Electoral College Alternatives and 2012, continued

Unlike most other Red-Blue states, Pennsylvania is still considering changing the rules allocating their EC votes. Instead of the Congressional district system, the new move is for a variant of full on proportional where the 18 votes corresponding to the size of their House delegation are distributed proportionately, and the two remaining are awarded to the overall plurality winner of the state.

This ongoing issue motivated me to finally update the slide I use in my lecture on the Electoral College that I reproduced here in the event that all 50 states adopt a given reform. There are several calculations available, including the district system here, and a straight proportional system here. I found neither entirely satisfactory, so in the spirit of a further delay in grading essays, made my own calculations.

The district plan, assuming all states implement it the manner in which it is currently used by Maine and Nebraska, results in 265 EC votes for Obama, and 273 for Romney. (I’m not sure how sound this is; as of today Daily Kos Elections still does not have data on the presidential vote for 26 districts, but unlike the page I linked above, my estimate does add up to 538 at least). The pure proportional plan (without the two vote bonus for the plurality winner) results in Obama 277, Romney 261. I allocated remainders with a strict rounding up criterion. As both estimations assume uniformity in the rules adopted by the states, neither are bullet proof. The table below the fold reproduces my results for the proportional model.

There are some odd results of course, which I’ve highlighted. Alabama was a draw on rounding up, so I arbitrarily assigned it 3-6, as considering Romney received 60.6% of the vote, this is more reasonable than 4-5. MN, MS, MO, NV, NH, and WI are all ties. Although I did this in some haste, I think the criterion for remainders was uniformly applied. There’s also the issue of a minimum legal threshold for assigning EC votes. Six states had votes for “other” at 3% or higher; most of which is likely accounted for by Gary Johnson, who received 3.55% in New Mexico alone. With such a minimal third party result, a pure PR system would not punt the election to the House, but it’s not far off from doing so. My updated slide for my lecture on the EC is here, and what this tells us is that either reform can have unintended consequences. In five elections since 1960 the House decides under PR, as with one under the CD plan (1976); in two others under CD the EC winner did not win the popular vote (2000, 2012). Of course in one case since 1960 the current Electoral College produced a President who didn’t win the popular vote either. The only reform that retains the underlying logic of the EC and has a result consistent with the PV remains the NPV Compact, but that too has issues as were discussed a few days ago.

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