Skip to comments.Real Electoral College Reform
Posted on 12/08/2012 8:14:32 PM PST by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
In a recent column titled The National Popular Vote Fallacy, I attempted to demonstrate how the progressives who are behind the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC) may, in fact, be shooting themselves in the foot.
As the NPVIC rule is designed, when enough states have joined the Compact to bring at least 270 electoral votes (a simple majority in the Electoral College) to the table, then and only then will the combined electoral votes of all the Compact states automatically go to the candidate with a majority of the national popular vote, thereby eliminating any possibility of electing a president and vice president with less than a majority of the national popular vote.
I pointed out that, in 2000, a switch of just 271,948 votes nationwide would have given George Bush and Dick Cheney a slim national popular vote victory, along with a narrow 271 to 266 vote victory in the Electoral College (one DC elector abstained from voting). But what if the NPVIC had been in place in 2000 and Bush-Cheney had been able to eke out a narrow popular vote victory? What would have been the impact on the Electoral College vote?
Looking at the electoral votes state-by-state in 2000 (electoral votes in parentheses), if the thirteen blue states of Connecticut (8), Delaware (3), Iowa (7), Maine (4), Michigan (18), Minnesota (10), Nevada (4), New Mexico (5), New York (33), Oregon (7), Pennsylvania (23), Rhode Island (4), and Wisconsin (11), with a total of 137 electoral votes, had joined with the states that now constitute the NPVIC: California (54), Hawaii (4), Illinois (22), Maryland (10), Massachusetts (12), New Jersey (15), Vermont (3), Washington (11), and the District of Columbia (2), with a total of 133 electoral votes, they would have controlled a total of 270 electoral votes a simple majority in the Electoral College.
However, had Bush-Cheney been fortunate enough to attract just one additional vote out of every 373 votes cast to eke out a razor-thin victory in the national popular vote, the twenty-one NPVIC states, plus the District of Columbia, would have cast all 270 of their electoral votes for George Bush and Dick Cheney… in spite of the fact that twenty-one of the twenty-two member states in the Compact had cast a majority of their popular votes for Al Gore and Joe Lieberman.
Combined with the 242 electoral votes that Bush-Cheney won on their own in 28 of the 29 non-NPVIC states, the Electoral College vote would have been a 512-25 landslide victory for Bush-Cheney. This assumes, of course, that the U.S. Supreme Court would not have intervened to prevent the Democrat-controlled Florida Supreme Court from ordering a recount in only the four most heavily Democratic counties in the state, opening the process to massive fraud and an all but certain Gore-Lieberman capture of Floridas twenty-five electoral votes. In other words, the proponents of the NPVIC would have insured a near-unanimous electoral vote for Bush-Cheney, the exact opposite of what they intended. The only state left in the Gore-Lieberman column would have been non-NPVIC Florida, which the Democrats would have won fraudulently.
So if those on the political left are dissatisfied with the results provided by the Electoral College, as currently constituted, is there a middle ground that might be acceptable to both the far left who seek political advantage for progressive candidates and to those of us who believe the Founders knew what they were doing when they created the Electoral College?
A compromise that progressives seem to admire, because it gives them a sense of having more control over the presidential selection process, and one that might also appeal to conservatives because it may help to reverse some of the negative impact of the 17th Amendment, is the apportionment system adopted by the legislatures in Maine and Nebraska, and which was seriously considered by the Pennsylvania legislature during the 2012 session.
In the Electoral College, each state is allotted two at-large electoral votes, one for each of their two U.S. senators, and one delegate vote for each congressional district in the state. Under the Maine-Nebraska electoral system, the candidate who wins the statewide popular vote is allotted that states two at-large electoral votes, while the remainder of the electoral votes in each state are allocated based on the popular vote for president and vice president in each of the states congressional districts.
For example, in the 2012 General Election, Barack Obama won the popular vote in both of Maines two congressional districts, giving him all four of Maines electoral votes, while Mitt Romney won the popular vote in all three of Nebraskas congressional districts, giving him all five of that states electoral votes. So in this election year the Maine-Nebraska system produced no split results in either state. However, in the rest of the country the Maine-Nebraska system, which comes as close as we can get to tying the selection of our presidents and vice presidents to the will of the people at the local level short of a constitutional amendment to eliminate the Electoral College would have produced a vastly different outcome.
If the Maine-Nebraska electoral system had been in place in every state in this election year, and assuming that the vote for the presidential candidates would roughly equate to the votes for the congressional candidates of the respective parties in each district, Obama would have lost 115 of his 332 electoral votes to Mitt Romney in the twenty-seven blue states where he won a majority of the popular vote. On the other hand, in the twenty-four red states carried by Romney-Ryan, they would have lost only 39 electoral votes to Obama-Biden.
The end result? In 2012, instead of a 332 to 206 vote victory for Obama-Biden in the Electoral College, the Maine-Nebraska system would have producing a comfortable 282 to 256 vote victory for Romney-Ryan, an outcome that would have been far closer to expressing the will of the people than the present winner-take-all system or the NPVIC system.
To understand this phenomenon one need only look at the county-by-county map of the country with counties colored either red or blue. It is reflective of: a) the preference for Republican ideals among a substantial majority of the people, and b) the overwhelming size of the vote for the Democratic Santa Claus in the inner city precincts.
If it is true, as former House Speaker Tip ONeill once remarked, that all politics is local, then to replace the current winner-take-all system with the Maine-Nebraska electoral system would help to bring political decision-making much closer to the people because of the increased importance it would place on generating interest in local and congressional elections.
When the Founders drafted Article I, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution, they directed that, The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the legislature thereof for six Years In other words, the Founders wanted the members of the House of Representatives to be chosen by direct vote of the people and the members of the Senate chosen by the political leadership of the various states, i.e., the members of the state legislatures.
The 17th Amendment, applying the one man, one vote rule to U.S. Senate elections, changed all that and not necessarily for the better. By requiring that members of the Senate be chosen by direct vote of the people, just as members of the House of Representatives are chosen, the 17th Amendment tended to nationalize elections and did irreparable damage to the significance of political parties in local politics.
The Maine-Nebraska electoral system would take the emphasis away from key battleground states such as Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia and require candidates for president and vice president to campaign in all fifty states. As matters now stand, presidential candidates spend little or no time in states such as California, New York, and Texas because the outcome of presidential voting in those states is almost always a foregone conclusion.
Under the Maine-Nebraska system that would not be the case. Had the Maine-Nebraska system been in place for the 2012 General Election, Barack Obama would not have ignored the fifteen votes that Romney could have won in California or the six votes Romney could have won in New York. In Romneys case, he could not have ignored the twelve electoral votes that Obama might have had access to in Texas.
The American people have been sold on the idea that majority rule is always best even to the point of failing to see the value of the filibuster rule in the United States Senate which requires a super-majority of sixty votes to invoke cloture. The quality of public education in our primary and secondary schools is so poor that few Americans could write a single cogent paragraph on the importance of shielding the minority from the tyranny of the majority, which is what the filibuster rule is designed to do in the legislative branch of government.
The only way to eliminate the Electoral College is by constitutional amendment, and the chances of that happening anytime soon are almost zero. And since it is not likely that the quality of public education will be substantially improved anytime soon, the best possible way of bringing the selection of our presidents and vice presidents as close as possible to a popular vote of the people is by adoption of the Maine-Nebraska system.
Adoption of the Maine-Nebraska system of allocating votes in the Electoral College nationwide would have solved the problem of manipulation of selected precincts in swing states that helped give us the results we see in 2012.
It would also help to mandate documentation of eligibility of candidates prior to giving them ballot access.
I think the idea of using the Maine-Nebraska system has some merits. My biggest concern would be if the “losing” candidate decided to go fishing in close congressional districts to contest votes. Where we currently have a few states to worry about, we might have many 10s of districts spread out across the country to have to deal with (recounts, voter fraud, lawyers, etc.). It would also make for an interesting situation should strong enough third candidates (like Perot) win enough congressional districts to prevent a majority on Election Day.
Question is: in 23 states where (R)'s control both chambers and the governor's mansions, if they decided to apportion the votes for the electoral college tally, is there enough to tip the election to us?
If so, all (R) governors should call emergency sessions ahead of the Dec 17 electoral college tally and declare this to be so.
” - - - - Under the Maine-Nebraska electoral system, the candidate who wins the statewide popular vote is allotted that states two at-large electoral votes, while the remainder of the electoral votes in each state are allocated based on the popular vote for president and vice president in each of the states congressional districts. - - - “
1.) What effect would the Rural vs City polarized voting patterns of 2004 and 2008 have had on the Presidential election results?
2.) Does the Neb-Maine system bring us closer to being a Democracy or a Republic?
REPEAL THE 17TH!
Just think what the senate would be like, a representative proxy republic instead of national mob rule.
Look at my state Michigan for example, redder than red at the state level - there would have not been a re-election for Fat Deb Stabacow and Karl Marx Levin would finally be booted.
Author is correct, senate races are essentially nationalized.
If this pathetic GOP wants to go anywhere and not dissolve itself as a party, needs to stand up, dust itself off, forget national elections for now.
Go grass roots and get this 17th Amendment off the books.
I fear that conservatives have lost sight of the prize.
I’ve been advocating this for years. That or letting the House vote for President.
It will never happen. The progressive-statist would not allow it.
Just imagine the shift if only CA and NY were to join Maine and Nebraska.
Arguments against the National Popular Vote: http://www.lwvvc.org/NPVArgument_con.pdf
I would really like to see all states adopt the Maine-Nebraska method of allocating mostly by Congressional District.
I’d heard PA might reconsider the NE/ME method next year.
Our Republic was designed to protect the minority from the majority, KEEP IT THAT WAY!
I would love to see this happen. Then voting for president wouldn’t be a waste of my time. But only 15 EC votes from California? The state is a microcosm of the country. A big red state with a blue, highly populated coast.
“A big red state with a blue, highly populated coast.”
You got that right. Libtards always are attracted to water. Wish they would drown while close to it.
Not even close. The founders had it correct. Quit trying to fix what ain’t broke and focus on what is (Spanish machines that kept defaulting to O; illegals allowedto vote; same day ‘registration’;etc;etc)
The current Winner-Take-All Allocation in 48 states is tremendously flawed. Fraud of even 1 vote [in a 50-50 split] can tip all of the electoral votes of a state to the other side.
Also, predominately Blue [or Red] states are routinely bypassed by the candidate of the opposite party since there is no chance in hell of that candidate winning the electoral votes.
There are 2 better methods - Proportional Allocation and Congressional District Allocation.
Proportional Allocation is based on the whole percentage of the vote state-wide, but is only marginally better than Winner-Take-All Allocation. Proportional Allocation suffers to the same degree as Winner-Take-All Allocation in that the extremely Blue and Red areas within a state will [mostly] be bypassed by the candidate of the opposite party.
By far the fairest is Congressional District Allocation, where the winner of a district gets its electoral vote, with the overall winner of the state getting the remaining 2 electoral votes as a bonus. This method reflects the way that we elect Congress - by district for Representatives and by state for Senators.
Each and every electoral vote [district-wise] is put on an equal footing throughout the entire country. In Blue [or Red] states, the candidate of the opposite party is encouraged to fight for votes in each and every competitive district.
Voters in the opposite party in a Blue [or Red] state are encouraged to vote since [if their candidate wins their district], their candidate gets their electoral vote. Otherwise, with Winner-Take-All Allocation in heavily Blue [or Red] states - voters of the opposite party often don’t vote at all.
Congressional District Allocation lends itself the least to fraud. Fraud that could tip the scales in a state would have to be committed significantly in each and every district in order to have a meaningful effect.
Finally, recounts would be minimized - they would only be necessary in districts within the state-mandated margin of error and a state-wide recount would not be mandated unless the state [as a whole] was within the same state-mandated margin of error.
Which means that any presidential campaign, to be successful under that system, would require the expenditure of 10 to 20 times as much money as at present.
Every candidate for President would have to be an independently-wealthy billionaire.
not even close to being able to deal with reality.....I am soooo tired of the tin foil hat crowd. If we would keep our focus on the goal rather than dreaming abut what never will be we would be soooooo much better off
I would favor the change. Without checking I’m sure it would have netted us votes in this last election if every state did it.
In recent elections the EC has been exaggerating democrat performance. Romney losses narrowly but big in the EC. Bush wins narrowly and Kerry is one state from victory. Disgusting.
We can’t outright get rid of it though cause that would create nationwide recount nightmares.
I will debunk one common argument in favor of changes though, what does it matter if a state is “ignored” meaning no one campaigns there? That is irrelevant. I’m glad I didn’t have to see a shiteload of ads like people in Ohio did.
The important thing and the only important thing is would it help us win, I think yes.
Rather than do it in every state though we should only do it in democrat leaning states that where we control the leg and can pass it like PA and MI. Certainly we would not want Texas to split.
In CA it could be passed via ballot initiative but it would be hard.
And I’ll ignore this article’s ignorant dig at the 17th amendment other than to say it has nothing to do with this.