Democrats Fundraising and Listbuilding the Heck Out of Pileggi Electoral College Plan

Dominic Pileggi

State Sen. Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware)

Despite a lack of indications that legislation bill is going anywhere, Democrats have embarked on a frenetic push against a proposal to change the way Pennsylvania allocates its electoral college votes.

On Saturday Democracy for America, the progressive group formed from Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign, sent the latest in a steady stream of fundraising emails, press releases, online petitions, op-eds and press conferences about the issue.

Alleging that a Republican presidential hopeful “could also expect to win a majority of Pennsylvania’s votes, without winning a majority of PA voters,” DFA’s email directs supporters to sign this petition. So far 342 people have signed it.

“Led by Majority Leader Domini (sic) Pileggi, 13 Republican State Senators have introduced a bill to split the state’s electoral votes based on who wins each congressional district.”

Such petitions are used by DFA, Democrats, and virtually every advocacy group in both parties to build massive email lists which can, in turn, be monetized via fundraising emails.

DFA’s assertion is flatly inaccurate. The bill sponsored by Pileggi and 12 others has nothing to do with congressional districts and, had it been in effect for the 2012 election, would have given Barack Obama a majority of PA’s electoral college votes (12 out of 20).

The group appears to be referring to a 2011 Pileggi proposal which would have used congressional districts. Had that plan been in place, Mitt Romney would have won Pa. 13 votes to 7. A few state House Republicans currently are pushing a version of that plan.

Republicans in Harrisburg don’t have the issue on the front burner, and several privately admit that the bill is likely to go nowhere.

But DFA isn’t the only group pushing back against a passive foe. The Democratic National Committee and the Pa. Democratic Party have loudly protested the bill in recent weeks. They’re targeting Gov. Tom Corbett directly.

Sen. Bob Casey spoke out against the plan, Former Gov. Ed Rendell wrote a blast email against it for the DNC, State Sen. Vincent Hughes starred in a DNC press call (Rep. Chaka Fattah had been scheduled to join but apparently had to cancel), State Sen. Matt Smith penned an op-ed against it.

Democrats and liberal groups have sent at least 45 emails to reporters on the subject since the beginning of March, including 17 In the past week alone.

All of this over a bill that is gathering dust in committee.

Unlikely to pass

For myriad reasons, the bill is unlikely to make it to Gov. Tom Corbett’s desk. The first is that beyond introducing the legislation, Sen. Pileggi has not shown any sign of actively pushing it.

His spokesman has repeated that Pileggi wants the bill to generate conversation but does not consider it a top priority.

It presently sits in the Senate State Government Committee, which comprises 7 Republicans and 4 Democrats. Passage there is not a sure bet; 2 of those Republicans are Sens. Mike Brubaker and Mike Folmer, who voted against the GOP’s congressional redistricting plan. Though Folmer has co-sponsored Pileggi’s bill, he is known as a good government reformer and unlikely to go along should his party try to quickly jam such a significant issue.

In the full Senate, other GOP members have demonstrated wariness on similar issues in the recent past.

Dems playing smart

Yet Democrats are making a smart play by drawing attention to the issue for three big reasons.

First, there is no guarantee that the legislation won’t unexpectedly gain life and sprint to a vote in both chambers, leaving Dems little chance to fight the measure. Statements by Corbett about similar proposals make it seem likely that he would sign such a bill. For them, it’s better to try and taint the bill early.

Second, they’re winning the issue. Democrats successfully pushed public relation campaigns against similar measures in other states such as Michigan and Virginia. Tinkering with a system of elections that goes back generations could so easily be painted as a power grab that that itself makes swing district lawmakers less likely to support it.

Finally, it’s working. According to two party operatives, the issue has yielded an above-average rate of response both in email gathering and online fundraising.

For Democrats, the issue has utility similar to that of the Voter ID law.

Bad Law

To editorialize: aside soothing the feelings of Republicans tired of their state going blue, it appears unlikely that the bill as written would benefit Pennsylvania. It would unconditionally surrender the Commonwealth’s long-standing status as a presidential battleground state. Though the 2012 candidates didn’t spend much time here, no one can say what future campaigns will bring.

Those interested in genuine electoral college reform should follow the footsteps of other states. 8 of them plus DC have passed laws that will tie their electoral college outcomes over to the popular vote – but only after states representing a majority of electoral college votes (270) have agreed to do the same.

Thus they pursue a national popular vote, yet none does so at its own individual disadvantage.

All 8 are non-swing states that generally vote for Democrats: California, Illinois, New Jersey, Washington, Massachusetts, Maryland and Hawaii Vermont. They represent 49% of the threshold for the transition.

March 23rd, 2013 | Posted in Front Page Stories, Governor, Harrisburg, Top Stories | 14 Comments

14 thoughts on “Democrats Fundraising and Listbuilding the Heck Out of Pileggi Electoral College Plan”

  1. oldgulph says:

    With National Popular Vote, every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. Wining states would not be the goal. Candidates would need to care about voters across the nation, not just undecided voters in the current handful of swing states.

    The main media at the moment, TV, costs much more per impression in big cities than in smaller towns and rural area. Candidates get more bang for the buck in smaller towns and rural areas.

    In the 2012 campaign, “Much of the heaviest spending has not been in big cities with large and expensive media markets, but in small and medium-size metropolitan areas in states with little individual weight in the Electoral College: Cedar Rapids and Des Moines in Iowa (6 votes); Colorado Springs and Grand Junction in Colorado (9 votes); Norfolk and Richmond in Virginia (13 votes). Since the beginning of April, four-fifths of the ads that favored or opposed a presidential candidate have been in television markets of modest size.”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/08/us/politics/9-swing-states-are-main-focus-of-ad-blitz.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

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

  2. jjcnpa says:

    I stand by my assertion that the top 25 metropolitan areas would get most of the attention in a popular vote election. The top 25 metropolitan areas comprise over 40 % of the population. The candidates aren’t going to spend time or money in Des Moines Iowa or Reno Nevada in popular vote election. Someone pointed out that Al Gore won the popular vote. Yes he did. He failed to be a national candidate and lost the entire South and his home state and lost the key mid-western state of Ohio. The electoral college worked as it should by denying him because he was not a national candidate. If CA continues to become more Democratic I think this will be more common because candidates run up bug huge margins in the country’s most populous state.

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  4. oldgulph says:

    To abolish the Electoral College would need a constitutional amendment, and could be stopped by states with as little as 3% of the U.S. population.

    The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC), without needing to amend the Constitution.

    The National Popular Vote bill would change current 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 since enacted by 48 states), to a system guaranteeing the majority of Electoral College votes for, and the Presidency to, the candidate getting the most popular votes in the entire United States.

    The bill preserves the constitutionally mandated Electoral College and state control of elections. It ensures that every vote 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 vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election. Every vote would be included in the state counts and national count. The candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC would get the needed 270+ electoral votes from the enacting states. The bill would thus guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes.

    The bill has passed 31 state legislative chambers in 21 states with 243 electoral votes. The bill has been enacted by 9 jurisdictions with 132 electoral votes – 49% of the 270 necessary to go into effect.

    NationalPopularVote
    Follow National Popular Vote on Facebook via NationalPopularVoteInc

  5. oldgulph says:

    The indefensible reality is that more than 99% of campaign attention was showered on voters in just ten states in 2012- and that in today’s political climate, the swing states have become increasingly fewer and fixed.

    Where you live should not determine how much, if at all, your vote matters.

    Even in the recent handful of states where a presidential vote matters to the candidates, the value of a vote is different.

    The current state-by-state winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes ensures that the candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or care about the voter concerns in states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind.

    During the course of campaigns, candidates are educated and campaign about the local, regional, and state issues most important to the handful of battleground states they need to win. They take this knowledge and prioritization with them once they are elected. Presidential candidates need to be educated and care about All of our states, All of our voters, and All or our citizens, in Every presidential election

    Some states have not been 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.

    Most Americans don’t care whether their presidential candidate wins or loses in their state . . . 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 directly and equally counted and mattered to their candidate in Every presidential election. Most Americans think it’s wrong for the candidate with the most popular votes to lose. We don’t allow this in any other election in our representative republic.

  6. oldgulph says:

    With National Popular Vote, every vote would be equal. Candidates would reallocate their time, the money they raise, and their ad buys to no longer ignore 80% of the states and voters.

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

    Suburbs and exurbs often vote Republican.

    If big cities controlled the outcome of elections, the governors and U.S. Senators would be Democratic in virtually every state with a significant city.

    A nationwide presidential campaign, with every vote 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.

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

    With National Popular Vote, when every vote 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.

    Even in California state-wide elections, candidates for governor or U.S. Senate don’t campaign just in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and those places don’t control the outcome (otherwise California wouldn’t have recently had Republican governors Reagan, Dukemejian, Wilson, and Schwarzenegger). A vote in rural Alpine county is just an important as a vote in Los Angeles. If Los Angeles cannot control statewide elections in California, it can hardly control a nationwide election.

    In fact, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland together cannot control a statewide election in California.

    Similarly, Republicans dominate Texas politics without carrying big cities such as Dallas and Houston.

    There are numerous other examples of Republicans who won races for governor and U.S. Senator in other states that have big cities (e.g., New York, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts) without ever carrying the big cities of their respective states.

    With a national popular vote, every vote everywhere will be equally important politically. There will be nothing special about a vote cast in a big city or big state. When every vote is equal, candidates of both parties will seek out voters in small, medium, and large towns throughout the states in order to win. A vote cast in a big city or state will be equal to a vote cast in a small state, town, or rural area.

    Candidates would need to build a winning coalition across demographics. Candidates would have to appeal to a broad range of demographics, and perhaps even more so, because the election wouldn’t be capable of coming down to just one demographic, such as waitress mom voters in Ohio.

    With National Popular Vote, every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. Wining states would not be the goal. Candidates would need to care about voters across the nation, not just undecided voters in the current handful of swing states.

  7. oldgulph says:

    Elections carry the risk of conflicts over recounts.

    The current presidential election system makes a repeat of 2000 more likely. All you need is a thin and contested margin in a single state with enough electoral votes to make a difference. It’s much less likely that the national vote will be close enough that voting irregularities in a single area will swing enough net votes to make a difference. If we’d had National Popular Vote in 2000, a recount in Florida would not have been an issue.

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

    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 so frequently 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.

    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

    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.

    No recount would have been warranted in any of the nation’s 57 previous presidential elections if the outcome had been based on the nationwide count.

    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.

  8. mblue says:

    If there is any change, the strongest argument is to do away with the electorial college completely and go to popular vote. Imagine this: If the 2000 election would have been settled on popular vote, Al Gore would have been sworn in as President on Jan 20th 2001 and would have been provided with the same budget surplus and shrinking national debt that Clinton started paying down. BUT, there would never have been the “Bush Tax Cuts” which decreased revenue by over $1 Trillion over the last decade. Add to it, 9/11 may not have happened, or if it did, Gore never would have used it to invade Iraq (saving another $1 Trillion. Remember also that Clinton’s budget advisors projected that, staying the course with the Clinton tax rates and paying down the debt, would have paid the debt completely off by 2012.

  9. jjcnpa says:

    To oldgulph..the fact that there are few swing states speaks to the orthodoxy of the two parties right now. Up until recently, you had a large representation of moderate Republicans in the Northeast, Midwest and west coast and you had conservative Dems in the South and Texas. That explains the 1976 electoral map which shifted dramatically between 1976 and 1992 and almost completely flipped from 1976 to 2008. If the parties would adopt a more “big tent” philosophy you would have more swing states. I also believe with shifting demographics that the electoral map will change from 2012 to 2024 and beyond. Also, if we have an election based solely on popular vote what happens when the vote is only .1% apart? Do we have a nation-wide recount that could go on for months? And if we have an election based on popular vote alone the candidates will focus on the top 25 metropolitan areas and ignore the rest of the country. Is that an improvement?

  10. oldgulph says:

    Of Course there is a need to change the Electoral College system.

    In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state.

    Most Americans don’t 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 directly and equally counted and mattered to their candidate. Most Americans think it’s wrong for the candidate with the most popular votes to lose. We don’t allow this in any other election in our representative republic.

    A survey of Pennsylvania voters showed 78% overall support for a national popular vote for President.

    In 2012, Pennsylvania was not a battleground state, even though we had battleground status in several previous elections. Pennsylvania received 40 of the 300 post-convention campaign events in 2008, but only a token (last-minute) five of 253 in 2012. Neither President Obama nor Vice President Biden campaigned here after being nominated.

    States have the responsibility and power to make their voters relevant and equal in Every presidential election.

    The indefensible reality is that more than 99% of campaign attention was showered on voters in just ten states in 2012- and that in today’s political climate, the swing states have become increasingly fewer and fixed.

    Pennsylvania is now among the 80% of the states and Americans who have been merely spectators to presidential elections. They have no influence. That’s more than 200 million Americans, ignored. When and where voters are ignored, then so are the issues they care about most.

    Policies important to the citizens of non-battleground states are not as highly prioritized as policies important to the handful of ‘battleground’ states when it comes to governing.

    During the course of campaigns, candidates are educated and campaign about the local, regional, and state issues most important to the handful of battleground states they need to win. They take this knowledge and prioritization with them once they are elected.

    In apportionment of federal grants by the executive branch, swing states received about 7.6% more federal grants and about 5.7% more federal grant money between 1992 and 2008 than would be expected based on patterns in other states.

    Candidates need to be educated and care about all of our states.

    The number and population of battleground states is shrinking.

    States’ partisanship is hardening.

    19 states with a total of 242 electoral votes, have voted Democratic, 1992-2012
    13 states with 102 electoral votes have voted Republican, 1992-2012

    Some states have not been been competitive for 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.

    Even in the recent handful of states where a presidential vote matters to the candidates, the value of a vote is different.

    National Popular Vote would give a voice to the minority party voters in each state. Now their votes are counted only for the candidate they did not vote for. Now they don’t matter to their 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 candidates.

    Since World War II, a shift of only a few thousand votes in one or two states would have elected the second-place candidate in 4 of the 15 presidential elections. Near misses are now frequently common. There have been 7 consecutive non-landslide presidential elections. 537 popular votes won Florida and the White House for Bush in 2000 despite Gore’s lead of 537,179 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.

    And now there’s always the possibility of no candidate attaining the needed majority of electoral votes. The presidential election would be thrown into Congress to decide .

    Where you live in America should not determine how much, if at all, your vote matters in presidential elections.

    Obvious partisan machinations like Pileggi’s and Republican leaders now in control in other states that have been voting Democratic in recent presidential elections, should add support for the National Popular Vote movement. If the party in control in each state is tempted every 2, 4, or 10 years (post-census) to consider rewriting election laws and redistrict with an eye to the likely politically beneficial effects for their party in the next presidential election, then the National Popular Vote system, in which all voters across the country are guaranteed to be politically relevant and treated equally, is needed now more than ever.

  11. jjcnpa says:

    The Electoral college map is constantly evolving. In 1976 Jimmy Carter carried the old Confederacy and Texas and lost Illinois, most of New England along with New Jersey and California. Except for the Great Plains states and some Rocky Mountain states, this map completely flipped by 2008. The electoral map will be different in 2020 and beyond as Latinos have greater influence. Michigan and Minnesota could easily be Republican and Texas could become Democratic. Pennsylvania is split with Western PA rapidly becoming more Republican and South Central PA rapidly becoming less Republican. Also the swing of the party philosophy will impact the future swings in the electoral vote as well. There is no need to change the electoral college system.

  12. oldgulph says:

    A survey of Pennsylvania voters showed 78% overall support for a national popular vote for President.

    Support was 87% among Democrats, 68% among Republicans, and 76% among independents.

    By age, support was 77% among 18-29 year olds, 73% among 30-45 year olds, 81% among 46-65 year olds, and 78% for those older than 65.

    By gender, support was 85% among women and 71% among men.

    The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections.

    When the bill is enacted by states with a majority of the electoral votes– enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538), all the electoral votes from the enacting states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC.

    The presidential election system that we have today was not designed, anticipated, or favored by the Founding Fathers but, instead, is the product of decades of evolutionary change precipitated by the emergence of political parties and enactment by 48 states of winner-take-all laws, not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution.

    The bill uses the power given to each state by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for President. Historically, virtually all of the major changes in the method of electing the President, including ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote and 48 current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have come about by state legislative action.

    In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided).
    Support for a national popular vote is strong among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group in virtually every state surveyed in recent polls in recent closely divided Battleground states: CO – 68%, FL – 78%, IA 75%, MI – 73%, MO – 70%, NH – 69%, NV – 72%, NM– 76%, NC – 74%, OH – 70%, PA – 78%, VA – 74%, and WI – 71%; in Small states (3 to 5 electoral votes): AK – 70%, DC – 76%, DE – 75%, ID – 77%, ME – 77%, MT – 72%, NE 74%, NH – 69%, NV – 72%, NM – 76%, OK – 81%, RI – 74%, SD – 71%, UT – 70%, VT – 75%, WV – 81%, and WY – 69%; in Southern and Border states: AR – 80%, KY- 80%, MS – 77%, MO – 70%, NC – 74%, OK – 81%, SC – 71%, TN – 83%, VA – 74%, and WV – 81%; and in other states polled: AZ – 67%, CA – 70%, CT – 74%, MA – 73%, MN – 75%, NY – 79%, OR – 76%, and WA – 77%.
    Americans believe that the candidate who receives the most votes should win.

    The bill has passed 31 state legislative chambers in 21 states with 243 electoral votes. The bill has been enacted by 9 jurisdictions with 132 electoral votes – 49% of the 270 necessary to go into effect.

    NationalPopularVote
    Follow National Popular Vote on Facebook via NationalPopularVoteInc

  13. oldgulph says:

    In 2012, Pennsylvania was not a battleground state, even though we had battleground status in several previous elections. Pennsylvania received 40 of the 300 post-convention campaign events in 2008, but only a token (last-minute) five of 253 in 2012. Neither President Obama nor Vice President Biden campaigned here after being nominated.

    In contrast, in the battleground states of 2012, Romney, Ryan, Obama, and Biden visited Florida (27 electoral votes) 43 times, Ohio (20) 73 times, Virginia (13) 36 times, Wisconsin (10) 18 times, Colorado (9) 23 times, Iowa (6) 27 times, Nevada (5) 13 times, and New Hampshire (4) 13 times.

    Pennsylvania has voted for the Democratic presidential nominee in every election for the last 20 years.

    The indefensible reality is that more than 99% of campaign attention was showered on voters in just ten states in 2012- and that in today’s political climate, the swing states have become increasingly fewer and fixed.

    Pennsylvania is now among the 80% of the states and Americans who have been merely spectators to presidential elections. They have no influence. That’s more than 85 million voters, 200 million Americans, ignored. When and where voters are ignored, then so are the issues they care about most.

    Policies important to the citizens of non-battleground states are not as highly prioritized as policies important to the handful of ‘battleground’ states when it comes to governing.

    During the course of campaigns, candidates are educated and campaign about the local, regional, and state issues most important to the handful of battleground states they need to win. They take this knowledge and prioritization with them once they are elected. Candidates need to be educated and care about all of our states.

    In 1960, presidential campaigns paid attention to 35 states.
    In 2008, Obama only campaigned in 14 states after being nominated.
    In 2012, the presidential campaigns only cared about 9 swing states.

    The number and population of battleground states is shrinking.

    States’ partisanship is hardening.

    19 states (including California with 55 electoral votes) with a total of 242 electoral votes, have voted Democratic, 1992-2012
    13 states with 102 electoral votes have voted Republican, 1992-2012

    Some states have not been been competitive for 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. In a study before the 2012 election:
    • 41 States Won by Same Party, 2000-2008
    • 32 States Won by Same Party, 1992-2008
    • 13 States Won Only by Republican Party, 1980-2008
    • 19 States Won Only by Democratic Party, 1992-2008
    • 9 Democratic States Not Swing State since 1988
    • 15 GOP States Not Swing State since 1988

    Even in the recent handful of states where a presidential vote matters to the candidates, the value of a vote is different.

    Where you live should not determine how much, if at all, your vote matters.

    The current state-by-state winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but since enacted by 48 states), ensures that the candidates, after the conventions, will not reach out to about 80% of the states and their voters. Candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or care about the voter concerns in the dozens of states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind.

  14. Rob says:

    Pennsylvania’s statewide presidential vote mirrored the national popular vote in 2012. In recent Presidential elections, Pennsylvania’s statewide presidential vote has been similar to the national popular vote (remember, the Democratic candidate has won the national popular vote in 5 of 6 elections since 1988, and the Democratic candidate lost the 2004 national popular vote by a small margin).

    Pennsylvania is, and for the foreseeable future will be, a swing state. That has two consequences: (1) either major party nominee has a realistic chance of winning Pennsylvania; and (2) a relatively small popular vote margin in Pennsylvania. Currently, under Pennsylvania’s winner-take-all allocation of electoral votes, presidential candidates of both major parties generally spend a lot of time and money focusing on Pennsylvania because a 20 electoral vote margin hangs in the balance (the winner receives 20 electoral votes and the loser receives 0). In a country divided by politics, the most realistic outcome in a proportional allocation system is a 6 electoral vote margin or less (either 13-7, 12-8, 11-9, or more fractured between multiple candidates–it would be very difficult for a major party candidate to capture enough of the Pennsylvania popular vote to register a 14-6 electoral vote win under the proportional allocation system). When viewed from a national perspective, a 20 electoral vote margin is very powerful. A 6, 4, or 2 vote electoral vote margin is far less important to presidential campaigns.

    As a result, Pennsylvania would see far less attention and receive far fewer resources if it changes from a winner-take-all system to a proportional system of allocating electoral votes. Additionally, political winds frequently change, and often quickly. A generation ago, the South and Texas were only solid Democratic states, and California was a tossup state often favoring Republicans. Today, the South and Texas are solid Republican states, and California is a solid Democratic state. The solution to losing 5 of 6 elections is not to change the rules of the game, but rather to learn how to play the game better.

    Finally, changing Pennsylvania, and Pennsylvania alone, to a proportional allocation system ignores concept of fundamental fairness. Today, not one the nation’s 51 voting bodies (the 50 states plus the District of Columbia) uses a proportional allocation system. Two states, Maine and Nebraska, use an allocation system based on congressional districts. However, neither state carries very many electoral votes (Maine has but 4 and Nebraska has but 5) and neither state is viewed as a “swing state” susceptible to partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts (one Nebraska congressional district voted for President Obama in 2008, and the Republican candidate infrequently has a chance to win one of Maine’s electoral votes). Due to those facts, Maine and Nebraska neutralize each other. If Pennsylvania seeks to change its allocation system from winner-take-all to proportional award, it should be only if every other state does the same (e.g., Texas, California, New York, southern states). Or the nation should change the US Constitution to provide for a national popular vote. The rules of the game should be the same for all. One fighter cannot be limited by the Marquess of Queensberry Rules while the other acts as a no-holds-barred streetfighter.

    Across-the-board change may protect fundamental fairness while piecemeal change based solely on wishful political outcomes would not. Then again, those who merely want to win at any cost don’t much care about fundamental fairness, or even nuanced arguments based on facts rather than opinions.

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