Thursday, January 24, 2013

Sabato savages "corrupt" GOP electoral college scheme

University of Virginia Professor, Larry Sabato, weighs in on the GOP's potential plan to game (that's an understatement) the electoral college system to favor the party (emphasis added).

Republicans are struggling to right their ship after the defeat of 2012. The unfavorable demographic trends for the GOP that we describe in our new book, Barack Obama and the New America, have sunk in, and the party knows it must do something. We have solicited ideas ourselves, believing that it is vital for America to have vigorous party competition. You will see some of those ideas, offered by our readers and Twitter colleagues, here.

But nestled among the constructive ideas is a truly rotten one, the proposal to fix and game the Electoral College to give a sizable additional advantage to the Republican nominee for president.

We have asked Crystal Ball Senior Columnist Alan Abramowitz, Alben W. Barkley Professor of Political Science at Emory University, to examine the proposal and outline its likely effects. As we suspected, it would permit a GOP nominee to capture the White House even while losing the popular vote by many millions.

This is not a relatively small Electoral College “misfire” on the order of 1888 or 2000. Instead, it is a corrupt and cynical maneuver to frustrate popular will and put a heavy thumb — the whole hand, in fact — on the scale for future Republican candidates. We do not play presidential politics with a golf handicap awarded to the weaker side.

The cheat sheet on this unbelievable gambit? (Well, besides that it's a cheat...)

Instead of apportioning a state's electoral college votes on a winner-take-all basis, the state would divvy them up by congressional district.

That means you could easily have a situation where a candidate wins the most votes in a state but picks up fewer electoral college votes than the other candidate.

Why does the GOP want to do it? Because in many of the battleground states, they control the redistricting process. That gives them the chance to redistrict based on areas of Republican strength.

Thus, as Reid Wilson wrote in December, Obama's sweep of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan wouldn't have netted him the usual 46 electoral votes but just 19! For his part, Romney would've picked up 26 votes in those states, and would've been thanking Wisconsin, PA, and Michigan for winning him the White House!

Pretty unbelievable.

The chess equivalent? Calling your pawns "queens" when your queen gets killed. 

Alan Abramowitz explains more at Sabato's site.

.... based on the results that are currently available we can estimate that Romney carried 228 House districts to only 207 for Obama. So despite Obama’s comfortable margin in the national popular vote, a system that awarded one electoral vote for each House district plus two votes for the statewide winner would have resulted in a Romney victory by 276 electoral votes to 262 electoral votes.