January 1, 2017

How to go popular vote despite the Senate's opposition

Governing - In 2006, a group was formed to support a "National Popular Vote plan" based on a strategy devised by John Koza, a Stanford University computer scientist. The concept's simple: an agreement among states to award all of their respective electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the popular vote nationwide.

So far the proposal has been adopted by 10 states and the District of Columbia, which among them control 165 electoral votes, or 61 percent of those needed to give the compact legal force. But with vote-rich California, Illinois and New York already on board, the proposal will have to pick up a large group of medium- and smaller-sized states. That may be a tough challenge, despite the fact that Americans seem to like the idea: Polls have shown such margins as 62 percent in favor in Arizona, 80 percent in Arkansas, 70 percent in California, 68 percent Colorado, 73 percent in Connecticut, 75 percent in Delaware and 77 percent in Ohio.

One thing's certain: Should the National Popular Vote plan be adopted by enough states, we'd see a stunning reversal of the Electoral College missteps of the last two centuries.

And we'd democratize the process geographically. Preoccupied with key states, the presidential campaigns treat lots of America as irrelevant fly-over territory. Two thirds of the leading presidential candidates' appearances in this year's general election season occurred in just 12 states, from 71 visits in Florida and 55 in North Carolina to 21 in New Hampshire and 10 in Arizona. Meanwhile, there were 16 states without a single visit, including Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts and New Jersey. Massive California received just one visit.


Anonymous said...

And would that really be that equitable a solution, or merely a disproportionate shift of power to relatively few densely populated urban centers? Much is being made of the popular vote sums, but as they relate to the even distribution of interests across the geographic nation a whole belie certain truths. Overall Trump won approximately 2,600 counties to Clinton’s 500, or about 84% of the geographic United States. However, Clinton won 88 of of the 100 largest counties (including Washington D.C.). Without these 100 largest counties she would have lost by 11.5 million votes.
Does shifting the power base to essentially California, New York, and Illinois---translation:LA, NYC, and Chicago, really serve the best interests of all of the communities that comprise the United States? We think not.

AgustinG said...

Well, there's an illogical argument against the popular vote. Saying that the voting power of large urban areas would be bad because they represent more people, how does that make any sense for making the election more democratic, which is what a majority of Americans are saying they would like? Saying that Clinton would have lost by 11.5 million votes if the votes in the largest 100 counties didn't count, that's the same as saying that the votes of Americans in the 100 largest counties shouldn't count. Illogical to say that votes shouldn't count because voters happen to live in larger urban areas, and that votes in rural areas should count for more just because less people live there.

Of course, we've just seen evidence that the electoral college system doesn't work, since we ended up with a generally reviled candidate winning with a minority of the popular vote.