We Need Civics Classes for Reporters

Elections are often times for parents to teach their young children about the American government and how our democracy functions. It’s a great time to explain the Constitution, two houses of Congress, Federalism, and other aspects of the American system that make us unique.

Unfortunately, it seems many reporters and pundits never learned that lesson and need remedial classes.

For the best in political ignorance, I recommend Twitter. That’s where we find the first example from my favorite know-it-all who’s website is best known for it’s ludicrous mistakes.

Dear Ezra, there is no such thing as the House popular vote. Every two years there are 435 individual elections for the House of Representatives. If a candidate in New York City wins with 80% of the vote, they are not allowed to redistribute some of those votes to districts in Georgia.

But I’m sure you know that. You might run a sloppy, error-prone website, but you are not stupid. I understand though. It is more profitable to rile up your readers than to educate them.

Ezra Klein’s sad tweet before election day is nothing compared to what came after Democrats realized they would lose Senate seats.

Oh, where to begin?

Obviously, just like the House, there is no national Senate vote. There are approximately 33 individual elections every 2 years.

Now here’s where it gets tricky, so pay close attention Evan and Amanda. I wrote there are “approximately 33” Senate elections every 2 years because not every seat is up at the same time. In 2018, there were far more Senate seats held by Democrats up for election than held by Republicans. It is natural that Democrats would receive more votes across the country when elections are being held in primarily Democrat states, and would also be at risk to lose more seats.

This is without even mentioning that in the most populace State in the land, California, the Senate election was between two Democrats, so almost every ballot cast there was for a Democrat.

But let’s look at this a bit closer. Twitter was filled with liberals sharing screen shots of the Huffington Post vote totals for Senate elections.

National Senate vote total 2018

As of this writing, the Huffington Post shows Democrat Senate candidates received 45,465,981 votes, and Republican Senate candidates received 33,497,408 votes. Break that down, and it comes out to the 15% Democrat lead Amanda Marcotte referenced.

Now let’s look at the results. When all is said and done, it is likely Democrats won 23 Senate races and Republicans won 12. Hmmmm. So despite only winning the non-existent national popular vote by 15%, Democrats won more than twice as many seats as Republicans. In this Constitutionally illiterate land Marcotte lives in, I think it’s the Democrats who are cheating.

It’s fun to make jokes about arrogant pundits who think they are being profound but are in reality displaying their own ignorance. At least, I’m having fun writing it. But it is a serious problem that so many of the educated class can be so ill-educated about the fundamentals of our democracy. Maybe we really do need to bring back civics classes for everyone.



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