OK, enough of that. What I find somewhat more puzzling, although a lot less fun, is Mataconis's endorsement of the district plan in general, but especially based on what it would have done in 2000:
Thus, that would have given Bush a total of 288 Electoral Votes to Gore’s 250. And, if you did give Florida to Gore, assuming no shift in the district allocation, the total would have been Bush 286 Gore 252. There would have been no hanging chads, no Constitutional crisis, no Bush v. Gore. Sounds like another reason we should consider adopting this nationwide (his emphasis)Really? I happen to be okay with the status quo on the EC, and I'm willing to accept the possibility of mixed results (that is, a split between the vote winner and the EC winner), but I hardly consider it a feature. Yet Mataconis is so happy with a system that would prevent the plurality vote winner from entering the White House that he doesn't even bother to mention it as a potential problem at all? Never mind that it's not at all clear that he's correct even on his own terms; after all, a 288-250 win with Florida's two ECs contested means that if only 17 Congressional Districts are very close, we could easily have had the mess he hoped to avoid.
Regardless, it's a silly analysis. There's nothing magic about the district plan that would prevent contested results; that's just how the numbers fell in 2000. Indeed, checking my Polsby & Wildavsky, it turns out that the 1976 election would have been a dead heat had the district plan been adopted nationwide back then.
It's also worth noting that the district plan appears to contain a GOP bias. In the two elections Mataconis cites, Republicans would have done better with it, and the same is true for four of the six elections P & W list in the edition I'm looking at -- with Nixon beating Kennedy in 1960 and the 1976 tie (disclosure: I might have been the one who compiled some of those numbers. I don't really remember, but I think so). Part of why I'm untroubled by the EC is that it doesn't appear to have any clear or consistent partisan bias. At any rate, partisan bias aside, we have a system that, in the four closest recent elections, would have picked the "wrong" winner twice and dumped a third into the House of Representatives, at least after all the lawsuits in all the close districts across the nation were resolved.
I obviously am not a fan of the district system. But what I really want to know from Mataconis, who takes the position that all's fair in politics, is whether he would be okay with the "give the Republicans all of Pennsylvania's Electoral Votes" plan that Matt Yglesias points out would be perfectly Constitutional. Indeed, if every GOP-controlled state Suppose that in fact every GOP-controlled state just cancelled their 2012 presidential election and (legally) awarded their electoral votes to the GOP nominee. Would that be OK?
If not, then there clearly is some line where we don't want to just say "it's politics, live with it." And actual regular readers won't be too surprised to learn that I'd put that line pretty far to the "it's politics" side. But this one -- not the district plan per se, which I think is just a terrible idea, but selectively adopting it in a handful of states in order to create a lopsided playing field in presidential elections -- is clearly a step way too far, in my book.