The current Electoral College system, enshrined as it is in our Constitution, is frequently the subject of criticism by folks across the political spectrum. A popular refrain is that the national popular vote should decide the Presidency, but that would require a Constitutional amendment (not likely) and would make national Presidential politics snap sharply to the left, as candidates would campaign in the nation’s major cities and ignore places like Ohio and our own Colorado, which right now (and by the design of the Founders) have quite a bit of play in the elections.
So, how can we modify the Electoral College to be more responsive to the electorate while keeping smaller states happy and more accurately reflecting the national electorate? Well, I have some thoughts on that. They aren’t my thoughts by origin; Nebraska and Maine already do things more or less the way I would propose.
The change is simple: Instead of the usual winner-take-all system for a state’s electoral votes, why not assign them by Congressional district? Assign electors per Congressional district, and then just to be fair give a state two more electors to match their two Senators, to act as a moderating influence.
Now, let’s look at an electoral map for 2012 by Congressional district.
See how that works? In this case, if the election had been decided in this system, we would have just recently seen Her Imperial Majesty attempting to unseat the sitting President Romney.
One of my concerns with the Electoral College system as it is constituted today was mentioned in last week’s Rule Five Friday post. That concern is around hardcore blue states like California and New York, and to be fair, include hard red states like Texas. If you are a Republican or Libertarian in California, your vote doesn’t matter a damn, no matter how red your county is. If you are a Democrat or Green in Texas, your vote doesn’t matter a damn, no matter how blue your county is. You may as well stay home.
Assigning electors by Congressional district would at least spread that around some by making every state competitive; candidates could no longer ignore California and Texas, but would still have to compete in places like Ohio and Colorado. Note that the 2012 results tipped the election away from the current system’s results of a 332/206 win for Obama, but under this system a moderate Democrat would likely have swung enough districts to win, especially as an incumbent.
Not only would this system have the advantage of adding granularity to the electoral system and spreading the votes more evenly, it would do more to encourage more moderate candidates; a Democrat wouldn’t win by focusing only on big states with big urban centers, and a Republican would have to work on appealing to suburban districts in places like Pennsylvania and Minnesota.
It’s too soon to see how this system would have affected the election just past, although since the GOP easily held the House and maintained a narrow lead in the Senate, it’s probable that The Donald would still have won. But that’s not certain; not with two candidates that were so widely disliked.
So, True Believers; thoughts?