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2008 presidential results by congressional district

My colleague David Waldman discussed this story earlier today, but it's a big enough deal that it really needs to get hit again. David's take focused on the hypocrisy of those who view the filibuster as sacrosanct but are ready to play games with the electoral college for rank partisan purposes. In this post, I'm going to take a look at what these latest Republican shenanigans would mean for our system of electing presidents. And man, I do not like the sound of this one bit:

A new proposal is pushing the often-forgotten Electoral College into the spotlight as Pennsylvania officials ponder the state's role in next year's presidential race.

Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi is trying to gather support to change the state's "winner-takes-all" approach for awarding electoral votes. Instead, he's suggesting that Pennsylvania dole them out based on which candidate wins each of the 18 congressional districts, with the final two going to the contender with the most votes statewide.

So far, the idea has received support from colleagues of the Delaware County Republican in the state House and from Republican Gov. Tom Corbett. But Democrats, who have carried the state in presidential contests since 1992, said the shift would erode Pennsylvania's clout.

Put simply, awarding electoral votes by congressional district would be a disaster for Democrats. Democratic voters tend to be much more concentrated in urban areas while Republican voters are typically more spread out. That means that the average blue seat is much bluer than the average red seat is red, which in turn means that there are more Republican-leaning districts than Democratic-inclined CDs.

Here's one stark illustration. John McCain's best district in the nation was TX-13, which occupies the Texas panhandle. He won there by 77-23, a 54 percent margin. By contrast, there were 39 districts that Barack Obama won by an equal or bigger spread, all the way up to his 90-point victory in New York's 16th Congressional District in the South Bronx.

More concretely, if Pennsylvania's proposed system were in place nationwide, Obama's 365-173 electoral college romp would have been a much tighter 301-237 win. Meanwhile, George W. Bush's narrow 286-251 victory over John Kerry would have turned into a 317-221 blowout. And just as bad, Bush's razor-thin 271-266 margin over Al Gore would have been a more comfortable 288-250 spread for Dubya, making Gore's "loss" despite winning the national popular vote even more galling.

Republicans haven't won Pennsylvania, a blue-tilting state, since 1988, so this move makes cold political sense for them, now that they control both the legislature and the governor's mansion. Indeed, in 2008, Barack Obama won the state by 10 points but actually lost a majority of PA's congressional districts; thanks to denser Democratic living patterns noted above, plus a Republican gerrymander, John McCain won 10 of the state's 19 CDs. With the GOP poised to install an even more favorable congressional map thanks to redistricting, this calculus only tilts further in their favor.

While in theory this proposal could "backfire" if the Republican nominee were to win an outright majority of the popular vote in Pennsylvania, it almost certainly wouldn't matter at that point, since it's hard to imagine Obama winning reelection if he doesn't capture the Keystone State. Therefore, it's almost certainly in the GOP's interest to pursue this plan. Republicans could also move forward with similar proposals in Michigan and Wisconsin, two more sizable blue/blue-ish states where they also control all the levers of power. (Conceivably Florida and Ohio could be on the table as well, but I suspect most Republican paths to the White House require outright GOP victory in both of those states.)

In my view, the electoral college is already bad enough for a whole host of reasons. The congressional district method, though, makes an unfair system even less fair. And it's bad whether just Pennsylvania adopts this plan, or even if the entire nation were to use it. (Two small states already employ the CD system, Maine and Nebraska, but until Obama's unlikely victory in NE-02 in 2008, they'd never split their EVs.)

I think the only way to fight back is to push for the national popular vote, something which can be achieved via an interstate compact between states. The states in the compact would all award their EVs to the winner of the national vote, but the law would only take effect once enough states signed on (i.e., states with 270 electoral votes between them). Several states have already signed on (including big boppers like California and Illinois), and this way, no constitutional amendment is necessary.

If the GOP presses forward with their Pennsylvania plan, we'll have to respond somehow, and I think the national popular vote is the best plan. The only good news right now is that Republican congressmen in vulnerable districts in PA are reluctant to support the CD system, since they'd risk a full-bore Democratic presidential campaign trying to turn out votes in each of their districts, rather than the state as a whole. Some other Republicans think they can win Pennsylvania outright next year and feel that this legislation would constitute throwing in the towel. So we may get lucky and the GOP may decide not to go through with this. But we need to stay very much on guard, even if there is not much we can do in the short term to thwart this.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Abolish the electoral college (17+ / 0-)

    We should be able to elect the President by popular vote.  We don't need "representatives" to vote for us.

    This is a perfect example of an old system that worked over 200 years ago but doesn't make sense any more.

    •  amen. let's have a democracy. (6+ / 0-)

      The Founding Fathers, of course, did not WANT a democracy, which is why neither Presidents nor Senators were directly elected, and why only white male property-owners (about 5% of the population) had the right to vote in the first place.

      It's time to end all that. Indeed it is way PAST time to end all that.

      •  and if we're gonna change the electoral system, (9+ / 0-)

        then let's have proportional representation like every other civilized nation does, so we no longer have two virtually indistinguishable parties "representing" over 300 million different people.

        •  Let's get rid of the Senate, too. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Liberaltarian, acnetj

          I've never understood how in a democracy, a small group of 50 million people can thwart the will of the remaining 270 million.

          The 563,000 people in Wyoming have just as much power in the Senate as 37 million people in California.

          That means that it takes 70 Californians to equal one Wyomingan in the Senate.

          Let's have proportional representation in both houses.

          •  You're Right - Let's elect Boehner Prime Minister! (0+ / 0-)

            The electoral college and the split between the Senate & House were set up the way they are for a reason.  The small states feared having their interests and rights trampled by their larger brethren.  If we went to a pure democratic vote for the Presidency no one would campaign in most of the midwest & rocky states - their interests would be sacrificed to the interests of California, Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, etc.  Over time, as the small states interests were ignored you are setting up an  unintended consequence of giving them a rationale to secede from the Union since their interests would necessarily be ignored for the "greater good".

            And if you are all so fired up about Democracy wouldn't it have been great to have Prime Minister Pelosi replaced by Prime Minister Boehner last fall?

            •  2/3rds Ignored Now (0+ / 0-)

              The current system of electing the president ensures that the candidates, after the primaries, do not reach out to all of the states and their voters. 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. The reason for this is the state-by-state winner-take-all method (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but since enacted by 48 states), under which all of a state's electoral votes are awarded to the candidate who gets the most votes in each separate state.

              Presidential candidates concentrate their attention on only the current handful of closely divided "battleground" states and their voters.  There is no incentive for them to bother to care about the majority of states where they are hopelessly behind or safely ahead to win.  9 of the original 13 states are considered “fly-over” now. In the 2012 election, pundits and campaign operatives agree already, that, at most, only 14 states and their voters will matter. None of the 10 most rural states will matter, as usual.  Almost 75% of the country will be ignored --including 19 of the 22 lowest population and medium-small states, and 17 medium and big states like CA, GA, NY, and TX.  This will be more obscene than the 2008 campaign, when 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).  In 2004, candidates concentrated over 2/3rds of their money and campaign visits in 5 states; over 80% in 9 states; and over 99% of their money in 16 states.  

              2/3rds of the states and people have been merely spectators to the presidential election. That's more than 85 million voters ignored.  

              Policies important to the citizens of ‘flyover’ states are not as highly prioritized as policies important to ‘battleground’ states when it comes to governing.

        •  And instead subject ourselves to the madness (0+ / 0-)

          of 40+ parties?

          •  No Historical Evidence of Party Proliferation (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Gary J, Tastes Like Chicken

            If an Electoral College type of arrangement were essential for avoiding a proliferation of candidates and people being elected with low percentages of the vote, we should see evidence of these conjectured apocalyptic outcomes in elections that do not employ such an arrangement.  In elections in which the winner is the candidate receiving the most votes throughout the entire jurisdiction served by that office, historical evidence shows that there is no massive proliferation of third-party candidates and candidates do not win with small percentages. For example, in 905 elections for governor in the last 60 years, the winning candidate received more than 50% of the vote in over 91% of the elections. The winning candidate received more than 45% of the vote in 98% of the elections. The winning candidate received more than 40% of the vote in 99% of the elections. No winning candidate received less than 35% of the popular vote.

            Since 1824 there have been 16 presidential elections in which a candidate was elected or reelected without gaining a majority of the popular vote.--  including Lincoln (1860), Wilson (1912, and 1916), Truman (1948), Kennedy (1960), Nixon (1968), and Clinton (1992 and 1996).

            If the National Popular Vote bill were to become law, it would not change the need for candidates to build a winning coalition across demographics. Any candidate who yielded, for example, the 16% of Americans who live in rural areas in favor of a "big city" approach would not likely win the national popular vote. Candidates would still have to appeal to a broad range of demographics, and perhaps even more so, because the election wouldn't be capable of coming down to just one demographic, such as voters in Ohio.

      •  I do not believe that property ownership (0+ / 0-)

        or white or male is enshrined in the Constitution.

        In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; but in practice, there always is a difference. - Yogi Berra

        by blue aardvark on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 01:24:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  It didn't even work 200 years ago (5+ / 0-)

      The Electoral College never worked the way it was intended. The Founders did not anticipate political parties, nor did they anticipate many truly "national" leaders beyond George Washington. They expected that every four years, different states and regions would propose different candidates, and the Electoral College would narrow the field such that the House would elect a president.

      It was also a concession to slave states, as they received substantially more representation in the Electoral College than they would have through a popular vote.

      The system broke down within 12 years in the 1800 Election. At that point it was reformed so that different votes were cast for president and vice president. But even then people began calling for a direct vote.

    •  Remember they tried this... (0+ / 0-)

      In California in 2007, attempting to put it on that state's Super Tuesday primary ballot as a proposition. But once the signatures were checked following the petition drive, many "irregularities" showed up.

      Had that initiative been approved, and had it passed on Primary Day, it is estimated that up to 19 of California's electoral votes would have gone to John McCain--and the prospect of that definitely would have resulted in him campaigning in California FAR more than either he or Sarah Palin did in the fall of 2008.

      "Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it."--George Santayana

      by GainesT1958 on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 02:34:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Popular Vote for sure (14+ / 0-)

    the 2000 election is proof of why.  I hate the swing state mentality, where all the resources go to those places and nothing for the rest of the country.

    •  To play devil's advocate, (4+ / 0-)

      2000 is often used as the strongest argument against moving to a popular vote system. Recall that Florida's tiny margin gave rise to recounts, fake riots, and wounds that are still open 11 years later. Recall as well that, had we been under a popular vote system and the election had turned out similarly (not a given, but go with it for the sake of example), Gore would have won by a razor-thin 500,000 votes. This would have led to recounts, riots, and open wounds in all 50 states rather than just the one that was too close to count.

      But I hate the swing-state mentality as well, and would love to see how campaigns would change if every vote counted.

      With every goddess a let down, every idol a bring down, it gets you down / but the search for perfection, your own predilection, goes on and on and on. . .

      by cardinal on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 12:43:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Fear of recounts isn't a good enough reason (7+ / 0-)

        to avoid the truest representation of the will of the American people.  It's a good enough reason to devise more accurate ways of counting the first time.

        •  Go ahead... we are waiting (0+ / 0-)

          And while you are at it, don't forget things like Palm Beach and the butterfly ballot.

          Imagine a nationwide search for things like that with both sides pointing out their examples and demanding do overs, vote adjustments, etc.

          •  Recounts FAR more likely in Current System (0+ / 0-)

            The 2000 presidential election was an artificial crisis created because of Bush's lead of 537 popular votes in Florida. Gore's nationwide lead was 537,179 popular votes (1,000 times larger). Given the miniscule number of votes that are changed by a typical statewide recount (averaging only 274 votes), no one would have requested a recount or disputed the results in 2000 if the national popular vote had controlled the outcome. Indeed, no one (except perhaps almanac writers and trivia buffs) would have cared that one of the candidates happened to have a 537-vote margin in Florida.

            Recounts are far more likely in the current system of state-by-state winner-take-all methods.

            The possibility of recounts should not even be a consideration in debating the merits of a national popular vote. No one has ever suggested that the possibility of a recount constitutes a valid reason why state governors or U.S. Senators, for example, should not be elected by a popular vote.

            The question of recounts comes to mind in connection with presidential elections only because the current system so frequently creates artificial crises and unnecessary disputes.

            A nationwide recount would not happen. We do and would vote state by state. Each state manages its own election and recount. The state-by-state winner-take-all system is not a firewall, but instead causes unnecessary fires.

            Given that there is a recount only once in about 160 statewide elections, and given there is a presidential election once every four years, one would expect a recount about once in 640 years under the National Popular Vote approach. The actual probability of a close national election would be even less than that because recounts are less likely with larger pools of votes.

            The average change in the margin of victory as a result of a statewide recount was a mere 296 votes in a 10-year study of 2,884 elections.

            No recount would have been warranted in any of the nation’s 56 previous presidential elections if the outcome had been based on the nationwide count.

            The common nationwide date for meeting of the Electoral College has been set by federal law as the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December.  Under both the current system and the National Popular Vote approach, all counting, recounting, and judicial proceedings must be conducted so as to reach a "final determination" prior to the meeting of the Electoral College.  In particular, the U.S. Supreme Court has made it clear that the states are expected to make their "final determination" six days before the Electoral College meets.

            •  Not clear to me that a recount is more likely in (0+ / 0-)

              the current system.

              A recount in the current system requires a state with a close enough popular vote to change in a recount and that the electoral vote be close enough that that state flipping could change the vote.

              Obviously, with 51 states (including DC) you are more likely to have a close vote in one of them, but what are the odds that the electoral vote is also close enough for that state to flip the result?

              With popular vote, all you need is a close enough national popular vote.

      •  why should my vote (6+ / 0-)

        for president count less than someone who lives in say, alaska?

      •  500,000 votes isn't razor thin (7+ / 0-)

        Basic statistics illustrates that the larger the sample size, the smaller the error rate. Had Florida's margin not been an issue, Gore would have won by over 500,000 votes - there is no statistical probability that number would have been overturned by a nationwide recount. In fact, there isn't a single American election in the last 100 years that would have gone to a recount.*  

        Moreover, if you HAVE to have a recount, there's no reason you couldn't. If you have national ballot standards, and clear guidelines for how to conduct a recount, there's no reason it couldn't work.

      •  Disagree completely with the devil's advocate. (3+ / 0-)

        500,000 is a respectable, statistically-significant margin.
        The idea that we would have had riots in all states is really stretching.  But speaking of small margins, Bush's margin in Florida was  only 537 votes for the entire state.  

        It's the Supreme Court, stupid!

        by Radiowalla on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 01:06:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Gore beat Bush by 0.5% (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sandy on Signal

        Have you ever seen a recount overturn a half-percent lead?

      •  This is one of the best justifications for the (0+ / 0-)

        electoral college.

        The other justifications are as follows:

        (1) The current system is too entrenched to be changed. Therefore, talking about establishing a national popular vote will never result in any real change.

        (2) The electoral college helps to prevent the type of regionalism seen in countries like Brazil and Mexico which have a national popular vote.

        (3) The electoral college creates an incentive for voters to stay away from idealogical extremes. (Hear that, Utah and Massachusetts? The further to the extremes you go, the less attention you get from the federal government.)

        •  All of them are terrible. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MPociask

          The one posted shows a basic misunderstanding of statistics.

          1) is the counsel of despair. It's just meaningless -- a self-perpetuating prophecy.

          2) If a country is regionally distinct -- then democracy demands that it's politics be regional. Number 2 is simply an argument against democracy per se, simply cloaked.

          3) Once again, is simply an argument against democracy. If the "voters" have a spectrum of votes, by eliminating that spectrum you put government in the hand of the tiny minority that sits in the so-called middle. Given a multidimensional spectrum, the few folks who can corral a center are absolutely minute. The system then works simply to filter out democracy while claiming democracy.

          Just terrible and completely anti-intellectual. But firmly in the tradition of provincial oligarchs who had libraries of seven books -- eh?

        •  49% of the way towards enacting NPV (0+ / 0-)

          In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state's electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided).  Support is strong among Republican voters, Democratic voters, and independent voters, as well as every demographic group surveyed in virtually every state surveyed in recent polls in closely divided battleground states: CO - 68%, FL - 78%, IA 75%, MI - 73%, MO - 70%, NH - 69%, NV - 72%, NM-- 76%, NC - 74%, OH - 70%, PA - 78%, VA - 74%, and WI - 71%; in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): AK - 70%, DC - 76%, DE - 75%, ID - 77%, ME - 77%, MT - 72%, NE 74%, NH - 69%, NV - 72%, NM - 76%, OK - 81%, RI - 74%, SD - 71%, UT - 70%, VT - 75%, WV - 81%, and WY - 69%; in Southern and border states: AR - 80%,, KY- 80%, MS - 77%, MO - 70%, NC - 74%, OK - 81%, SC - 71%, TN - 83%, VA - 74%, and WV - 81%; and in other states polled: CA - 70%, CT - 74%, MA - 73%, MN - 75%, NY - 79%, OR - 76%, and WA - 77%.  Americans believe that the candidate who receives the most votes should get elected.  

          The National Popular Vote bill has passed 31 state legislative chambers, in 21 small, medium-small, medium, and large states, including one house in AR, CT, DE, DC, ME, MI, NV, NM, NY, NC, and OR, and both houses in CA, CO, HI, IL, NJ, MD, MA, RI, VT, and WA. The bill has been enacted by DC (3), HI (4), IL (19), NJ (14), MD (11), MA (10), CA (55), VT (3), and WA (13). These 9 jurisdictions possess 132 electoral votes -- 49% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.

          http://www.NationalPopularVote.com

        •  Current System Encourages Regional Candidates (0+ / 0-)

          The current state-by-state winner-take-all system encourages regional candidates.  A third-party candidate has 51 separate opportunities to shop around for states that he or she can win or affect the results. Minor-party candidates have significantly affected the outcome in six (40%) of the 15 presidential elections in the past 60 years (namely the 1948, 1968, 1980, 1992, 1996, and 2000 presidential elections).   Candidates such as John Anderson (1980), Ross Perot (1992 and 1996), and Ralph Nader (2000) did not win a plurality of the popular vote in any state, but managed to affect the outcome by switching electoral votes in numerous particular states. Extremist candidacies as Strom Thurmond and George Wallace won a substantial number of electoral votes in numerous states.

      •  Recounts More Likely Under Current System (0+ / 0-)

        One person, one vote.  The candidate with the most votes wins.  A bare plurality is all that is needed in virtually every election in the U.S.

        The 2000 presidential election was an artificial crisis created because of Bush's lead of 537 popular votes in Florida. Gore's nationwide lead was 537,179 popular votes (1,000 times larger). Given the miniscule number of votes that are changed by a typical statewide recount (averaging only 274 votes), no one would have requested a recount or disputed the results in 2000 if the national popular vote had controlled the outcome. Indeed, no one (except perhaps almanac writers and trivia buffs) would have cared that one of the candidates happened to have a 537-vote margin in Florida.

        Recounts are far more likely in the current system of state-by-state winner-take-all methods.

        The possibility of recounts should not even be a consideration in debating the merits of a national popular vote. No one has ever suggested that the possibility of a recount constitutes a valid reason why state governors or U.S. Senators, for example, should not be elected by a popular vote.

        The question of recounts comes to mind in connection with presidential elections only because the current system so frequently creates artificial crises and unnecessary disputes.

        A nationwide recount would not happen. We do and would vote state by state. Each state manages its own election and recount. The state-by-state winner-take-all system is not a firewall, but instead causes unnecessary fires.

        Given that there is a recount only once in about 160 statewide elections, and given there is a presidential election once every four years, one would expect a recount about once in 640 years under the National Popular Vote approach. The actual probability of a close national election would be even less than that because recounts are less likely with larger pools of votes.

        The average change in the margin of victory as a result of a statewide recount was a mere 296 votes in a 10-year study of 2,884 elections.

        No recount would have been warranted in any of the nation’s 56 previous presidential elections if the outcome had been based on the nationwide count.

        The common nationwide date for meeting of the Electoral College has been set by federal law as the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December.  Under both the current system and the National Popular Vote approach, all counting, recounting, and judicial proceedings must be conducted so as to reach a "final determination" prior to the meeting of the Electoral College.  In particular, the U.S. Supreme Court has made it clear that the states are expected to make their "final determination" six days before the Electoral College meets.

    •  Yes, especially this (8+ / 0-)

      My vote in Chicago doesn't count for squat.  Obama will take Illinois.  I would love to be motivating people right here in Obama's home state, among his base, and be able to tell them that their votes count.

      “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

      by ivorybill on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 12:45:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The GOP uses everything to take power and obstruct (16+ / 0-)

    Filibuster
    Debt ceiling
    Redistricting
    Electoral college

  •  Get labor involved... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CA Nana

    Certainly there are a decent number of state senators in those same swing districts--enough to thwart this idea.  There also seems to be a lot of pushback from the state party as well.  They don't like it at all, apparently, and there's a quote form the RNC who doesn't like it either.  Even one of the people supporting it thinks it could backfire on them.

    GODSPEED TO THE WISCONSIN FOURTEEN!

    by LordMike on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 12:38:21 PM PDT

  •  We need to do this right. (0+ / 0-)

    A national popular vote is a bad idea. Any individual state can jigger voting registration requirements and poll closings to boost their own vote total.

    We should try to get each state to award their EVs based on the percentage of the popular vote within that state.

    Congressional districts are bad because they can be gerrymandered.

    •  Obama won by millions of votes. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vidanto, CA Nana, MPociask, cybersaur

      No one state can jugger voting laws enough to really impact that.

      One should no more deplore homosexuality than left-handedness. ~Towards a Quaker View of Sex, 1964 (Proud left-handed queer here!) SSP: wmlawman

      by AUBoy2007 on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 12:57:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  true, in a solid victory such as Obama's (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ManhattanMan

        that is the case. Obama would have won by any of the methods proposes: the current electoral college, weighted electoral votes, or the straight up national popular vote.

        What about closer elections?

        Also, note that the Republicans had to focus on swing states while at the same time Obama has a huge number of volunteers who probably helped run up the totals in some less critical states. In the case of the national popular vote the Republicans would have likely allocated their resources differently and perhaps reduced the popular vote somewhat.  

        Obama won by millions of votes. No one state can jugger voting laws enough to really impact that.
    •  already we have problems... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ManhattanMan
      A national popular vote is a bad idea. Any individual state can jigger voting registration requirements and poll closings to boost their own vote total.

      Not just jigger to boost their vote totals, we have drastically different voting systems currently. For instance, all absentee voting in WA and OR contrasted with states which allow very little absentee voting! Even if states aren't intentionally trying to run up their totals we would have to resolve those differences in order to make this fair...

      •  States Have Exclusive Control of Their Elections (0+ / 0-)

        The Founding Fathers and the U.S. Constitution permits states to conduct elections in varied ways.

        The Founding Fathers left the choice of method for selecting presidential electors exclusively to the states by adopting the language contained in section 1 of Article II of the U.S. Constitution-- "Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors . . ."   The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly characterized the authority of the state legislatures over the manner of awarding their electoral votes as "plenary" and "exclusive."

        Neither the current system nor the National Popular Vote compact permits any state to get involved in judging the election returns of other states.  Existing federal law (the "safe harbor" provision in section 5 of title 3 of the United States Code) specifies that a state's "final determination" of its presidential election returns is "conclusive"(if done in a timely manner and in accordance with laws that existed prior to Election Day).  

        Current federal law (Title 3, chapter 1, section 6 of the United States Code) requires the states to report the November popular vote numbers (the "canvas") in what is called a "Certificate of Ascertainment." They list the electors and the number of votes cast for each.  The Congress meets in joint session to count the electoral votes reported in the Certificates of Ascertainment. You can see the Certificates of Ascertainment for all 50 states and the District of Columbia containing the official count of the popular vote at the NARA web site

        •  And doesn't that make things interesting!?! (0+ / 0-)
          Neither the current system nor the National Popular Vote compact permits any state to get involved in judging the election returns of other states.

          So say Nebraska announces that the Republican candidate won by 1 billion votes to 1 million?

          And then DC says that the Democrat won by 1 trillion votes to 1 billion?

          Can you imagine the gaming in deep Red/Blue states with vote totals if each state gets to decide its own numbers?!?

    •  That is a great idea (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RandomSequence, cybersaur

      If each state tries to get as many voters to the polls as possible the Republicans are doomed.

      In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; but in practice, there always is a difference. - Yogi Berra

      by blue aardvark on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 01:28:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AreDeutz

        Each Republican state will try to block as many liberals from voting as they can.

        Florida purged thousands of Blacks from their voter rolls to influence the 2000 presidential election. A "national popular vote" will reward Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia for doing the same thing.

        Allocating votes by state limits the corruption to that one states EVs. Throwing all the popular votes into a national pool allows "clean" votes to be corrupted and cancelled out by dirty ones.

        •  Current System Maximizes Incentive & Ops (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ManhattanMan

          The current state-by-state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes maximizes the incentive and opportunity for fraud. A very few people can change the national outcome by changing a small number of votes in one closely divided battleground state. With the current system all of a state's electoral votes are awarded to the candidate who receives a bare plurality of the votes in each state. The sheer magnitude of the national popular vote number, compared to individual state vote totals, is much more robust against manipulation.

          Senator Birch Bayh (D-Indiana) summed up the concerns about possible fraud in a nationwide popular election for President in a Senate speech by saying in 1979, "one of the things we can do to limit fraud is to limit the benefits to be gained by fraud. Under a direct popular vote system, one fraudulent vote wins one vote in the return. In the electoral college system, one fraudulent vote could mean 45 electoral votes, 28 electoral votes."

          Neither the current system nor the National Popular Vote compact permits any state to get involved in judging the election returns of other states.  Existing federal law (the "safe harbor" provision in section 5 of title 3 of the United States Code) specifies that a state's "final determination" of its presidential election returns is "conclusive"(if done in a timely manner and in accordance with laws that existed prior to Election Day).  

          Hendrik Hertzberg wrote: "To steal the closest popular-vote election in American history, you'd have to steal more than a hundred thousand votes . . .To steal the closest electoral-vote election in American history, you'd have to steal around 500 votes, all in one state. . . .

          For a national popular vote election to be as easy to switch as 2000, it would have to be two hundred times closer than the 1960 election--and, in popular-vote terms, forty times closer than 2000 itself.

          Which, I ask you, is an easier mark for vote-stealers, the status quo or N.P.V.[National Popular Vote]? Which offers thieves a better shot at success for a smaller effort?"

          •  I see your logic... (0+ / 0-)

            ...but think of it this way.

            To corrupt the National Popular Vote, they will have to steal many more votes. But they will have many more ways to do it. They will have many more allies to help them. They won't steal 500,000 votes in FL. They will disenfranchise 40,000 in AL, contest or throw out 30,000 in GA, close the polls early in (due to a terrorism threat!) in Austin TX, and 100 other tricks and schemes that will add up to the 500k they need.

            Many of these tricks will be 100% legal. State governments legally control voting procedures.

            I don't want my good clean New York vote to get cancelled out because some county sheriff Another State shuts down his polling station early. We can't stop it from happening, but at least we can limit the damage to just one state's EVs.

             

    •  that still isn't fair (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MPociask, ManhattanMan

      because 1 electoral vote of California represents more voters than 1 electoral vote of Iowa, but represents less voters than 1 electoral vote of Florida.

      electoral votes are not equal.  Some of them are not even close.  There is no good justification for not having the president elected popularly on a national scale.

    •  Current System Maximizes Incentive & Ops (0+ / 0-)

      The current state-by-state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes maximizes the incentive and opportunity for fraud. A very few people can change the national outcome by changing a small number of votes in one closely divided battleground state. With the current system all of a state's electoral votes are awarded to the candidate who receives a bare plurality of the votes in each state. The sheer magnitude of the national popular vote number, compared to individual state vote totals, is much more robust against manipulation.

      Senator Birch Bayh (D-Indiana) summed up the concerns about possible fraud in a nationwide popular election for President in a Senate speech by saying in 1979, "one of the things we can do to limit fraud is to limit the benefits to be gained by fraud. Under a direct popular vote system, one fraudulent vote wins one vote in the return. In the electoral college system, one fraudulent vote could mean 45 electoral votes, 28 electoral votes."

      Hendrik Hertzberg wrote: "To steal the closest popular-vote election in American history, you'd have to steal more than a hundred thousand votes . . .To steal the closest electoral-vote election in American history, you'd have to steal around 500 votes, all in one state. . . .

      For a national popular vote election to be as easy to switch as 2000, it would have to be two hundred times closer than the 1960 election--and, in popular-vote terms, forty times closer than 2000 itself.

      Which, I ask you, is an easier mark for vote-stealers, the status quo or N.P.V.[National Popular Vote]? Which offers thieves a better shot at success for a smaller effort?"

    •  If Proportional in 2000, Congress would Decide (0+ / 0-)

      Any state that enacts the proportional approach on its own would reduce its own influence. This was the most telling argument that caused Colorado voters to agree with Republican Governor Owens and to reject this proposal in November 2004 by a two-to-one margin.  

      If the proportional approach were implemented by a state, on its own,, it would have to allocate its electoral votes in whole numbers.  If a current battleground state were to change its winner-take-all statute to a proportional method for awarding electoral votes, presidential candidates would pay less attention to that state because only one electoral vote would probably be at stake in the state.

      If the whole-number proportional approach had been in use throughout the country in the nation’s closest recent presidential election (2000), it would not have awarded the most electoral votes to the candidate receiving the most popular votes nationwide.  Instead, the result would have been a tie of 269–269 in the electoral vote, even though Al Gore led by 537,179 popular votes across the nation.  The presidential election would have been thrown into Congress to decide and resulted in the election of the second-place candidate in terms of the national popular vote.  

      A system in which electoral votes are divided proportionally by state would not accurately reflect the nationwide popular vote and would not make every vote equal.  

       It would penalize states, such as Montana, that have only one U.S. Representative even though it has almost three times more population than other small states with one congressman.  It would penalize fast-growing states that do not receive any increase in their number of electoral votes until after the next federal census.  It would penalize states with high voter turnout (e.g., Utah, Oregon).  

      Moreover, the fractional proportional allocation approach does not assure election of the winner of the nationwide popular vote.  In 2000, for example, it would have resulted in the election of the second-place candidate.  

      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.

  •  National popular vote (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Quantumlogic, CA Nana, AreDeutz

    is really unlikely to happen in time for 2012; however, changing Pennsylvania's electoral college approach might. Really which states would sign up for such a compact and even then would the SCOTUS allow it to stand if a Republican lost because of it?

    •  states are permitted to choose (5+ / 0-)

      how their electors are determined.  Several states have already joined the compact and crazily enough, there are bills introduced in THIS session of the PA legislature, introduced BY REPUBLICANS to join to compact.

      IDK why there is no diary on this.  Pretty soon I am going to write my own from two thousand miles away.

      •  But couldn't a state vote to leave the compact? (0+ / 0-)

        ...and do so right before/after/the exact moment as every other state thinks there is a compact (majority). All it would take is one state to game the system and leave the compact.

        •  Cannot Withdraw close to Election Day (0+ / 0-)

          The National Popular Vote bill says: "Any member state may withdraw from this agreement, except that a withdrawal occurring six months or less before the end of a President’s term shall not become effective until a President or Vice President shall have been qualified to serve the next term."

          Any attempt by a state to pull out of the compact in violation of its terms would violate the Impairments Clause of the U.S. Constitution and would be void.  Such an attempt would also violate existing federal law.  Compliance would be enforced by Federal court action

          •  A law can amend another law (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Tastes Like Chicken

            So they can leave with no notice.

            Any attempt by a state to pull out of the compact in violation of its terms would violate the Impairments Clause of the U.S. Constitution

            You mean this?

            No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.

            1. The compact is not a contract - no consideration so no contract

            2. Pulling out would break a contract, not impair the obligation of contracts

            3. The SC would almost certainly rule that this was not a justiciable question.

            •  SC said "A compact is, after all, a contract" (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Tastes Like Chicken

              The National Popular Vote compact is, first of all, a state law. It is a state law that would govern the manner of choosing presidential electors. A Secretary of State may not ignore or override the National Popular Vote law any more than he or she may ignore or override the winner-take-all method that is currently the law in 48 states.

              There has never been a court decision allowing a state to withdraw from an interstate compact without following the procedure for withdrawal specified by the compact. Indeed, courts have consistently rebuffed the occasional (sometimes creative) attempts by states to evade their obligations under interstate compacts.

              In 1976, the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland stated in Hellmuth and Associates v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority:

              “When enacted, a compact constitutes not only law, but a contract which may not be amended, modified, or otherwise altered without the consent of all parties.”

              In 1999, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania stated in Aveline v. Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole:
              “A compact takes precedence over the subsequent statutes of signatory states and, as such, a state may not unilaterally nullify, revoke, or amend one of its compacts if the compact does not so provide.”

              In 1952, the U.S. Supreme Court very succinctly addressed the issue in Petty v. Tennessee-Missouri Bridge Commission:
              “A compact is, after all, a contract.”

              The important point is that an interstate compact is not a mere “handshake” agreement. If a state wants to rely on the goodwill and graciousness of other states to follow certain policies, it can simply enact its own state law and hope that other states decide to act in an identical manner. If a state wants a legally binding and enforceable mechanism by which it agrees to undertake certain specified actions only if other states agree to take other specified actions, it enters into an interstate compact.

              Interstate compacts are supported by over two centuries of settled law guaranteeing enforceability. Interstate compacts exist because the states are sovereign. If there were no Compacts Clause in the U.S. Constitution, a state would have no way to enter into a legally binding contract with another state. The Compacts Clause, supported by the Impairments Clause, provides a way for a state to enter into a contract with other states and be assured of the enforceability of the obligations undertaken by its sister states. The enforceability of interstate compacts under the Impairments Clause is precisely the reason why sovereign states enter into interstate compacts. Without the Compacts Clause and the Impairments Clause, any contractual agreement among the states would be, in fact, no more than a handshake.

              •  A contract requires a consideration (0+ / 0-)
                In 1976, the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland stated in Hellmuth and Associates v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority:

                “When enacted, a compact constitutes not only law, but a contract which may not be amended, modified, or otherwise altered without the consent of all parties.”

                A compact to join together to build a bridge is a contract.

                A compact to choose electors in a certain way is not - there is no consideration, and any consideration would be blatantly illegal.

    •  Yes but use this to scuff up GOP. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vidanto, Quantumlogic

      See?  All they care about is beating Obama.  Keep in mind their obsessive obstructionist mentality when they block job creation proposals that lauded economists and non-partisans endorse.

    •  National Popular Vote (0+ / 0-)

      The Founding Fathers left the choice of method for selecting presidential electors exclusively to the states by adopting the language contained in section 1 of Article II of the U.S. Constitution-- "Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors . . ."   The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly characterized the authority of the state legislatures over the manner of awarding their electoral votes as "plenary" and "exclusive."

      In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state's electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). The recent Washington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University poll shows 72% support for direct nationwide election of the President. Support is strong in virtually every state, partisan, and demographic group surveyed iin recent polls in closely divided battleground states: CO-- 68%, IA --75%, MI-- 73%, MO-- 70%, NH-- 69%, NV-- 72%, NM-- 76%, NC-- 74%, OH-- 70%, PA -- 78%, VA -- 74%, and WI -- 71%; in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): AK – 70%, DC – 76%, DE --75%, ME  -- 77%, NE -- 74%, NH --69%, NV -- 72%, NM -- 76%, RI -- 74%, and VT -- 75%;  in Southern and border states: AR --80%, KY -- 80%, MS --77%, MO -- 70%, NC -- 74%, and VA -- 74%; and in other states polled: CA -- 70%, CT -- 74% , MA -- 73%, MN – 75%, NY -- 79%, WA -- 77%, and WV- 81%.

      The National Popular Vote bill has passed 31 state legislative chambers, in 21 small, medium-small, medium, and large states, including one house in AR (6), CT (7), DE (3), DC (3), ME (4), MI (17), NV (5), NM (5), NY (31), NC (15), and OR (7),  and both houses in CA (55), CO (9), HI (4), IL (21), NJ (15), MD (10), MA(12), RI (4), VT (3), and WA (11). The bill has been enacted by DC, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, California, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Washington. These nine jurisdictions possess  132 electoral votes -- 49% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.

  •  Excellent follow-up diary on this, David (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vidanto, NorthBronxDem, AreDeutz

    This is going across the line...even most republicans would see this.  Of course, most republicans won't see this taking place, nor will very many others across our country.  We here at DKos are privvy to these shannanigins (sp?) being played.  

    I'm betting this will go absolutely nowhere....but, then...I've seen some pretty strange things happening lately out here in our current political lalaland.  The special house election in NY being one, of course.  

    Again...thanks.  Lots of us here will probably follow how this goes now because of these two diaries.  

    And here the repubs are saying they hate how Obama is "making a fundamental change" in America....what a joke.  

    - If you don't like gay marriage, blame straight people. They're the ones who keep having gay babies.

    by r2did2 on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 12:41:57 PM PDT

  •  The golden rule of electoral politics: (3+ / 0-)

    Never legislate something can can come back to haunt you.  That's why congress will never pass a presidential line item veto.

    Times change.  Perceptions change.  Political parties change.  What might gain one party a short term advantage could eventually come back to haunt them.

    The Electoral College concept, since its inception, has been winner takes all in a state based on popular vote.  It isn't perfect, but it works.

    Tea Party manifesto: We're resigned to our collective fate because we don't want no stinkin' collective future with the likes of you

    by Richard Cranium on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 12:45:52 PM PDT

    •  It didn't work so well (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LordMike, cybersaur

      In 2000 and 2004.

    •  Defend the status quo is that golden rule. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Liberaltarian

      Given that the legislator's rule -- any changes are a risk of losing your privileged position.

      Democracy be damned. This is why mainstream liberalism is the father of teabaggerism -- instead of actually having an agenda to advance, it's simply a rationalization for defending your own privileges. The natural result then is to produce a radicalized right that appeals to cynicism.

    •  Current System was Not Original System (0+ / 0-)

      The Founding Fathers in the Constitution did not require states to allow their citizens to vote for president, much less award all their electoral votes based upon the vote of their citizens.

      The presidential election system we have today is not in the Constitution. State-by-state winner-take-all laws to award Electoral College votes, are an example of state laws eventually enacted by states, using their exclusive power to do so, AFTER the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution, Now our current system can be changed by state laws again.

      Unable to agree on any particular method, the Founding Fathers left the choice of method for selecting presidential electors exclusively to the states by adopting the language contained in section 1 of Article II of the U.S. Constitution-- "Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors . . ."   The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly characterized the authority of the state legislatures over the manner of awarding their electoral votes as "plenary" and "exclusive."

      The constitution does not prohibit any of the methods that were debated and rejected.  Indeed, a majority of the states appointed their presidential electors using two of the rejected methods in the nation's first presidential election in 1789 (i.e., appointment by the legislature and by the governor and his cabinet).  Presidential electors were appointed by state legislatures for almost a century.

      Neither of the two most important features of the current system of electing the President (namely, universal suffrage, and the 48 state-by-state winner-take-all method) are in the U.S. Constitution. Neither was the choice of the Founders when they went back to their states to organize the nation's first presidential election.

      In 1789, in the nation's first election, the people had no vote for President in most states, only men who owned a substantial amount of property could vote, and only three states used the state-by-state winner-take-all method to award electoral votes.

      The current 48 state-by-state winner-take-all method (i.e., awarding all of a state's electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in a particular state) is not entitled to any special deference based on history or the historical meaning of the words in the U.S. Constitution. It is not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, the debates of the Constitutional Convention, or the Federalist Papers. The actions taken by the Founding Fathers make it clear that they never gave their imprimatur to the winner-take-all method.

      The constitutional wording does not encourage, discourage, require, or prohibit the use of any particular method for awarding the state's electoral votes.

      As a result of changes in state laws enacted since 1789, the people have the right to vote for presidential electors in 100% of the states, there are no property requirements for voting in any state, and the state-by-state winner-take-all method is used by 48 of the 50 states. States can, and frequently have, changed their method of awarding electoral votes over the years.

    •  Why do you think the GOP (0+ / 0-)

      cut a deal with the Dems over judges in the Senate, rather than use the "nucular" solution of eliminating the fillibuster for Senate confirmations?  Even the GOP powers that be are afraid that someday they won't be holding the levers.

  •  Forget the tax code. Simplify the election. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave the Wave, vidanto, CA Nana

    No unfair advantages for one party.  Only through a dirty trick could whoever most Pennsylvanians vote for should win less electoral votes than their opponent.  Even better would be a national vote: If the majority of the American people vote for someone to be president, that person should be president.  Don't let the conniving tricks of the Republican Party evade the will of the people from deciding what direction the country moves in.

  •  How about a real democratic electoral system? n/t (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vidanto, CA Nana
  •  No popular vote by the unwashed masses... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vidanto, CA Nana, Laconic Lib

    We have lobbyists and corporations. Let them buy Electoral College votes by spending millions on campaign ads and then bestow the office on the candidate of their choice.

    Wait! Wait, forget this idea - that's the way we already do it!

    •  Because popular vote by the unwashed masses (0+ / 0-)

      looks pretty damn unwashed, when you observe the lamentable results of the ballot initiative system in California.   Corporate spending can manipulate the public just easily as it can manipulate power brokers, though with different tools.

      "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

      by lgmcp on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 01:03:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Looks like ALEC is at it again, any way to check ? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LordMike, tarminian, cybersaur

    That wouldn't surprise me one bit.
    The voter disenfranchisement bills rammed through state houses are all ALEC 'model legislation'. This does seem to have the same 'ALEC stank'.

  •  Already emailed the Governor my outrage.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LordMike

    boy is the country suffering from the pathetic campaign of the DEMS in 2010.

  •  Gah! Dems Just Don't Do The "Ratfuck" As Well (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vidanto, lgmcp, cybersaur

    as Repubs do. It's just a fundamental difference in mindset. Repubs are solely focused on the "art" of the "ratfuck". Dems are busy trying to accomplish meaningful things.

    This post is dedicated to myself, without whom, I'd be somebody else. Though I'd still be an asshole. My Music: [http://www.myspace.com/beetwasher]

    by Beetwasher on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 12:50:18 PM PDT

  •  This is a terrible idea. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vidanto

    I wouldn't mind a split of EVs based on statewide popular vote if instituted nationwide. That is: I wouldn't agree with splitting Texas anymore than Pennsylvania if it wasn't a nationwide policy -- voters in federal elections deserve equal representation regardless of state.

    I wouldn't mind a switch to national popular vote, either. That would be the fairest method of ensuring one-citizen/one-vote elections  

    But gerrymandering has made this proposal a complete non-starter. It would warp an already warped system and create further discrepancies between the values of individual votes in federal elections. This is self-evident.

    I guess states can do what they want. But it would be a step backwards.

    it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses

    by Addison on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 12:50:27 PM PDT

    •  I would hope not many states do it (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Addison

      It's against their own self-interests, as splitting EVs reduces the state's political clout.

      But as we've seen, Rethugs don't give a dam about their states - just themselves, their party, and their corporate overlords.

      15 years old and a proud progressive and Phillies phan.

      by vidanto on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 01:03:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  This is a good point... (0+ / 0-)
        splitting EVs reduces the state's political clout.

        This is an example of a national-level political concern trumping the best interests of the state -- and yet it's being proposed by state legislators.

        it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses

        by Addison on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 01:05:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  This is a bad development (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cybersaur

    Hope there is some way to delay this so that it does not impact 2012.  

    Alternative rock with something to say: http://www.myspace.com/globalshakedown

    by khyber900 on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 12:51:02 PM PDT

  •  Need a ballot that offered ranked choices in the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vidanto

    event of leader having less than a majority. Since that is politically improbable then have states award electoral votes to the leader in popular votes.

    Slow thinkers - keep right

    by Dave the Wave on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 12:51:31 PM PDT

  •  This Could Be The Beginning Of The End Of (0+ / 0-)

    the Electoral College.  If every state did this we would be much closer to popular vote.

    •  Not at all true... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vidanto, lgmcp, AUBoy2007

      As it is, districts are set up for narrow Republican wins in red districts and wide Democratic wins in blue ones. It would actually hasten the demise of democracy and get further away from popular vote. You could have a President concievably winning with as little as a third of the popular vote.

      Some people are intolerant, and I CAN'T STAND people like that. -- Tom Lehrer

      by TheCrank on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 12:57:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Only looking at one side (0+ / 0-)

        "districts are set up for narrow Republican wins in red districts and wide Democratic wins in blue ones"

        To be fair, it's exactly the opposites in states with Democratic gerrymanders (think Illinois).  But your point is solid.  Gerrymandering is already wrong, but to have a gerrymander in, say, Mississippi affect a national election is even worse.  

    •  Not at all, actually. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lgmcp, Adam B, cybersaur

      As noted above, due to the fact that districts are very gerrymandered, someone could win the popular vote in the state and lose the state's district split.

      Look at the Bush v. Gore example.

      One should no more deplore homosexuality than left-handedness. ~Towards a Quaker View of Sex, 1964 (Proud left-handed queer here!) SSP: wmlawman

      by AUBoy2007 on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 12:59:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Amazing, isn't it, how some people (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        David Nir, AUBoy2007, peptabysmal

        apparently don't read the diary they are commenting in that directly contradicts the claim they are making.

        If every state did this we would be much closer to popular vote.

        vs

        That means that the average blue seat is much bluer than the average red seat is red, which in turn means that there are more Republican-leaning districts than Democratic-inclined CDs.

        Here's one stark illustration. John McCain's best district in the nation was TX-13, which occupies the Texas panhandle. He won there by 77-23, a 54 percent margin. By contrast, there were 39 districts that Barack Obama won by an equal or bigger spread, all the way up to his 90-point victory in New York's 16th Congressional District in the South Bronx.

  •  Dirt shouldn't get to vote (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vidanto, lgmcp

    I believe future generations will realize the folly of allowing land to count in a democracy. In fact, this is a formula for civil war, as it permits a minority to push around a majority merely by fact that they happen to occupy a larger area. The majority must, at some point, reach its limit and push for reform of the system. A system that, as we can see, cannot be reformed by that majority.

    I do not see "red America" giving up this advantage any time soon. One means by which this could be mitigated is to increase the number of congressional districts to better reflect the proportion of representatives to constituents laid out in the Constitution. Democrats live in "congressional ghettos" all packed together. But if we cut in half the number of persons a single Congressperson may represent, Democrats would gain proportionally more seats. This may be sold as a nonpartisan means of "increasing representation" and "getting back to the Constitution."

  •  Also the gerrymandered republican districts (0+ / 0-)

    from the census, along w/the voter disenfranchisement could wreak real godawful damage. I hope this is not feasible.

  •  it certainly seems that (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vidanto, cybersaur

    the republican plan is to institute a 'minority rules' democracy here in the USA. Real democracy, one person - one vote, just doesn't work well for them.

    We need to get rid of the electoral college and institute a popular vote for the presidency.

  •  Gerrymandering would then kill democracy (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vidanto, bootes53, cybersaur, peptabysmal

    It's bad enough already that we have a solidly Democratic country where Republicans get outsized representation in the Congress due to biased districting in the House and the two-Senators-a-state-no-matter-how-puny setup in the Senate. It's not just the chance of Democrats to ever assert their popular majority in the Presidency that's at stake, it's democracy itself. Because we'd never have another fair redistricting after this were the electoral college distorted even further by going to a vote-per-CD.

    I see zero Republicans supporting the more democratic, small d, alternative to the Electoral College, which is to have a purely popular vote. Because Republicans hate democracy almost as much as they hate Democrats. Look at this "poor people shouldn't vote" garbage they've been floating around their teabagging sphere.

    Some people are intolerant, and I CAN'T STAND people like that. -- Tom Lehrer

    by TheCrank on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 12:56:05 PM PDT

    •  Republican voters support national popular vote (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      badlands

      By state (electoral college votes), by political affiliation, support for a national popular vote in recent polls has been:

      Alaska (3)- 78% among (Democrats), 66% among (Republicans), 70% among Nonpartisan voters, 82% among Alaska Independent Party voters, and 69% among others.
      Arkansas (6)- 88% (D), 71% (R), and 79% (Independents).
      California (55)– 76% (D), 61% (R), and 74% (I)
      Colorado (9)- 79% (D), 56% (R), and 70% (I).
      Connecticut (7)- 80% (D), 67% (R), and 71% others
      Delaware (3)- 79% (D), 69% (R), and 76% (I)
      District of Columbia (3)- 80% (D), 48% (R), and 74% of (I)
      Idaho(4) - 84% (D), 75% (R), and 75% others
      Florida (29)- 88% (D), 68% (R), and 76% others
      Iowa (6)- 82% (D), 63% (R), and 77% others
      Kentucky (8)- 88% (D), 71% (R), and 70% (I)
      Maine (4) - 85% (D), 70% (R), and 73% others
      Massachusetts (11)- 86% (D), 54% (R), and 68% others
      Michigan (16)- 78% (D), 68% (R), and 73% (I)
      Minnesota (10)- 84% (D), 69% (R), and 68% others
      Mississippi (6)- 79% (D), 75% (R), and 75% Others
      Nebraska (5)- 79% (D), 70% (R), and 75% Others
      Nevada (5)- 80% (D), 66% (R), and 68% Others
      New Hampshire (4)- 80% (D), 57% (R), and 69% (I)
      New Mexico (5)- 84% (D), 64% (R), and 68% (I)
      New York (29) - 86% (D), 66% (R), 78% Independence Party members, 50% Conservative Party members, 100% Working Families Party members, and 7% Others
      North Carolina (15)- 75% liberal (D), 78% moderate (D), 76% conservative (D), 89% liberal (R), 62% moderate (R) , 70% conservative (R), and 80% (I)
      Ohio (18)- 81% (D), 65% (R), and 61% Others
      Oklahoma (7)- 84% (D), 75% (R), and 75% others
      Oregon (7)- 82% (D), 70% (R), and 72% (I)
      Pennsylvania (20)- 87% (D), 68% (R), and 76% (I)
      Rhode Island (4)- 86% liberal (D), 85% moderate (D), 60% conservative (D), 71% liberal (R), 63% moderate (R), 35% conservative (R), and 78% (I),
      South Dakota (3)- 84% (D), 67% (R), and 75% others
      Tennessee (11) --78% (D), 73% (R)
      Utah (6)- 82% (D), 66% (R), and 75% others
      Vermont (3)- 86% (D); 61% (R), and 74% Others
      Virginia (13)- 79% liberal (D), 86% moderate (D), 79% conservative (D), 76% liberal (R), 63% moderate (R), and 54% conservative (R), and 79% Others
      Washington (12)- 88% (D), 65% (R), and 73% others
      West Virginia (5)- 87% (D), 75% (R), and 73% others
      Wisconsin (10)- 81% (D), 63% (R), and 67% (I)
      Wyoming (3) – 77% (D), 66% (R), and 72% (I)   
      http://tinyurl.com/...

  •  States in which we could counter? (0+ / 0-)

    Are there any states we control both legislature and Governor's mansion where we could counter?

    Its slim pickins -

    Arkansas - we're certain to lose, but could pick up 2-3 votes there.

    West Virginia - again , we'll lose, but probably win at least 1 CD

    The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. --George Orwell

    by jgkojak on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 12:56:22 PM PDT

  •  Can the dems in the PA Senate filibuster the plan? (0+ / 0-)
  •  Terrible idea (0+ / 0-)

    For Pennsylvanians like me. PA loses all political importance whatsoever. If the CD plan goes through, you're only going to pick up 1 or 2 EVs by campaigning hard in the state. No one would come here to campaign.

    I'm for the popular vote and getting rid of the College, but the CD idea is both evil, stupid, and evil.

    15 years old and a proud progressive and Phillies phan.

    by vidanto on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 12:58:54 PM PDT

    •  The state is not significant anyway (0+ / 0-)

      PA is fools' gold for republicans.  If Obama is in real danger of losing PA (i.e he only wins it by a point), then Ohio, FL, the southwest, CO, and all the other Bush states are GONE.

      We'll know by the polls in PA after labor day 2012 if this election is over or not.

  •  national popular vote.. (0+ / 0-)

    I have concerns here as well. Across the country we have drastically different voting systems. In some states you have to show up perhaps during rather limited polling hours to vote on election day (ie Indiana polls closing at 6 I believe) in other states (WA, OR) you simply have to drop the ballot you receive back in the mail. This would seem to contribute to significantly different turnout. Previously that didn't matter as no election crossed the borders of a state. With election by national popular vote suddenly those differences become very significant.

    Would there be a move to create a nationwide election system?

    Further, there is suddenly incentive for running up the vote totals. For instance, in Oklahoma there is little incentive for the dominant republican party to cheat as they will likely win the state overwhelmingly. Making the results more overwhelming will do little to help them. In the states in which cheating might help a candidate win the tendency is for both parties to be in relative balance which hopefully helps increase fairness in any recounts that may occur. Fraud on the part of the dominant party in lopsided states could become a very significant problem which could be very difficult to diagnose and fight.

    A potential solution that would solve the first concern (but not the fully second) would be to compute the percentage of the vote that each candidate gets in each state and weight that by the population of the state. For instance if a state has 5 million people and each candidate receives 50% of the vote in that state each candidate would receive 2.5 million "votes". A similar approach could be to use fractional electoral votes. This would allow the margin of victory to matter and allow every vote to contribute to a victory or defeat while at the same time rendering irrelevant turnout variation from state to state due to variations in the voting system.

    I think the only way to fight back is to push for the national popular vote, something which can be achieved via an interstate compact between states. The states in the compact would all award their EVs to the winner of the national vote, but the law would only take effect once enough states signed on (i.e., states with 270 electoral votes between them). Several states have already signed on (including big boppers like California and Illinois), and this way, no constitutional amendment is necessary.
    •  States Have Exclusive Control of Elections (0+ / 0-)

      The Founding Fathers and the U.S. Constitution permits states to conduct elections in varied ways.

      The Founding Fathers left the choice of method for selecting presidential electors exclusively to the states by adopting the language contained in section 1 of Article II of the U.S. Constitution-- "Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors . . ."   The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly characterized the authority of the state legislatures over the manner of awarding their electoral votes as "plenary" and "exclusive."

      Neither the current system nor the National Popular Vote compact permits any state to get involved in judging the election returns of other states.  Existing federal law (the "safe harbor" provision in section 5 of title 3 of the United States Code) specifies that a state's "final determination" of its presidential election returns is "conclusive"(if done in a timely manner and in accordance with laws that existed prior to Election Day).  

      Current federal law (Title 3, chapter 1, section 6 of the United States Code) requires the states to report the November popular vote numbers (the "canvas") in what is called a "Certificate of Ascertainment." They list the electors and the number of votes cast for each.  The Congress meets in joint session to count the electoral votes reported in the Certificates of Ascertainment. You can see the Certificates of Ascertainment for all 50 states and the District of Columbia containing the official count of the popular vote at the NARA web site

      •  I'm not sure what your argument is? (0+ / 0-)

        Above I was pointing out concerns that I had with a national popular vote. Is your point that a national popular vote is consistent with the current election laws and our federal constitution as the states have the right to do whatever they wish with regards to allocating their electoral votes?

        In general I don't disagree with you. (With the caveat that I am not convinced that basing ones electoral votes on the results of elections held nationwide won't be found in violation of the principle given).

        However, even if the national popular vote as proposed is fully consistent with the constitution and federal laws that doesn't negate the concerns I mention above. Being legal and constitutional doesn't necessarily make it a good idea! Further, we also have the option of attempting to modify the law or constitution if needed to improve our electoral system and/or to fix real or impending problems if so desired.  

    •  Problems with Proportional (0+ / 0-)

      Any state that enacts the proportional approach on its own would reduce its own influence. This was the most telling argument that caused Colorado voters to agree with Republican Governor Owens and to reject this proposal in November 2004 by a two-to-one margin.  

      If the proportional approach were implemented by a state, on its own,, it would have to allocate its electoral votes in whole numbers.  If a current battleground state were to change its winner-take-all statute to a proportional method for awarding electoral votes, presidential candidates would pay less attention to that state because only one electoral vote would probably be at stake in the state.

      If the whole-number proportional approach had been in use throughout the country in the nation’s closest recent presidential election (2000), it would not have awarded the most electoral votes to the candidate receiving the most popular votes nationwide.  Instead, the result would have been a tie of 269–269 in the electoral vote, even though Al Gore led by 537,179 popular votes across the nation.  The presidential election would have been thrown into Congress to decide and resulted in the election of the second-place candidate in terms of the national popular vote.  

      A system in which electoral votes are divided proportionally by state would not accurately reflect the nationwide popular vote and would not make every vote equal.  

       It would penalize states, such as Montana, that have only one U.S. Representative even though it has almost three times more population than other small states with one congressman.  It would penalize fast-growing states that do not receive any increase in their number of electoral votes until after the next federal census.  It would penalize states with high voter turnout (e.g., Utah, Oregon).  

      Moreover, the fractional proportional allocation approach does not assure election of the winner of the nationwide popular vote.  In 2000, for example, it would have resulted in the election of the second-place candidate.  

      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.

      •  but, that doesn't address the concerns (0+ / 0-)
        Moreover, the fractional proportional allocation approach does not assure election of the winner of the nationwide popular vote.  In 2000, for example, it would have resulted in the election of the second-place candidate.  

        That's the point! If I thought my suggestion would always produce the same result as the straight up national popular vote I wouldn't have made the suggestion.

        Notably you don't actually show above that the proportional allocation of votes by population would lead to Bush winning in 2000. Also, I would question the evaluation of a national vote vs. electoral vote on a specific election as it is not known how the election would have played out had maximum national popular vote been the goal. Both candidates would have allocated their resources differently and it seems possible that Bush could have won the popular vote. The point is that neither candidate was trying to win the popular vote, we don't know what would have happened had they both made the attempt.

        My argument above is that a national popular vote is inherently unfair as each state (as you point out above) has the ability to determine its own election law and the states have chosen drastically different systems. It is much easier to vote in some states than in others. Currently that is not a problem as no election crosses a state line and thus each election is run under one set of rules.  Is it right to make each vote equal when the rules in which each voter must cast their ballot are not equal?

        It would penalize states, such as Montana, that have only one U.S. Representative even though it has almost three times more population than other small states with one congressman.  It would penalize fast-growing states that do not receive any increase in their number of electoral votes until after the next federal census.  It would penalize states with high voter turnout (e.g., Utah, Oregon).  

        With regards to your 3 concerns:

        1) Penalize small states such as Montana. Actually Montana does well in the electoral college as they get 3 votes (1 for the house district and one for each senate district). Compared to other 3 vote states perhaps they are at a disadvantage but compared to larger states their vote counts much more.

        There are 2 issues as play here. First is the unequal weighting given to small states as a result of the inclusion of the senatorial votes. This can either be viewed as a bug or a feature. Secondly is the round off error you site due to the fact that each state is assigned a whole number of house members. My suggestion to base the weighting of each state by the actual population addresses both of these concerns.

        2) Fast Growing States: I think this is a relatively minor problem, one that we already accept in our allocation of congressional districts. The population doesn't seem to shift that much over a 10 year period.

        3) High Voter Turnout: I would agree with this assuming that the high voter turnout is due to actual voter motivation rather than ease of voting. You cite Oregon as an example of state with high voter turnout. In Oregon elections are conducted entirely by mail and voters have up until the close of polls to drop their ballots in numerous special boxes located all throughout the state. Is it fair that the voters of Oregon should get more influence simply because their state makes it easier to vote?

        The only real solution I can think of if having each vote count exactly equally  would be standardize the election system nationwide.

      •  The PA Legislature doesn't care about incluence (0+ / 0-)

        especially if it's influence is being used to elect Obama.

    •  Current System Maximizes Op & Incentive (0+ / 0-)

      The current state-by-state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes maximizes the incentive and opportunity for fraud. A very few people can change the national outcome by changing a small number of votes in one closely divided battleground state. With the current system all of a state's electoral votes are awarded to the candidate who receives a bare plurality of the votes in each state. The sheer magnitude of the national popular vote number, compared to individual state vote totals, is much more robust against manipulation.

      Senator Birch Bayh (D-Indiana) summed up the concerns about possible fraud in a nationwide popular election for President in a Senate speech by saying in 1979, "one of the things we can do to limit fraud is to limit the benefits to be gained by fraud. Under a direct popular vote system, one fraudulent vote wins one vote in the return. In the electoral college system, one fraudulent vote could mean 45 electoral votes, 28 electoral votes."

      Hendrik Hertzberg wrote: "To steal the closest popular-vote election in American history, you'd have to steal more than a hundred thousand votes . . .To steal the closest electoral-vote election in American history, you'd have to steal around 500 votes, all in one state. . . .

      For a national popular vote election to be as easy to switch as 2000, it would have to be two hundred times closer than the 1960 election--and, in popular-vote terms, forty times closer than 2000 itself.

      Which, I ask you, is an easier mark for vote-stealers, the status quo or N.P.V.[National Popular Vote]? Which offers thieves a better shot at success for a smaller effort?"

  •  why the hell does a district with 1/10 the number (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vidanto

    of voters deserve the same electoral weight?  I just don't get the logic?

    How many voters are in the Philly districts, and how many are in the rural W. PA districts?

    Do rural voters really deserve more weight to their votes?

    You know, since it's the dense urban districts where "brown" people live mostly, and the rural areas are very white... isn't this kind of like when slaves only got 3/5 of a white vote (well, that wasn't their own vote... but, still)

    "For coal to be 'clean,' it must magically float out of the ground" - RL Miller

    by Hopeful Skeptic on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 12:59:44 PM PDT

  •  Non travel (0+ / 0-)

    With the Jerrymandering, redisctricting, voter suppression, closing of voting areas in democratic districts. manditory ID Cards, voting machine fixes and SCOTUS in the pockets of companies i dont see another democratic anything coming soon.
    The only thing i will wait for is for the Theocracy... they i try to sneak out of the country to Canada? naw  France? naw, mexico? naw Japan? nope,,
    Ill figure it all out sometime while the rest of you ask yourselves why didnt you vote for every little democrate around.

    What I can not tolerate is intolerance

    by rageagnstmach on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 01:00:36 PM PDT

  •  Gerrymander the Electoral College too? (0+ / 0-)

    I'm amazed that it took them well over 200 years to think of it.

    Now can we have our constitutional convention reboot?

    To me, the best way to minimize the inherent unfairness of having states at all, is to make sure that all federal representation is done on an at-large basis. No electoral districts = no gerrymandering, either of House seats or of the Electoral College.

    But as long as we have to apportion districts politically, the system will remain fundamentally biased.

    •  national at large (0+ / 0-)

      or statewide at large? Even with the latter, if you live in Austin do you want to be represented by and only by a conservative who can win a statewide election? Gerrymandering is a problem, but this doesn't seem to be the solution?

      Perhaps some sort of proportional representation that would make geographical boundaries less significant while still (and perhaps better) allowing for representation for the different ideological groups in each state?

      To me, the best way to minimize the inherent unfairness of having states at all, is to make sure that all federal representation is done on an at-large basis. No electoral districts = no gerrymandering, either of House seats or of the Electoral College.
  •  For the record, Nebraska is trying to ditch (5+ / 0-)

    the current system of allocating electoral college votes by congressional district specifically because of what happened in 2008, and going back to the "winner take all" system.  The unicameral hasn't been able to get the legislation out of committee yet, but I'm quite sure it will get passed in time for November, 2012.

    "Some folks rob you with a six-gun, some rob you with a fountain pen." - Woody Guthrie

    by Involuntary Exile on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 01:01:28 PM PDT

  •  electoral votes, the EC, and you (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vidanto

    Assuming a winner take all system, if you lived in Montana in 2008, your individual vote for president carried a little more than half the weight of someone who lived in Rhode Island.

    http://www.datamasher.org/...

    Think about it.  The number of electors is based on your representatives.  Because we've fixed the number of reps, and no state will ever have NONE, and the number is not based on a fixed interval of people, then some people's votes count more than others.

    National popular vote has some challenges - none of which seem insurmountable - and it's FAR more fair than this.  I can't find any defense for the EC.

  •  National popular vote is all fine and (0+ / 0-)

    dandy, but there is no way it could implemented before the 2012 election, if ever. What can be done now to stop this?

  •  This possibility never occurred to me before... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vidanto, LordMike, exreaganite

    ... no, not a state splitting electors - which has happened before - but the idea of the GOP deliberately gaming the Electoral College to their advantage.

    I suppose it shouldn't be surprising. What we've seen over the last 20 years is the GOP systematically dismantling the institutional conventions by which we've been governed. Routine filibusters and holds. Refusals to raise the debt ceiling. Blocking recesses to prevent appointments. Impeaching a popular president because he lied about a blowjob while in a perjury trap.

    Why wouldn't Electoral College gamesmanship be any different?

  •  Many PA Republicans are rerally Democrats (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NorthBronxDem, LordMike, scotths, vidanto

    •    There are many people registered Republican in the suburban counties outside of Philadelphia who always support Democratic presidential candidates. They enjoy tangible local benefits by being registered as Republicans in their counties such as jobs and favors that the Republicans are good at delivering. (By contrast, the Democrats in the counties are known for ignoring constituents requests, and having the reputation of being indifferent to requests for help when the requester has a problem with the local or State government, or needs a favor.) Maybe it is because the Democrats rarely control the counties, but it is a fact of life that there are liberals who are on the Republican rolls of the suburban counties, and they also donate handsomely to the county and State GOP. On the other hand, when they actually vote, they frequently report that they vote for Democrats. Therefore, their value to the Republicans is their financial contributions-and we should consider using that fact to our advantage.
    I doubt that these people would want their Presidential vote tampered with, and they are thus a source of help to fight this odious proposal. From my experience, the profile of a typical Pennsylvania suburban county switch-hitter is that  financially, he is in the upper middle class or better, but is a low-information-voter. Today, there was a front page story in the Inquirer about the Republican’s proposal; but many of these people (based on years of my conversations with a significant number of them) generally do not read any political news (and when the Phillies are hot, they jump to the Sports Page).
    We should be able to find a way to enlist these RINOs in the suburban counties. Perhaps the local Democratic Party should hit these voters with cable TV commercials and take other means of enhancing the information sources of these people. They are the key to defeating the proposal because the Republican legislators might understand that if these people ever could became annoyed sufficiently to stop making financial contributions if their will is thwarted, the local party would feel the pain.

  •  We live in a federal republic. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vidanto

    How can the federal government administer elections which are run at the local level by the states?

    I realize that there are some ideas out there on how to do it, but it strikes me as a bad idea. I would support a law which awards EVs proportionally, not by districts. So if Obama gets 45% of the vote in Texas, he gets 45% of that state's EVs.

    National Popular vote would be a mess and the Nebraska/Maine method is also flawed. But if they did it the way the Democratic Party does it in it's primaries I think it would work better. No super delegates, of course.

    You can do what you want to us, but we're not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America.

    by Eric Stratton on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 01:05:09 PM PDT

    •  What mess? (0+ / 0-)

      We do and would vote state by state. Each state manages its own election.

      The National Popular Vote compact is patterned directly after existing federal law and requires each state to treat as "conclusive" each other state's "final determination" of its vote for President.

      •  Every state has different ways of (0+ / 0-)

        determining who can vote and how. For example, what happens when one state allows convicted felons to vote and another state doesn't? What if a group of state object to the voting laws of another state?

        It sounds good on paper, but you essentially trying to do is transform the US from a republic to something else entirely. It won't work, and there are better ways to get there.

        You can do what you want to us, but we're not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America.

        by Eric Stratton on Thu Sep 15, 2011 at 06:01:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  if Mich Wisc and PA do this (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NorthBronxDem, vidanto, Airpower, badlands

    and no other GOP leaning states go the other way we can have a political crises not seen since the civil war. Imagine for a second Obama wins the national election 52-48 over Perry wins Wisc  PA and Mich but does not get the majority of thier electoral votes and loses the electoral college vote.  This could get very ugly very fast if half the country believes there is no way to win political elections anymore.

    After Obama's eighth straight victory, Penn told reporters: "Winning Democratic primaries is not a qualification or a sign of who can win the general election.

    by nevadadem on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 01:06:11 PM PDT

    •  The Crisis of 2020 (0+ / 0-)

      Agreed.  It the GOPigs push this through, it could be a key component of the "Crisis of 2020" that Strauss and Howe wrote about in their book "Generations" 20 years ago.

      The people of the United States would not accept four years of an illegitimate administration ... not after the 2000 election and not with the economy the way it is.

      "very ugly" doesn't even begin to describe the potential ramifications of this.

      •  Wanna bet? (0+ / 0-)

        After Fox and Rush are done, this would just be considered the New Normal.  I live in PA, and I could very well see this happening here.  If Ed Rendell decided it was worth coming out of his quiet retirement to "warn" of legal action, then somebody is taking this pretty seriously.

        Oh, and the Wisconsin-thing could never happen here.  This state is not very liberal.  It's Philly (affluent with a somewhat eastern-socially liberal bent, and the only real concentration of minorities in the state) and Pittsburgh (not "liberal", but more conservative-white-union democratic) with Alabama in the middle, as they say.

      •  There's nothing illegitimate about it (0+ / 0-)

        It's no less or more legitimate than the NPV compact.

  •  We look hypocrites if we complain about this (0+ / 0-)
  •  So, instead of my Texas vote for Obama not (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blue aardvark, vidanto

    counting out of a total state population of 24,326,974 in Texas, now it won't count out of a total of 640,419 in the TX-32, my Congressional district (home of Pete "Taliban" Sessions, also Chair of the Republican CCC).

    Why is this supposed to be some sort of improvement?

    /rhetorical question

    Torture is Wrong! We live near W so you don't have to. Send love.

    by tom 47 on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 01:18:27 PM PDT

  •  Time to repeat the Wisconsin 14 (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Airpower, peptabysmal, badlands

    The Democratic caucus in both the Assembly and Senate must flee the Capitol and deny quorum for any vote to be held. This is not done lightly, but this travesty can easily swing the Presidential election.

    (-2.38, -3.28) Independent thinker

    by TrueBlueDem on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 01:20:16 PM PDT

  •  "the average blue seat is much bluer. . . (0+ / 0-)

    . . .than the average red seat is red."

    How much of this is due to gerrymandered majority minority districts?

  •  There is another way to address this (0+ / 0-)

    which doesn't require modifying the Constitution.

    Just increase the number of members of the House of Representatives to 10,000 or so, so that each district has about 30,000 members. Congress can do this by fiat.

    All of a sudden all districts, Republican or Democrat, are pretty small and homogeneous.

    In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; but in practice, there always is a difference. - Yogi Berra

    by blue aardvark on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 01:24:08 PM PDT

    •  and a congress of 10,000 people (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      badlands

      passes laws and function how exactly?

      Just increase the number of members of the House of Representatives to 10,000 or so, so that each district has about 30,000 members. Congress can do this by fiat.
      •  I would assume they would have to (0+ / 0-)

        organize themselves somewhat differently than they do now. Perhaps each state would select certain members to serve on certain committees and so on.

        However, you would personally know your Representative. You'd be able to call them on their home phones and they'd pick up.

        In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; but in practice, there always is a difference. - Yogi Berra

        by blue aardvark on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 01:35:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  interesting point... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          blue aardvark
          However, you would personally know your Representative. You'd be able to call them on their home phones and they'd pick up.

          Yes, that aspect sounds great! I also suspect people who normally couldn't win election to a larger district might be able to with a smaller district size. If you personally know your representative fear based and character based attacks would be much less effective and perhaps it would be possible to judge more based on intellect and responsiveness than currently.

          Actually in thinking about it I would rather not involve the states in distributing the members onto committees. Perhaps a better approach would be to use some sort of proportional representative system to map the 10,000 representatives onto a smaller congress that engages in much of the businesses currently engaged in by the current congress. Thus, this smaller congress would have members not tied to districts who represent the ideological makeup of the country as a whole.  The larger group of 10,000 could act as an emissary between the smaller congress and the people at large and could also reserve the right to overrule the smaller congress should they so desire or perhaps even to force a new election of the smaller congress if they feel the smaller congress is getting to out of step with the people of their districts. (Not sure about that last part as I think it may lead to too much swinging left and right when going through difficult times).

          Not sure what I could do regarding committees and such. Perhaps the congress should have normal size committees from the smaller congress mirrored by larger committees from the larger congress that could interact in a manner similar to the 2 congresses above? The committee slots allocated to each party for each committee at both levels should probably be the same and reflect that party alignment of the members of the larger congress.

          I suspect such a plan would lead to the emergence of some smaller parties and might actually stabilize voters as different groups are able to latch onto a party that more carefully reflects their beliefs rather than swinging back and forth between the republican and democratic parties. For instance socially liberal fiscal conservatives could form their own party that could work together with other parties to be productive in congress rather than swinging back and forth depending on whether social or fiscal issues seem more important this year.

          That would seem likely to greatly increase productivity by putting all the cards on the table. For instance, if people swing to the fiscally conservative/socially liberal party their would be confusion (as their is right now in New Hampshire) as to whether those voters who swung to the Republican party were actually indicating a desire to ban gay marriage in addition to pursuing more conservative fiscal policies.

      •  We'd need a larger (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        badlands

        Congressional building.  Maybe they can take over Fedex Field.  We should abolish the Redskins anyway.

        "You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity"

        by newfie on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 02:29:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The whole Electoral College system (0+ / 0-)

    with the real possibility of "unfaithful" electors is just so awful.
    After Repub get done changing how EV's are awarded in PA in maybe other states, "unfaithful" electors could be the next area they seriously  start screwing with.

  •  Democrats tried to do this in Colorado in 2004 (0+ / 0-)

    The Rethuglicans are taking a page out of our playbook.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/...

  •  This would lead to riots (0+ / 0-)

    if Obama comfortably wins the popular vote but loses the electoral college because Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin get on board.

    Hopefully cooler heads prevail.

  •  PLEASE ! Get realistic (0+ / 0-)

    Unless I missed it buried in the comments, someone needs to point out that the Consitution allows the state legislatures, throught lawmaking process, to decide how the electors are selected.  In the beginning, the state legislatures chose the electors themselves.  Legally, it could be done.  Custom and tradition, however, dictates that the electors would be chosen by the voters.

    On the other hand, any change to the Electoral College would have to be done by constitutional amendment, which means 13 states could block a popular vote option.

    The practical reason for "winner take all" is that it attracts campaign attention, promises, and rewards.  If Pennslylvania adopted such a plan, both national campaigns would ignore it.  With only 3 or 4 electors in play either way, the attention would be removed from Pennslyvania and devoted to states where big chunks could be won or lost.  Pennslyvania influence in the election would be similar to that of Montana.

  •  National popular vote plan (0+ / 0-)
    If the GOP presses forward with their Pennsylvania plan, we'll have to respond somehow, and I think the national popular vote is the best plan.

    Presumably there is no possibility of this happening before the 2012 elections, right?

    NY State will not go along with it, since they have an R Senate, and they would almost have to be part of the bloc in order to achieve the necessarily electoral total.

    •  A lot of Republican legislators (0+ / 0-)

      Have supported the NPV plan in other states, and even in NY as well.

      Political Director, Daily Kos

      by David Nir on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 03:11:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  New York Supports national popular vote (0+ / 0-)

      June 7, 2011, the Republican-controlled New York Senate passed the National Popular Vote bill by a 47–13 margin, with Republicans favoring the bill by 21–11 and Democrats favoring it by 26–2. Republicans endorsed by the Conservative Party favored the bill 17–7. The bill now goes to the New York State Assembly, where it is sponsored by a majority of members.

      A survey of 800 New York voters conducted on December 22-23, 2008 showed 79% overall support for a national popular vote for President.

      By gender, support was 89% among women and 69% among men.

      By age, support was 60% among 18-29 year olds, 74% among 30-45 year olds, 85% among 46-65 year olds, and 82% for those older than 65.

      Support was 86% among Democrats, 66% among Republicans, 78% among Independence Party members (representing 8% of respondents), 50% among Conservative Party members (representing 3% of respondents), 100% among Working Families Party members (representing 2% of respondents), and 7% among Others (representing 7% of respondents).

      NationalPopularVote.com

  •  California (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    norm

    Republicans attempted the same thing in California in advance of the 2008 elections. Some efforts to fight back:

    http://nodirtytricks.com/

    I'm proud to serve as Director of Online Programs at the Courage Campaign.

    by Adam Bink on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 01:54:56 PM PDT

  •  this doesn't make sense to me. Don't we have (0+ / 0-)

    one man, one vote? So that, even though Dems are more concentrated, so are the congressional districts. Otherwise, Reps would consistently win the popular vote but not the Electoral vote?

    Je regretez tout. How's me French?

    by Mark B on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 01:57:11 PM PDT

  •  is it really legal (0+ / 0-)

    to create a state system that clearly favors one party over another.... is there an election lawyer(s) finding the statutes that prohibit RIGGING THE system for one party over another in PA or elsewhere?

    there should be asap challenge

    2012 It's not about Obama it's about your Moma. ~ Rev. Al Sharpton

    by anyname on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 02:33:26 PM PDT

    •  Nothing illegal about this (eom) (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      anyname

      Political Director, Daily Kos

      by David Nir on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 03:11:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I posted further down the thread (0+ / 0-)

        an article saying same thing;

        the article says there is GOP political opposition to the idea

        2012 It's not about Obama it's about your Moma. ~ Rev. Al Sharpton

        by anyname on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 03:20:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yep (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          anyname

          I noted in the post that there is some opposition. We'll see if it's enough.

          Political Director, Daily Kos

          by David Nir on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 03:27:44 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  do you know when the vote? (0+ / 0-)

            on the bill will be held - I'd like to take a closer look at this PA thing;

            2012 It's not about Obama it's about your Moma. ~ Rev. Al Sharpton

            by anyname on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 03:41:09 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Mother Jones article (0+ / 0-)

            http://motherjones.com/...

            UPDATE, September 14, 4:15 p.m. EST: The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact has come up a lot in the comments as a potential way to blunt the impact of the proposed Pennsylvania rule changes. Under the compact, which is an idea Akhil Reed Amar (quoted above) helped develop, states pledge to give all of their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote, regardless of the outcome in the state. It could work—if enough states adopted it. But so far, only nine states (including DC) representing just 132 electoral votes have signed on—and they're all solidly blue. Bills to join the compact are at various stages in a number of other states, but the problem is this: if Republican legislators are seriously considering the Pennsylvania plan, why would they turn around and embrace a proposal that has essentially the opposite effect? NPV is a powerful idea. But right now, it doesn't have the bipartisan support to counteract the Pennsylvania plan.

            *Correction: This sentence previously referred to Nevada and then New Hampshire. Those were both wrong. It's actually much, much worse for Obama than I originally thought. I also said 2012 where I meant 2008 and said both houses of the legislature in Mississippi were controlled by Dems. That was wrong too. I'm really sorry about the mistakes. (Return to the first corrected sentence.)

            2012 It's not about Obama it's about your Moma. ~ Rev. Al Sharpton

            by anyname on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 04:18:50 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  details (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    badlands

    http://www.politicspa.com/...

    Legally, there is nothing Democrats can do to stop the legal, constitutional bill. Their only hope is to win the public argument.

    But they may get some help.

    Republican opposition candidate.”

    Take a look at the suburban Philadelphia swing districts – currently represented by Republicans Jim Gerlach, Mike Fitzpatrick, Pat Meehan, and Charlie Dent – and examine the results of the last presidential election. In 2008, Obama won Gerlach’s district by 19 points, Fitzpatrick’s by 9, and Meehan’s and Dent’s by 13 each.

    It’s not hard to imagine why some of these members are nervous about the proposal, and uncomfortable with the idea of the full force of a presidential campaign trying to turn out Democratic voters in 2012 and beyond.

    “If I’m Jim Gerlach or Mike Fitzpatrick, I’m telling my allies in Harrisburg to push back against this with leadership,” said one PA-based GOP consultant with ties to all four southeast PA Republican congressmen.

    The Morning Call checked in with two of those four members:

    U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent, a Republican who represents the Lehigh Valley, worried about the political effect on non-presidential races. “I’m probably a little reluctant to be supportive of it … on political grounds,” he said.

    The move could cause political heartburn for Republican congressmen in marginal seats around Philadelphia, who usually are spared a big get-out-the-vote effort by the Democratic Party.

    Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach acknowledged that the increased attention in his Chester County-based district could have an impact, but was reluctant to fully dismiss the idea.

    “I’d like to learn a little more about why they think that’s a good idea for the commonwealth,” Gerlach said. “We’re going to talk about it as a delegation this week to get some sense of our members, what we think the pros and cons of that might be.”

    And some DC Republicans aren’t thrilled either – not just from a congressional perspective, but because it looks like the party is throwing in the towel on Pennsylvania in 2012.

    “Have you seen [Obama]’s numbers in Pennsylvania? He is highly vulnerable next year. We don’t to win Pennsylvania in 2012 and have an asterisk next to it,” said one source close to the Republican National Committee.

    Update: We neglected to include this snippet from DeCoursey’s column:

    But some party establishment figures, led by Republican State Committee Chairman Rob Gleason, have pushed back. Gleason, who declined to discuss the bill Tuesday due to a busy schedule, told bill supporters not to do this, and many other GOP heavyweights in the state party, even those allied with Gleason only in public most of the time, are taking his side.

    Gleason told advocates of this that after his party-building in Philadelphia and its suburbs, he expects to win all 20 of the state’s electoral votes for the GOP candidate. Other party establishment figures have also weighed in against the idea, and one legislative leader supporting the idea said: “There has been a lot of pushback.

    2012 It's not about Obama it's about your Moma. ~ Rev. Al Sharpton

    by anyname on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 03:01:57 PM PDT

    •  What's wrong with this picture? (0+ / 0-)

      "It’s not hard to imagine why some of these members are nervous about the proposal, and uncomfortable with the idea of the full force of a presidential campaign trying to turn out Democratic voters in 2012 and beyond."

      If this change would cause PA to be ingnored, why would they expect "the full force of a presidential campaign trying to turn out Democratic voters in 2012"?  Seems to contradict the prevailing wisdom.

  •  I used to support this method (0+ / 0-)

    I used to think Nebraska and Maine had it right--allocat the EVs based on wha tportion of CDs in the state went which way.

    However, I forgot about gerrymandering. My own state (NC) which is about as "Purple" a state as there is, and typically splits 7-6 or 8-5 (Dem favor) in our 13 congressional seats, has now been gerrymandered for 2012 by the newly-anointed GOP legislature where it is possibly that 10 out of 13 districts will go Republican for Congress (from 7D 6R right now). This in a state that went for Obama in 2008 and with a greater Democratic registration than Republican by a substantial margin!

    If there were a FAIR way to subdivide the state population and allocate EVs based on those subgroups' vote, I could see it, but gerrymandering will only get worse than ever if it can affect Presidential vote. Bad enough that it effects one House of Congress.

    •  Sorry, but your state is already toast in 2012 (0+ / 0-)

      It's still a red state in presidential elections.  All of those "R's" and Indies who Obama has been losing in droves were the ones who swung NC in 2008.  They're gone, even in the best election scenario.  

      With Obama's current poll numbers, I'll be shocked if we're even talking about NC being in play next summer.  Shocked.

  •  The Single Transferrable Vote (0+ / 0-)

    is the most fair voting system in existence, but it would be more effective for Congressional representation than for Presidential elections (probably).

    It would also solve the ridiculous problems posed by having only two parties. Can you imagine a system in which everyone here could vote for people who are actually willing to stand up to the ridiculous excuse for a grassroots movement that is the Tea Party? Or really, the Republican Party? Seriously. Can you imagine being able to vote for liberals who wear the term proudly?

  •  I live in PA - and this is what is important? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peptabysmal, badlands

    So far, our republican legistators and governor have focused on:

    -de-funding adultBasic health insurance kicking 42,000 people off of insurance
    -pushing a voter ID bill to disenfranchise democratic voters
    -pushing vouchers to take your tax dollars to pay for private/parochial schools
    -requiring onerous regulations on abortion clinics to further provide obstacles to women obtaining one.

    and now this - advocating a change in electoral votes.

    Where are the jobs bills?  Our poverty rate went up (just like the country).  Eastern PA was hit by hurricane and our tea party U.S. Senator Toomey (also on supercommittee) voted against increased funding to FEMA for disaster relief.

    Where is the help for the poor, the unemployed, the uninsured?

    They're too busy working on this crap.

  •  Tom Corbetts PA Plan - Rig The System (0+ / 0-)

    http://blogs.philadelphiaweekly.com/...

    Gov. Corbett’s Plan to Disenfranchise PA Voters

    At some point you’ve got to call a spade a spade. And the facts point to Governor Tom Corbett doing everything he can to make sure Democrats—even if they represent the majority of the state—are underrepresented in elections, allowing Republicans to weasel their way to more representation in the Keystone State and tip the scale nationally.

    Yesterday, we wrote in the Daily Grinder, “A Pennsylvania Senate Republican wants to change the way the state’s electoral votes are counted. Instead of a winner-take-all system, Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi’s new bill would have each electoral district elect one presidential elector and two statewide. This bill would of course favor Republicans since the state bookends go Democrat and have handed the Ds the state in presidential elections the last five times, even though Republicans consistently own the Legislature.”

    Yeah, the governor is on board with this plan, too.

    And the original report in the Post-Gazette has caught a bunch of online news sources’ attention. Going off what we wrote in our little blurb, it should be duly noted that President Barack Obama, while owning (or, if you will PWNING) John McCain by 10 points in the 2008 election, that would, according to Corbett’s plan, net Obama only 11 of the state’s 21 electoral votes. Whereas in most red states throughout the middle of the country, like Texas, the Republican would “take all” the electoral votes. The plan would likely eliminate Pennsylvania’s place as a “vital” or “swing” state.

    As Think Progress notes:

        Let’s be clear, the Electoral College is a terrible idea. It has, on three occasions, allowed the loser of the national popular vote to enter the White House. It forces presidential candidates to pander to swing states and ignore the needs of the vast majority of the nation.

        If the entire nation were to adopt Corbett’s plan of doling out electoral votes by congressional district, it would eliminate many of the problems caused by our current system.

        But when a major blue state’s Republican leadership adopts this kind of reform piecemeal, it is nothing less than an attempt to rig the election.


    2012 It's not about Obama it's about your Moma. ~ Rev. Al Sharpton

    by anyname on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 04:51:58 PM PDT

  •  Actions to Consider (0+ / 0-)

    Blockage:

    - Denial of quorum by Dem members of state legislatures leaving the state (the "Wisconsin 14")

    Retaliation:

    - (Direct) Recall of state legislators and governors who support splitting electoral votes (definitely possible in WI and MI, not sure about OH and PA).  Add this issue to the WI and MI gubernatorial recall campaigns already underway if those Governors support a split electoral college vote.  

    - (Indirect) Mid-term redistricting (think DeLay of TX) by Dem controlled state legislators and governors to reduce the number of GOPig seats in the U. S. House from those states to as close to zero as possible

    - (Indirect) Statewide people's initiatives to strip state legislatures of the power to draw district lines and place that authority in the hands of an independent body.  Push other initiatives to repeal corporate personhood, reform campaign finance, raise taxes on the high end, and go after other things GOPigs hold dear.

    In The Future:

    - National Popular Vote as already discussed in pervious comments (cannot be implemented in time for the 2012 election)

    - If all else fails:  a Constitutional Convention initiated by state legislatures (with all the inherent downside risks) to eliminate the Electoral College

  •  Philosophically...i like (0+ / 0-)

    the idea of proportional Electoral college votes. It does several things. 1) it makes everyones vote much more equal. Today if you are an R in a blue state or a D in a red state, your vote does not really matter. 2) it would get rid of 'swing' states. The only are swing states due to winner take all. 3) it would force candidates to truly be national is their thinking. 4) small states would not be ignored. 5) no more worries like Florida with bush v gore. 600+ votes one way or the other wouold not control the EC.

    I dont like the compact idea. I dont want my votes impact swayed by what happens in other states. And since only some states will choose to participate, it looks simply manipulative to me.

      National popular vote would be the ideal, but given you need an amendment to do it, i dont see that happening.

    The liver is evil - It must be destroyed

    by somewhere in ohio on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 11:51:35 PM PDT

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