Republicans Seek to Change How Electoral Votes Are Allocated
Emory University political science professor Alan Abramowitz, who considers the Carrico proposal and those like it to be "profoundly undemocratic" because it skews election results toward the party that has drawn gerrymandered congressional districts, found that if all states had allocated electoral votes in 2012 by congressional district, Romney would have taken 276 electoral votes (and with them the presidency) to Mr. Obama's 262 electoral votes. That's despite Mr. Obama's nearly 5 million vote advantage in the popular vote. (Abramowitz' calculation was based on the notion that the two at-large electors would go to the statewide popular vote winner, not whoever won the most congressional districts.)
According to Abramowitz, Romney would have won 12 out of 18 electoral votes in Ohio, nine out of 16 electoral votes in Michigan, 12 out of 20 electoral votes in Pennsylvania, and five out of 10 electoral votes in Wisconsin - despite losing all four states, in some cases by large margins. (Because of incomplete data, he had to estimate from previous data in some Pennsylvania districts.)
It's no coincidence that the states where Republicans are pushing proposals to shift to allocation based on congressional districts were all won by Mr. Obama in November - but are controlled by Republicans on a statewide level. Reince Priebus, the newly reelected chair of the Republican National Committee, said Friday that while such efforts are a "state issue," he is "pretty intrigued by it" and believes "in some cases they should look at it." In Michigan, Rep. Pete Lund, a Republican who plans to introduce a bill soon, told the Detroit News that it would make the system "more representative of the people -- closer to the actual vote." Lund, who introduced a similar measure last year, added that part of the reason it did not get traction lat time is that there "were people convinced Romney was going to win and this might take (electoral) votes from him."
It's not clear just how far these proposals will get this time around: The Virginia plan may well not get out of committee, since two Republican state senators on the committee on record as opposing it. Even if it does clear the legislature, a spokesman for Gov. Bob McDonnell, R-Va., said Friday he would oppose the measure.
Similar measures have been introduced in the past and failed to get anywhere - and it's worth noting that it hasn't always been by Republicans. As Deeds acknowledged, Virginia Democrats pushed similar bills back when they were regularly losing the state of a presidential level. Opponents to such proposals point out that moving to such a system would have the effect of making the candidates far less interested in campaigning in what had previously been swing states - depriving the state of millions of dollars that would have otherwise flowed in during the campaign.
Rob Richie, executive director of the nonprofit electoral reform group FairVote, said that moving to a system of allocation based on congressional district would shift candidates' focus of to suburban districts, since those are the ones that tend to be competitive. "The presidency would be decided not in America, but suburban America," he said. Richie, who advocates a system by which states agree to allocate their electoral votes to the national popular vote winner, called the proposals "the wrong fix for a real problem."