The sky is falling in the liberal blogosphere. There’s a movement in California for a ballot initiative that would apportion California’s Electoral College electors according to the candidate that wins each Congressional district rather than assign the whole of the state’s electors to the winner of the statewide vote.
The reason the sky is falling? It would remove fifty-plus solid electors in the Democratic column and split them among the two parties, with the Republicans receiving maybe twenty or twenty-five. Suddenly, a state that would give the Democrats twenty percent of what they need to capture the Presidency becomes something less and a bit of a toss-up.
The liberal blogosphere is crying foul, because they recognize that splitting California’s Electoral College ballots like this will mean that Democrats will need to win many more states than they did in 2000 and 2004 to win the Presidency.
I will agree that, yes, the Republican movement to capture twenty-odd Electoral votes from California seems like a dirty and underhanded way to win the Presidency.
However, I also think that we have a real need for Electoral College Reform.
See, the Republicans have identified a problem in California — essentially, Republican votes for President in California don’t count. Likewise, if you’re a Democrat living in the South — as I was when I lived in North Carolina — a vote for the Democratic candidate doesn’t count. The real vote that matters is the Electoral College vote, and in the winner-take-all system where the state’s electors go to the winner of the election in that state the losing candidate’s votes might as well not have happened at all.
And what this has evolved into is a system where, in the past two cycles, the news media has talked about the “battleground states” — a handful of states that aren’t safely in the Democratic or Republican columns, and it is those “battleground states” that decide the election.
A system where Electors are apportioned based on the winner of each Congressional district has the advantage of putting more districts into play, which means that more votes matter. Any district has the possibility of being a “battleground district,” which means that candidates will have to run a campaign that isn’t focused solely on getting a few toss-up areas to put the math over the top.
The California reform isn’t automatically the bad idea the blogosphere claims it is. But it needs to be done is more places than just California, and absent movement in places like Texas, Florida, and Ohio to make similar moves the California ballot initiative isn’t that good of an idea. Realistically, it’s something that every state should adopt, so that more voters have a real chance of influencing the Presidential election every four years. It would make the Electoral College more democratic, something that historically it hasn’t been.