Sure they’ll count, but not for much.

Debra J. Saunders, paraphrasing California state Rep. Jerry Hill on his National Popular Vote proposal for California:

Hill also boasts that a NPV would guarantee that “each vote in California is counted.”

I’m not sure what he means here, but it comes off as rather disingenuous. The whole damn reason the Founding Fathers put the Electoral College in place was to keep the power concentrated on the state level so the folks living in the rural areas wouldn’t have their interests steamrolled by those who lived in more populated areas. What the National Popular Vote would mean, if put in place across the country, would mean that the voters in the country’s larger cities would be able to swing the election whichever way they wanted and the folks in the smaller towns can go screw. And just for a pertinent example, do you think the folks who voted in people like Richard Daley, Adrian Fenty, Thomas Menino and Rudolph Giuliani are going to give a damn about all those people who don’t live two minutes from the police station? Hell, look at how stringent Illinois’ and Massachusetts’ gun laws are. How exactly do you think they got that way? I realize I’m probably preaching to the choir here, but this is yet another attempt by ordinary Californians’ self-appointed betters to get yet more power over them.

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4 Responses to “Sure they’ll count, but not for much.”

  1. oldgulph Says:

    With National Popular Vote, instead of playing mostly to local concerns in Ohio and Florida, candidates finally would have to form broader platforms for broad national support. Elections wouldn’t be about winning states. Candidates could not afford to ignore 2/3rds of the states and voters, including California, as they do under the current system.

    Now political clout comes from being a battleground state.

    Now with state-by-state winner-take-all laws presidential elections ignore 12 of the 13 lowest population states (3-4 electoral votes), that are almost invariably non-competitive, and ignored, in presidential elections. Six regularly vote Republican (Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota), and six regularly vote Democratic (Rhode Island, Delaware, Hawaii, Vermont, Maine, and DC) in presidential elections.

    Support for a national popular vote is strong in every smallest state surveyed in recent polls among Republican voters, Democratic voters, and independent voters, as well as every demographic group. Support in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): Alaska — 70%, DC — 76%, Delaware –75%, Idaho – 77%, Maine — 77%, Montana – 72%, Nebraska — 74%, New Hampshire –69%, Nevada — 72%, New Mexico — 76%, Oklahoma – 81%, Rhode Island — 74%, South Dakota – 71%, Utah – 70%, Vermont — 75%, and West Virginia – 81%, and Wyoming – 69%.

    Nine state legislative chambers in the lowest population states have passed the National Popular Vote bill. It has been enacted by the District of Columbia, Hawaii, and Vermont.

    None of the 10 most rural states (VT, ME, WV, MS, SD, AR, MT, ND, AL, and KY) is a battleground state.
    The current state-by-state winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes does not enhance the influence of rural states, because the most rural states are not battleground states.

    Under National Popular Vote, every vote is equal.

    21% of Americans live in rural areas.

    With National Popular Vote, big cities would not get all of candidates’ attention, much less control the outcome.
    The population of the top five cities (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Philadelphia) is only 6% of the population of the United States and the population of the top 50 cities (going as obscurely far down as Arlington, TX) is only 19% of the population of the United States.

    Suburbs and exurbs often vote Republican.

    If big cities controlled the outcome of elections, the governors and U.S. Senators would be Democratic in virtually every state with a significant city.

    Evidence as to how a nationwide presidential campaign would be run, can be found by examining the way presidential candidates campaign to win the electoral votes of closely divided battleground states, such as in Ohio and Florida, under the state-by-state winner-take-all methods. The big cities in those battleground states do not receive all the attention, much less control the outcome. Cleveland and Miami certainly did not receive all the attention or control the outcome in Ohio and Florida in 2000 and 2004.

    Because every vote is equal inside Ohio or Florida, presidential candidates avidly seek out voters in small, medium, and large towns. The itineraries of presidential candidates in battleground states (and their allocation of other campaign resources in battleground states) reflect the political reality that every gubernatorial or senatorial candidate in Ohio and Florida already knows–namely that when every vote is equal, the campaign must be run in every part of the state.

    Even in California state-wide elections, candidates for governor or U.S. Senate don’t campaign just in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and those places don’t control the outcome (otherwise California wouldn’t have recently had Republican governors Reagan, Dukemejian, Wilson, and Schwarzenegger). A vote in rural Alpine county is just an important as a vote in Los Angeles. If Los Angeles cannot control statewide elections in California, it can hardly control a nationwide election.

    In fact, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland together cannot control a statewide election in California.

    Similarly, Republicans dominate Texas politics without carrying big cities such as Dallas and Houston.

    There are numerous other examples of Republicans who won races for governor and U.S. Senator in other states that have big cities (e.g., New York, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts) without ever carrying the big cities of their respective states. It is certainly true that the biggest cities in those states typically vote Democratic. However, the suburbs, exurbs, small towns, and rural parts of the states often voted Republican. If big cities controlled the outcome of elections, the governors and U.S. Senators would be Democratic in virtually every state with a significant city.

    Under a national popular vote, every vote everywhere will be equally important politically. There will be nothing special about a vote cast in a big city or big state. When every vote is equal, candidates of both parties will seek out voters in small, medium, and large towns throughout the states in order to win. A vote cast in a big city or state will be equal to a vote cast in a small state, town, or rural area.

    The main media at the moment, namely TV, costs much more per impression in big cities than in smaller towns and rural area. So, if you just looked at TV, candidates get more bang for the buck in smaller towns and rural areas.

    If the National Popular Vote bill were to become law, it would not change the need for candidates to build a winning coalition across demographics. Any candidate who yielded, for example, the 21% of Americans who live in rural areas in favor of a “big city” approach would not likely win the national popular vote. Candidates would still have to appeal to a broad range of demographics, and perhaps even more so, because the election wouldn’t be capable of coming down to just one demographic, such as voters in Ohio.

    With National Popular Vote, every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. Wining states would not be the goal. Candidates would need to care about voters across the nation, not just undecided voters in the current handful of swing states.

  2. oldgulph Says:

    In a 2008 survey of 2,004 California adult residents interviewed from October 12-19, 2008, 70% of California residents and likely voters supported this change. Democrats (76%) and independents (74%) were more likely to support a change to direct popular vote than Republicans, but 61% of Republicans also supported this change. Among likely voters, support for this change was 6 points higher than in October 2004 (64%).

    http://tinyurl.com/3glex8x

  3. oldgulph Says:

    The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    Under National Popular Vote, every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election. Every vote would be included in the national count. The candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states would get the 270+ electoral votes from the enacting states. That majority of electoral votes guarantees the candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states wins the presidency.

    National Popular Vote would give a voice to the minority party voters in each state. Now their votes are counted only for the candidate they did not vote for. Now they don’t matter to their candidate. With National Popular Vote, elections wouldn’t be about winning states. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps. Every vote, everywhere would be counted for and directly assist the candidate for whom it was cast. Candidates would need to care about voters across the nation, not just undecided voters in the current handful of swing states. The political reality would be that when every vote is equal, the campaign must be run in every part of the country.

  4. mick Says:

    I have been meaning to reply to this one for a few days. Glad to see it already got some fact checking.

    The main thing that got me was “the voters in the country’s larger cities would be able to swing the election whichever way they wanted and the folks in the smaller towns can go screw.” Um, how about we paraphrase that to “larger numbers of voters would be able to swing the election unfairly against smaller numbers of voters.” I think this is just a case you preferring the status quo not because it’s more just but because it has bias in your favor. Those pesky urbanites with nearby police stations are easy to pack into a single district and write off.

    On the other hand, this bill does seem like a bad idea. I’d back it if it were a state-wide popular vote – that’d make a lot of sense. Districts are carefully drawn to balance the party/race/age/income/etc of the constituents of that district close to the state-wide numbers. What better way to match the state-wide averages than with a popular vote? But California going to the nation popular vote is weird.

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