Electoral College

 

The GOP Opportunity in Electoral College Reform

December 14, 2012 By Paul  Murphy

There  is a pre-groundswell mutter coming from the Democrat media right now about  calling a constitutional convention to get rid of the electoral  college — with the not so hidden agenda of removing a few other  impediments to their policies, including the Second Amendment, term limits, and  the constitution’s “stupidest  clause” (the one Obama does not meet requiring the American president to  have two American parents).

The  electoral college, which meets on Monday the 17th to ratify Obama’s  election, consists of one member for each congressional district, one member for  each senator, and three members from the District of Columbia.  As things  stand, almost all states award electoral college votes on a winner-take-all  basis — all of Florida’s 29 votes will, for example, go to Obama despite the  4.1 million (49.6% of major candidate votes counted) Romney earned  there.

The  exceptions are Maine and Nebraska, which select two electors based on the  statewide vote and the remainder on the vote in each congressional  district.

In  most cases, the people who will actually cast electoral college votes are  nominated by state-level party organizations — thus, Idaho’s 4 delegates will  all be Republicans, and Pennsylvania’s 20 will all be trusted  Democrats.

As  I’ve noted in a previous American Thinker essay, Obama won his majority (and the Senate)  despite losing nearly two thirds of the country to Romney by counting  overwhelming majorities in a relative handful of densely populated precincts  largely unreachable by GOP campaigners.

In  local contests, however, and in states without densely populated enclaves of the  very rich or very poor, the GOP generally won — nicely holding the House while  making gains at the state level.

Reinforced  state-level GOP reach offers the opportunity to head off attempts by those in  control of the federal Democratic party to create and use public distaste for  the electoral college as a lever to open the Constitution to change.  More  subtly, however, there may also be an opportunity to achieve something positive  by jumping on the bandwagon being put together by the Democrats long enough, and  hard enough, to gently lead it where they won’t want to go.

Specifically,  the GOP can recognize that choosing who votes in the electoral college and  making the rules on how that vote is allocated are state, not federal,  responsibilities — and therefore launch a national campaign to leave the Constitution alone while  eliminating electoral college inequities by having every state adopt a minor  modification on the Maine/Nebraska model: one in which each state assigns its  electoral votes to the most recent winners in House and Senate  races.

The  electoral effect would be to greatly reduce the number of people whose votes  don’t count in the electoral college.  For example, under the new system,  Florida’s 29 electoral votes would be split 18:11 in Romney’s favor instead of  going wholly to Obama — and the number of Florida voters whose choice is not  represented in the electoral college would drop from over four million to a few  hundred thousand.

The  political effect, of course, would be to very nearly guarantee that an incoming  president and the House majority represent the same party.

The  Democrats will argue that this reduces the value of an individual presidential  vote in their most densely populated enclaves, while increasing the value of a  presidential vote cast by a bitter clinger — and they’ll be politically right,  because that is exactly what would happen, but morally wrong because this is  actually good, not bad, for democracy.

The  reason is because a fair election requires the electorate to listen to both  sides and make an informed choice between them.  Anything else is unfair —  an electoral sham disenfranchising the voters involved by turning them into  puppets who nominally vote but have neither the information nor the freedom to  make informed decisions.

In  that context, most House races seem fair, as does the 2012 presidential race  outside those areas where Obama won nearly unanimous support — in those  communities, whether rich or poor, Hollywood or academia, questioning Democrat orthodoxy can  be severely career-limiting or even physically dangerous.

As  a result, surveys conducted  for John Ziegler after the 2008 elections showed that only about 2% of Obama  supporters could correctly answer at least 11 of 12 pretty basic questions about  the man and the policies they voted for — but 35% of McCain voters got all 12  right.

The  reason Democrats build and enforce conservative no-go zones in densely populated  precincts is because the massive majorities counted there will overwhelm  statewide counts to give them the Senate and White House.  The proposed  reform takes the White House out of this calculation and, by doing so, both  drives enormous improvements in the informational content of the presidential  vote and dramatically undermines the Democrat political incentive to isolate  voters from the mainstream of American life.

Bottom  line?  A successful nationwide effort to have states allocate their  electoral college votes to their own senators and newly elected representatives  would produce significant improvement in overall electoral fairness without risking constitutional  change — while contributing, at least in the longer term, to the empowerment of  key democratic communities by weakening the political incentives driving the  Democratic Party’s de facto disenfranchisement of its own most loyal  constituencies.

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