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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Dems Should Make DC and Puerto Rico States Whether GOP Tries to Game the Electoral College or Not

BooMan gets shrill:
I assume that because the Republicans can steal most of the Electoral College votes in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin [by selectively diluting Democratic votes in these Democratic Presidential stronghold states by assigning their EVs by Congressional district rather than winner-take-all as 48 states currently do --d], that they will at least try to do so... Legally, there is no reason that all 50 states couldn't do the same thing. But most state governments have no incentive to water down the power of their state or to allow the weaker party to gain any share of their delegates. For example, Democrats in California and Republicans in Texas would never go for this kind of reform because it would only weaken their candidate for president. But if the traditionally weaker party can gain control of the legislature of a state while controlling the governor's mansion, they can capture electoral votes that they are unlikely to win any other way... I think the Republicans probably believe that they still have a shot at winning Florida, Virginia and Ohio outright, so they won't want to tinker with the Electoral College there [I really wonder if Boo is right here, especially about VA --d], but I think they probably see Wisconsin and definitely see Michigan and Pennsylvania as lost causes. Just doing Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania would give the next Republican nominee a likely boost of about 27 electoral votes. It's the rough equivalent of stealing Florida. If they did this in all the states where they have the technical power to do it, they'd gain 64 votes, which coincidentally is exactly the number Mitt Romney would have needed to get to 270 and win the presidency. And, no, there are no states where we could reciprocate. Obviously, the optics of doing this in just a few states where it is transparently designed to confer an uneven advantage to the Republicans would be at least as bad as the trillion dollar coin. But why would the Republicans care? If they don't pull a stunt like this, they'll have to actually abandon their unpopular conservative delusions and become a moderate, inclusive party.
Precisely because Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin are not the best ideological fit for the GOP, this issue should be foregrounded in their state politics not only in a campaign to stop this effort to game the EC in its tracks, but to nationalize their races and provide Dems resources to boot the GOP from power there for good. It should also provide new impetus for the national campaign to tie the Electoral College to the popular vote, the National Popular Vote Pact, about which more here. While it isn't a reciprocation in kind, and I doubt it would put a whole new Florida in the Dem column, I think it is worth noting that awarding full statehood to DC and Puerto Rico would provide a substantial electoral cushion against such GOP shenanigans, not to mention probably flip and protect the Senate from likely GOP advances in the upcoming midterm. Making DC a State would be both a small-D and a big-D Democratic victory, rectifying an outrageous injustice, and if Dems had the kind of stubborn resolve and discipline that the anti-tax anti-government anti-civilization Repugs have we would be pushing for this outcome relentlessly, howling about it like banshees at rallies, placing it up for votes over and over and over till it got done. Puerto Rico is a bit less clear-cut (since the recent referendum on the question of statehood there indicated a majority but not an overwhelming one in favor), but it could cement a Democratic alliance with Latin-American voters like the partnership of the DNC and African-American voters in the aftermath of likely bipartisan immigration reform in the next two years. I think it would be a profoundly exhilarating and wholesome development, an embracing of the principles of participation and diversity that are America's greatest strengths, to make DC and PR states, quite apart from parochial benefits for the Democratic party. And just think of the economic stimulus provided by replacement flags with added stars!

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