PA: Electoral College change could spell trouble for Obama

posted by
September 14, 2011
The Raw Story    
Posted in News, PND News

"Though Pennsylvania has voted Democrat in every presidential election for the past two decades and President Barack Obama won the state 55-44 in 2008, a Republican legislative tactic could cost him a 2012 victory there even if he wins the state's popular vote. ... Republican legislators in the state have proposed a change in the way its 20 electoral votes are distributed. ... For 2012, Pennsylvania is considering a plan to allocate one vote to each of its 18 congressional districts. Win one district, win one electoral vote, and so on. The remaining two votes would go to the statewide winner of the popular vote." [editor's note: What? Allow "democracy" to actually become decentralized? Such heresy, and exactly what I've been advocating for years! - SAT] (09/14/11)  

Tags: ,

  • mvymvy

    Republican legislators seem quite “confused” about the merits of the congressional district method. In Nebraska, Republican legislators are now saying they must change from the congressional district method to go back to state winner-take-all, while in Pennsylvania, Republican legislators are just as strongly arguing that they must change from the winner-take-all method to the congressional district method.

    Dividing Pennsylvania’s electoral votes by congressional district would magnify the worst features of the Electoral College system and not reflect the diversity of Pennsylvania.

    The district approach would provide less incentive for presidential candidates to campaign in all Pennsylvania districts and would not focus the candidates’ attention to issues of concern to the state as a whole. Candidates would have no reason to campaign in districts where they are comfortably ahead or hopelessly behind.

    Due to gerrymandering, in 2008, only 4 Pennsylvania congressional districts were competitive.

    In Maine, where they award electoral votes by congressional district, the closely divided 2nd congressional district received campaign events in 2008 (whereas Maine’s 1st reliably Democratic district was ignored).

    In Nebraska, which also uses the district method, the 2008 presidential campaigns did not pay the slightest attention to the people of Nebraska’s reliably Republican 1st and 3rd congressional districts because it was a foregone conclusion that McCain would win the most popular votes in both of those districts. The issues relevant to voters of the 2nd district (the Omaha area) mattered, while the (very different) issues relevant to the remaining (mostly rural) two-thirds of the state were irrelevant.

    When votes matter, presidential candidates vigorously solicit those voters. When votes don’t matter, they ignore those areas.

    Nationwide, there are only 55 “battleground” districts that are competitive in presidential elections. Seven-eighths of the nation’s congressional districts would be ignored if a district-level winner-take-all system were used nationally.

    If the district approach were used nationally, it would be less fair and less accurately reflect the will of the people than the current system. In 2004, Bush won 50.7% of the popular vote, but 59% of the districts. Although Bush lost the national popular vote in 2000, he won 55% of the country’s congressional districts.

    Because there are generally more close votes on district levels than states as whole, district elections increase the opportunity for error. The larger the voting base, the less opportunity there is for an especially close vote.

    Also, a second-place candidate could still win the White House without winning the national popular vote.

    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.

    • "The district approach would provide less incentive for presidential candidates to campaign in all Pennsylvania districts"

      Quite the contrary. Right now if a candidate gets 50.x%, he gets all the electoral votes, so the incentive is to campaign heavily and try to win big in as many population centers as he has to to accomplish just that.

      If every district's electoral vote is up in the air, the candidate will have to pursue each one, not just expect it to fall in his lap because he won in other areas.

      • I'm not sure what you're getting at. Allocation of scarce resources — such as campaign money and candidate time — will always be affected by perceptions of whether or not an area is "winnable." Nothing is going to change that.

        Allocating electoral votes by district vote rather than state popular vote, however, does give the candidates incentives to go after votes in states they might otherwise ignore. Just as you cite Nebraska, so will I — if Nebraksa did not use the district method, a Democratic candidate would never bother campaigning there.

        • I thought we were talking about allocation of electoral votes by district, not about National Popular Vote.

          Keep in mind, I don't care that much how you go about electing your president, except to the extent that you want to inflict that president on me after you've chosen him.

Our Sponsors