The Left wants to abolish the Electoral College and adopt a popular vote format. Some on the Right want to tinker with the Electoral College by essentially award a state’s votes much like Nebraska and Maine currently do. There, the winner of a congressional district wins that district’s electoral vote. The winner of the statewide vote then gets an additional two electoral votes. Thus, in a state like Texas with with 38 electoral votes, if the Republican candidate wins 20 of 36 congressional districts and the overall vote in the state, they would be rewarded 22 electoral votes and the Democrat would get 16. It would eliminate the winner-take-all format. Both are bad ideas!!!
In a previous article, I argued against using winner-take-all formats in presidential primaries and adopting a proportional system. However, an analysis using that system in a simulation showed that Donald Trump would have been the GOP nominee under both systems, although opponents may have remained in the race longer under a proportional system. Choosing a party’s nominee and choosing a President are two things totally different. Party primaries should be, I argued, closed but certainly not general elections. In the primary aspect, closed and proportional make sense.
Based upon congressional district alignments at the time (since they are changed every ten years), this writer looked back to the four presidential races going back to 2000 and compared the current system against the proposed system. In those four races, there would have been no difference in the eventual outcome. We would have had a President Bush in 2000 and 2004 and a President Obama in 2008 and 2012.
Only in the 2000 election would this system have made any discernible difference. Instead of a 271-266 electoral vote victory for Bush and all the drama involved over the Florida vote that pushed him over the 270 threshold, it would have been avoided with a 290-247 electoral vote victory. Even if he (Bush) had lost Florida overall, it would not have made a difference.
Some of the mistaken belief that changing the system would benefit the GOP is based upon these two maps:
The map on the left above is the 2012 results by county, while the map on the right is 2012 results by congressional district. Both are rather impressive if you are a Republican. There is a lot of red area there. But those red areas are sparsely populated ones. This also illustrates a problem for the GOP going forward.
Despite all those red counties, red congressional districts and red states, it is painfully obvious that for the Republican Party to have any presidential electoral success, they need to pick off some of these urban areas. Gimmickry tricks, like tinkering with the Electoral College, is not going to win an election. We can say, “Well, what difference would it make?” but if the difference is just to make the final count look closer or larger, then by all means- change the Electoral College.
Or we can do the better thing and leave well enough alone and establish a principled agenda, govern through those principles, and put forth an electable candidate who will follow those principles. In other words, leave the stupid ideas for the Left.