On January 15, 2013, Rachel Maddow spent ten minutes (video) warning her audience about the GOP's plan to change how some states might change the way some states select their Presidential Electors. Under the GOP plan, some states would stop selecting electors using the predominant winner take all model and award electors by US House districts. The latter model is used currently by Maine and Nebraska. This could pose serious problems for us in 2016 if GOP legislatures change the rules in reliably blue states. See this rec listed diary. However, there are some things to keep in mind.
First, changing the rules could backfire in some states. According to Maddow, the states most likely to change their rules are Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin. These are states that Obama won where the GOP controls the political branches of state government. Granted, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin are generally blue states, and if the rules change in those states, it will drag down on our 2016 nominee. However, Florida, Ohio, and Virginia are swing states. Moreover, in 2012, FL and VA were tilted toward the GOP in Nate Silver's probability analysis. We had a big advantage last year because Obama is a consummate politician like Clinton and Dub-ya; Romney was worse than Bob Dole and John McCain in 2008. If the GOP candidate gets the highest vote total in FL in 2016, the House district plan costs him (and it will be a "him") electors in the greater Miami area and maybe in the I-4 corridor.
Second, if the GOP pushes for changes in blue states only, then it becomes a blatant, unfair power grab. This would be a potent line of attack with moderate voters because it violates basic notions of little-d democratic fairness. Our line of attack is, "Why not change the rules in Georgia, Texas, and other southern states? Simply, they want to silence the votes of Democrats living in big cities while increasing the power of those living in deep red areas." Indeed, we can point out the Nebraska Legislature thought about adopting a winner take all system for 2012 to prevent Obama from winning an elector in Omaha as he did in 2008.
Third, if the rules change, campaign strategies will also change. Campaigns will shift their focus away from winning statewide races to winning House districts and states that still use winner take all. This could be bad for GOP representatives living in swing districts who would face battles on two fronts. Indeed, the PA GOP thought about adopting a congressional district plan before 2012. However, GOP House freshmen didn't want to campaign against their House opponent and President Obama.
Fourth, we have a great counterplan: the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. If that plan is adopted, every vote counts equally. Votes by Democrats in red states and Republicans in blue states will count for something. The parties cannot gerrymander their way to victory. Yes, the Democrats would have an advantage by focusing on big cities, but Republicans would be able to focus on suburbs and exurbs. Adopting the compact would be very difficult to implement by the end of 2015; however, it would point the way forward to a better system. It would compare favorably to the Maine/Nebraska system.
In conclusion, we have great arguments against the GOP scheme to rig the 2016 election. Moreover, adopting the Maine plan is not a slam dunk for the GOP so we many even be able to convince Republican state legislators to reject it. In the short term, that's our best hope to prevent the proposed changes.
NOTE: So, this entry did not make the rec list; however, I did get a some love from the Rachel Maddow Show (from Jan 25 show; see time index 08:20) even if she did completely ignore the substance of the post. In the video, she comments that of the six states considering the Maine/Nebraska plan, only Michigan is now seriously considering moving ahead. Since this story has gained traction nationally, key government leaders in Florida and Virginia have rejected the Maine/Nebraska plan. Officials in Ohio and Pennsylvania are now cool to it. No word yet on what Scott Walker is thinking. However, Michigan has been a solid blue state since 1990 (Bush 41 won in 1988, Clinton in 1992), and Michigan will have 16 electoral votes in 2016 and 2020.
Also, take a look at journal entitled Electoral college Redmap strategy is detrimental to the Republican Reps.