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Republicans Rigging 2016 Redux

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Erik beat me to the punch. See also this on the call for red controlled blue states to monkey with the distribution of Electoral College votes to suit the Republican nominee. I guess if you lose the popular vote by nearly 4% nationally, even with your best attempt at voter suppression in place, you have to get creative in your brazenness.

Erik covers a lot of solid ground, but there’s another unintended consequence worth mentioning. The following table is from a lecture I give on the Electoral College.  I didn’t work these figures up myself; I believe the source is Bowler and Donovan Reforming the Republic (2004).  The first four columns are self explanatory. The fifth column is how the EC vote would be distributed if all 50 states had been using the Congressional district approach (WTA simply stands for ‘winner take all’), with the two EV votes due to Senate representation given to the overall state winner.  The sixth column shows how the votes would have been distributed if all 50 states went with the PR model.

The red figures represent an election that fails to hit the magic number of 270 votes, and is thus thrown to the House.  Under an Electoral College allocated by PR, the 1960, 1968, 1992, 1996, and 2000 elections would have been decided by the House.  Strangely, 1976 results in a 269-269 tie under the district plan.  Regardless, PR sends the election to the House in five of 11 elections between 1960 and 2000, while even the CD plan results in the House deciding the 1976 election.

I don’t like the Electoral College, at all, but most proposals that retain the underlying logic of the Electoral College increase the probability of throwing the election to the House. Furthermore, a CD based system is vulnerable to gerrymandering. Given that there’s only a vanishingly small chance that an amendment to the Constitution would pass ditching the EC entirely, any reform must retain the logic and structure of the EC.

After NE-2 went for Obama in 2008 (with its one Electoral College vote), a bill was introduced in the Nebraska legislature to scrap the district system, of course, because Democrats might benefit from it in the future.  It died in committee, and was unpopular statewide. Of course, if the entire state goes blue, it must be OK.

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