• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

Pennsylvania’s Electoral College Reform Plan Is A Good Idea

As James Joyner notes, Kevin Drum is somewhat apoplectic over reported plans by Pennsylvania Republicans to change the method by which the state’s Electoral Votes are allocated. He’s joined over at The Washington Post by former Obama Administration economist Jared Bernstein calls the plan an outrage:

It would be entirely possible for a Republican to win the 2012 presidential election despite losing the popular vote by a solid margin and losing states containing a solid majority of electoral votes. Democrats would likely retaliate the next time they had a chance. Close presidential elections would wind up being decided by all sorts of odd chance events, rather than, you know, who wins the most votes. Yes, the current electoral college system does allow split results such as what happened in 2000, but that’s very different: clear, stable rules make it likely that everyone will accept the results.

In short, it’s an absolutely outrageous plan, terrible for democracy and terrible for Pennsylvania. But extremely good for the short-term prospects of Republican presidential candidates.

Bernstein and Drum both miss something that’s likely motivating this move that has almost nothing to do with the the cynical motives they are ascribing, but that’s likely because they don’t really have any knowledge of the dynamics of Pennsylvania politics. The conflict between the heavily Democratic Philadelphia area and the heavily Republican parts of the state often referred to as “Pennsyltucky” has been playing out for decades and, to some degree, this proposal is just another round in that battle. Republicans in other part of the state have long resented the fact that the Democratic strongholds in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have been able to control allocation of the state’s Electoral Votes. It’s only now, though, that that GOP has had sufficient control of state government to do something about it.

As for the complaints that Bernstein and Drum make about the political motives behind the move, the only response I can give is what did you expect? This is politics, and people act to their political advantage. You can either whine about it, or you can engage in the battle and try to defeat them.

On a policy level, I agree with James that this proposal may actually be a good idea.

First of all, it maintains the Electoral College’s purpose of balancing large states against small ones, and regions against regions while at the same time addressing one of the biggest criticisms of the way that we elect Presidents. By tying at least one electoral vote in each state to a Congressional District, the proposal would put nearly every state into play in a Presidential election. Yes, the proposal would benefit Republicans in Pennsylvania, but it would likely benefit Democrats in states like Florida and Texas. In the end, the benefits would probably balance themselves out across the nation, and candidates would be forced to run a campaign that addresses the country as a whole, rather than one that merely focuses on a few big states.

Second, the Congressional district allocation method has been tried before, and works. Both Nebraska and Maine have had this system in effect for several years and it’s worked just fine.

Finally, it is completely constitutional.

Incidentally, a 2009 study found that if the Congressional District Method had been in place nationwide in 2008, President Obama would have still won with an Electoral College allocation of 301-237 instead of the actual allocation of 365-173.

What if the District Method had been in effect in 2000 ?Well here’s how I think it would’ve turned out:

  1. Bush won 228 Congressional District, while Al Gore won 207  (Source here), so we start out at Bush 228 Gore 207.
  2. Bush also won 30 states (if you include Florida) to Gore’s 20 + D.C., (Source here) which would give Bush an additional 60 Electoral Votes to Gore’s additional 43.

Thus, that would have given Bush a total of 288 Electoral Votes to Gore’s 250. And, if you did give Florida to Gore, assuming no shift in the district allocation, the total would have been Bush 286 Gore 252. There would have been no hanging chads, no Constitutional crisis, no Bush v. Gore.

Sounds like another reason we should consider adopting this nationwide.

As I’ve said before, I don’t think that the Electoral College is as broken as some people think it is. In it’s 200 year history, there have been only three occasions where the Electoral College winner did not also win the popular vote, and only two where no candidate got a majority of Electoral College votes, requiring the House of Representatives to choose the President. In some sense, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But, if reform is considered at all, the District Method seems to be the way to go.

Related Posts:

About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. mantis says:

    The purpose of Pennsylvania’s method is to insure, through gerrymandered districts, that a Democrat can win a landslide in the state and still get fewer electoral votes than the Republican. That sounds good to you?

    The only way this is a good idea is to make redistricting a nonpartisan affair first. Otherwise it’s simply a way to make some people’s votes count more than others.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  2. snarky bastard says:

    Yep — the side with more votes loses votes due to arbitary border drawing — real democratic in the small “d” sense of the word there…..

    [/snark off]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  3. mantis says:

    Republicans in other part of the state have long resented the fact that the Democratic strongholds in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have been able to control allocation of the state’s Electoral Votes.

    Because there are a lot more people there. Republicans want Democratic votes to count for less. That is all.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 3

  4. mantis,

    I suspect if this were being proposed in Texas or Florida, Drum and Bernstein and most others on the left complaining about this would be silent.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 29

  5. EddieInCA says:

    So in your world Doug, a district that has 250,000 people (75% of which who vote Democratic) and one that has 25,000 (75% of which who vote GOP) should count the same in the Presidential elections?

    The only way this is far is if each district has approximately the same amount of citizens.

    Under your scenario, someone could win the electoral college and lose the popular vote by HUGE margins.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  6. JC says:

    Nonsense. The “District Method” is way too easy to abuse because Congressional districts can be (and often are) gerrymandered to the hilt . As a result, the representation of a given state can easily be well out of synch with the preferences of its voters. For example, Texas is very conservative, but not nearly as much as its DEM-REP congressional makeup. Ditto Massachusetts and its utter lack of REP congresspeople.

    Say what you will about the current winner-takes-all (in a state) model, but its impossible to gerrymander state boundaries! Alternatively, we could dump the Electoral College completely and go with the most basic of democratic models, popular vote.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  7. mantis says:

    I suspect if this were being proposed in Texas or Florida, Drum and Bernstein and most others on the left complaining about this would be silent.

    If Texas and Florida redistricted so that most Democrats in the state existed in a tiny number of districts, regardless of population, and then switched to district-allotted electoral votes, you can be damned sure they would object.

    Anyway, is that really your defense of a move to make votes for one party count less than votes for another party? Really?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  8. snarky bastard says:

    In the 2008 PA election there were three Congressional Districts (PA-1, 2 and 14) with PVIs of D+38, 35 and 19 that were more Democratic compared to the nation before the first heavily Republican district (PA-9, R+15). This is an incentive to create a series of 12 of R+4 to R+8, 2 R+15 districts and 4 or 5 D+25 districts so a state that has a majority of voters voting for a Democrat gives 80% of its electoral power to the Republican candidate —

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  9. David M says:

    Regarding Florida in 2000, I can’t think of a worse argument in support of this idea. Congressional districts are even less meaningful than state lines, so this would probably make it more likely the country could end up with a Republican president even if the Democratic candidate wins the popular vote. Remember, due to urban/rural district differences, the GOP would have a majority in the House of Representatives even if the vote is split 50/50, so this isn’t really a neutral proposal. We already have the Senate to balance out population differences too much, we don’t need to make things worse.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  10. snarky bastard says:

    @mantis: Hell, except for the fact that Texas is a base GOP state, and Florida is a lean GOP, the congressional maps are already full of packed Democratic districts.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. mantis says:

    This is why nobody believes you are anything but a Republican, Doug. You fully support blatantly anti-democratic Republican policies the only purpose of which is to disenfranchise liberal voters.

    If you had any principles, you wouldn’t.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 4

  12. mantis says:

    @snarky bastard:

    Hell, except for the fact that Texas is a base GOP state, and Florida is a lean GOP, the congressional maps are already full of packed Democratic districts.

    So even less work for them to disenfranchise Democratic voters. Huzzah!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  13. Dave says:

    You can either whine about it, or you can engage in the battle and try to defeat them.

    Whining about things they don’t like is how bloggers engage in battle to defeat them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  14. Fiona says:

    In an ideal world, where Congressional districts weren’t gerrymandered and where all 50 states implemented this plan, it might be a viable alternative to the current system. Here, it’s a pretty blatant attempt at trying to tilt the presidential election in the Republican’s favor.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  15. David M says:

    Regarding the hypothetical…but what if the Dems did it too? They likely wouldn’t first and it’s not even certain they would as a retaliation if the GOP did. We know they aren’t as invested in petty games like this as the GOP is, just based on the fact they haven’t proposed this. For better or worse, “team blue” is working in the exact opposite direction, towards a national popular vote, where arbitrary lines can’t be redrawn to create fake winners.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  16. anjin-san says:

    Anyway, is that really your defense of a move to make votes for one party count less than votes for another party? Really?

    Really.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  17. MBunge says:

    “the only response I can give is what did you expect? This is politics, and people act to their political advantage. You can either whine about it, or you can engage in the battle and try to defeat them.”

    Democracy without established rules and conventions is nothing but tyranny, much like how war without rules of engagement is nothing but slaughter. And given the now inevitable demographic changes coming to American, I really doubt that Doug or other white conservatives really want to see a system where whoever has the most votes at any particular time can screw the other side as hard as they want.

    Mike

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  18. @mantis:

    Please explain which libertarian principle requires me to oppose the Congressional District Method of allocating Electoral Votes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 5

  19. @EddieInCA:

    That can happen in our current system. Personally, I’m okay with that and do not support elimination of the Electoral College.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 5

  20. EddieInCA says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Of course you are. That says alot about you. None of it good.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 8

  21. mantis says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Please explain which libertarian principle requires me to oppose the Congressional District Method of allocating Electoral Votes.

    I never said anything about a libertarian principle. And the objection to this has been made clear, despite you ignoring the argument. Through gerrymandering, the district method allows one party to make votes for the other party effectively count for less. I some cases, like PA, a lot less.

    If you aren’t going to bother to address the key argument against this, why do you even bother to respond?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  22. Terrye says:

    One reason Democrats don’t like this system, is that it will be harder to cheat.

    The truth is our system is not one man one vote, it is a representative system. Early in our history the president was not even voted for in a national election at all. The electoral college was not created just because it was more convenient, but because it was meant to offer some balance, just as the Senate was created to have 2 Senators from each state without population being a factor.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 9

  23. just me says:

    I have long supported the idea of allotting electoral votes by congressional district verses the winner take all we currently use.

    Seems to work just fine in Maine and Nebraska-I think the only reason the left hasn’t railed against it is both states are relatively small in the electoral total where in PA there are a lot more votes to be had or lost.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  24. MM says:

    @Fiona:

    Here, it’s a pretty blatant attempt at trying to tilt the presidential election in the Republican’s favor

    Yes, but the Kevin Drum who exists entirely in Doug’s head is VERY hypocritical about this, so it’s a case of just deserts.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  25. mantis says:

    One reason Democrats don’t like this system, is that it will be harder to cheat.

    Actually, it makes it much easier to cheat. But only for Republicans.

    The electoral college was not created just because it was more convenient, but because it was meant to offer some balance

    And Republicans have found a way to unbalance the system in their favor.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 5

  26. Terrye says:

    @mantis: Back in 2008 in Indianapolis more people registered to vote than were even legal to vote. You can thank ACORN for that. Votes swapped for drugs, illegals voting, all kinds of problems happen in urban areas when it comes to legal and illegal activity during elections. I rarely hear progressives worrying about that. Gerrymandering, they worry about..buying or stealing elections, they don’t.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 10

  27. mantis says:

    Seems to work just fine in Maine and Nebraska-I think the only reason the left hasn’t railed against it is both states are relatively small in the electoral total where in PA there are a lot more votes to be had or lost.

    No, it’s because Maine and Nebraska are not gerrymandered to give the minority vote a majority of electoral votes. If enacted in Pennsylvania, this is almost assuredly what will happen.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  28. MM says:

    @Terrye:

    One reason Democrats don’t like this system, is that it will be harder to cheat.

    Aside from being talking-pointtastic, what does this mean?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  29. MM says:

    @Terrye:

    You can thank ACORN for that. Votes swapped for drugs, illegals voting, all kinds of problems happen in urban areas when it comes to legal and illegal activity during elections.

    Oh, you just have uncited fearmongering about things that totally really, for sure happen everywhere. Gotcha.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  30. mantis says:

    I rarely hear progressives worrying about that.

    That’s because it is mostly imaginary, and because fraudulent registrations are not fraudulent votes. You can register as many imaginary people as you want, but imaginary people don’t vote.

    You like to scream about vote fraud, but can’t actually prove any vote fraud. That’s why people with brains don’t take you seriously.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  31. Rob in CT says:

    I’m fine with splitting EC votes based on popular vote % within the state.

    This, however, is 1st degree hackery, once you consider gerrymandering.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  32. @mantis:

    Well I’m trying to get you to explain to me why I should be opposed to this “on principle” as you put it. The arguments of Drum and Bernstein are entirely unpersuasive.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 6

  33. Rick Almeida says:

    Anyone who mentions “gerrymandering” should be clear to specify a completely objective way of drawing House districts.

    Hint: There isn’t one. All districting is gerrymandering.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  34. anjin-san says:

    You can thank ACORN for that.

    Terrye what are you still doing here? You were on the list to be sent to the FEMA camps long ago…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  35. David M says:

    @Rick Almeida: That may be true, but that doesn’t mean linking electoral college votes to gerrymandered congressional districts is a good idea. Even if the districts were completely objective, I still see this as a solution in search of a problem.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  36. Ron Beasley says:

    I don’t have a problem with electoral votes based on the statewide popular vote. Basing it on congressional districts turns the presidency into the Senate where one person gets 20 more votes than another. I believe in one person one vote.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  37. Tlaloc says:

    why bother trying to dance around the issue rather than just going to a direct election and scrap the electoral college? Wouldn’t that per force be the most democratic solution?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  38. Rick Almeida says:

    @David M:

    Fair enough, but I think it’s important not to elide the two issues.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  39. EddieInCA says:

    @Rick Almeida:

    Anyone who mentions “gerrymandering” should be clear to specify a completely objective way of drawing House districts.

    Simple actually. Divide the amount of voting age citizens in a given state, as per the most recent census, by the number of house districts. Each district must have the same population, within .5%.

    That way, each district, within a state, would be equal in population, if not geography.

    Using Pennsylvania as an example, it has 12.605 million resident. Let’s assume they’re all voting age for this experiment. With 20 equally populated districts, you’d have districts with 630K people in each.

    Philadelphia alone would equal 2.5 districts by itself. That’s more than the next 20 Pennsylvania towns COMBINED.

    In Doug’s world, Pittsburg (305K people) should be equal to Philadelphia (1.526 Million) in terms of voting for the next President.

    Philadelphia 1,526,006
    Pittsburgh 305,704
    Allentown 118,032
    Erie 101,786
    Reading 88,082
    Upper Darby 82,795
    Scranton 76,089
    Bensalem 60,427
    Lancaster 59,322
    Lower Merion 57,825
    Bethlehem 55,639
    Abington 55,310
    Bristol 54,582
    Millcreek 53,515
    Harrisburg 49,528
    Haverford 48,491
    Lower Paxton 47,360

    The only way it’s fair is to district with equal populations.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  40. Tlaloc says:

    You could make fair districts trivially through a Voronoi style algorithm, the problem is the groupings wouldn’t make any sense except by proximity and so you’d have very disparate populations represented by the elected official.

    Of course we have that now anyway.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voronoi_diagram

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  41. David M says:

    @EddieInCA: I don’t like this idea either, but I’m pretty sure the congressional districts within a single state are similar in population. so Pennsylvania is approx 646k. However, this number isn’t the exactly the same between states.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  42. Lit3Bolt says:

    Meet Doug Mataconis, uncritical Republican hack. If it a policy hurts Democratic voters, it is perfectly allowed in Doug’s universe, because their votes don’t count.

    Doug, here’s a genuine question: Why do you always ascribe pure, governmental, apolitical motives to Republican policies, but constantly question the optics and politics of Democratic ones? Just admit you hate Democrats and love Republicans like the true tribalistic thug that you are.

    “In some sense, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But, if reform is considered at all, the District Method seems to be the way to go. unless it’s for Republican benefit..” — Doug Mataconis

    Your utter disingenuous nature never fails to surprise me. And you know why I never reply? Because you never truly respond.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 5

  43. Lit3Bolt says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Shorter Doug Mataconis: Liberals are mean and because of their meanness I can be even more mean than they are.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 4

  44. Console says:

    The reform should be to get rid of it. Not to try make the electoral college even more convoluted.

    Plus the idea that a system that’s already resulted in a constitutional crisis “ain’t broke” is a bit nonsensical.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  45. mantis says:

    Anyone who mentions “gerrymandering” should be clear to specify a completely objective way of drawing House districts.

    You district with equal populations, and let the partisan chips fall where they may.

    The idea that redistricting to insure that the majority of the population is within a far smaller number of districts than the minority, and thus has far fewer electoral votes allotted to them, is equivalent to all other methods of districting is absurd.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  46. Rick Almeida says:

    @EddieInCA:

    Simple actually. Divide the amount of voting age citizens in a given state, as per the most recent census, by the number of house districts. Each district must have the same population, within .5%.

    Um, that doesn’t say anything about where the district lines are drawn, which is the important thing. US law already requires that House districts contain approximately the same population.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  47. PJ says:

    @Terrye:

    Back in 2008 in Indianapolis more people registered to vote than were even legal to vote. You can thank ACORN for that.

    Actually what that was was fraud committed against ACORN. ACORN can’t throw away voter registrations (if they could that would be really bad, think people registering voters and then throwing away all from one party), so they forward all registrations they get.
    You ought to be happy about this since ACORN paid these people who registered false voters and thus they lost money that could have been spent registering real voters….

    Now, did more vote than there were legal voters? Were there any cases of actual voting fraud, not registration fraud?
    That’s what’s important.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  48. dr says:

    @Doug Mataconis: But of course it isn’t being proposed in those states, which is the point. If the proposition were to do this reform in all states simultaneously it would be good policy for reasons that you gave above. But that isn’t what has been proposed.

    Consider a parallel. Suppose we agree that there is too much money in politics and that donations to candidates should be severely curtailed. There would be good arguments for our view! But those arguments wouldn’t justify a law that curtailed donations to one party but not the other, and such a law wouldn’t be a step toward the reform that we favored.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  49. EddieInCA says:

    @Rick Almeida:

    Rick –

    You’re correct. I was working under the assumption that (if this process was to become law) we would create contiguous, non-gerrymandered, districts, and, as stated above, “let the partisan chips fall where they may”. Because any other way is just a recipe for disaster.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  50. anjin-san says:

    You can thank ACORN for that.

    If I understand what happened there correctly, ACORN had contractors (those annoying guys who bother you outside the supermarket) who get paid per registration submitted. Some of these people made up registrations – they were defrauding ACORN.

    ACORN must, by law submit all registrations.

    So, what we have here is some very low level freelancers committing fraud, and ACORN having to pass the data along because it would be illegal not to.

    THIS is the vast ACORN conspiracy to subvert democracy that the right has been in hysterics about for years.

    You can’t make this stuff up…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  51. Tsar Nicholas says:

    I love the idea of allocating electoral votes by congressional districts.

    Take California, for instance. The Golden State has 58 counties and 53 districts. Generally speaking a large plurality of districts (often a majority) vote for Republicans. Hell, even McCain in 2008 won a large number of them and keep in mind McCain in 2008 basically was a walking cadaver. Yet McCain received not one iota of electoral credit in California, despite obtaining over 5 million ballots in his favor.

    Of course Obama and various Democrat predecessors have won California’s electoral prize on the strength of zombie apocalypses along the coast. In essence a concentrated number of airheaded malcontents in the Bay Area and Los Angeles are responsible for the entirety of the state’s electoral votes. That’s not the sort of democracy we want in a pluralistic republic. Ergo a district-by-district allocation system makes abundant sense.

    As the author points out the reverse of this phenomenon would hold true for high-population GOP states, such as Texas. Everybody gets a fair shake. Power to the people.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  52. Ben Wolf says:

    @Lit3Bolt: Look, I agree that at times Doug can be myopic on certain issues, but calling him a thug is a little over the top. He’s an intelligent, and probably good man who’s relishment of sticking it to liberals sometimes gets the better of him.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  53. Rick Almeida says:

    @EddieInCA:

    You’re correct. I was working under the assumption that (if this process was to become law) we would create contiguous, non-gerrymandered, districts…

    You make it sound simple. :) Lines still must be drawn somewhere, areas are very large, and populations are not evenly distributed throughout states. Micah Altman at Harvard and others have been working on algorithms to do this for a while, and while the programming is far beyond me, I grok enough to say, “woah.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  54. EddieInCA says:

    @Rick Almeida:

    Algorithms? Why?

    What’s wrong with just getting out a census data map and a ruler? :-)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  55. Tlaloc says:

    Of course Obama and various Democrat predecessors have won California’s electoral prize on the strength of zombie apocalypses along the coast. In essence a concentrated number of airheaded malcontents in the Bay Area and Los Angeles are responsible for the entirety of the state’s electoral votes. That’s not the sort of democracy we want in a pluralistic republic.

    You mean one in which the majority wins? Yeah I can tell that’s exactly the kind of democracy you don’t want. California voted dem in the election because it has a lot more dem voters than it does rep voters. What part of this don’t you get?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  56. David M says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: I am sympathetic to the idea that the winner take all electoral vote system has plenty of problems, but how does adding congressional districts to the issue help? I could see some rationality for changing it to be proportional to the popular vote in that state, but this proposal seems solely designed to tilt the electoral college balance towards the GOP.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  57. WR says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: “That’s not the sort of democracy we want.” You mean the kind where the majority of voters win? Got a little news for you, Tsar — the reason Dems win in California is because there’s more of us than there are of Teatards, Fascists, Ku Klux Klanners and Republicans. You got a problem with that? Move to Mississippi.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  58. RW Rogers says:

    Apropos of nothing in particular:

    In 2008, McCain (37% of votes statewide) carried 19 (36%) of 53 California congressional districts. Obama (61% of votes statewide) won 34 (63%).
    In 2004, Bush (44% of votes statewide) carried 22 (42%) California congressional districts. Kerry (54% of votes statewide) won 31 (58%).
    In 2000, Bush (42% of votes statewide) carried 19 (37%) California congressional districts. Gore (53% of votes statewide) won 33 (63%) .

    Source: Swing State Project

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  59. anjin-san says:

    In essence a concentrated number of airheaded malcontents in the Bay Area and Los Angeles

    How many red states would you have to add up to equal the economies of the Bay Area & The LA area? More than a few I would wager.

    Don’t worry dude, we will continue to create the technology that allows a… person such as yourself to have a voice on the internets.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  60. Bennett says:

    It must be interesting to live in a swing state. As a Democrat I have lived in Alabama and Tennessee where my vote meant nothing, and New York, where it still meant nothing. I can see the “idea” behind district allocated electoral voting, as it would benefit my vote more, but I’m all for eliminating the electoral college as it would benefit my vote even more.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  61. Jay Tea says:

    @anjin-san: How many red states would you have to add up to equal the economies of the Bay Area & The LA area? More than a few I would wager.

    Sounds like you’re saying voting power should be based on economic contributions. Or, in other words, the richer you are, the more say you have. Or am I misunderstanding you?

    I don’t really have a strong opinion on this — as Doug pointed out, the Constitution is pretty mute on the matter, deferring it to the states — but I have to say I do find the liberals’ arguments persuasive. Anything that has them so upset they just plain ignore reality and start making shit up. Yeah, I’m looking at you, Eddie in CA, with your “a district that has 250,000 people (75% of which who vote Democratic) and one that has 25,000 (75% of which who vote GOP)” crap. As noted below, districts within a state have to be essentially equal in population, or the courts get involved and make the states fix them — or draw their own lines.

    Anything that has the usual crowd of idiots all howling in protest HAS to have a least a few good points about it.

    J.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  62. Jay Tea says:

    However, I do find this far, far less offensive than the Soros-backed “National Popular Vote” movement where they’re trying to get states to give up their own power and instead allot their electors based on the national popular vote…

    J.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  63. anjin-san says:

    Or am I misunderstanding you?

    Yes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  64. WR says:

    @Jay Tea: Let’s see — Jay Tea hates a plan in which people’s votes count, and loves the one which allows for partisan meddling. What a shock. Because like all Republicans, he loathes democracy. Next up — Jay and his buddies explain why an armed coup by Teatards is what the Constitution means by an election.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  65. Dean says:

    I assume everyone who is appalled by the Pennsylvania plan will be equally appalled by the Democratic gerrymandering here in Illinois.

    As Doug said, it’s politics. To the winners go the spoils. If you don’t like how the winning party is using the law to their benefit, defeat them at the ballot box.

    I like the Pennsylvania plan because all votes would count. In truly Red states or truly Blue states, the election is simply pomp and circumstance. Under this plan, all states would be in play and the winner would be more reflective of the will of the people.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  66. Jay Dubbs says:

    Sounds like a great way to assure that redistricting occurs every 2 years, ala Texas and Tom DeLay. That would be fun. As if we needed even more naked partisanship.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  67. David M says:

    @Dean: That’s the point, congressional districts are a poor way to determine electoral votes. If the idea was just to keep the electoral college but not have places where people feel like their votes don’t count then the easy solution is to award electoral votes proportional to the statewide popular vote results.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  68. Polaris says:

    @David M:

    That’s the point, congressional districts are a poor way to determine electoral votes. If the idea was just to keep the electoral college but not have places where people feel like their votes don’t count then the easy solution is to award electoral votes proportional to the statewide popular vote results.

    That’s not a bad notion, but every state would have to do it. Otherwise the state that does it first looses a lot of political power in a presidential election year (which is a big reason why such a measure failed in CO in 2004).

    -Polaris

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  69. Jay Tea says:

    @anjin-san: Well, then, why else would you bring up “economic clout” on a discussion of electoral college votes? Especially in a way that benefits “your side” in that particular context?

    J.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  70. Jay Tea says:

    @WR: Gee, what a surprise — WR reduces an argument to the point of absurd simplicity, and still misunderstands it. Then he goes for personal insults, because that’s all he can do. Who the hell could have foreseen THAT?

    Back to your kennel, lickspittle.

    J.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  71. samwide says:

    Dave Weigel quotes Thomas Jefferson on the topic of by-district allocation and the Electoral College:

    In 1800, when some states actually divvied up their electoral votes like this [the proposed Pennsylvania plan], Thomas Jefferson wrote to James Monroe with his thoughts about the relative fairness of vote-split plans:

    All agree that an election by districts would be best, if it could be general, but while ten States choose either by their legislatures or by a general ticket, it is folly and worse than folly for the other six not to do it. In these ten States the minority is certainly unrepresented, and their majorities not only have the weight of their whole State in their scale, but have the benefit of so much of our minorities as can succeed at a district election. This is, in fact, ensuring to our minorities the appointment of the government.

    Jefferson didn’t hate the idea of assigning electoral votes by district. “To state it in another form,” he wrote, “it is merely a question whether we will divide the United States into sixteen or one hundred and thirty-seven districts. The latter being more chequered, and representing the people in smaller sections, would be more likely to be an exact representation of their diversified sentiments.” The problem: If every state didn’t divide its votes this way, the system would be a mess, random and unfair. “Representation of a part by great, and part by small sections, would give a result very different from what would be the sentiment of the whole people of the United States, were they assembled together.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  72. Rob in CT says:

    Right, do it nationwide and it’s probably fine (though I’d prefer to simply go pop vote).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  73. Jay Tea says:

    @samwide: I’m seeing the messiness and the randomness if the several states use different methods, but not the unfairness. If each state can pick its own way, and later decide it doesn’t work for them, then they can change it back.

    My objection to the Soros plan is that it is an attempt to do away with the Constitutionally-mandated Electoral College system without actually amending the Constitution. You don’t like the rules? Change ‘em, don’t just ass around with some way to circumvent them because you’re too lazy to do the actual work of changing them.

    J.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  74. snarky bastard says:

    @Tlaloc: yeah, but it would not screw Obama in 2012, and we can’t have that….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  75. snarky bastard says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    “Of course Obama and various Democrat predecessors have won California’s electoral prize on the strength of zombie apocalypses along the coast. In essence a concentrated number of airheaded malcontents in the Bay Area…”

    So we only count the votes of REAL AMERICANS ™ as those urbanites aren’t Americans but some foreign specieis as we all know who live in cities — they aren’t like us….. [/snark]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  76. anjin-san says:

    Well, then, why else would you bring up “economic clout” on a discussion of electoral college votes?

    You are not whining about someone changing the subject on a thread are you? You damn near invented the tactic.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  77. WR says:

    @Jay Tea: The nice thing about your “arguments” is that they never have to be reduced to absurd simplicity.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  78. Aidan says:

    http://plainblogaboutpolitics.blogspot.com/2011/09/mind-reading-and-district-plan.html

    former Obama Administration economist Jared Bernstein, huh

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  79. samwide says:

    @Jay Tea:

    My objection to the Soros plan is that it is an attempt to do away with the Constitutionally-mandated Electoral College system without actually amending the Constitution. You don’t like the rules? Change ‘em, don’t just ass around with some way to circumvent them because you’re too lazy to do the actual work of changing them.

    Ah, the “Soros” plan. Nice move, Jay. I’m guessing that you’re talking about this, The National Popular Vote. But the plan does not circumvent the Electoral College. As has been pointed out, the Constitution leaves it up to the states as to how they will apportion their electors. One could try to make the argument that the compact violates Article 1, Section 10. But I think that argument would fail because the Constitution, as has been said, gives the states plenary power to apportion their electors as they see fit (See, Article 2, Section 1 and the 12th Amendment).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  80. Jay Tea says:

    @samwide: If you actually read what i wrote, you’d see that I used the term ‘circumvent” as opposed to “abolish” — the EC would still exist, it would just be meaningless. And as far as Soros funding it… public record, chum. One of its biggest backers is Jonathon Soros, manager of one of the most popular hedge fund companies — Soros Fund Management — started by his father, George Soros. And SFM is the hedge fund company that broke the Bank of England.

    So yeah, it isn’t a blatantly illegal and unconstitutional move. It’s just scummy as hell, paid for by scumbags. Sorry if that offends you.

    J.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  81. samwide says:

    @Jay Tea:

    Sorry if that offends you.

    Amuses me that it pisses you off is more like it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  82. samwide says:

    @Jay Tea:

    Meant to add:

    Anything that has the usual crowd of idiots all howling in protest HAS to have a least a few good points about it.

    Right on, dude.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  83. Jonathan says:

    If a district has roughly the same number of people (which is required by law — in PA, every district has about 646K people), how does your vote in one district not “count” the same as your vote in another?

    How does that “disenfranchise” voters? Districts are already drawn to reflect population differences. Despite what has been repeated above numerous times, you don’t have districts with vastly different populations.

    You’re entitled to different opinions on whether this is a good policy. But you aren’t entitled to different facts.

    If your best argument is that your vote is worth less than your neighbor from another district within the same state’s vote, you’ve got a problem.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  84. anjin-san says:

    Amuses me that it pisses you off is more like it.

    And here we have what is apparently Jay’s entire reason for living, in a nutshell.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  85. sonmi451 says:

    @Aidan:

    Well, one way to dismiss somebody’s argument is to question their bona fide, or make them up. Of course Bernstein would say that, he’s former Obama’s lackey! Who cares if it’s actually a different Bernstein, right Doug?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  86. Cosmo says:

    Yes, the proposal would benefit Republicans in Pennsylvania, but it would likely benefit Democrats in states like Florida and Texas. In the end, the benefits would probably balance themselves out across the nation…

    Incidentally, a 2009 study found that if the Congressional District Method had been in place nationwide in 2008, President Obama would have still won with an Electoral College allocation of 301-237 instead of the actual allocation of 365-173.

    What if the District Method had been in effect in 2000?That would have given Bush a total of 288 Electoral Votes to Gore’s 250.

    You can’t possibly be this stupid. A 64-vote swing in 2008 doesn’t sound like “balancing out” to me. It sounds like a change that overwhelmingly benefits Republicans. Bush winning an election by 38 EVs despite getting 1% fewer votes nationwide doesn’t sound like it would prevent a constitutional crisis to me. It sounds like it would exacerbate one by doing an even worse job of reflecting the wishes of the electorate.

    I say it again; you cannot possibly be this stupid. You’re obviously reaching to justify a rule change you fully realize is indefensible, but support because it would help Republicans. What a pathetic display.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1