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Presidential Electors and the Electoral College: An Examination of Lobbying, Wavering ...

Chapter 1:  A Risk to the Republic?
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Presidential Electors and the Electoral College:

Person in gray suit, red tie:

Don’t worry; this will soon be over. Just know that we appreciate your courage in the face of adversity. You have chosen to stand up for liberty and the American way. The country and the world will be a better place thanks to all of your good work.

Although this dialogue may appear to be something from one of Hollywood’s latest political thrillers, it is in fact drawn from events that are very much grounded in reality. The exchange evokes events that members of the Electoral College have endured in recent elections. Most Americans rarely, if ever, think about the people they elect to select the president and vice president of the United States on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. The fact that the president and vice president are indirectly selected by the people is lost upon most Americans. Even dedicated students of politics know very little about those mysterious figures called presidential electors. Yet as evidenced through controversies over the office, many citizens recognize that electors exist and that they play a constitutionally important role in the presidential selection process. Their service is a reminder that presidential selection cannot move forward without them.

Very little is known about presidential electors, yet these individuals have intrigued scholars and lay people alike for centuries. Their mediation between the citizenry and the offices of president and vice president appears to both perplex and chafe voters every four years. That they are responsible for ultimately selecting the country’s only nationally elected figure has created great controversy over time. This book examines these figures, systematically analyzing those who have served in this position over the past three election cycles through responses to surveys of presidential electors from the 2000, 2004, and 2008 elections.

A project that began with the simple goal of providing a portrait of those who serve has evolved into a large-scale project with far-reaching consequences. Because of the lack of research on the office of presidential elector, the conventional wisdom was and continues to be that the position is purely ceremonial and perfunctory. Presidential electors are