Posts Tagged ‘Wonkery’

Unpopular Vote

Saturday, October 20th, 2012

Inspired by Gallup poll presents an interesting possibility (Ezra Klein, Washington Post 10/20/12 page A2) about the possibility that President Obama will win the electoral vote but lose the popular vote (don’t miss my further analysis and own proposal after the poem part).

 “Obama is winning the West (+6), the East (+4), and the Midwest(+4). The only region he’s losing is the South. But he’s losing the South, among likely voters, by 22 points. That’s enough, in Gallup’s poll, for him to be behind in the national vote. But it’s hard to see how that puts him behind in the electoral college. If Gallup is right, then that looks to me like we’re headed for an electoral college/popular vote split.” — Ezra Klein

 

An Obama-Romney electoral/popular vote split

Wouldn’t very well with the radical right sit.

 

Never mind that if it were the other way around,

Shouts of “crybaby!” and “Constitution!” would abound.

 

Never mind that the GOP’s voter suppression

Shows that for them “fair and square” is just a hollow expression.

 

Never mind they were fine when it happened in 2000 with Bush-Gore

And then almost happened again in 2004.

 

If that happened this year they’d scream bloody murder,

And some of the crazies among them would contemplate murder.

 

Of course, the rabid right already President Obama’s legitimacy denies,

So none of that would come as a surprise.

 

But one possible silver lining of such a result:

America might pass a popular vote amendment as a result.

 

That would solve the problem once and for all,

And finally give more equal voting rights to all.

 

Otherwise, elections will continue to be by just a few states decided,

With different voters’ influence seriously lopsided.

 

(The electoral process in this way revising

Would also give relief to swing state voters inundated with advertising.)

 

So ironically, might an unpopular vote

Lead to adoption of the popular vote?

 

Could this finally be something about which Dems and Republicans agreed?

An interesting possibility indeed.

***

A strong majority of both Dems and Repubs support an amendment to the Constitution to allow direct voting for President and Vice President, though Dems do so by a higher majority (78% versus 60% for Republicans; 73% of Independents also support direct elections). An Obama electoral vote win and popular vote loss might boost Republican interest in direct elections, which might be enough to put a Constitutional amendment over the edge.

Even with a electoral/popular vote split that would energize the right (and assuming that enough Dems would continue to support direct presidential voting on the merits), passing a Constitutional amendment is no easy task. There is however an easier alternative: the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. Eight states and DC have so far signed this agreement, which will come into force when enough states sign to have an absolute majority in the electoral college (they’re now 49% of the way there with 132 electoral votes). When the compact goes into force, the states will by state law allocate their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote total, thus guaranteeing that the winner of the popular vote will win the election. An Obama electoral vote win/popular vote loss might make that more likely as well, since it might prompt a few Southern states (and maybe some other ones as well) to join in (so far, none have).

Here’s a possible twist on the compact that works even in the absence of a committed 270 electoral votes. Starting immediately, the compact states could achieve the compact’s goal of making every vote count by allocating all of the participating states’ electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote in those states. This would effectively create one superstate (in electoral college terms), which would therefore make each of the participating states a battleground state, by definition, and each vote in those participating states would count equally, and at least equal to (if not even more valuable than) votes in the regular “battleground” states. With 132 electoral votes, the existing compact states already have enough electoral clout to put this into effect, which would create a strong incentive for other states to join the compact.

In fact, it might even make sense for the participating states to leave the compact as is—i.e., continue to allocate participating states’ electoral votes based on the vote total for those states—even after the 270 vote threshold is reached. That would avoid (in a sense) the situation which some of the compact’s opponents have described in which a state would allocate its electoral votes to the candidate that lost the election in that case. While that might still be the case on anindividual state basis, it would not be the case for participating states as a whole. Individual voters in a state who voted for the losing candidate would be no more disenfranchised than voters in a congressional district who had voted for a candidate who did not win the state as a whole. This approach might also create less incentive for faithless electors, or for state shenanigans. As more and more states joined (which they’d have an increasing incentive to do: after the 270 vote threshold, any state not in the compact would effectively cease to exist electorally), the compact would become more and more equivalent to the national popular vote. 

Now that would be a really interesting possibility!

 

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