The backlash is growing against a Republican-backed plan to change the way key battleground states allocate electoral votes.
In his Crystal Ball newsletter today, political handicapper Larry Sabato described the plan — which would make it so electoral votes in key swing states were apportioned by congressional districts — as “a truly rotten one” that would “undermine democracy.” The plan — which gained traction in the Virginia state legislature this week — would heavily favour Republican presidential candidates.
“A healthy, optimistic party is Reaganesque, convinced that it can win the future by embracing it, and by making a positive case for its philosophy and candidates to all Americans. A party in decline is Nixonian and fears the future; it sees enemies everywhere, feels overwhelmed by electoral trends, and thinks it can win only by cheating, by subverting the system and stacking the deck in its favour.”
Crystal Ball senior columnist Alan Abramowitz, a professor of political science at Emory University, echoed Sabato’s thoughts, writing that it would be “profoundly undemocratic” and would increase the chances of “an Electoral College misfire.” (Abramowitz was an Obama donor in 2008, according to The Hill.)
In a report today, the left-leaning centre for American Progress looked at six “likely targets” for the GOP plan, including Virginia. All six states voted for President Barack Obama in 2012 but have Republican governors and strong Republican majorities in the state legislatures.
Photo: centre for American Progress
In his column, Abramowitz laid out the effect of Virginia’s reallocation plan if applied to the those six states:
“If the congressional district system had been used in these six states in 2012, instead of Obama winning all of their 106 electoral votes, it appears that Romney would have won 61 electoral votes to only 45 for Obama. As a result, Obama’s margin in the national electoral vote would have been reduced from 332-206 to only 271-267.”
Abramowitz adds that, under the current Electoral College system, Democrats can put 24 states plus the District of Columbia safely in their electoral column. This gives the party a relative baseline of 285 electoral votes — already 15 more than are needed to win the presidency.
According to Salon, “The author of the Virginia bill says the point is to make sure rural concerns aren’t ignored.” Worth noting is that rural voters predominantly vote Republican, and that redistricting in Virginia was designed to maximise that advantage.
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