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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Republican Electoral College Chicanery

The Republicans have a problem with the electorate.  There are at least two approaches to this problem.

One, they can listen to Gov. Jindal R(LA) and quit being “the party of stupid.”  That might include getting some counseling for their candidates about how certain expressions sound to minorities and women.  They definitely need to broaden their focus to all of their principal values (economic freedom, individual responsibility, and equal opportunity) and quit sounding like their only objective is to protect the money of rich people.  I hope that they go this way.

There is another approach involving the  electoral college that is, I think, properly called chicanery. 

Recall that the president is elected by the electoral college in which each state is assigned a number of “electoral votes” which is equal to the number of members of congress that that state has.  Exactly how the state assigns those electoral votes is entirely up to the state legislature.  Almost all of states vote in the electoral college by using the winner take all system: the candidate who gets the MOST popular (people) votes in the state gets ALL of that state’s electoral votes.  Exceptions are Nebraska and Maine which use the “congressional district” method which allows 1 electoral vote to the winner of each congressional district and two for the state at large.  There is nothing inherently wrong with supporting this latter system if you advocated it nationwide and across the board.

Some folks find the winner take all system very troublesome since – to look at two examples – in California the Dems are a lead pipe synch to win the state (about 8 million to 5 million in 2012) which means that those 3 million people in CA who voted for the Reps “totally lost their vote” since all 55 electoral votes went to Obama.  Why doesn’t CA use the congressional district method?  The reason is quite simple.  If they did the Reps would win some votes in some of those districts.   The Dems control the CA legislature and they are not about to give the Reps a shot at those electoral votes.  The exact opposite holds true in Texas.

But what if the sentiment was not so one sided?  What if you were in a swing state like say Pennsylvania or Florida?  If you could get the electoral vote divided then you could be sure of getting some votes, but not all.  Pennsylvania leans Dem, but now has a Rep legislature.  Last year (to late in the game I thought) the Reps tried to change the rules on the electoral vote of PA.  They were stymied.  They have a lot more time now and the proposal is to try to change the rules in several key swing states.  From looking at them the states meet two conditions:  They have Rep legislatures and they are not solid Rep states.  To split a solid Rep state would increase the Democratic vote.

There are basically two proposals and one can find considerable detail on them at Electoral College Changes Would Pose Danger for Democrats.

One proposal is to cherry pick some states that have Republican Legislatures and would be helpful to Reps (Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Virginia and perhaps Florida).  To use a temporary legislative majority to do this is what seems to me to be quite inappropriate chicanery and also likely to backfire on whoever tried it.  If it changed some future presidential election then the state’s majority would be quite upset.

A fair and above board way to do it would be to advocate the congressional district plan be used in every state.  That would require a constitutional amendment which would not likely pass.  Other objections will be listed in a post here soon on the congressional district method.

Finally, as people so often do when discussing alternative methods of doing something, the author commits the stasis fallacy which is described here and here.   He tells us that if the congressional district plan had been in use nationwide in 2012, then Romney would have won the election.   This is not a valid conclusion as will be explained in a day or two in the post on the congressional district method.

1 comment:

  1. If electoral votes in all States were allocated by congressional district it seems to me that the results would approach the results of a simple popular vote. My objection to using a popular vote to elect a president is the spectacle of a national recount (think Florida 2000 on a national scale).

    Using congressional districts to allocate electoral votes would obviate my national recount concerns.