Republicans in Pennsylvania may change the way their electoral votes are appoportioned and Democrats are crying foul.
Actually, they’re crying a heckuva lot more than that, but we’re used to their hysteria by now. Apparently, Keystone state Republicans want to go from a traditional “winner take all” electoral system where the winner of the popular vote for president in the state gets all 20 electoral votes, to a system that would award one electoral vote for each of 18 congressional districts won (the overall winner would get the two remaining electoral votes representing the 2 US senators.)
This proposal has been met by liberals with something approaching that scene in Mission Impossible III where Ethan Hunt’s young protege’s head explodes from having a small bomb implanted in her brain.
Nick Bauman of Mother Jones:
So far, Democrats have been fighting back with the argument that switching to allocating electoral votes by congressional district would reduce Pennsylvania’s importance in the presidential race. “Presidential elections are decided by ‘basically Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, and Florida,’ because each is a swing state with a large block of electoral votes up for grabs,” former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. That, Rendell said, gives Pennsylvania more pull with presidents of both parties. But that argument “doesn’t hold much sway with state legislators,” Fiddler says. And if rule changes in Pennsylvania or other Rust Belt states put a Republican in the White House, the president might be more indebted to party leadership there, not less.
For now, the Democrats’—and Obama’s—only real way of fighting back is political. “The political solution, if there is one, is going to have to come from getting people outraged about this,” Amar says. “This is not American fair play; it’s a partisan steamroller changing the fundamental rules of the small-d democratic game for purely party advantage. Trying to structure the world so that even the person who wins the state loses the state’s electoral vote: That is new under the sun.” He adds, “This is big.”
You want “fair play?” You want changing the rules for “purely party advantage?” OK, well how do you explain Democratic support for this change in the electoral college tradition:
Brown’s signature makes California the ninth state to sign on to the effort, which would hand the electoral votes of all participating states to the presidential candidate who wins the most votes nationwide. Currently, California’s 55 electoral votes go to the person who wins the most votes in the state.
Under the new law, most California voters could choose one candidate, but the state’s electoral votes could ultimately go to the competitor; however, it also would make it impossible for a president to win an election without a majority of support nationally.
Get that? Even if a Republican wins California some day, instead of getting 55 electoral votes, unless he’s ahead in the popular vote, he will get zero. And it’s no surprise that every single one of those 9 states signed on to the plan regularly vote Democratic in national elections.
The Pennsylvania GOP is advocating a perfectly legal change in how electoral votes are awarded. The plan advocated by Democrats would have gutted the Electoral College and assured a Democratic president is seated in Washington far into the future because winning the popular vote by concentrating efforts in urban areas where Democrats dominate (and are able to steal votes) is easier, and more efficient than having to run a truly national campaign.
I share worries about changing the apportionment of electoral votes regardless if a Republican or Democrat does it. The current system has held us in good stead for a very long time and while it is cumbersome, it also guarantees that only a candidate who can win in all regions of the country becomes president. Moving to a direct election scenario (or diluting a state’s impact on the election as PA Republicans wish to do) would inevitably skew results for candidates who had a far narrower appeal — mostly urban venues and areas where population density was greatest. The Electoral College as is forces a national candidate to run a national race — a much to be desired outcome compared to the alternative.
The Constitution is silent about any hard and fast rules regarding apportionment of electoral votes. States are free to come up with any rules they wish. But before liberals rend their garments in mourning for “fair play” perhaps they should look to their own efforts in this regard and stop the nauseating hypocrisy.