main parties (Democrats and Republicans), but there are other political options. Here you have a link where you can learn more about all the candidates:

And finally, next Tuesday elections will also serve to choose the governors of 12 States and decide on other topics, such as marijuana legalization, same-sex marriage, healthcare, tax increases, gambling, public employees´ unions or death penalty. For example, California voters will have the opportunity of deciding on the abolition of  death penalty. On the following map of the USA you can click on every State to learn more about the ballot propositions citizens will have to vote:

P.S: Here you have the links to an article in Spanish about the reasons to ask people for the abolition of death penalty in California and the same information in English:

And this is a link to another article which shows that there is no relation between the existence and use of death penalty and the decrease number of violent crimes:


Salva Fuentes said...


This post is very interesting, I think it will have a lot of visits. For me, the system of the USA presidential election is so bad. It's not a real democratic system. In reality, there are only two political parties in the USA.

The post's part I like more is the final part; the part that talk about the death penalty. I think the reason to abolise death penalty mustn't be a economic reason but a human reason. We're not animals. The solution for violence it's not more violence. The thing we have to abolise is violence, starting of ourselves!

Also, I agree entirely in that death penalty doesn't reduce violence. It's on the contrary. If we want to destroy violence, we don't have to use it, and like that, to make the world more human.


Paqui Pérez Fons said...

Hello Salva,

I hope that other students read this post and learn a little more about an electoral system that has such a big influence the lives of many people in the world.

I think the USA electoral system reflects what their society is like: the importance of money, the role of the mass media and a big heritage of the past. Their electoral system continues to be based on the one the founders of the USA designed. They decided to give a lot of power to the States to balance with the power of the federal government and they continue to use the same electoral system because it´s good for the bigger parties, the ones that finally control the chambers and they make changes depending on their political interests. But this is not much different than what we have here in Spain. Our electoral system favourishes the bigger parties and the nationalist parties and they are not going to change it, because it´s the origin of their power.

Another peculiarity of the USA political system is that parties can receive big amounts of money from the people to finance their campaigns. In the past there was a limitation, but the two main parties voted to eliminate it and now there are no money limits. That´s why they can spend billions of dollars in the campaign. The companies give money to both parties to make sure that the Congress and the Senate won´t pass any law against their economic interests. For example, Sheldon Adelson has given 100 million dollars to Romney´s campaign . In exchange for what? A tax cut. Here you have a link to the money Obama and Romney have collected and their main contributors:

Another interesting fact in the USA electoral system is that there is not an electoral census, as we have in Spain. People have to register if they want to vote (many people are not registered and they can´t vote). That´s why parties try to convince people to be registered (especially the Democrats, because many of their potential voters are not registered). In some States people with criminal record are excluded from voting. For example, if you have been fined or you delayed a payment, you can´t vote. This means that many people with the right to vote don´t vote. And this benefits the bigger parties once again.

If you like politics I recommend you "The West Wing", a very good TV series that explains how the USA political system works: the role of the press, the lobbies, the vice-president, the negotiations in the Congress and Senate, the veto power of the President and his powers as commander in chief...

Finally, I agree with your opinion about death penalty. It´s abominable from the human point of view. Human beings who can go to the Moon or heal some types of cancer can´t behave like animals. There is a Gandhi´s quote I really like, which says: "Be the change you want to see in the world". If we want a better world, we can´t go on thinking that getting rid of criminals or staining our hands with blood makes life better.

Be careful: abolish!

Thanks for sharing your opinion!

Salva Fuentes said...

Hi Paqui,

Thank you for your comment.

Your're right saying how the society of the USA is, but for me, the electoral system is not related with that.

I have watched the link you have put and I'm striked. Around one billion dollars is too much money... . Also, I hope Sheldon Adelson doesn't give money to a political party in Spain to build "EuroVegas".

Regarding to the absence of electoral census in the USA, I think that it led to a very partial democracy.

Finally, where can I watch "The West Wing"? And, thank you for the correction.


Paqui Pérez Fons said...

Hello again,

I agree with you about the money they spend in electoral campaigns. How many hospitals, roads, railtracks or schools could they build with this money?

I´m sure someone has received money to settle down Eurovegas in Madrid.

The inexistence of an electoral census is related to the objections many Americans have about the interference of the Federal Government in their lives. They think that the State doesn´t have to intervene in these affairs and every person has to decide whether being registered to vote or not. It many seem a contradiction, but the best source to get population data about the world is the U.S.Census Bureau. They have a complete database about the population of the whole world, but they can´t create a national electoral census or use the population census for the elections. This conception of freedom is closely related to the origins of the USA and how they wrote their Constitution. We´ll study this tomorrow.

I have "The West Wing" on DVD. It was broadcasted on La 1 some years ago, but at dawn (2:00 in the morning). I bought the complete series (7 seasons) on DVD. If you want, I can lend you the first season and if you like it I can lend you the rest later. In my opinion it´s a series worth being watched, even if some episodes are too much "patriotic" for me, but this is how many people are there. If you want to watch the first season, let me know ;)

Paqui Pérez Fons said...

One last comment: if you watch the last video, about the historical review to the Presidential elections, you will see that there have been three times in the history of the USA in which the candidate who got more votes wasn´t elected president by the Electoral College: in 1876, in 1888 and in 2000!!! In 2000 George H.W.Bush got 600,000 votes less than Al Gore, but he got the majority in the Electoral College because he got all the electoral votes of Florida, a State where there were a lot of manipulations.The Supreme Court of Justice finally approved Florida´s recount, because the country couldn´t be waiting for weeks for a true recount. It was a real fraud. This story can be seen in MIchael Moore´s documentary "Farenheit 9/11", another film you should watch (if you haven´t yet. I also have the DVD.

Salva Fuentes said...


I don't understand one thing. Do Americans want a less centralized country? About your last comment, I think it's incredible that someone can win the elections in that way. And, I had already watched "Farenheit 9/11"; it is very interesting and it shows us things that don't appear in the news... .

Regarding to the "The West Wing", OK, if you want to lend me the first season, I will see delighted it :)


Paqui Pérez Fons said...

Hello again,

In fact, the USA is a very decentralized State, because it´s a Federal State and this means that every State has a lot powers: they have their own police, their own Courts of justice, their own healthcare and educational system, their own laws...The federal government has limited powers: the Federal budget, currency, international trade, foreign affairs, defense, emergencies and the national parks. Many Americans think that the Federal government limits their freedom, because they decide in Washington on some aspects they would like to decide by themselves. For example, Mitt Romney proposed the elimination of the FEMA (Federal Emergencies Agency), because this agency is financed with taxes the Federal Government collects. He thinks that this service would have to be private, such as many other services. The same happens with the people who have voted against the obligation of having a healthcare insurance. They think that the government doesn´t have to intervene in matters they consider private. There are also many people against sending children to school and they educate them at home (homeschooling)... All these ideas are related to their idea of freedom and the rights they consider they have. Many of these people could be defined as Libertarians, because they put their individual freedom over their duties as citizens of a country. But there are also other Americans who have a different idea of the State and the role of the Federal government and they would like that it could have more power and more budget (or a different distribution of it).

I hope you understand this. In part the idea of freedom many Americans have has historical roots: the first colonists of North America settled down there because they were fleeing from religious persecution in England and from a government that didn´t protect them. And the colonists who revolted against Great Britain at the end of the 18th century did it because they thought that the British government was not fulfilling its duties. They distrusted the government and this continues to be the same at present.

I´ll bring "The West Wing" for you on Friday. Give me your opinion when you watch it!

Salva Fuentes said...


That the republicans want a more descentralized country sounds strange because in Spain the conservatives want a more centralized State.

And, thank you very much for lending me the series! I will enjoy it!

Bye bye :)

Paqui Pérez Fons said...


This is also related to history. In Spain the idea of a centralized State comes from the 19th century, when Spanish nationalism consolidated. Inside the Spanish Liberals there were two factions: the Progressives and the Moderates. The Progressives wanted more power for local administrations (municipalities and provinces) and the moderates preferred a more centralized State. These parties evolved to the Liberal and Conservative parties and both contributed to the consolidation of the State-nation in Spain, but centralization also provoked reaction in some regions and was the origin of nationalist and regionalist movements in Catalonia,the Basque Provinces, Galicia, Valencia and Andalusia. In many of these places nationalists or regionalists were also conservative (PNV in the Basque Provinces or Lliga REgionalista en Catalonia. In fact, CiU are the heirs of the Lliga ). This shows that centralization is not always linked to conservatism in Spain. The same happens with PSOE: inside this party there are partisans of centralization (such as Bono) and others who defend federalism, which means more decentralization.

One last thing: the Republicans in the USA don´t want a more decentralized State, but less State, less power to the State and the federal States.

I like these "conversations"!

Salva Fuentes said...


Ok, now I understand everything.
Me too! They are very interesting and I'm learning a lot! Thanks! Bye