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Posted by on Dec 17, 2012 in Politics | 10 comments

Republicans Plan Push to Rig Rules So They Can Win More Electoral Votes

The big news since the election is that the results revealed the Republican Party is now at a disadvantage given its inability to win over key, growing demographics that gave Barack Obama a clear-cut victory in November. So what does the party do? Expand its tent? Try and attract more moderates, blacks, gays, women, Latinos, Asians? Nope. According to the National Journal it will make a big push in states where the GOP is in control to change the way electoral college votes are allocated — wiping out decades of the way our political system has operated:
Republicans alarmed at the apparent challenges they face in winning the White House are preparing an all-out assault on the Electoral College system in critical states, an initiative that would significantly ease the party’s path to the Oval Office.

Senior Republicans say they will try to leverage their party’s majorities in Democratic-leaning states in an effort to end the winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes. Instead, bills that will be introduced in several Democratic states would award electoral votes on a proportional basis.

The irony is that GOPers on talk radio and on blogs constantly talk about Obama’s “Chicago politics.” In reality, we’ve seen little of the somewhat sleazy, legendary political power plays that “Chicago politics” entails from the Obama camp — or at least nothing that measures up to this. This would, however, be in keeping with the GOP’s virtual political coup in Michigan, the lightning strike successful move to disembowel organized labor, as well as efforts at what post-election analyses now almost universally acknowledge were blatant voter suppression in key states where GOPers had governors and strong legislative majorities.

So if voter suppression doesn’t work, what better way than to use your power to ram through a change in the way the political system has traditionally operated in the most parts U.S.? Not to say there aren’t a few exceptions:

Already, two states — Maine and Nebraska — award an electoral vote to the winner of each congressional district. The candidate who wins the most votes statewide takes the final two at-large electoral votes. Only once, when President Obama won a congressional district based in Omaha in 2008, has either of those states actually split their vote.

But if more reliably blue states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin were to award their electoral votes proportionally, Republicans would be able to eat into what has become a deep Democratic advantage.

All three states have given the Democratic nominee their electoral votes in each of the last six presidential elections. Now, senior Republicans in Washington are overseeing legislation in all three states to end the winner-take-all system.

Obama won all three states in 2008, handing him 46 electoral votes because of the winner-take-all system. Had electoral votes been awarded by district, Republican nominee Mitt Romney would have cut into that lead. Final election results show that Romney won nine of Michigan’s 14 districts, five of eight in Wisconsin, and at least 12 of 18 in Pennsylvania. Allocate the two statewide votes in each state to Obama and that means Romney would have emerged from those three Democratic states with 26 electoral votes, compared with just 19 for Obama (and one district where votes are still being counted).

Republicans are able to contemplate such a bold plan because of their electoral success in 2010, when the party won control of state legislative chambers and the governorships in all three states, giving them total control over the levers of state government.

“If you did the calculation, you’d see a massive shift of electoral votes in states that are blue and fully [in] red control,” said one senior Republican taking an active role in pushing the proposal. “There’s no kind of autopsy and outreach that can grab us those electoral votes that quickly.”

I’m betting as these efforts begin a)Republicans will continue to lose more moderates, b)these efforts will again cause a major mobilization on the part of the Democrats and the growing demographic groups that support them, c)these efforts will further hurt the image of the Republican Party that seemingly can’t play by the rules that parties have played for by years but have to turn to voter suppression and changing the rules of the system.

Question: the Dems see this coming now.

Are they prepared to deal with it?

UPDATE: Booman writes:

The Democrats cannot retaliate in kind, but I imagine that we will go ballistic. It’s a very desperate move that acknowledges openly that the GOP no longer believes that they can remain a conservative party and win the White House unless they change the rules. And they would rather stay conservative than adapt or evolve to meet changing circumstances. I predicted that the GOP would make this move back on December 4th.

It still is not certain that they will succeed in their plans. The Pennsylvania GOP wanted to change the rules for the 2012 election but discovered massive resistance in their own ranks. From my understanding, safe members didn’t want Obama campaigning in their districts. If you remember the competition between Obama and Hillary Clinton, you know that Team Obama is very good at competing on a district level. But changing the rules will benefit future Republican candidates in a massive way.

There will be a huge backlash if the GOP attempts this, but they must think they no longer have any choice. They don’t want to change, so they will change the rules instead.

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  • ShannonLeee

    this is how minority groups stay in power…. with our rising debt, gun violence, and changing demographics….

    lets hope we do not turn into South Africa

  • dduck

    The system is no good, therefore gaming the system is rampant.

  • Any move to alter any calculation for national office needs to occur nationally. I would like to see the math if EVERY state did the same calculation as is being proposed here.

    Picking and chosing is what’s wrong. The whole country needs to do it the same way or there will be problems.

    Gads, we need a Constitutional Convention in this country. We need to a) fix the electoral college; b) write a clearer 2nd Amendment; c) strip the notion that corporations are people; d) state emphatically that people have the right to privacy & ban broad domestic spying; e) fix the Senate filibuster rule forever; and f) find a way to stop gerrymandering.

    Our system has flaws. At its core, it’s sound, but these flaws are like minor defects in a skyscraper: over time, they collapse the building.

  • sheknows

    I guess I don’t see this as hurting the Republican party. Voters don’t really know what’s going on. Pretty much all they hear is blah,blah,blah…Republicans and blah, blah, blah… Democrats.
    Even at this writing Republicans are trying to change several constitutional amendments but nobody cares. 17th amendment, 14th amendment, parental rights amendment,term limits, etc , etc. Voters are not going to care about this either…and probably will not really hear about it anymore than all the other amendments they are trying to change.

    You are correct Joe. They cannot change…..too rigid ( which is what makes them staunch conservatives), so they have to change the rules. Their very ideology precludes minority embracement so they have no choice.
    Too bad…..hopefully not for the rest of us.

  • Dr. J

    God forbid we nudge the sacred electoral college system toward a fairer representation of the popular vote. Rumors that it’s widely criticized every four years for disenfranchising all but a handful of swing states are false and blasphemous. No Democrat would ever dream of tampering with it.

    So it is indeed shocking that Republicans would propose just that, over such a trifling matter as their side’s interest. Can you imagine what would become of the country if parties started acting in their own side’s interest rather than benignly and generously for the good of all?

  • Jim Satterfield

    Dr. J, you would have a point if the GOP was planning on changing the rules in every state they had the power to do so when you say that this plan has anything to do with fairer representation. Since that apparently isn’t the plan, you don’t.

  • Dr. J

    Good points, Jim. Making the electoral college fairer obviously isn’t a matter of just making the outcome more closely represent the popular will. If it were, even one more state allocating its votes proportionately would enfranchise its people, make the system that much fairer, and encourage other states to follow suit. Such a definition of fairness mocks our fine democracy.

    As you and I know, fairness is a about preserving the balance of power between the majestic parties that make America great. Any change that advances the interests of the Republicans at the expense of the Democrats, or vice-versa, is a catastrophic setback.

    So I’m with you completely, let’s leave the electoral college just as it is until one party presses for a change that doesn’t serve their own interests. We’ve shown good faith and admirable patience waiting for 200 years, and I’m sure they’re on the verge of rewarding it.

  • rudi

    @DR J
    Except for 2000, the EC winner was also the popular vote winner. How is rigging the vote in Democratic leaning RustBelt states, but not in Dixie fair?

    Obama won by larger margins than W’s 2000 and 2004 elections.

  • Dr. J

    Of course it’s not fair, Rudi. And if the Republicans managed it in those states, that might make it easier for the Democrats to do something similar in other states, and that would be unfair too. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

    So obviously we should oppose this change strenuously. We shouldn’t say, “good idea, GOP, and in fact let’s do it in these states too,” that is, merely object to the details. We should beat them up for proposing any rule change at all as “wiping out decades of the way our political system has operated.” Maybe we could accuse them of trying to end the electoral college as we know it? That’s worked well to make other policies politically untouchable.

    And thereby we can ensure the continuity of our august electoral college and the benefits that accrue from it. If you think presidential campaigns are expensive today, imagine how much they’d cost if politicians actually had to make their case to citizens in states like California and Texas too. The folks in those states would not take kindly to the resulting barrage of political ads, or to the burden of being able to influence the election.

  • slamfu

    I’ll take the resulting barrage of ads in favor of the absurdity of essentially letting a fraction of the population decide the election. Because those states that do also get far more political influence than they should have as well. The electoral college is useless today. I’m sure it was a critical negotiating point back in the day when the founding fathers were putting together how we vote for our president, but times have changed and now its just a case study in disenfranchisement. We don’t accrue any benefits from the electoral college. It is a relic from the past that needs to be done away with, such as the requirements of being a white land owning male in order to vote. Times have changed.

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