There has been a lot of talk about how the Republicans in Virginia are planning to change the way Virginia's electoral votes are cast and a lot of outrage.
In my view, this is just pissing in the wind as we say in the West. The questions to me are what are the Republicans planning to do, will it work and what can we do to stop it are the only important questions. The Republicans have done many things that are just awful and why we should expect them to not do that now in an attempt to keep their power is just beyond me.
So, a practical primer.
The Republicans in Virigina have introduced a bill which would do the following:
Award one electoral vote to the winner of the Presidential contest in each Congressional District. Award the state's two at-large electoral votes based upon the candidate who won the most Congressional votes, no matter who won the popular vote in the state. While I have seen many comments that the Republicans won't eventually do the latter, my math below shows why they must and they will.
Some Assumptions, which I think are perfectly reasonable, but let me know what you think:
1. No state which voted for Obama last time and in which at least one of the house, senate or governor is going to enact a change like this one. In the HuffPost today the writer makes the mistaken assumption that all states will make the change proposed by Virginia. I can assure you that the Texas legislature will not make this change as it would give 15 electoral votes to Obama that he didn't already have. I can also assure you that California won't make this change since it would give 11 electoral votes to Romney. Neither will any state with a split in the three offices as they will not be able to agree to such a change due to the problems above.
2. What this means is that 45 states and the District of Columbia will not make this change. Either they have split government or the state already voted for the candidate of the party which controls the trifecta and won the state in the Presidential race.
3. The popular vote in these states wasn't even close, the closest being Colorado where Obama won by 5.37%. So, I have assumed that these states will retain their winner take all status and the electoral count from these states will remain unchanged.
4. This will leave the Democratic ticket with 226 electoral votes. (CA, CO, CT, DE, HI, IA, IL, ME, MD, MA,, MN, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NV, OR, RI, VT, WA- 20 states plus DC) This will leave the Republican ticket with 206 electoral votes (AL, AK, AZ, AR,GA, ID, IN, KS, KY, LA, MS, MT, MO, NC, ND, NE, OK, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, WV, WY- 24 states the same ones that Romney got) If the 206 looks familiar for the Republicans, that's because it was Romney's total.
5. Because of the above, the only six states that make a difference are, guess what, the same swing states as were swing states this year, Florida, Michigan Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Virginia with a total of 106 electoral votes. They all have Republican senates, houses and governors. And, they are the only ones that make a difference.
So, let's see what happens if they adopt the Virginia Plan in all six states. I have relied on the Congressional votes as shown at DailyKos. as to what would happen at the Congressional District level if the election were held again in these six states with the Virginia Plan.
The result would be that Democrats would pick up 33 electoral votes (FL-11, MI-5, OH-4, PA-6, VA-4 and WI-3) and the remaining 73 would be won by Republicans.
This makes the electoral college 259 for Obama and 279 for Romney. And this shows you why the Republicans must suck it up and have the two at-large electoral votes cast for the winner of the most Congressional Districts. All six states were carried by Obama. They have 12 at-large electoral votes. If the two at-large votes were given to the popular vote winner in the state, the electoral college, even under the Republicans' Virginia Plan would be Obama 271 and Romney 267! The Republicans' plan wouldn't work unless some state swung more than 5% toward the Republican ticket. Not impossible, but improbable.
The other possible variable is that some Congressional Districts would swing from Obama to the Republican. But in an analysis of this, there are only four congressional districts which were won by Obama where he carried less that 54% of the vote, VA-02, Fl-13, 26, 27 (with the last two being Cuban majority districts that are quickly moving into the Democratic Column. There are a dozen districts nationwide where Obama got more than 48% of the votes in the district but still lost the district in the six states where this theft could occur. What I'm saying here, is that it is unlikely that the Republicans could make up for the two state-wide votes by winning more Congressional Districts. Why? Because in the six states in question the Republicans gerrymandered the Congressional Districts so that there are a whole bunch of close, but Republican seats and there are a few Democratic vote sinks in these states.
So, what can you take from all this. Things are not so dire as they seem. The Republicans would have to have the Virginia Plan in all six states (including the at-large electoral votes being cast by the winner of the most Congressional Districts - a very iffy proposition) in order for their plan to work. If they don't do the whole Monte, it does them no good, assuming candidates similar to the candidates that ran this year (and I have to think that the Republicans aren't going to get someone so "moderately' perceived as Mitt Romney.
As we all know, Republicans are long term thinkers. It took them nearly 20 years to get to a Republican Congress and a Republican President where they could really do some damage. As we all know, the Deomcrats aren't long term thinkers. It's sort of each candidate for him/herself. Only Governor ___ had the 50 state plan and not a lot of the movers and shakers believed in it.
That's why, when the Republicans in 2010, knowing that it would probably already be a good year for them targeted Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. By winning the Governerships and the legislatures in these traditionally Democratic states they were able to Gerry-mander the Congressional Districts in these 4 and two other reliably Repoublican states (Virginia and Florida) and achieve a majority in the US House even in spite of their losses in 2012 and prepare themselves for the eventuality of what has happened to their hopes on the Presidential level (Dems routinely winning by millions of votes and winning 5 of the last 6 electoral college votes - Gore carried Florida, we all know it).
This should provide some suggestions for the Democrats over the next 8 years.
1. In the close Congressional Districts in Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginai and Washington, you should be going balls to the wall to party build. This includes recruiting good Congressional candidates and spending whatever it takes to have them win in 2014. You can rest assured that the Republicans will be doing likewise.
2. You need to concentrate on gubernatorial elections in these six states between now and 2022. You must win them all. Again, lots of money, good candidates, good work by elected candidates. You can't afford to fuck up.
3. You need to work on the legislatures in each of these six states and other states which might be in play for the next census (like Colorado, Nevada, NH and maybe places like AZ). The reality is even if you have the governors of these states, the most you can hope for is a "fair" redistricting. You will need to get the legislature and governor back in all of these states to reverse this horrible legislation. You might pick up a few seats in redistricting with a "fair" plan, but a plan gerrymandered the Democratic way in all six of these states would probably result in a minimum of 20 seats in the US House and 20 electoral votes and will put Democrats well on their way to being a long-term majority party. This means, yes, you need to play in state legislative races in these six states and other states where at some point in the near future the Republicans might have a chance for the trifects. This means party building in a lot of places, and not just for two years. This needs to be a twenty year plan, just like the Republicans was.
4. Does anyone really believe that the Democrats will do better if they control the Presidency, Congress and the Senate. Exhibit A would be Harry Reid and the faux filibuster reform that won't do anything. The answer is no. You've got to build your party brand. Shit like the filibuster makes a difference now and for the future. As long as people believe that neither party can get anything done, Democrats will never become a long-term majority party. Hell, this is the reason I am still not a Democrat. Democrats don't know how to finish. They don't know how to stomp the opposition when its down. They don't know how to use their power. At least Republicans, as crazy as they are, know how to do these things. It's time for some forceful leadership in the House and Senate which punishes people who don't tow the line. And if Harry Reid won't do it, then its time for someone else.
5. Take a lesson from Colorado Democrats. They may not be the most liberal, but they know how to win elections. They know how to punish people who don't toe the line (term limits helps too). They know how to get shit done, even stuff I never thought they'd have the stomach for like the DREAM Act and Civil Unions.
6. You know, coordinated money does make a difference, even in spite of the failures of Karl Rove and company in 2012. Their failures only prove that money has its limits and that the American voters have their limits as to what kind of crazy they will elect to Congress and the Senate. We've had coordinated money in Colorado for years. It's one of the reasons Democrats have been so successful in a state that 20 years ago when I was Jefferson County Republican Chairman was solidly Republican. Now, not so much. So, but on your big girl panties and forget about all this Citizens United weeping and how bad PAC and big money is. You've got to have enough to compete. You don't have to outspend them, but you do have to have a coordinated message. That means not just state-wide, but nationwide. Obama blew it by not nationalizing this election. Remember the Contract on America? It worked even though no part of it was ever passed by the House. To do this you have to have coordinated money. You can do it, we did it in Colorado. Any, you also have to sometimes ignore your candidates who aren't wearing their big girl panties. Candidates don't always know what's best for them and consultants don't always know either. Get the people behind the scenes who don't has a particular loyalty to any candidate and who don't make any money from candidates. Get them to do it. It works.
7. Which reminds me. seek out "Republican" friends or Republicans who have left the party and are so disgusted that they want the "Republican" Party today to go the way of the Whigs. Seek out former office holders or those of us who pulled the strings in the background. We can help you win, and a lot of us will.
8. Democrats have to quit the shit of "all for one." It's got to be "one for all." There are so few Democrats left in Republican leaning seats that they really don't matter any more. Nationalize elections and I bet Democrats pick up more Republican seats than they lose Democratic seats.
There's your plan. Now quit wringing your hands and get it done. If you do, one day I might just become a Democrat, becuase the Democrats will have earned my party affiliation.