Catching up

I’m back from our honeymoon, and if you are plugged into social media as a friend of mine you’ve probably seen a few of our wedding photos. It didn’t exactly go as planned, but in the end I got what I wanted so now we can go boldly forward as a couple joined in the eyes of God (and the state.)

I want to again thank Cathy Keim for providing the content while I was away, but I should have let her know she was also free to moderate comments while I was gone. So last night I moderated a number of interesting responses to her post on Friday regarding the hidden perk Democrats are enjoying with regard to the Electoral College. Reader “kohler” wrote a series of posts that made several claims about the National Popular Vote movement, some of which I’ll address as you read on:

  • The current state-by-state winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes does not enhance the influence of rural states, because the most rural states are not battleground states, and they are ignored.

This is true to a great extent; however, that in and of itself is no reason to change the system. The Electoral College itself was formed so that smaller, rural states had some influence in the Presidential selection process – even back in Colonial days it was true that the population of states like Delaware, Georgia, and Rhode Island were dwarfed by Virginia and Pennsylvania. There has never been a level playing field, but in the days of favorite son candidates it’s no wonder Virginia had many early Presidents and Delaware has had none.

  • One-sixth of the U.S. population lives in the top 100 cities, and they voted 63% Democratic in 2004. One-sixth lives outside the nation’s Metropolitan Statistical Areas, and rural America voted 60% Republican. The remaining four-sixths live in the suburbs, which divide almost exactly equally.

It’s worth pointing out that a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) extends well beyond the city limits, and MSAs comprise more than the top 100 cities as they include counties of over 100,000 people not included in a larger MSA. (For example, Salisbury is its own MSA which includes not just Wicomico County but Somerset and Worcester counties in Maryland and Sussex County, Delaware.)

So covering the one-sixth that doesn’t live in an MSA is much more difficult from a media standpoint, although having the internet makes it somewhat easier.

Yet being in our little Republican-leaning MSA doesn’t mean we aren’t swamped at the ballot box by those in the I-95 corridor whether inside the Beltway, in Baltimore, or in Wilmington. Moreover, by cherry-picking the 2004 election (where George W. Bush was re-elected with a slim outright majority) they conveniently ignore the much higher Democratic percentages in 2008 and 2012, which would defeat their argument that rural and urban are balanced.

  • Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps of pre-determined outcomes. There would no longer be a handful of ‘battleground’ states where voters and policies are more important than those of the voters in 80%+ of the states, like Maryland, that have just been ‘spectators’ and ignored after the conventions.

Do you honestly believe this? As stated above, over 80 percent of the nation lives within a MSA. And using the top 100 cities as a population example is deceiving because in many cases those who live within the city limits are a minority within their county. Here in Maryland, Baltimore City is smaller than Baltimore County (not to mention the other surrounding counties) and the District of Columbia is dwarfed by just Montgomery and Prince George’s counties here in Maryland, not to mention Virginia’s contribution to the Capital region.

Instead of battleground states – which in truth tend to be those with fairly equal rural and urban populations, not dominated by one city – under NPV would-be Presidential candidates would focus strictly on the largest population centers. Those in “flyover country” would continue to be ignored.

  • The bill has been enacted by 11 jurisdictions with 165 electoral votes – 61% of the 270 necessary to go into effect.

These are the states which have enacted NPV: California, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. Notice anything in common among these states?

The NPV movement has advanced the furthest among states with the heaviest concentrations of Democrats, with many of these states featuring one or two dominant urban areas which reign at the expense of their rural denizens. These eleven are among 19 states which have gone Democratic in each of the last six Presidential elections, the others being Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

  • An election for President based on the nationwide popular vote would eliminate the Democrat’s advantage arising from the uneven distribution of non-citizens.

Instead it would just ramp up the total number of votes because it’s all but certain at least a few of these non-citizens have been placed on the voting rolls – I’m sure it was all an accident, of course. And why do I suspect the NPV compact would be ignored if we ever had a situation where the Democrat lost the national popular vote but was in a position to win the Electoral College vote based on how these individual states voted? There is NO WAY Maryland would allow a Republican President to win if the Democrat won the vote here, so if you thought the Bush vs. Gore controversy in 2000 was bad just wait for all the court cases that will come up in a situation like that.

It also should be noted that there is a bill in the General Assembly to repeal the state’s participation in the NPV compact (HB53) but don’t expect much from it: every year since 2009, Delegate Tony O’Donnell has introduced it only to see it lose on a strict party-line vote in the Ways and Means Committee. Shamefully, since 2011 he’s had no co-sponsors for the bill, either.

But I think there’s a better idea out there, and we have a young man locally who is making such a proposal. In the coming months I’ll go into the subject with more detail but suffice to say it’s an idea that may make all the states battleground states while maintaining the Electoral College and giving all citizens more of a voice in the Presidential election process. I’ll leave it at that for now but in the meantime I think it’s time to scrap the NPV movement because the last I checked we were still a republic as long as we could keep it.

And keep it we must.

Comments

23 Responses to “Catching up”

  1. kohler on February 9th, 2016 9:11 am

    The main media at the moment, namely TV, costs much more per impression in big cities than in smaller towns and rural area. So, if you just looked at TV, candidates get more bang for the buck in smaller towns and rural areas.

  2. kohler on February 9th, 2016 9:14 am

    A nationwide presidential campaign of polling, organizing, ad spending, and visits, with every voter equal, would be run the way presidential candidates campaign to win the electoral votes of closely divided battleground states, such as Ohio and Florida, under the state-by-state winner-take-all methods. The big cities in those battleground states do not receive all the attention, much less control the outcome. Cleveland and Miami do not receive all the attention or control the outcome in Ohio and Florida. In the 4 states that accounted for over two-thirds of all general-election activity in the 2012 presidential election, rural areas, suburbs, exurbs, and cities all received attention—roughly in proportion to their population.

    The itineraries of presidential candidates in battleground states (and their allocation of other campaign resources in battleground states, including polling, organizing, and ad spending) reflect the political reality that every gubernatorial or senatorial candidate knows. When and where every voter is equal, a campaign must be run everywhere.

    With National Popular Vote, when every voter is equal, everywhere, it makes sense for presidential candidates to try and elevate their votes where they are and aren’t so well liked. But, under the state-by-state winner-take-all laws, it makes no sense for a Democrat to try and do that in Vermont or Wyoming, or for a Republican to try it in Wyoming or Vermont.

  3. kohler on February 9th, 2016 9:15 am

    16% of the U.S. population lives outside the nation’s Metropolitan Statistical Areas. Rural America has voted 60% Republican. None of the 10 most rural states matter now.

    The population of the top five cities (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Philadelphia) is only 6% of the population of the United States and the population of the top 50 cities (going as far down as Arlington, TX) is only 15% of the population of the United States. 16% of the U.S. population lives in the top 100 cities. They voted 63% Democratic in 2004.

    Suburbs divide almost exactly equally between Republicans and Democrats.

    In Ohio—the single state that received over a quarter (73 of 253) of all of the 2012 general-election campaign events (and a similar fraction of advertising expenditures), the candidates campaigned in various parts of the state essentially in proportion to its population.

    ● The 4 biggest metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) in Ohio have 53.9% of the state’s population and received 52.1% of the state’s 73 campaign events in 2012—slightly less than their share of the population (but very close to their percentage of the population). They voted 54% Democratic.

    ● The 7 medium-sized metro areas have 23.6% of the state’s population and received 23.3% of the campaign events—almost exactly in proportion of their population. They voted 52% Democratic.

    ● The 53 remaining counties (that is, the rural counties lying outside the state’s 11 MSAs) have 22% of the state’s population and received 25% of the campaign events—slightly more than their share of the population (but very close to their percentage of the population). They voted 58% Republican

  4. kohler on February 9th, 2016 9:19 am

    battleground states – do not tend to be those with fairly equal rural and urban populations, not dominated by one city

    Analysts already conclude that only the 2016 party winner of Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Nevada (Las Vegas), Colorado, Iowa and New Hampshire (with 86 electoral votes among them) is not a foregone conclusion.

  5. kohler on February 9th, 2016 9:21 am

    The National Popular Vote bill has passed 34 state legislative chambers in 23 rural, small, medium, large, Democratic, Republican and purple states with 261 electoral votes, including one house in Arizona (11), Arkansas (6), Maine (4), Michigan (16), Nevada (6), New Mexico (5), North Carolina (15), and Oklahoma (7), and both houses in Colorado (9).

    Most recently:
    On February 4, 2016 the Arizona House of Representatives passed the bill 40-16-4.
    Two-thirds of the Republicans and two-thirds of the Democrats in the Arizona House of Representatives sponsored the National Popular Vote bill.
    In January 2016, two-thirds of the Arizona Senate sponsored the National Popular Vote bill.

    On February 12, 2014, the Oklahoma Senate passed the National Popular Vote bill by a 28–18 margin.

  6. kohler on February 9th, 2016 9:22 am

    Any attempt by a state to appoint presidential electors after the people vote on Election Day in November would be unconstitutional on its face because
    (1) the Constitution specifically gives Congress the power to establish the day for appointing presidential electors, and
    (2) existing federal law specifies that presidential electors be appointed on a particular single day in each four-year election cycle (namely, the Tuesday after the first Monday in November).

    Thus, no state may appoint presidential electors after the results become known from other states. This maneuver is equally impossible under both the National Popular Vote compact and the CURRENT state-by-state winner-take-all system.

    If such a partisan post-election maneuver were legally possible, it would have already occurred under the current system on the numerous past occasions where a presidential candidate was not favored by a particular Governor and state legislature. This includes 2000, when Al Gore could have become President if any one of six Democratically-controlled states had repealed their state winner-take-all statute and instead appointed presidential electors supporting the winner of the national popular vote.

    Additionally, The National Popular Vote bill says: “Any member state may withdraw from this agreement, except that a withdrawal occurring six months or less before the end of a President’s term shall not become effective until a President or Vice President shall have been qualified to serve the next term.”

    This six-month “blackout” period includes six important events relating to presidential elections, namely the
    ● national nominating conventions,
    ● fall general election campaign period,
    ● Election Day on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November,
    ● meeting of the Electoral College on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December,
    ● counting of the electoral votes by Congress on January 6, and
    ● scheduled inauguration of the President and Vice President for the new term on January 20.

    Any attempt by a state to pull out of the compact in violation of its terms would violate the Impairments Clause of the U.S. Constitution and would be void. Such an attempt would also violate existing federal law. Compliance would be enforced by Federal court action

    The National Popular Vote compact is, first of all, a state law. It is a state law that would govern the manner of choosing presidential electors. A Secretary of State may not ignore or override the National Popular Vote law any more than he or she may ignore or override the winner-take-all method that is currently the law in 48 states.

    There has never been a court decision allowing a state to withdraw from an interstate compact without following the procedure for withdrawal specified by the compact. Indeed, courts have consistently rebuffed the occasional (sometimes creative) attempts by states to evade their obligations under interstate compacts.

  7. kohler on February 9th, 2016 9:23 am

    A constitutional republic does not mean we should not and cannot guarantee the election of the presidential candidate with the most popular votes. The candidate with the most votes wins in every other election in the country.

    Guaranteeing the election of the presidential candidate with the most popular votes and the majority of Electoral College votes would not make us a pure democracy.
    Pure democracy is a form of government in which people vote on all policy initiatives directly.

    Popular election of the chief executive does not determine whether a government is a republic or democracy.

  8. Michael on February 9th, 2016 6:02 pm

    There are a number of scenarios which pose a problem with your theory after the election.

    First of all, there is precedent for flouting the law to provide “voter choice.” Back in 2002, fifteen days after the withdrawal deadline New Jersey Democrats convinced a court that a healthy Robert Torricelli should be removed from the ballot because he was losing in the polls and keeping the Senate seat in Democratic hands was more important than state law. What’s to say that in order to elect a president of the state’s choice a partisan court won’t find that the compact should be broken?

    The Constitution simply states in Article II, Section 1 that “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof shall direct…” their electors. If the legislature of a compact state comes in after an election that doesn’t go their way and passes a law that ignores the compact, we would be tied up in court for weeks. Given that all of the compact states thus far are majority Democrat I suspect that if a Republican wins the national election but these states vote Democrat as they typically do, the compact will be ignored.

    Secondly, the Bush v. Gore comparison isn’t valid because there was no compact in place at the time. Over the years there have been faithless electors, just not enough to swing a race.

    Then there’s the question of a recount. As you probably recall, in Florida 2000 Al Gore only wanted a recount of counties he won to add to his total. What happens if we have an election that’s on that sort of scale nationally, say just a few thousand votes out of millions? What if states refuse to recount while others decide to?

    Take 1960 as an example, where JFK won in the Democratic machine city of Chicago (Cook County, Illinois) by more votes than he won by nationally. With NPV there is much more incentive for outright fraud since votes don’t just count for one state. It’s no huge deal if the 20 electoral votes Illinois brings go to the Democrats again as they have the last seven elections, but if they comb the cemeteries for 150,000 votes and the winner wins by 100,000 nationally now they’ve stolen a national election.

    In our nation’s history we have only had an issue with the Electoral College electing a president without a majority or plurality of the vote five times, and only once in the last 128 years (or 32 elections.) Abolishing the Electoral College is a solution without a problem.

    Perhaps a better solution would be to eliminate the “winner-take-all” aspect of statewide electoral votes such as Nebraska and Maine have. Then there’s real competition within states, with neither side having a complete advantage over the other in most states. For example, California, New York, and Texas may get a lot of attention if they’re not considered one-party states where 122 electoral votes are suddenly up for grabs.

  9. kohler on February 9th, 2016 7:14 pm

    There has never been a court decision allowing a state to withdraw from an interstate compact without following the procedure for withdrawal specified by the compact. Indeed, courts have consistently rebuffed the occasional (sometimes creative) attempts by states to evade their obligations under interstate compacts.

    An interstate compact is not a mere “handshake” agreement. If a state wants to rely on the goodwill and graciousness of other states to follow certain policies, it can simply enact its own state law and hope that other states decide to act in an identical manner. If a state wants a legally binding and enforceable mechanism by which it agrees to undertake certain specified actions only if other states agree to take other specified actions, it enters into an interstate compact.

    Interstate compacts are supported by over two centuries of settled law guaranteeing enforceability. Interstate compacts exist because the states are sovereign. If there were no Compacts Clause in the U.S. Constitution, a state would have no way to enter into a legally binding contract with another state. The Compacts Clause, supported by the Impairments Clause, provides a way for a state to enter into a contract with other states and be assured of the enforceability of the obligations undertaken by its sister states. The enforceability of interstate compacts under the Impairments Clause is precisely the reason why sovereign states enter into interstate compacts. Without the Compacts Clause and the Impairments Clause, any contractual agreement among the states would be, in fact, no more than a handshake.

  10. kohler on February 9th, 2016 7:15 pm

    There have been 22,991 electoral votes cast since presidential elections became competitive (in 1796), and only 17 have been cast for someone other than the candidate nominated by the elector’s own political party. 1796 remains the only instance when the elector might have thought, at the time he voted, that his vote might affect the national outcome.

    The electors are and will be dedicated party activists of the winning party who meet briefly in mid-December to cast their totally predictable rubberstamped votes in accordance with their pre-announced pledges.

    With National Popular Vote, the 270+ dedicated party activists in the enacting states, will be supporters of the presidential candidate receiving the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC) meeting ceremoniously in mid-December to cast their totally predictable rubberstamped votes in accordance with their pre-announced pledges.

    The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld state laws guaranteeing faithful voting by presidential electors (because the states have plenary power over presidential electors).

  11. kohler on February 9th, 2016 7:16 pm

    The idea that recounts will be likely and messy with National Popular Vote is distracting.

    No recount, much less a nationwide recount, would have been warranted in any of the nation’s 57 presidential elections if the outcome had been based on the nationwide count.
    The state-by-state winner-take-all system is not a firewall, but instead causes unnecessary fires.
    “It’s an arsonist itching to burn down the whole neighborhood by torching a single house.” Hertzberg

    The 2000 presidential election was an artificial crisis created because of Bush’s lead of 537 popular votes in Florida. Gore’s nationwide lead was 537,179 popular votes (1,000 times larger). Given the miniscule number of votes that are changed by a typical statewide recount (averaging only 274 votes); no one would have requested a recount or disputed the results in 2000 if the national popular vote had controlled the outcome. Indeed, no one (except perhaps almanac writers and trivia buffs) would have cared that one of the candidates happened to have a 537-vote margin in Florida.

    Recounts are far more likely in the current system of state by-state winner-take-all methods.

    The possibility of recounts should not even be a consideration in debating the merits of a national popular vote. No one has ever suggested that the possibility of a recount constitutes a valid reason why state governors or U.S. Senators, for example, should not be elected by a popular vote.

    The question of recounts comes to mind in connection with presidential elections only because the current system creates artificial crises and unnecessary disputes.

    We do and would vote state by state. Each state manages its own election and is prepared to conduct a recount.

    Given that there is a recount only once in about 160 statewide elections, and given there is a presidential election once every four years, one would expect a recount about once in 640 years with the National Popular Vote. The actual probability of a close national election would be even less than that because recounts are less likely with larger pools of votes.

    The average change in the margin of victory as a result of a statewide recount was a mere 296 votes in a 10-year study of 2,884 elections.

    The common nationwide date for meeting of the Electoral College has been set by federal law as the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December. With both the current system and the National Popular Vote, all counting, recounting, and judicial proceedings must be conducted so as to reach a “final determination” prior to the meeting of the Electoral College. In particular, the U.S. Supreme Court has made it clear that the states are expected to make their “final determination” six days before the Electoral College meets.

  12. kohler on February 9th, 2016 7:19 pm

    Former Colorado Congressman and presidential candidate Tom Tancredo (R) said, “The issue of voter fraud … won’t entirely go away with the National Popular Vote plan, but it is harder to mobilize massive voter fraud on the national level without getting caught, than it is to do so in a few key states. Voter fraud is already a problem. The National Popular Vote makes it a smaller one.”

    A nationwide vote for President would make effective voter fraud more difficult than the current state-by-state winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes.

    Executing electoral fraud without getting caught requires a situation in which a very small number of people can have a very large impact.

    Under the current state-by-state winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes, fraudsters know that a small amount of fraud in a closely divided “battleground” state can affect enough popular votes to flip all of a state’s electoral votes, and hence, possibly, the national outcome.

    If fraudsters had flipped 537 popular votes from Republican to Democrat in Florida in 2000, they would have changed both the statewide-level outcome and the national outcome. Similarly, a shift of only 1,710 popular votes in California in 1916 would have switched all of the state’s electoral votes and thereby defeated President Wilson in the Electoral College– despite his nationwide lead of 579,000 votes. It is far easier for a small criminal group to tamper with 1,710 popular votes in California than to tamper with 579,000 nationwide (or 537 popular votes in Florida, than 537,179 nationwide).

    Under the current system, all of the general-election campaign events in 2012 (and virtually all the advertising expenditures) were in the 12 states within 3% of the national outcome. Flipping a few thousand votes in these closely divided “battleground” states can flip all of that state’s electoral votes, and thereby change the national outcome.

    The National Popular Vote bill would make executing fraud more difficult than the current system, because affecting the national outcome in an election with 130,000,000 votes would require flipping hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of votes without getting caught.

    If anyone is concerned about voter fraud, a nationwide vote for President is far safer than the current state-by-state winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes.

  13. kohler on February 9th, 2016 7:21 pm

    Because of the state-by-state winner-take-all electoral votes laws (i.e., awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in each state) in 48 states, a candidate can win the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide. This has occurred in 4 of the nation’s 57 (1 in 14 = 7%) presidential elections. The precariousness of the current state-by-state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes is highlighted by the fact that a shift of a few thousand voters in one or two states would have elected the second-place candidate in 4 of the 15 presidential elections since World War II. Near misses are now frequently common. There have been 7 consecutive non-landslide presidential elections (1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012). 537 popular votes won Florida and the White House for Bush in 2000 despite Gore’s lead of 537,179 (1,000 times more) popular votes nationwide. A shift of 60,000 voters in Ohio in 2004 would have defeated President Bush despite his nationwide lead of over 3 million votes.

    After the 2012 election, Nate Silver calculated that “Mitt Romney may have had to win the national popular vote by three percentage points on Tuesday to be assured of winning the Electoral College.”

  14. kohler on February 9th, 2016 7:23 pm

    Maine (since 1969) and Nebraska (since 1992) have awarded one electoral vote to the winner of each congressional district, and two electoral votes statewide

    77% of Maine voters and 74% of Nebraska voters support a national popular vote.

    After Obama won 1 congressional district in Nebraska in 2008, the leadership committee of the Nebraska Republican Party promptly adopted a resolution requiring all GOP elected officials to favor overturning their district method for awarding electoral votes or lose the party’s support.

    Dividing more states’ electoral votes by congressional district winners would magnify the worst features of the Electoral College system.

    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. In 2012, the Democratic candidate would have needed to win the national popular vote by more than 7 percentage points in order to win the barest majority of congressional districts. In 2014, Democrats would have needed to win the national popular vote by a margin of about nine percentage points in order to win a majority of districts.

    Nationwide, there are now only 10 “battleground” districts that are expected to be competitive in the 2016 presidential election. With the present deplorable 48 state-level winner-take-all system, 80% of the states (including California and Texas) are ignored in presidential elections; however, 98% of the nation’s congressional districts would be ignored if a district-level winner-take-all system were used nationally

    The district approach would not provide incentive for presidential candidates to poll, visit, advertise, and organize in a particular state or focus the candidates’ attention to issues of concern to the state.

    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 2012, the whole state was ignored.

    In Nebraska, 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) 2/3rds of the state were irrelevant.
    In 2012, the whole state was ignored.

    Awarding electoral votes by congressional district could result in no candidate winning the needed majority of electoral votes. That would throw the process into Congress to decide the election, regardless of the popular vote in any district or state or throughout the country.

    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 matter to their candidate because it guarantees that the candidate who gets the most votes in all 50 states and DC becomes President.

  15. kohler on February 9th, 2016 7:24 pm

    Most Americans don’t ultimately care whether their presidential candidate wins or loses in their state or district . . . they care whether he/she wins the White House. Voters want to know, that even if they were on the losing side, their vote actually was equally counted and mattered to their candidate. Most Americans think it is wrong that the candidate with the most popular votes can lose. We don’t allow this in any other election in our representative republic.

    Support for a national popular vote is strong among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group in every state surveyed recently. In the 41 red, blue, and purple states surveyed, overall support has been in the 67-81% range – in rural states, in small states, in Southern and border states, in big states, and in other states polled.

    With National Popular Vote, every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps of pre-determined outcomes. There would no longer be a handful of ‘battleground’ states where voters and policies are more important than those of the voters in 80% of the states that now are just ‘spectators’ and ignored after the conventions.

  16. Michael on February 9th, 2016 8:44 pm

    Either you’re an extremely fast typist, whoever you are, or you are down to regurgitating the same cut-and-paste talking points over and over. It would be nice to know who I’m disagreeing with (since this is my forum anyway.) What is your vested interest in NPV to put up 20-odd comments on my site?

    In a nutshell, I don’t think NPV is going to address the issues of whether presidential candidates campaign in a particular area or not. Look at how much attention Iowa and New Hampshire get just because they are first in line to decide nominees (but have little to do with the actual general election.) On the other hand, Maryland is going to be pretty much ignored because we are well down in the primary process and we are not a battleground state. With NPV all the attention would be on Washington and Baltimore, while over here on Delmarva we will still be ignored. Thus is our fate regardless of the system.

    The idea that NPV has a lot of support is in part because the purpose of the Electoral College isn’t explained well in our woefully lacking education system. If you read Federalist 68, you see an explanation of the rationale behind the Electoral College – representatives just as the House of Representatives is to the people (as the Senators were originally intended to represent the states until the ill-considered Seventeenth Amendment) but chosen for a temporary basis to perform one job. Similarly, here in Maryland we actually select delegates and alternate delegates who represent particular candidates to do our bidding at the national party conventions. Their term of office is temporary.

    “Most Americans think it is wrong that the candidate with the most popular votes can lose. We don’t allow this in any other election in our representative republic.” We also don’t have any other chief executives with the awesome power a President has.

    If you want to have NPV, we should probably take it a step further and mandate the victor have a majority, including a runoff election between the top two finishers if needed. How is it fair if a candidate who gets less than 50% of the vote – which has happened far more frequently than a second-place finisher receiving the most electoral votes (1992, 1996, and 2000 are the most recent examples) – become the president?

    Finally, I believe the Constitution was written as it was for a purpose. NPV may sound like a fine idea, but I tend to dislike mob rule myself.

  17. kohler on February 10th, 2016 2:08 am

    Iowa and New Hampshire get out-sized attention in presidential general campaigns, too, because they are among the 7 remaining battleground states

    After the conventions in 2012,
    Colorado (9 electoral votes), $71,000,000 on TV ads, 23 events
    Nevada (6 electoral votes), $55,000,000, and 13 events
    Iowa (6), $51,423,030, 27 events.
    New Hampshire (4), $34,000,000, 13 events

    The only states that received any attention in the 2012 general election campaign for President were states within 3% of the national outcome.

    The indefensible reality is that more than 99% of presidential campaign attention (ad spending and visits) was invested on voters in just the only ten competitive states in 2012.
    Two-thirds (176 of 253) of the general-election campaign events, and a similar fraction of campaign expenditures, were in just four states (Ohio, Florida, Virginia, and Iowa).

    Because of state-by-state winner-take-all awarding of electoral votes, the predictability of the winner of the state you live in determines how much, if at all, your vote matters.

    Analysts already conclude that only the 2016 party winner of Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Nevada, Colorado, Iowa and New Hampshire (with 86 electoral votes among them) is not a foregone conclusion. So, if the National Popular Vote bill is not in effect, less than a handful of states will continue to dominate and determine the presidential general election.

    Because of state winner-take-all laws for awarding electoral votes, analysts concluded months ago that only the 2016 party winner of Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Nevada, Colorado, Iowa and New Hampshire (with 86 electoral votes among them) is not a foregone conclusion.

    10 states were considered competitive in the 2012 election. More than 99% of presidential campaign attention (ad spending and visits) was invested in them. Two-thirds (176 of 253) of the general-election campaign events, and a similar fraction of campaign expenditures, were in just four states (Ohio, Florida, Virginia, and Iowa).

    So, if the National Popular Vote bill is not in effect, less than a handful of states will continue to dominate and determine the presidential general election.

    Over the last few decades, presidential election outcomes within the majority of states have become more and more predictable.

    From 1992- 2012
    13 states (with 102 electoral votes) voted Republican every time
    19 states (with 242) voted Democratic every time

    If this 20 year pattern continues, and the National Popular Vote bill does not go into effect,
    Democrats only would need a mere 28 electoral votes from other states.
    If Republicans lose Florida (29), they would lose.

    Some states have not been competitive for more than a half-century and most states now have a degree of partisan imbalance that makes them highly unlikely to be in a swing state position.
    • 41 States Won by Same Party, 2000-2012
    • 32 States Won by Same Party, 1992-2012
    • 13 States Won Only by Republican Party, 1980-2012
    • 19 States Won Only by Democratic Party, 1992-2012
    • 7 Democratic States Not Swing State since 1988
    • 16 GOP States Not Swing State since 1988

  18. kohler on February 10th, 2016 2:11 am

    The National Popular Vote bill would replace state winner-take-all laws that award all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who get the most popular votes in each separate state (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states), in the enacting states.

    It ensures that every voter is equal, every voter will matter, in every state, in every presidential election, and the candidate with the most votes wins, as in virtually every other election in the country.

    Under National Popular Vote, every voter, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election. Every vote would matter in the state counts and national count.

    The National Popular Vote bill would give a voice to the minority party voters in each state. Now their votes are counted only for the presidential candidate they did not vote for. Now they don’t matter to their candidate. In 2012, 56,256,178 (44%) of the 128,954,498 voters had their vote diverted by the winner-take-all rule to a candidate they opposed (namely, their state’s first-place candidate).

    And now votes, beyond the one needed to get the most votes in the state, for winning in a state, are wasted and don’t matter to presidential candidates. Utah (5 electoral votes) alone generated a margin of 385,000 “wasted” votes for Bush in 2004. Oklahoma (7 electoral votes) alone generated a margin of 455,000 “wasted” votes for Bush in 2004 — larger than the margin generated by the 9th and 10th largest states, namely New Jersey and North Carolina (each with 15 electoral votes). 8 small western states, with less than a third of California’s population, provided Bush with a bigger margin (1,283,076) than California provided Kerry (1,235,659).

  19. kohler on February 10th, 2016 2:14 am

    With National Popular Vote, big cities would not get all of candidates’ attention, much less control the outcome.

    One-sixth of the U.S. population lives in the top 100 cities, and they voted 63% Democratic in 2004.

    One-sixth lives outside the nation’s Metropolitan Statistical Areas, and rural America voted 60% Republican.

    The remaining four-sixths live in the suburbs, which divide almost exactly equally.

    A nationwide presidential campaign of polling, organizing, ad spending, and visits, with every voter equal, would be run the way presidential candidates campaign to win the electoral votes of closely divided battleground states, such as Ohio and Florida, under the state-by-state winner-take-all methods. The big cities in those battleground states do not receive all the attention, much less control the outcome. Cleveland and Miami do not receive all the attention or control the outcome in Ohio and Florida. In the 4 states that accounted for over two-thirds of all general-election activity in the 2012 presidential election, rural areas, suburbs, exurbs, and cities all received attention—roughly in proportion to their population.

    The itineraries of presidential candidates in battleground states (and their allocation of other campaign resources in battleground states, including polling, organizing, and ad spending) reflect the political reality that every gubernatorial or senatorial candidate knows. When and where every voter is equal, a campaign must be run everywhere.

    With National Popular Vote, when every voter is equal, everywhere, it makes sense for presidential candidates to try and elevate their votes where they are and aren’t so well liked. But, under the state-by-state winner-take-all laws, it makes no sense for a Democrat to try and do that in Vermont or Wyoming, or for a Republican to try it in Wyoming or Vermont.

  20. kohler on February 10th, 2016 2:20 am

    National Popular Vote does not change the role of the Electoral College.
    The National Popular Vote compact does not abolish the office of presidential elector or the Electoral College.
    They will still be representatives of the states chosen for a temporary basis to perform one job. The electors are and will be dedicated party activists of the winning party who meet briefly in mid-December to cast their totally predictable rubberstamped votes in accordance with their pre-announced pledges.

    There would be no change in whatever protection the current Electoral College system might provide. However, there is no reason to think that the Electoral College would protect us, regardless of whether presidential electors are elected on the basis of the state-by-state winner-take-all rule or the nationwide popular vote

  21. kohler on February 10th, 2016 2:22 am

    With the current system of electing the President, none of the states requires that a presidential candidate receive anything more than the most popular votes in order to receive all of the state’s or district’s electoral votes.

    Not a single legislative bill has been introduced in any state legislature in recent decades (among the more than 100,000 bills that are introduced in every two-year period by the nation’s 7,300 state legislators) proposing to change the existing universal practice of the states to award electoral votes to the candidate who receives a plurality (as opposed to absolute majority) of the votes (statewide or district-wide). There is no evidence of any public sentiment in favor of imposing such a requirement.

    In 905 elections for governor in the last 60 years, the winning candidate received more than 50% of the vote in over 91% of the elections. The winning candidate received more than 45% of the vote in 98% of the elections. The winning candidate received more than 40% of the vote in 99% of the elections. No winning candidate received less than 35% of the popular vote.

    Since 1824 there have been 16 presidential elections in which a candidate was elected or reelected without gaining a majority of the popular vote.– including Lincoln (1860), Wilson (1912 and 1916), Truman (1948), Kennedy (1960), Nixon (1968), and Clinton (1992 and 1996).

    Americans do not view the absence of run-offs in the current system as a major problem. If, at some time in the future, the public demands run-offs, that change can be implemented at that time.

    And, FYI, with the current system of awarding electoral votes by state winner-take-all (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states), it could only take winning a plurality of the popular vote in the 11 most populous states, containing 56% of the population of the United States, for a candidate to win the Presidency with a mere 23% of the nation’s votes.

  22. kohler on February 10th, 2016 2:25 am

    ” the Constitution was written as it was for a purpose.”

    National Popular Vote is based on Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution, which gives each state legislature the right to decide how to appoint its own electors. Unable to agree on any particular method for selecting presidential electors, the Founding Fathers left the choice of method exclusively to the states:
    “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors….”
    The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly characterized the authority of the state legislatures over the manner of awarding their electoral votes as “plenary” and “exclusive.”

    The Constitution does not prohibit any of the methods that were debated and rejected. Indeed, a majority of the states appointed their presidential electors using two of the rejected methods in the nation’s first presidential election in 1789 (i.e., appointment by the legislature and by the governor and his cabinet). Presidential electors were appointed by state legislatures for almost a century.

    Neither of the two most important features of the current system of electing the President (namely, universal suffrage, and the 48 state-by-state winner-take-all method) are in the U.S. Constitution. Neither was the choice of the Founders when they went back to their states to organize the nation’s first presidential election.

    In 1789, in the nation’s first election, a majority of the states appointed their presidential electors by appointment by the legislature or by the governor and his cabinet, the people had no vote for President in most states, and in them, only men who owned a substantial amount of property could vote, and only three states used the state-by-state winner-take-all method to award electoral votes.

    The current winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes is not in the U.S. Constitution. It was not debated at the Constitutional Convention. It is not mentioned in the Federalist Papers. It was not the Founders’ choice. It was used by only three states in 1789, and all three of them repealed it by 1800. It is not entitled to any special deference based on history or the historical meaning of the words in the U.S. Constitution. The actions taken by the Founding Fathers make it clear that they never gave their imprimatur to the winner-take-all method. The winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes became dominant only in the 1830s, when most of the Founders had been dead for decades, after the states adopted it, one-by-one, in order to maximize the power of the party in power in each state.

    The constitutional wording does not encourage, discourage, require, or prohibit the use of any particular method for awarding a state’s electoral votes.

    As a result of changes in state laws enacted since 1789, the people have the right to vote for presidential electors in 100% of the states, there are no property requirements for voting in any state, and the state-by-state winner-take-all method is used by 48 of the 50 states. States can, and have, changed their method of awarding electoral votes over the years. Maine and Nebraska do not use the winner-take-all method– a reminder that an amendment to the U.S. Constitution is not required to change the way the President is elected.

    The normal process of effecting change in the method of electing the President is specified in the U.S. Constitution, namely action by the state legislatures. This is how the current system was created, and this is the built-in method that the Constitution provides for making changes.

  23. kohler on February 10th, 2016 2:29 am

    “I tend to dislike mob rule myself.”

    A constitutional republic does not mean we should not and cannot guarantee the election of the presidential candidate with the most popular votes. The candidate with the most votes wins in every other election in the country.

    Guaranteeing the election of the presidential candidate with the most popular votes and the majority of Electoral College votes would not be “mob rule.”
    “Mob rule” is a form of government in which people vote on all policy initiatives directly.

    Popular election of the chief executive does not determine whether a government is a republic or “mob rule.”

    The National Popular Vote bill would end the disproportionate attention and influence of the “mob” in the current handful of closely divided battleground states, such as Ohio and Florida, while the “mobs” of the vast majority of states are ignored.

    In the 2012 presidential election, 1.3 million votes decided the winner in the ten states with the closest margins of victory.

    The current system does not provide some kind of check on the “mobs.” There have been 22,991 electoral votes cast since presidential elections became competitive (in 1796), and only 17 have been cast for someone other than the candidate nominated by the elector’s own political party. 1796 remains the only instance when the elector might have thought, at the time he voted, that his vote might affect the national outcome.

    The electors are and will be dedicated party activists of the winning party who meet briefly in mid-December to cast their totally predictable rubberstamped votes in accordance with their pre-announced pledges.

    The bottom line is that there is nothing in Article II (or elsewhere in the Constitution) that prevents states from making the decision now that winning the national popular vote is required to win the presidency.

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