The Failure of America's Winner Take All Politics
Author: Steven Hill
Publisher: Taylor & Francis, Inc.
June 2002

>From the Publisher
Was the lesson of Florida's punch-cards that we need better machines, or that there's something deeply wrong with a system where the candidate with fewer votes wins the office? Fixing Elections shows why it's not just the Electoral College that's outdated, but our entire eighteenth-century Winner Take All political system, including the way we elect our legislatures.

>From the Critics
>From Lani Guinier
A provocative reminder that we desperately need to re-invigorate our democracy. By cataloging the elements of the crisis facing our divided polity, from orphaned voters to a far-reaching political depression, Steven Hill shows how crucial it is to explore the unfairness of our electoral system's underlying structure rather than simply working to reform the mechanics of voting.

>From William Greider - The Nation
Steven Hill is making the case for real reform of America's decayed democracy - changes that will actually give weight to every vote cast and begin the hard process of convincing Americans of every persuasion that their votes really can matter.

>From Katrina van den Heuvel
For the past decade, Steven Hill's analysis, commentary and activism have helped shape pro-democracy work in the United States.

>From Library Journal
The cofounder and associate director of the Center for Voting and Democracy ( and author of Whose Vote Counts and numerous articles on the electoral system, Hill here presents an analysis of the current winner-take-all electoral system in the United States. He examines how this two-party system affects voter participation, legislative representation, political campaigns, and legislative policies. Hill's argument that the United States should change its electoral arrangement to a proportional system is convincing, but the narrative style and "cute" phrasing (e.g., Bushlandia) is not only awkward but detracts from the seriousness of the subject. The book contains an excellent bibliography and notes section. Academic libraries with strong political science collections may want to add this title to their collections. Others may prefer books that are easier to understand, such as Frances Fox Piven and Richard A. Cloward's Why American's Don't Vote or Why American's Still Don't Vote: And Why Politicians Want It That Way. Joyce Cox, Nevada State Lib. and Archives, Reno Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

BN Reader reviews:

The most amazing book
I would give it six stars if I could. This is the most insightful book on American politics I have ever read. It transformed how I look at politics in this country. So much of what ails our democracy -- low participation, poor representation, poor quality of campaigns, policy that doesn't reflect what the majority of Americans want, partisan bickering and polarization,on and on -- the author brilliantly shows how it can all be traced back to the Winner Take All political system we use in the U.S. ONe of the most interesting riffs was how much of what we usually attribute to a lack of campaign finance reform -- lack of political competition, or choice for voters, or accountability -- is really more directly impacted by the incentives of the Winner Take All system. Fascinating. If you read one book on politics this year, make it this one.

Richard Winger, editor of Ballot Access News:
The 'Common Sense' of the pro-democracy movement
As the pamphlet Common Sense was to the American revolution, so Fixing Elections could be to the movement for alternative voting systems in our day. Fixing Elections is...a scathing indictment of the system now in place in the U.S. The book manages to introduce sophisticated new ideas about voting systems in a very readable, even compelling, style...It deserves the widest readership possible.

Table of Contents
Prologue: The Landscape of Post-Democracy
Pt. 1 Geography is Destiny
Ch. 1 "A House Divided ..." 3
Ch. 2 Ex Uno Plures: "One System, Two Nations" 21
Ch. 3 The Technology of Democracy 38
Pt. 2 The People's Congress?
Ch. 4 The People's House 63
Ch. 5 Behind Closed Doors: The Recurring Plague of Redistricting 78
Ch. 6 The Gravity of the Prize 94
Ch. 7 Worse Than Winner Take All:
Affirmative Action for Low-Population States 119 Pt. 3 The Death of Discourse
Ch. 8 Of Pollster-geists and Consultants:
The Mad Science of Winner Take All Campaigns 141
Ch. 9 The Wizards behind the Curtain 165
Ch. 10 The Winner Take All Media: The Fourth Estate Sells Out 180
Ch. 11 Caught between a Poll and a Hard Focus Group:
The Loss of Political Ideas 201
Pt. 4 Majority Rule? Or Majority Fooled?
Ch. 12 Winner Take All Policy:
Where the Majority Does Not Always Rule 223
Ch. 13 The Roller-Coaster Policy Ride of Winner Take All 240
Ch. 14 The Gatekeepers of Winner Take All 264
Ch. 15 "Winner Takes Nothing" 278
Epilogue: Toward "E Pluribus Unum" 298
Acknowledgments 301
Notes 305