PA Reconsidering Electoral Vote

Capitol Ideas speaks about a proposal by Republicans in the Senate to allot Pennsylvania’s electoral votes proportionally. The idea is that this would give the GOP an advantage by handing a few more electoral votes to GOP candidates that will generally all go to Democrats during an election.

My view is that this move is blatantly partisan, and I don’t like it at all. I’m a supporter of the electoral college system, and I believe states that allocate their electoral vote proportionally are going to be less relevant in the national election. We elect the President only partly through popular vote. We also elect the President as individual states. I don’t really believe we ought to change that.

7 thoughts on “PA Reconsidering Electoral Vote”

  1. I hope they shelve this plan. If they make a serious effort to pass it they might lose PA next year, instead of winning it as currently seems likely.

  2. The problem with the way most States currently allocate their electoral votes is that it results in a vast majority of the candidates effort spend in those larger states where the election is close (YES, PA qualifies dispite it’s shift to the left in recent elections).

    They then tend to ignore smaller states altogether, Larger states like CA where the outcome is not in doubt, and those states like WA, where one city dominates the population, and a number of districts go the other way.

    I would prefer that all 50 states allocated one vote for each district, and the two senatorial votes to the statewide winner.

  3. I know there’s been another move to undercut the electoral college from the other side of the aisle. Certain states are voting to award their electoral votes according to the popular national vote regardless of the outcome in their state. It’s the “Al Gore should have been President” people pushing that. I agree with Sebastian that the electoral college should be preserved. Candidates now have to spread their appeal across a number of states to win. With the electoral college, getting 90% (for the sake of argument) wouldn’t get you any more than winning 51%, but in a popular vote, getting lop-sided numbers in a few densely populated areas could let a candidate with a very narrow appeal win. We’re not a pure democracy; we’re a republic, an association of states.

  4. Republican legislators seem quite “confused” about the merits of the congressional district method. In Nebraska, Republican legislators are now saying they must change from the congressional district method to go back to state winner-take-all, while in Pennsylvania, Republican legislators are just as strongly arguing that they must change from the winner-take-all method to the congressional district method.

    Dividing Pennsylvania’s electoral votes by congressional district would magnify the worst features of the Electoral College system and not reflect the diversity of Pennsylvania.

    The district approach would provide less incentive for presidential candidates to campaign in all Pennsylvania districts and would not focus the candidates’ attention to issues of concern to the state as a whole. Candidates would have no reason to campaign in districts where they are comfortably ahead or hopelessly behind.

    Due to gerrymandering, in 2008, only 4 Pennsylvania congressional districts were competitive.

    In Maine, where they award electoral votes by congressional district, the closely divided 2nd congressional district received campaign events in 2008 (whereas Maine’s 1st reliably Democratic district was ignored).

    In Nebraska, which also uses the district method, the 2008 presidential campaigns did not pay the slightest attention to the people of Nebraska’s reliably Republican 1st and 3rd congressional districts because it was a foregone conclusion that McCain would win the most popular votes in both of those districts. The issues relevant to voters of the 2nd district (the Omaha area) mattered, while the (very different) issues relevant to the remaining (mostly rural) two-thirds of the state were irrelevant.

    When votes matter, presidential candidates vigorously solicit those voters. When votes don’t matter, they ignore those areas.

    Nationwide, there are only 55 “battleground” districts that are competitive in presidential elections. Seven-eighths of the nation’s congressional districts would be ignored if a district-level winner-take-all system were used nationally.

    If the district approach were used nationally, it would be less fair and less accurately reflect the will of the people than the current system. In 2004, Bush won 50.7% of the popular vote, but 59% of the districts. Although Bush lost the national popular vote in 2000, he won 55% of the country’s congressional districts.

    Awarding electoral votes by congressional district could result in third party candidates winning electoral votes that would deny either major party candidate the necessary majority vote of electors and throw the process into Congress to decide.

    Because there are generally more close votes on district levels than states as whole, district elections increase the opportunity for error. The larger the voting base, the less opportunity there is for an especially close vote.

    Also, a second-place candidate could still win the White House without winning the national popular vote.

    A national popular vote is the way to make every person’s vote equal and guarantee that the candidate who gets the most votes in all 50 states becomes President.

  5. In the 2012 election, pundits and campaign operatives already agree that, only 7-14 states and their voters will matter under the current winner-take-all laws (i.e., awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in each state) used by 48 of the 50 states. Candidates will not care about at least 72% of the voters– voters in 19 of the 22 lowest population and medium-small states, and in 16 medium and big states like CA, GA, NY, and TX. 2012 campaigning would be even more obscenely exclusive than 2008 and 2004. In 2008, candidates concentrated over 2/3rds of their campaign events and ad money in just 6 states, and 98% in just 15 states (CO, FL, IN, IA, MI, MN, MO, NV, NH, NM, NC, OH, PA, VA, and WI). Over half (57%) of the events were in just 4 states (OH, FL, PA, and VA). Candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or care about the voter concerns in the dozens of states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind. More than 85 million voters have been just spectators to the general election.

    Now, policies important to the citizens of ‘flyover’ states – that include 9 of the original 13 states – are not as highly prioritized as policies important to ‘battleground’ states when it comes to governing, too.

  6. The population of the top five cities (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Philadelphia) is only 6% of the population of the United States and the population of the top 50 cities (going as obscurely far down as Arlington, TX) is only 19% of the population of the United States.

    Suburbs and exurbs often vote Republican.

    If big cities controlled the outcome of elections, the governors and U.S. Senators would be Democratic in virtually every state with a significant city.

  7. I’m not in favor, either, but a move to award individual electors by district would do nothing to “undermine” the electoral college. States are free to make that determination, and that’s a deliberate *feature* of the electoral college.

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