Managing Elections

Honestly considering the 2012 election, I think it's pretty clear that the Democrats won just about everything that we could have honestly expected to get. Sadly, control of the House was never really on the table, but we cut into that majority somewhat, won several major Senate races (although not enough for the 60-vote cutoff, that was also never really on the table) and of course re-elected President Obama. It's pretty obvious that the Republicans lost that election quite severely.

Needless to say, the Republican Party commenced with a great deal of soul-searching and after-action analysis. Why did they lose the election? What can they do next time to win? I have only a passing interest in such discussions, because as far as I'm concerned the only plan that will actually work is to reform the party entirely so that the numerous intellectually bankrupt ideas they hold aren't treated as gospel anymore. Of course, a GOP that accepted the economic evidence against their orthodoxy (see: anything Paul Krugman has ever written) and the weight of history bearing down on the progressive side of the social debate wouldn't really be the GOP anymore.

So the question is, how can the Republican Party win an election without changing the viewpoints that make them the Republican Party? I would prefer it if the answer to that question was "they can't", and heaven knows I'll be trying as hard as possible to make that happen! But some state-level conservative governments have come up with a different answer: change the way electoral votes are handed out at the state level. Give out electoral votes by congressional district rather than state.

I may not entirely agree with the idea of calling it "cheating" - it's already law in Maine and Nebraska, and it's certainly constitutional. It does, however, lock in the one big problem with the Electoral College: it ignores the will of the people. It's abundantly clear that had this system been in place in 2012, Romney would have been elected president, with 62 electoral votes going the other way. Despite President Obama's 51.1% of the popular vote, to Romney's 47.2%.

I don't like the electoral college system, and I'd be happy to see it reformed... so long as that reform makes the system more responsive to the desires of the people of the United States, not less. And to the Republican Party, in Virginia and Pennsylvania and Michigan and wherever else they might try to enact this, I have only this to say: if you want to win the 2016 presidential election, you might try convincing a majority of the electorate to back your candidate. If you can't manage that, it won't be the Electoral College that dooms your hopes for office.

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