Friday, January 25, 2013

Rigging the Electoral College -- Get It Right

I was going to let this go, but I just saw Andrew Gelman's post about what a terrible idea electoral-votes-by-congressional-district would be, and that makes the third one (here's one of the others; I've lost the other one) I've seen that gets this wrong in the last 24 hours.

Hey, everyone writing about this: the Republican plan isn't electoral-votes-by-congressional-district. It's electoral votes by congressional district in the states where it would help Republicans (see, for example, here). In fact, it's probably better to just say that their plan is that electoral votes in every state should be apportioned in whatever way is best for Republicans.  How do we know this? Well, RNC Chair Reince Priebus said so: “a lot of states that have been consistently blue that are fully controlled red ought to be looking at.”

I still think it's far more likely than not that all of this will fizzle out; passing the plan requires state legislators to act against their personal and state interest and in favor of their national party interest, even putting aside the possibility that they would be subject to a vote backlash. But who knows -- it surely could happen, and certainly a fair number of Republicans are talking it up. Sure, it's fine to use it as an excuse to talk about various electoral vote schemes, as Gelman does in an otherwise perfectly fine, informative post. It's just that everyone should make clear exactly what Republicans are doing, and it's just not a national uniform plan.

8 comments:

  1. Virginia's governor just came out against it.

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  2. “a lot of states that have been consistently blue that are fully controlled red ought to be looking at.”

    Anyone else finding this impossible to parse?

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    1. Apparently today's Republican party isn't just post-truth. It's also post-modern.

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  3. I wrote about this earlier today, following off Kevin Drum's article about why the Republicans aren't going the whole way. You know: make Virginia winner-take-all based upon whoever wins the most districts. But as I point out, the Republican proposal is actually more fair than the current one. This makes it easier to sell to their base, who probably have some notions of fairness.

    Of course, an excellent counterargument can be made. But how likely is the base to hear that on Fox News?

    Article here: Republican Half Measures in Virginia

    I hope you are right about the fizzle. It's the most uplifting thing I've read all day.

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  4. Jon, they actually ran 4 scenarios: winner-take-all by state, CA only does it by CDs, CA & TX, and all 50 do it by CD. They were just crunching a few different scenarios, and the four of them are more methods folks than details. For CA, they're responding to the pre-2008 plan floated by Giuliani allies in CA, but seeing as this thing was published, they did it before the current round of "but we want to live in a BANANA Republic!"

    You can fault Gelman for maybe hyping his article wrong, and the article itself should have had a small section on which states did the most damage, but since I assume it's just "the big ones", they probably thought such a section wasn't worth doing.

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    1. Yeah, I haven't looked at the underlying article, just the MC post. Which, as I said, was fine as far as it goes -- I just wanted to emphasize the point that this really is pretty outrageous.

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    2. It's extremely outrageous, and short sighted, because they won't control the gerrymander forever.

      It's a sore loser tactic. The more the left can talk it up as a sign that Republican think tank people are incompetent, the less likely it will happen.

      That said, Scott Walker would do it in a heartbeat.

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  5. As a Nebraskan, I can't help but observe that our state Republican party is pushing for winner-take-all and has been since Obama won an electoral vote in 2008.

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