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It appears that the Virginia Republican plan to change the way that Virginia's electoral college votes are distributed is going to come to an end. Yet, I wonder if there is an opportunity here for Democrats and progressives to gain a political advantage. How could they do that? By amending the bill to provide for proportional distribution of Virginia's electoral college votes.

Many of Virginia's Republican State Senators are on record as saying that the present winner take all system is "unfair" to their rural constituents, that those same constituents feel "ignored" by candidates concentrating their efforts in urban areas. So why not a proportional system that would distribute Virginia's electoral college votes in the same percentage as the state-wide popular vote?

Now, at first glance, this might seem to cost Democratic candidates votes because in 2008 and 2012 Obama carried Virginia. If you look at the last forty years, however, the number of times that a Democratic candidate carried Virginia are exactly two, in 2008 and 2012. Even Carter and Clinton, who were both Southern white males didn't carry Virginia.

Think about this, if Virginia had allocated its electoral votes on a proportional basis in 2004 John Kerry would have received 6 electoral votes and Bush would have received 7. In 2000 Gore would have received 6 and Bush would have received 7. (For purposes of this diary I am assuming that percentages would be rounded up or down depending on what the percentage actually was. For example 44.6% would be rounded up to 45% while 44.4% would be rounded down to 44%). If this idea caught on, it would be a backdoor way to a genuine popular vote for the presidency that would not require a constitutional amendment.

I am not sure what would happen if a Democratic State Senator proposed this idea as an amendment to the current legislation. Unlike the GOP plan it doesn't depend on gerrymandered congressional districts which is also what distinguishes it from the plans in Maine and Nebraska. It also would seem to survive a 14th Amendment Equal Protection Clause issue since there would be no "packing" of "urban" voters into just a few districts.

I would be interested in readers' reactions to this idea, especially readers from Virginia. Thanks for taking the time to read this diary.

Poll

This idea is

25%4 votes
62%10 votes
12%2 votes

| 16 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  This is a terrible idea (4+ / 0-)

    It would make all the work that we do during the campaign almost meaningless.   The winning candidate would almost always get 7 electoral votes and the loser would get 6.   The entire campaign would be fought over 1 electoral vote.  So the campaigns would ignore Virginia completely.  

    Without a strong get-out-the-vote effort from a national campaign, George Allen would probably be our Senator....

    •  Good point (0+ / 0-)

      In this scenario, the high-value states become the ones with large populations (most EVs), but also the most party-affiliated. The ones with the most diversity would be the least valuable (electoral vote-wise) to reach.

    •  Your point is (0+ / 0-)

      well taken. I had not thought about what could happen in states like Ohio and Virginia where we elected Dem senators in the presidential elections. On the other hand, if every state adopted this approach we would end up with a popular vote system, albeit through the electoral college.

  •  That seems like it would be more representative (0+ / 0-)

    in theory. Of course, US politicians are greedy, in that, if option 1 is to get all the votes or lose all the votes, and option 2 is to get some votes but rarely ever all the votes, our politicians invariably choose option 1.

    Of course, this argument is just further reason to take redistricting out of the hands of politicians completely, and create districts that are as uniform population-wise as possible. Then it would be moot. But look how many states actually take that route.

  •  Looking at the historical data (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FG

    is pointless because Virginia has changed so much in the last 20 years. It's becoming more of a northeastern state than a southern state and it's gone to Obama twice because the demographics have grown to favor Democrats. All of that aside, it's a terrible idea to have some states (the ones Republicans hand pick) be apportioned, and others winner take all. It simply doesn't add up to fair elections.

  •  Real electoral college reform (0+ / 0-)

    would either abolish the electoral college or make it irrelevant.  

    Better to spend our time pushing the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.

    My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right. -- Senator Carl Schurz(MO-1899)

    by Adam Blomeke on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 06:47:34 PM PST

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