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It has been reported that Republicans are trying to change the way electoral college votes are awarded in certain states.

Basically, Republicans who have control of states that went for President Obama in the 2012 election are pushing for their states to change how they award electoral votes. While almost every state awards electoral votes on a winner-take-all basis, Republicans want these states to instead award one vote to the winner of each congressional district.

The other two electoral votes that each state has would likely would be given to the statewide winner

The goal of these Republicans is to make it more likely that a Republican is elected President.  According to The Washington Post article cited above, Romney would have won the election if this system had been in place in  Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin in 2012.

While I think that these efforts by the GOP should be strongly opposed by the Democrats, I do think that there are some potential downsides for the Republican Party if this plan is put into effect.

1.  This Plan May Help the Democrats Take Back the House.  Right now the Democratic Presidential Candidate puts the candidate's resources in blue areas of the state. This is because increasing the number of votes for the Democratic Presidential candidate in those areas will help the Democratic Presidential Candidate win a majority in that state, which will result in all of the electors of that state being awarded to the Democratic Presidential Candidate.  If however the electors are awarded based on the winner of the vote in each Congressional District, there will be no reason for the Democratic Presidential Candidate to put resources into blue Congressional Districts since there would be almost certainly a Democratic victory there.  So where would the Democratic Presidential Candidate and the Democratic Party shift the resources to?  It would be to the swing Congressional Districts and the leaning Republican Congressional Districts.  Imagine the army of Obama volunteers from the last election getting out the Democratic vote in swing and Republican Districts.  These additional resources could result in a few extra GOP Congressional incumbent losses (and Nancy Pelosi as speaker of the House)

2.  The Plan May Result in the Democratic Presidential Candidate Being Awarded Some Electors Even Though That Candidate Lost the Popular Vote of the State.  While I recognize that this is highly unlikely to happen in certain states like Michigan where the Democrat normally wins, it is not true of all of the states.   Think about Virginia.  It is a true swing state and a Democratic victory there was by no means guaranteed in the last election.   So if Mitt Romney had barely won the popular vote in Virginia and this plan had been in place, Barack Obama would have picked up a few electors.  

3.  This Plan May Increase Democratic Turnout.  As the last election showed, voters did not like GOP voter suppression efforts, and it made some Democrats even more motivated to turn out to vote in the Presidential Election.

4.  It May Aid Democratic Efforts to Win Control of the State Legislatures in These States .  If these plans are put in effect, they can be repealed by the next Democratic legislature.  In the next statewide elections, these plans will be portrayed as the GOP not playing fair, and there will be a lot of races against popular Republican incumbents where the message will be that a vote for Republican incumbent is a vote for the plan.  This may not sit well with voters who think that the GOP has gone too far.  And with the implications for the next Presidential election, people who normally only volunteer in Presidential elections could be persuaded to help in the state races.  And this would include volunteers in other states, who could be persuaded to come help given the potential implications for the next Presidential election.  

Maybe if we make it clear that there is a potential downside for the GOP if they proceed with these plans, they will abandon their efforts to pass this type of legislation.  

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Comment Preferences

  •  These points are all valid but (24+ / 0-)

    the key issue is that the GOP is targeting reliable blue states without which Democrats can't win elections.  Doing this in VA or FL is foolhardy on the GOP's part, because they can't win without all of those EVs, but we can.  However, what is being proposed in PA, MI and WI is truly concerning.  We can't get to 270 without all of those EVs.  We need to pull out all the stops to retake control of these states.

    Alternative rock with something to say:

    by khyber900 on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 07:25:57 PM PST

    •  Ohio. Votes 50-50, Sends 75:25 to the House. (7+ / 0-)

      That'll be the same for our electoral votes. Republicans will always take most of Ohio.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 07:34:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, and alas, no matter how motivated (0+ / 0-)

        voters and activists are, your points 1 and 4 are pretty much invalid in Ohio UNTIL redistricting. While the votes split close to 50/50 every election, Ohio's Senate has been 2/3rds Republican for over a decade. This year, the GOP won a veto-proof majority in the House — despite Democratic candidates actually getting more votes statewide. So if those two things can't happen, then 3 becomes unlikely as well. Voters are more likely to get discouraged. That leaves the feeble chance at 2, which isn't going to help much.

        Jon Husted is a dick.

        by anastasia p on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 08:20:44 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Does anyone know (4+ / 0-)

      If there are any states that went to Romney, but have a majority of Democrats in the legislatures who could do the same thing, and Obama would've collected EV's from blue districts in those states, to tip Romney states in favor of Obama?

      It sounds unlikely, but I was wondering if anyone has any back of the envelope numbers on that?

    •  Yes, I agree that it is concerning (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      coquiero, SilentBrook

      and they are proceeding with their plans because they think that it is in their interest.

      That is why I am trying to point out some negatives for the GOP if they move forward.  

      If we can plant the seeds of doubt that this is the best thing for Republicans to do, the Republicans may lose some votes for these plans, and maybe we can then defeat them (or they may abandon them all together)

      •  I think it's just as dangerous (0+ / 0-)

        to write a diary that might make dems complacent about this.  

        Political compass: -8.75 / -4.72

        by Mark Mywurtz on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 03:49:19 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Point is not to make dems complacent (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          but for dems to have some talking points that they can use for why GOP plans could actually not be in the GOP's best interest and to use these talking points to try to make the GOP understand that these plans may not be in their best interest.

          If we don't have a majority of the legislature, there is little we can do to stop what the GOP wants to do, short of winning the next election and repealing.   Our best hope now is to convince them that it is a bad idea by making them think that their actions might actually help democrats if they pass it.  

          •  Really, the biggest negative (0+ / 0-)

            is to arouse public ire about this idea and make them pay on a statewide level. In Ohio, it is almost impossible to retake either chamber of the general assembly or win a majority of congressional seats, no matter how motivated Democratic voters are. The gerrymander is just too brutal. Where we can win is statewide, and we need to sweep all these assholes from statewide office in 2014.

            Jon Husted is a dick.

            by anastasia p on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 08:22:36 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Let them (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      If they don't get Florida in on it they still lose the last election.

      If they pulled the same thing they proposed in VA in PA, MI, WI, OH, and VA, but not Florida we still end up with more than 270 EVs (and thats ignoring point 1 above, which is that the campaign would deploy its resources differently.)

      Yes, it makes it harder - what was a relatively blow out in the popular vote, becomes a closer win in the EC. But it would still be a win.

      •  We can't count on President Obama's margin (0+ / 0-)

        of victory the next time.  The next one could be closer.  

        We should try to convince them that they will be helping democrats if they pass the legislation (so that maybe they will change their mind).   And if it passes, be prepared to act as I am describing above.  

  •  Under current gerrymandering (16+ / 0-)

    The Republicans would have a 12 million vote cushion in the popular vote and would STILL win.

    This is the most serious threat to democratic elections in the history of this nation.

    •  Donors Could Save Huge Amounts of Money on (6+ / 0-)

      Presidential and house races and throw it all on the Senate races.

      By 2016 we could be facing a permanent ruling minority and yes the end of democracy. Though it would really be the end of democratic oligarchy to full-bore oligarchy.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 07:36:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I hope you're right but... (5+ / 0-)

    this really concerns me.  I don't see a near-term point of attack to fight this.  Sure, the dems can begin rolling back the gerrymandering but that's a slow process.

    •  I think that the near term point of attack (6+ / 0-)

      is making it known that if they pass these plans, that we will target specific districts for our army of get out the vote volunteers.  

      And if we can turn out our vote in some of these districts, it could put Congressman Republican's seat in jeopardy.  

      So if you take for example Pennsylvania, I am sure that Congressman Republican in a lean Republican District, would rather have our very organized GOTV operation in Philadelphia rather than his district.  

      So when he realizes this, he may ask the state GOP party leaders not to move forward with their plans.

      •  An army of GOTV volunteers (0+ / 0-)

        cannot turn over a badly gerrymandered district. We saw this in Ohio. We had a bunch of districts with excellent, highly motivated candidates who worked their butts off but lost because the districts were gerrymandered. You can do GOTV until the cows come home, but the Republicans have rigged the districts too badly. Here in Ohio, yeah, if we dumped ALL our resources into maybe one district, we could pick up a seat. MAYBE. (We should have picked up 16 this year and lost it narrowed – we dumped tons into that district and had an amazing candidate who is now being touted for governor. Go, Betty!) But that would have still left us at a bad deficit.

        Jon Husted is a dick.

        by anastasia p on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 08:25:53 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Yes! Great analysis (8+ / 0-)

    I think your dead-on with this point:

    2.  The Plan May Result in the Democratic Presidential Candidate Being Awarded Some Electors Even Though That Candidate Lost the Popular Vote of the State.  While I recognize that this is highly unlikely to happen in certain states like Michigan where the Democrat normally wins, it is not true of all of the states.   Think about Virginia.  It is a true swing state and a Democratic victory there was by no means guaranteed in the last election.   So if Mitt Romney had barely won the popular vote in Virginia and this plan had been in place, Barack Obama would have picked up a few electors.  
    Also, I assume lawsuits will ensue, accusing the GOP of trying to disenfranchise minority voters in violation of Voting Rights Act.

    The civil rights, gay rights and women's movements, designed to allow others to reach for power previously grasped only by white men, have made a real difference, and the outlines of 21st century America have emerged. -- Paul West of LA Times

    by LiberalLady on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 07:40:22 PM PST

  •  Democrats should say they'll agree to the plan (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pierre9045, deepeco, coquiero, SilentBrook

    If Texas agrees to split its EVs on congressional districts.  If they say no on that, then call them out for their hypocrisy.

    Gerrymandering sucks, but the republicans largely retained the house because the margin was close enough for the GOP to win those swing districts and that urban areas tend to pack more democrats into fewer districts.

    •  But that's the point here (9+ / 0-)

      There's no way to threaten republicans in Michigan with a trade-off for Texas.  States are autonomous with how they decide to allocate electoral votes.  The problem is that red states will continue to be winner take all while purple states adopt the republican friendly gerrymandered scheme.  The net effect is that dem voters get shafted.

      •  If too many states have "winner take all" (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        coquiero, night cat, SilentBrook

        Then it is stupid for a state to cripple their electoral strength by splitting their EVs proportionally.  Maine and Nebraska are the only ones who do this.

        I used the Texas example for purely rhetorical reasons, of course.  It's a good counterargument in response to Republican talking points when they cry about votes from their side being disenfranchised because of the "winner take all" system.

        And if the 2012 elections was actually decided on a district-by-district EV basis, I'm certain that the Obama campaign would have shifted resources to those swing districts in order to win them rather than using the GOTV process in those safe Democratic districts.  The election results would have looked a lot different, and I'm certain that a lot of those red districts that elected Republican congressman in Ohio and Pennsylvania would have gone Democratic.  And the House composition in the end would be less Republican.

        It's like what George Bush said in 2000 responding to somebody who asked him if he felt that his mandate was in question because he won the EV in spite of losing the popular vote.  He said that if the elections was based purely on the popular vote, then he would have expended more resources to run up the vote in his home state of Texas.  If 60,000 votes had swung Kerry's way in 2004, then he would have won the electoral college in spite of losing the popular vote by 2.5 million margin.  But that was the nature of that election cycle -- and Kerry (and Bush) operated under the rules that existed at the time.

      •  So why do we keep shooting ourselves (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        night cat, howd, importer

        (figuratively speaking) in the foot

        For example, why isn't California gerrymandered in a MA or MD way, where we get WAY more Dem representatives than we should based on the popular vote?

        Like I say, we agree to "play nice" and by doing so turn ourselves into perennial losers.

    •  This is what I always say (0+ / 0-)

      when the GOP in someplace like Illinois whines about gerrymandering. "Give us Texas, suckers. Then we'll talk." I also say that to Democrats who tsk tsk about gerrymandering and think we should unilaterally disarm.

      Jon Husted is a dick.

      by anastasia p on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 08:27:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm tired of them screwing with (5+ / 0-)

    our rights to a fair election...dump the electoral college and end Gerrymandering. Popular vote rules.

    I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    by cyeko on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 08:33:23 PM PST

    •  And call them out for being anti-democratic (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cyeko, howd, SilentBrook

      (as in democracy not the party)

      •  Not Just Anti-Democratic - Corrupt Cheaters (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        night cat, SilentBrook

        The near point action that you talk about above, should in my opinion, be a PR one, in which we call out the Republicans for having to resort to gaming the system in order to win.  

        In calling out the Republicans about their selective electoral voting scheme, I would also make the point that this is consistent with how Republican rule, game the system for themselves and their friends, just like our economy.

        Poor man wants to be rich. Rich man wants to king. And the king ain't satisifed until he rules everything. B.Springsteen

        by howd on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 06:09:23 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  The Govenors would be DOA in 14 (5+ / 0-)

    If any of these govenors who are all up for re-election in a year (Corbett, Snyder, Scott, Walker, Kasick,McDonnell) support this stunt, they might as well be signing their death warrant cause they would not only lose in a landslide for the governors race in 2014 by a democrat but it would possibly be the end of their political career.  This scandal would follow them for the rest of their lives. They better be think twice about supporting this.  Chris Matthews said this stunt will not happen because if the american people get a grasp of their votes going to one candidate and that candidate wins overwhelmingly and he still loses the electoral votes because of this GOP scheme, he said it would be a revolution in the streets.

    •  This is true. It would help us oust Kasich. (0+ / 0-)

      Not just Kasich, but he would take Mikey DeWhiny (AG) Teabaggin Dave Yost (auditor), Jon Husted (secretary of voter suppres .. I mean STATE) and Josh "The Empty Suit" Mandel (treasurer) will him.

      Jon Husted is a dick.

      by anastasia p on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 08:29:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The big factor in all future elections at almost (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    every level is cyber manipulation.  Both parties know it.  Polling places and voter volume won't matter.  The contests will be played out in the ether zone.  I think Karl Rove tipped the GOP's hand when he urged Fox to wait to see how Ohio played out because they thought they had the fix firmly in place there, but the cyber counter insurgents did their job.  The GOP can't complain aloud about it because doing so implicates them in election fraud.  It's why the Romney campaign was oblivious to the polls; they didn't think they would matter.

    Building a better America with activism, cooperation, ingenuity and snacks.

    by judyms9 on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 08:45:13 PM PST

    •  Close to HRing that one (0+ / 0-)

      Do you seriously think that if they had control of "cyber manipulation," they would be pulling this dangerously undemocratic crap which stands every chance of blowing up in their face?

      No, Karl Rove did not "tip his hand." There was no "fix." All of the weak tea that led people to concoct this tale has been debunked. And it's time we got OUR heads out of our asses and looked at reality staring us in the face.

      As long as people are spreading crap like this, it can cause people to ignore REAL issues like the one outlined in this diary. I mean, why bother to fight against what they are REALLY doing when we can brood about our helplessness in the face of some sci-fi fantasy?

      Actually, I may think about going back and HRing this anyway.

      Jon Husted is a dick.

      by anastasia p on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 08:33:41 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The analysis depends on one big assumption. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    splashy, coquiero

    The assumption is that these actions by the gop will awaken a Giant Sleeping Democratic Party Colossus.   Dems hidden away in gop districts will just come out election time fighting mad.  

    Not so sure, but Dem party leadership better act now and not get blindsided as they seemed to be over legalized voter suppression.

  •  Without the Citizens United decision, none of (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    coquiero, SilentBrook

    these GOP proposals sees the light of day.

  •  Or, it could give the push to change it all (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    night cat

    To where all the states go with the popular vote and pretty much bypass the Electoral College.

    That would be the best outcome, so that everyone would feel that their vote mattered - liberals in the conservative states, and conservatives in the liberal states.

    Women create the entire labor force. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

    by splashy on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 01:21:44 AM PST

  •  Regarding your 4th point (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    you're giving the electorate WAY too much credit to see through the bullshit and you're giving the media WAAAAYYYY too much credit if you think it's going to inform us.  

    Political compass: -8.75 / -4.72

    by Mark Mywurtz on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 03:52:31 AM PST

  •  this is why i am not worried (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    every time the gop try to suppress votes, it angers the democrats and they come out in full force. the gop have learned nothing from what happened in 2012.

    everything they attempt to do fails. for one thing, they are narrow minded, and narrow minded people never see the full picture, so they will not see the disadvantages to doing this.

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