Tags: electoralcollege

Toss Out Electoral College, Map Shrinks to 7 Partial States

illustration of a ballot going into a ballot box labelled electoral college with an american flag in the background
(Dreamstime)

By Thursday, 06 February 2020 06:29 PM Current | Bio | Archive

A few days before the U.S. Senate impeachment trial wrapped up with only one Republican and one Democrat breaking with their party, three Democrats broke with party 100 miles south of D.C. to defeat an attempt to basically give Virginia’s electoral votes away to big cities like Los Angeles and New York

The three votes were decisive in the 10-12 loss for HB 177, an attempt to get a 17th state to agree to give up their electoral votes by having them go to the national popular vote. That vote is much more dominated by the Los Angeles and New York television markets which reach close to 14 million presidential voters.

If they succeed, presidential candidates would simply camp out in those two locations most of the time rather than waste time trying to win Virginia by 200,000 or so votes.

The most flawed argument used by proponents of abolishing the Electoral College is that it would make presidential candidates pay more attention to all states rather than just a few swing states. 

The opposite is true. Hillary Clinton thought she was safe ignoring Wisconsin and Michigan because Republicans had not come closer than 7 and 10 points in those two states in 2012 — yet she lost both.

If a party has to campaign in a state they've won by seven or more points, then the Electoral College makes both parties focus on Virginia and 17 other states where one of the last three elections was even closer than Michigan or Wisconsin had been: less than 6 points.

The possibility of losing any of these 18 states compels candidates to visit the four main regions of the country, with three in the East, four in the South, four in the West and seven in the Midwest.

Region

State within 6%

Year

GOP win by

East

Maine

2016

-2.96%

East

New Hampshire

2016

-0.37%

East

Pennsylvania

2016

0.72%

Midwest

Indiana

2008

-1.04%

Midwest

Iowa

2012

-5.81%

Midwest

Michigan

2016

0.23%

Midwest

Minnesota

2016

-1.52%

Midwest

Missouri

2008

0.14%

Midwest

Ohio

2012

-2.98%

Midwest

Wisconsin

2016

0.77%

South

Florida

2012

-0.88%

South

Georgia

2016

5.13%

South

North Carolina

2008

-0.32%

South

Virginia

2012

-3.88%

West

Arizona

2016

3.54%

West

Colorado

2016

-4.91%

West

Montana

2008

2.26%

West

Nevada

2016

-1.52%

(For the moment we are not even counting three other states, with the Democrats now making a run at Texas and Georgia and the Republicans at New Mexico. That woul bring the total to 21 states.)

With the elimination of the Electoral College, candidates no longer need to spend any time in 16 of the 18 states listed.

If the attempt to banish the Electoral College succeeds, proponents argue that it would be worthwhile to run advertising in all 50 states instead of only the battlegrounds. The idea that this would solve the problem for Americans by making them watch endless commercials on their phones and TVs is absurd.

If that is the result then the current battleground state voters would beg to no longer be battlegrounds so they could stop being barraged. 

The real question is, "Where does a campaign have incentive to spend the time and money to send the candidate so that they can interact with the voters in that area and go places they go.

If the popular vote was all that mattered, there would never by incentive to go to a midsized state like Virginia with voter ID laws that hold down voting (Republicans say stopping illegal voting while Democrats say scaring off legitimate votes, but that is a separate issue) and instead go to the biggest states like California who expand votes cast by not requiring any ID at the polls. 

When you look at those numbers, you are choosing between 210 media markets in the United States, then it is never worth the time and money to move your candidate anywhere but a big market.

Realistically you want to pound only media markets (or two media markets within a four-hour drive of each other once you land) that account for 3 million or more votes on Election Day.

You may as well spend half of your time simply flying back and forth between New York (to catch about 8 million who will vote on Election Day) and Los Angeles (to catch about 6 million votes on Election Day.)

Every couple of months your candidate could break away from those two giant markets and touch down in five additional places.

  • Baltimore and D.C.: 4 million votes (yay, more influence for the Beltway and north!)
  • Chicago: 3.4 million votes
  • Dallas and Houston: 5 million votes, though even that is a stretch with a four-hour drive
  • Los Angeles: 6 million votews
  • New York and Philadelphia: 11.3 million votes
  • Orlando and Tampa: 3.2 million votes
  • San Francisco and Sacramento: 4.2 million million

There is your new campaign map — the candidates would spent almost 365 days a year interacting with people from part of seven states. The other 198 media markets average less than half a million votes each — it would simply never be cost effective to go to them once the electoral college were abolished.

Shrinking the maps from 18 diverse states to parts of seven states is not worth it, the Electoral College makes presidential candidates interact with diverse people from throughout the county —  or lose.

John Pudner is Executive Director of Takeback.org, a non-profit home for Americans seeking true political reform. Our conservative solutions include: stopping illicit foreign money from impacting elections; ending pay-to-play in government contracting; and restoring the Reagan-era federal tax credit for small-dollar political contributions, which will encourage more citizens to become donors and help re-balance the campaign finance system. For more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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A few days before the U.S. Senate impeachment trial wrapped up with only one Republican and one Democrat breaking with their party, three Democrats broke with Party 100 miles South of D.C. to defeat an attempt to basically give Virginia's electoral votes away to big cities like...
electoralcollege
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2020-29-06
Thursday, 06 February 2020 06:29 PM
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