Two months after the Election Night and just two weeks after the Inauguration, politicos and pundits started debating the 2016 presidential election. One surprising topic was reform of the electoral college. Electoral reform is an issue that always comes up after a national election, but Republican state legislatures are seriously investigating alternatives. One controversial option is for electoral votes to be awarded according to congressional district. This proposal raised many flags for Democrats and pro-democracy advocates. However, the more interesting story is the reaction of the Republican party to public opinion. At the moment the different reactions show that the party hasn’t reached a common agreement on what position to take. However, the eventual consensus will play a key role in the 2016 election.

Why The Plan Tempts Republicans

The Republicans have an electoral college problem. And they know it.

After the Reagan and Bush Administrations provided a powerful hold on the system, innovations in campaigning combined with demographic shifts eroded their political base in national races. Now a party that once swept 41 states under Reagan faces losing states like North Carolina, Virginia, and potentially Arkansas and Texas. Without such southern strongholds Republican dominance in national politics could vanish for a generation or more. Facing such serious problems a tempting option is to change the political calculus of the Electoral College.

The system, as it currently stands, is an interesting compromise by the Founding Fathers between state interests and popular rule. The current system awards electoral votes on a state by state basis in most cases with a winner-take-all model that awards all of a state’s electoral votes to the winner of the state popular vote. For the most part it works. Republicans want to change to awarding electoral votes based on congressional districts. In short it would tilt the odds to Republicans since they have most of the rural districts. Democrats while superior in numbers mostly live in urban areas.

According to The Washington Post, if this plan were in place in 2012. Romney would have won 12 electoral votes to Obama’s 6 in Ohio. Similarly, 9 of Virginia’s electoral votes would have gone to Romney, leaving only 4 for Obama.

Political Risks

However public opinion presents an interesting barrier to the plan. Popular resistance could create a backlash scenario similar to that caused by stricter voter registration laws. It only encourage more of the opposition to vote. An altered electoral map would drive party activists to campaign more aggressively in all 50 states making normally save districts more competitive. Another unforeseen effect would be the weakening of the political weights of states in national elections. Swings state become obsolete when the winner-take-all rule is no longer in effect. A key part of Republican support values the influence of states in the electoral process and this side effect could become a major blow to regional and state interests normally promoted through the electoral college. So while the chance to make the electoral process more favorable to Republicans has some tempting merits, public opinion embodied by voices in the opposition and even within the Republican party limit its effectiveness as a political strategy for 2016.

  • Logical Liberal

    They know they can’t win without cheating.

    • CLIFFHANGER

      Not very logical.

  • The duck

    The district by district electorate sounds more fair in that it is decided by the people who are by constitutional standards the government primarily. And yes each district would be important and not the state as a whole. The closer to the governed we can get the better the governors aught to be. I would think and hope.

  • edwin

    Election reform needs to be done now , Citizen’s United has got to go .Can not wait until next election. I would prefer government financing of elections. I believe equal time on the media. Its so lopsided that if you listen to one source or the other you only hear one side. Many times one side is an outright lie. Unless you take the time for fact check, you are left in the dark as to the truth. I WOULD ALSO LIKE TO PURPOSE ELECTION REFORM, i.e. CHANGING THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION FROM WINNER TAKE ALL IN A STATE TO ALL STATES CHANGING TO THE MAINE AND NEBRASKA FORMAT WHERE THE WINNER ONLY TAKES THE DISTRICT THAT HE OR SHE WINS. THIS IS MUCH MORE FAIR AND YOU WOULDN’T HAVE ALL THE RED STATE/ BLUE STATE CRAP. THE PRESENT WAY, ALMOST HALF THE PEOPLE IN ANY GIVEN STATE LOSE THEIR VOTE EVERY ELECTION. ALSO I BELIEVE THAT THERE SHOULD BE ONLY 4 PRIMARIES, STARTING IN MARCH ALLOWING 30 DAYS FOR EACH PRIMARY. MARCH,APRIL MAY & JUNE. OR SIMILAR SETUP. THE PRIMARIES WOULD BE CONSTRUCTED IN BASICALLY 4 TIME ZONES. STARTING WITH LESS POPULATED, MOUNTAIN TIME ZONE FIRST IN MARCH, CENTRAL NEXT IN APRIL FOLLOWED BY PACIFIC AND EASTERN TIME ZONES. WHERE YOU HAVE MORE THAN ONE TIME ZONE IN A STATE, THAT AREA WOULD BE CONSOLIDATED INTO THE MAJOR TIME ZONE OF THE STATE. IDEALLY WOULD BE TO COMPACT THEM MORE CLOSER TO THE GENERAL ELECTION. WE STILL NEED PUBLIC RADIO, ALTHOUGH THEY MIGHT NOT SLANT THE WAY YOU WOULD LIKE, THEIR CONTENT IS USUALLY RIGHT ON. I AGREE WITH SENATOR ROCKEFELLER ON THE RIDICULOUS PARTISAN CONTENT OF MSNBC AND FOX NEWS AND MANY OTHER NEWS OUTLETS. I BELIEVE AN ETHICS AND EQUALITY FREEDOM OF SPEECH ACT WOULD GO A LONG WAYS IN PROVIDING FAIRNESS OF THE 1ST AMENDMENT. IS IT REALLY PARTISAN CONTENT WHEN FOX NEWS AS WELL AS THE LIMBAUGH’S ARE THE MOST OBVIOUS WHEN THEY HAVE TO LIE,SLUR ,INSULT ,MISQUOTE, MISREPRESENT AND BE OUTRIGHT SMART-ASS’S. I FIND MOST OF MSNBC HOST AND GUEST SEEM TO BE ONLY EXPOSING THE CRAP FOX NEWS TYPE AND THE LIMBAUGH TYPES ARE PUTTING OUT. MOST OF MSNBC CONTENT SEEMS TO BE FACTUAL AND MUCH IS DISPROVING FOX AND THE RIGHTS ERRONEOUS AND DISTORTED CONTENT. AM I BIAS MAYBE BUT NOT VERY MUCH. I FACT CHECK EVERYTHING READ ON THE INTERNET WHICH IS 85% LIES. MUCH OF WHERE FOX,LIMBAUGH AND DRUDGE GET THEIR CONTENT. FOX NEWS DOES HAVE SOME GOOD PROGRAMMING AND NEWS COVERAGE. PEOPLE ARE DUPED[MOSTLY VOLUNTARILY] BY THE MOST VISIBLE SHOWS WHICH ARE DESIGNED FOR THAT PURPOSE. AS FAR AS MYSELF BEING BIAS ON MY OBSERVATIONS, I WATCH AS MUCH FOX NEWS AS I DO MSNBC.I AM A NEWS NUT AND WANT TO SEE WHAT THE OTHER SIDE IS SAYING. MOST PEOPLE DON’T DON’T. IT IS DANGEROUS TRYING TO INTENTIONALLY DECEIVE THE LISTENER. PEOPLE ARE NAIVE AND NEED SOME BALANCE FOR THEIR PROTECTION. MURDOCK GIVES A MILLION TO THE GOP AND ROGER AILES ADMITS WHAT THEY ARE DOING. MAY;BE I DIDN’T ARTICULATE AS WELL AS I COULD BUT I BELIEVE WE WOULD HAVE A BETTER INFORMED COUNTRY AND THE 1ST AMENDMENT WOULD HAVE A MORE FAIR AND BALANCE MEANING[not fox type] IF WE HAD A FAIRNESS DOCTRINE [FOR AN EXAMPLE] 2 PARTS] PART ONE ] RESTRICT ONE PERSON/COMPANY FROM OWNING/CONTROLLING MORE THAN ONE MEDIA OUTLET IN ANY GIVEN MEDIA MARKET. SOME MARKETS ONE PERSON CONTROLS EVERYTHING TV, RADIO AND PRINT. EVEN CABLE AND BROADBAND [NUMBER TWO] TO HAVE DOUBLE SAFE GUARDS,EACH MEDIA OUTLET MUST HAVE BALANCE OF PROGRAMMING OR EDITORIAL CONTENT. i.e. LIMBAUGH HAS A 3 HOUR PROGRAM, THEY MUST HAVE A BALANCED 3 HOURS OF OPPOSITE CONTENT . ONE REASON AIR AMERICA FAILED WAS MAJOR MEDIA IN A MARKET WAS CONTROLLED BY ONE PERSON/COMPANY.THE SAME WITH TV, PRINT AND CABLE/BROADBAND. THIS POLICY WOULD APPLY TO ALL PROGRAMMING AND PRINT OPINION. RELIGIOUS CONTENT WOULD BE EXEMPT UNLESS FRAUD OR POLITICAL CONTENT WAS INJECTED. HOPEFULLY WEBSITES CAN BE INCLUDED TO OFFER EQUAL OPINIONS DEBATES FOR BLOG SITES. CABLE/BROADBAND AND WEBSITES