Winslow bringing “GOP Steals 2016″ project to Mass

This is a truly terrible idea. I'm disappointed (again) in Rep. Winslow for signing on to such a nakedly partisan effort. - promoted by david

Have you heard about the Red Map Redistricting Project? It’s a project of the Republican State Leadership Committee – their short-name for this is REDMAP. Maddow did a good piece on it that you can check out here. GOP Chair Reince Priebus backs it – you may have read about this in a scary “GOP TO STEAL 2016 ELECTION” article.

The RSLC is taking credit for the new Congress being controlled by Republicans. They claim that their ability to take over state legislatures in 2010 allowed them to control redistricting and make GOP friendly districts. It seems to have worked – the Dems received more votes but the GOP took Congress.

You might remember that Rep. Dan Winslow was involved in an attempt to create “fair” re-districting in Massachusetts with the help of perennial GOP candidate Jack E. Robinson. They ended up standing down when the maps were released by the legislature and didn’t sue the Commonwealth to make the maps more GOP-friendly, er, “fair”.

It seems Rep. Winslow – who I respect for his willingness to engage on Twitter and BMG – is trying a new trick. He announced on Twitter this morning that he was backing legislation to “Make [Massachusetts] relevant” in presidential elections by apportioning our electoral votes by Congressionla district:


As this is seen as the key to the GOP winning the Oval Office in 2016, I’m disappointed to see Rep. Winslow embracing this silly idea. First of all, it won’t change anything in Massachusetts. There would still be no need to campaign here – the Congressional districts will continue to reliably vote Democrat for President. Second, it’s going to make a whole lot of difference in states like Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania has gone Blue for the past 20 years, but if this legislation passes there only 2 electoral votes would go to the winner of the popular vote – the rest would be awarded on a district-by-district basis. Per ThinkProgress in 2012 only 5 of PA’s 18 districts voted for Obama. Instead of Obama receiving 20 votes out of PA, he would have received 7.

Again, this won’t make a difference in Massachusetts. The districts will go Blue and all electoral votes will be awarded to the Democratic candidate. Rep. Winslow is being disingenuous in my opinion by saying it will bring campaigning to Mass. Plus, we’ve already signed on to the National Popular Vote which hopefully will be ratified by 2016. Let’s hope this doesn’t get off the ground in the Legislature – we don’t need to be pointed to as a Blue state that signed on to prove it’s bi-partisan. It’s not. It’s a game that Republican legislators are playing to defy the will of the people in the 2016 Presidential election.


57 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Bizarre.

    Why would anyone who even claims to care about good government want to advance a proposal that dramatically increases the reward for partisan gerrymandering?

  2. In theory I like this very much.

    In practice gerrymandering makes it a bad idea, though I agree MA will go all Dem regardless of how you slice it.

    • If you don't like it because of gerrymandering,

      then you don’t like it in theory or in practice, since partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts is as old as the Republic. All this proposal would do is reward gerrymandering, and make it more likely that the loser of the popular vote would become president. It is a terrible idea.

  3. But David,

    If one ninth of our state were Republican, and thus you could draw fair districts so that one seat out of nine elected a GOP rep., and presumably would also vote the GOP presidential nomineee, shouldn’t that be reflected in the electoral count? I know I’d want my vote to count for something in a red state rather than be completely swallowed up by the majority. If we had independent districting and balanced districts to the extent possible I would be all for this.

    • "If we had independent districting and balanced districts to the extent possible"

      Precisely my point: that is never going to happen in the vast majority of the US. The only real alternative to the electoral college is National Popular Vote, either by constitutional amendment or interstate compact – and I am all for that. But halfway measures like this are bullshit – this is a partisan power-grab disguised as a good government reform.

      • More realistic than NPV

        NPV, outside of a constitutional amendment eliminating the electoral college, is so far a way to redistribute fairly earned blue state votes to the GOP if they win the popular vote, doesn’t seem to make a big difference.

        CA has passed relatively successful non partisan redistricting and other states are going to do that, I would agree that we should have independent non partisan redistricting in this state. It would not automatically benefit Republicans-and would’ve helped Barney Frank, but it prevents Finneran style gamesmenship and the quashing of minority representation.

        I am with Christopher 100%, congressional districts is better than a pure popular vote if we have non partisan redistricting.

        • "congressional districts is better than a pure popular vote if we have non partisan redistricting."

          Why? This makes no sense to me. The point of an election is for the person with the most votes to win, no? This “reform” would take us further from that goal than where we are right now.

          • Mr. Madison was smarter than either of us

            I sometimes think progressives who complain about the filibuster, the Electoral College, the Senate and the Supreme Court just yearn for a pure parliamentarian system where one party gets to rule with impunity until the voters throw it out. We see that it was easier for the UK to pass gun control, the NHS, and gay marriage federally and we get jealous. But the genius of our system is checks and balances and seperation of powers.

            The idea is that the Presidents power must be checked by Congress, that the stronger Senate with different rules should represent the interests of the states while the House reflects the popular will of the masses (which is why the state legislatures controlled Senate elections for most of our history). Similarly the Supreme Court should be above politics and check both branches while simultaneously being checked by both branches.

            This presents the abuse of the majority over the minority which is precisely what the British did with their tax acts, subverting our colonial legislatures via a single legislature and forcing us to pay the bill for their imperial adventures against France.

            The electoral college helps makes the interests of states relevant and the interests of small states in particular relevant. Since states have equal representation in the Senate this balances out the difference in House allocation.

            None of us have any idea how a pure popular vote for the presidency would work out, but it is likely to benefit established candidates with lots of money, you are far less likely to see grassroots campaigning at the level you saw last campaign-precinct to precinct and neighbor to neighbor in the swing states and instead see a flood of ads. Had Clinton v Obama been run as a same day national primary Hillary would always win. Its far less likely for us to get a dark horse President, a President not attached to the political and business establishment, and a grassroots campaign when the Presidential vote is nationalized. Its unlikely it would open up the country since polarization is still regional and there are few undecided voters to win say in New England or the Deep South. Those regions would still be ignored in a popular vote.

            There are still Democratic districts in Texas and Republican districts in California-so more states would be swing states under a congressional proposal-nearly every state. And by bringing the electoral campaign to the district level it would actually increase the importance of grassroots campaigning since at the district level-we would need to go neighbor to neighbor even more. It would also better link the Congressional vote with the Presidential vote. You can complain all you like that Democrats won the ‘popular vote’ for Congress while the Republicans won more seats, but there are still more districts where Obama and the local Republican split the ballot than the other way around.

            That would better link the idea that Congress and the President need to be of the same party to govern together. Also those issues can be mitigated by increasing the size of the House so that the urban-rural disproportion is fixed while also implementing non-partisan redistricting. These reforms are arguably easier to achieve than eliminating the EC or the NPV. Also the NPV still leaves the EC in place, if you really do believe in a popular vote you should be against the compact and in favor of a direct popular vote. The compact causes more problems than it solves, and ends up nullifying the vote at the state level. I am proud that MA voted against Nixon in 1972-under NPV we wouldnt have and our electoral votes-which McGovern duly earned-would’ve gone to the candidate the majority of citizens in our state didn’t vote for-that hardly sounds more democratic to me. Either go big or go home-say its a relic and eliminate it entirely or keep it-the NPV tries to do both and does neither.

    • All power to the

      state legislatures!

      This isn’t about proportional representation of the electoral college (one ninth”), it’s about letting state legislatures control the EC to return a partisan result, the votes of the people notwithstanding

      Gotta love those state legislatures!

    • Why?

      Barack Obama got about 40% of the vote in N.D., S.D. Montana. Under a house district system he would not get anything from those states. Nor would the GOP candidate get any EV from this system in Vt., Del., DC, etc.

      One of the problems, I thought, of the electoral college is that it makes the election an election in the several states, rather than across the United States, and by counting the senators as EV, weights things to states with smaller population. But at least voting by state has historical antecedents. Voting by house district can’t even claim that. These districts didn’t even exist until 2011 and change every decade.

      Why are we looking to complicate things and open the door for mischief? Do we elect our governor by dividing the state into precincts and award the governorship to the candidate carrying the most precincts, instead of the one receiving the most votes? That would be absurd, I think.

      • What about proportionality?

        In following the Israeli elections I learned that they determine seats by basis of vote percentage, we could split EVs that way. Similar to how delegates are apportionted in the Democratic primary (not a direct national popular vote either I might add). This way the 40% of Dems in SD get heard, the 40% of Repubs in CA would as well. The status quo of the EC is broken, clearly Florida showed that. NPV compact would maintain that broken system in theory while nullifying it in practice.A direct popular vote would require a lengthly amendment process but at least kill the system. I still worry that we would just see the ten most populous states become swing states, at least with apportionment by percentage we make every state competitive so no state can be ignored. I just worry it would be even more complex, I always decry the STV system in Cambridge and it seems that most Americans are just as confused by the EC.

        • How would it work?

          In Israel and other countries with proportional vote for the legislature, there’s one nationwide vote being split proportionally. Here the EC is divided up by states for historic reasons enshrined in the Constitution. If we’re still allocating EVs by state, how do we make the numbers work? The smaller the state’s EV count, the harder it becomes to make the EV distribution an accurate reflection of the vote.

          It’s a serious problem since 18 of our states plus DC have 5 or fewer EVs, and 7 plus DC have only 3. If someone wins, say, Montana by 52-48, that person would have to get 2 of 3, right? But that’s not even close to the real proportion. And it’s even worse with 4 EV. Would a 61-39 winner get 2 of 4, or 3 of 4? 2 of 4 is mathematically closer, but results in an even split when the popular vote was a landslide in that state. It just seems we need to amend the constitution anyway, taking away the allocation by states, to make it work.

          • Good points

            I will say this was a great conversation. Clearly even if every state did it y district we would have had a terrible election last fall not just for Democrats but for Democracy, proportionality would only work if we changed the numbers and even then its far more complicated and would require a Constitutional change. I do say this conversation has swung me more towards a direct popular vote but I firmly believe the compact is a terrible way to do it. The status quo and the proposed change are both bad, but it would be easier to put IRV and other changes into the presidential vote if we kill the college. Not sure if the “small states get dwarfed” argument counts since its still big states like FL and OH that determine who wins. Lots of dumb issues like ethanol and Cuban sanctions could be resolved more easily. So this conversation has made me open to the idea, mostly due I it’s simplicity and any attempts to make the college fair make it worse and more complicated.

  4. Mass is already part of the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact

    In 2010, Massachusetts passed legislation that awards all of its electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote. Called the National Popular Vote Interstate Conmpact, that legislation takes effect when states that represent a majority of the electoral college also pass the same legislation. Here is a link:

    Interestingly, at the time the Mass GOP opposed this legislation. Then minority leader Tisei said that Massachusetts should not meddle with a “tried and true” system.

    • Basically,

      the GOP has now concluded that its chances of winning a presidential election are better with this ridiculous congressional district scheme than they are either under the current system or under a straight popular vote count. It’s kind of sad, actually.

  5. For the record,

    Rep. Winslow says that his out-of-town internet connection is making it difficult to post on BMG, but that he hopes to join this conversation when it returns on Sunday.

    • Thanks David

      I tried to connect again and succeeded. See below. Have at it and I’ll sign on again from LAX to survey the carnage…

      dan-winslow   @   Sat 19 Jan 4:54 PM
  6. The Current Electoral College System is Broken

    Does anyone defend the current system which allows four agrarian states (New Hampshire, Iowa, South Carolina and Nebraska) effectively to winnow the field of presidential candidates for the rest of us? The people of those states don’t speak for me and I’ll wager that they especially don’t speak for many of the readers of BMG. Yes, the national popular vote is a better alternative to the status quo, but the danger there is it will merely shift the dozen or so swing states to a new set of swing states and still leave Massachusetts irrelevant. Allowing a candidate to earn EC votes per congressional district (with the winner of the state taking the two extra EC votes per state per the US Senate spots) would allow Massachusetts to become politically relevant at a time when future elections might be decided by narrow margins. It may well be a bad idea for PA or OH, but this is a Massachusetts bill and focuses only on what’s best for our state. You think the Democrats would run the table in the Bay State? Then you have nothing to worry about this legislation. But I’d welcome ANY presidential campaigning that focuses on our state rather than the chaff from the NH media buys. Two to four of our votes would be in play for a popular GOP nominee and maybe more. As a member of the General Court, I should file my suggested alternatives to things I think can be improved upon. The Electoral College certainly can be improved upon and I welcome the discussion.

    And PLEASE stop posting that I disappoint you! You should like my Mom for heaven’s sake. I am a member of the loyal opposition in Massachusetts and my role is to offer thoughtful alternatives to the monoopoly’s view. You’ll never hear me launch personal attack here or in any public forum, but if I inspire thoughtful debate then I have done my job well. And there’s nothing disappointing about that.

    dan-winslow   @   Sat 19 Jan 4:50 PM
    • Correction: Nevada not Nebraska

      Same point.

      dan-winslow   @   Sat 19 Jan 4:57 PM
    • But Dan, you do disappoint me

      when you don’t live up to the standards that you yourself have set. The embarrassing no comment on Rick Green’s ridiculous union-bashing/John-Walsh-attacking, the absurd notion that allocating electoral votes by congressional district is a good idea – these are not “thoughtful alternatives” to anything.

      As for the rest of your comment, your point about IA/NH/SC having an outsized role is well taken, but can readily be addressed by adjusting the primary calendar – a far simpler remedy that has the added benefit of not harming democracy.

      Your argument against national popular vote is nonsense. Step back: what is the correct small-d democratic position? Seems to me it is “whichever candidate wins the most votes from Americans, that’s the one who should be president.” National Popular Vote solves that problem; the current system is a reasonably accurate proxy, but has failed four times since the Constitution was adopted (Bush 2000, Harrison 1888, Hayes 1876, JQ Adams 1824). Your idea, if adopted nationwide, would greatly increase the likelihood of that antidemocratic result recurring: just in the last 100 years one party has won the national popular vote for Congress but lost the House at least four times, including in 2012. And the reason for that is obviously gerrymandering. So your proposal would simply increase the reward for partisan gerrymandering, which I hope you would agree is something to be avoided.

      To say that all of that is outweighed by a fantasy that MA will suddenly become a “battleground state” is both extraordinarily parochial (who cares about democracy when we could have more TV ad money spent in MA?) and blind to the reality that it’s still not very likely to happen.

      • Does Dan Winslow understand what the popular vote is?

        It doesn’t sound like it. “New swing states”?
        National Popular Vote means every vote counts the same, so you have to campaign everywhere.
        It puts every vote in every Congressional district in play. Would states with larger populations get more attention? Absolutely. And guess what? Massachusetts is the 14th largest state, and the 39th most competitive (based on number of states with closer outcomes in the EC).
        So Massachusetts jumps up 25 places in terms of electoral importance under the NPV. While I find the concept of “new swing states” highly dubious, Massachusetts would clearly be one of them if they did exist.

        • Not really

          National Popular Vote means every vote counts the same, so you have to campaign everywhere.
          It puts every vote in every Congressional district in play. Would states with larger populations get more attention?

          I take issue with this assertion. The reason the current swing states are swing states is that they have the highest precentage of undecided voters, there is still little reason for Republicans to campaign in New England, the West Coast and little reason for Democrats to campaign in the deep south. There just arent enough votes for the money. If there were more undecided voters in solid blue or red states than they would have been swing states already. At the margins you’d see more Democrats in Texas, more Republicans in New York and California, but it wouldn’t change the picture as much as you assume. Its really expensive to campaign in all 50 states and media markets, and a waste of the candidates time. Nixon campaigned in all 50 states and that is viewed as the reason he lost the election, including the popular vote.

          Not to mention the political industrial complex is focused on the old way of doing things and it will be awhile before they figure out how a new campaign would work. Assertions about MA jumping up 25% and our Congressional districts being more competitive are similarly nonsensical, without any effort Romney would’ve gained the same popular vote percentage counting towards his total, I doubt there were many more he could’ve swayed-better to spend that money where undecides are. At the end of the day it would still be a regional campaign and our region is safely in the pocket of the Democrats for decades to come.

          Opening up one electoral vote per congressional district would make a big difference in my view, but it would require universal non partisan redistricting and getting money out of politics. An amendment to do that would go about as far as the NPV (red states and swing states have no incentive to join so its a DOA policy prescription IMO) or an amendment to kill the EC.

          • Not Not Really

            It’s ridiculous that, in Boston, we only see presidential ads that are aimed toward New Hampshire. It should be the other way around! With a national popular vote, both parties would need to focus on voters, instead of political games.

            Right now, at the state level, the GOP is playing a massive game to try to win the 2016 election. We better be paying attention, or we, once again, lose a presidential election even though we have won the popular vote.

            • Prove your assertion

              Lets say its a true popular vote, what incentive does Mitt Romney have to run campaign ads in Massachusetts? Remember all the media markets are local, they have to pay WHDH, WCVB, etc. for the air time. Why would Republicans waste their time on our region?

              David was right to say that changing to a congressional model would not increase Republican voting in our state and region and campaigning here, whats laughable is that he and others who propose NPV seem to forget that switching to a national popular vote makes all the smaller population safe states irrelevant. Sure TX, GA, SC will see more Democratic general campaign activity, and CA and NY will see more Republican general campaign events-but it wouldn’t change anything in MA. We would still be irrelevant since we are a hugely Democratic state, there are few undecided voters to campaign for here. Campaigns still have to think of resources regionally, media markets, transit costs, etc. change state by state and that will prevent a national campaign. It will also make presidential campaigns more expensive and we will see even more corporate money flow in, we may even see Wall Street picked candidates like a Bloomberg try to win a plurality of the vote. Without IRV we will still have the possibility of a president elected without the majority of people voting for him or her. It may well blow up the two parties but as good Democrats we should be frightened at that prospect.

              • While it's hard to predict exactly what would happen

                if we went to a national popular vote system, I think the most likely result is that campaigns would go where the votes are, i.e., to more densely-populated places. And one of John Walsh’s great insights in figuring out how to beat Charlie Baker and Scott Brown was to realize that he didn’t have to win cities and towns that are likely to vote Republican; what he needed to do was narrow the gap, since what matters for a statewide race is the statewide count, no matter where the votes come from. Seems to me a smart national candidate would do the same thing, but on a national scale. For example, I’d think that under a NPV system, Mitt Romney would have thought that he could probably scare up some votes by campaigning here (especially given his history), even if he would never outright win MA, so he probably would have done so – rather than in NH, where there aren’t very many people.

                So, I think your assessment of how NPV would work in terms of campaign strategy is wrong for the reasons I just stated, and also irrelevant, because NPV (whether by constitutional amendment or interstate compact) is a pro-small-d democratic reform that should be adopted regardless of how it affected campaign strategy. The electoral college is a silly relic of an era in which only white men who owned property were entrusted with the vote, and should be abandoned post-haste. We’ve come a long way toward small-d democracy since then; putting in place a rule whereby the candidate who wins the most votes wins the election would be another good step in that direction.

                • How is NPV more democratic?

                  It maintains the EC, even for nominal purposes, and would in effect disenfranchise the voters in states that sign into the compact who vote for the popular vote loser, it also leaves in place states outside of the compact that would still apportion their votes the old way leaving in effect a two tiered system. It’s also an end run around the amendment process whereby a bare majority of states could in effect cause a de jure change to te Constitution setting a terrible precedent. I am not confident it would pass a SCOTUS challenge and we could see this proposal mired in legal challenges for awhile. Other than the end run around the amendment process why do NPV compact proponents support that over a far simpler amendment to have a direct popular vote and eliminate the EC? If the EC is so offensive to small d democracy and so racist and a relic why leave any of it in place? Why allow some states to still allocate their EVs via an in state popular vote while letting other states nullify their own EV vote to go with the popular winner? Until we get rid of the electoral college entirely I feel the people
                  of MA should select their electors instead of having the American people select them for them. We also need IRV and campaign finance reform for an NPV to work-and an amendment not the compact is the most straightforward way to achieve it.

                  And campaign strategy does matter since we have to anticipate the real world consequences of any policy change, and since you and other proponents assert that it would make our region more “competitive” to candidates web in reality most of the country has picked a candidate and we’d only see more campaigns in the populous states, it will expand the swing states but you won’t see a 50 state campaign under a direct vote or a compact. In a compact you’d see a parallel campaign in the compact and non compact states.

                  • I'm no fan of the NPV

                    but it is, on it’s face, more democratic.

                    Once the compact is in effect, it works like this: the winner of the popular vote for POTUS is *guaranteed* to win the electoral vote. The mechanics underneath are irrelevant — the end result is that whomever gets more popular votes in the United States of America becomes President of the United States of America. That’s small d democratic.

                    While it would be “cleaner” to amend the constitution, it would not be “far simpler” because it’s damn difficult to pass a constitutional amendment. As for getting past the SCOTUS, I’m not a lawyer nor legal scholar, but my understanding is that the state is free to apportion its EVs in any number of ways, and this would be one of them.

                    If we did have popular vote for POTUS, states no longer matter. Voters matter. That means a sophisticated campaign works on all the voters with a variety of different strategies. For the Democratic candidate, it might include some of the following:
                    – work to increase turnout in urban core areas. You’ll get most of their votes *if they vote*, so make sure they do. This might well include television buys.
                    – work to generate donations and volunteers from the suburbs, along with some spectrum of blanket advertising to get mojo and undecideds to microtargeting to stimulate your voters but not your opponent’s voters.
                    – microtarget the exurbs and rural areas, because it’s not particularly fertile from a percentage standpoint or a pure numbers standpoint.

                    Advertising is changing. Far more microtargeting — the Internet allows for it, better data collection “informatics” allows for it, and soon enough, television media will go that way too.

          • Turnout matters

            Not just undecided voters. In a statewide race, you don’t ignore Boston because it’s overwhelmingly Democratic. Democratic candidates campaign in Boston to make sure those those Dems vote. Same principle in a national presidential election. Getting an extra 50,000 voters in MA to the polls SHOULD count for more than swinging 500 votes in NH, but it currently doesn’t.

            Popular vote has no impact on the total amount of campaign spending. Owning a President doesn’t suddenly become more valuable, so there’s no incentive to pay more for one.

            I don’t care about the right to choose my electors. It’s choosing the President that matters. So if MA’s electoral votes go to the wrong person sometimes, so what? My vote counts for more, because it might actually impact who becomes President.

            • Reduce our impact

              There are more undecided voters in NH at the presidential level and there still would be under a compact. The difference is our votes have less of an impact since our region would not be competitive for popular votes either (why would Romney waste money here moving his 35%-40% when he could get 45% of NY or CA?) AND our electoral votes are now held hostage to the national popular vote.

              The whole reason the founders made the EC was so the populous states would not dominate the process. They would under a sorry popular vote and you have now made NH irrelevant past the primary so is argue New England would matter even less than it does now. Yes a lot of people live here, bu most of them are Democrats. A Republican would have little incentive to campaign here or waste campaign cash here-the only reason they do now is because the primary and the EC make New Hampshire relevant-it’s not otherwise. Ill concede more ads would be seen here since we’d see huge national ad buys but there’s be no candidates visiting the region outside of fundraising and no grassroots campaigning. I’d argue that grassroots campaigning as a whole would go the way of the dodo. You forget that statewide elections are statewide and thus direct contat matters more and the weight of individual voters is a lot higher for a statewide campaign than a national one and this would be the case under the compact.

              The 2008 primary was a good example of a statewide push for votes and even then delegates were apportioned rather than a direct popular vote. I think a system where we determine EVs by district as maybe add an identical number that’s determined by the at large results of the state would open up nearly all states to competition. IRV and strict public financing would as well.

              • I'm not so sure

                There are more undecided voters in NH at the presidential level and there still would be under a compact

                Really? You think that there are more people — not per capita, but people — who were undecided in 2012 in New Hampshire than there were in Massachusetts? Massachusetts has about four times as many people overall.

                You’re really hung up on regional thinking, but that just means you’re stuck in an “EV” world. Once we count votes and not electoral votes, every vote counts the same. That means that getting two unlikely voters who would vote for you if he shows up is worth exactly as much as getting a single voter to change his mind in your favor is worth exactly as much as getting two undecideds who were certain to vote to both break for you. So, all three ways of picking up votes are valuable, and different strategies will be enacted to get all of them.* In all places. In New Hampshire and New York and New Mexico, in North Carolina and North Dakota.

                * Two unlikely voters voting for you is worth +2 for you, +0 for your opponent, net +2. Changing the mind of a voter is worth +1 for you, -1 for opponent, net +2. Getting two undecideds who are voters is worth +.5+.5 for you, -.5-.5 for your opponent, net +2. Think of the last one as a likely outcome of one vote for you, one vote for your opponent becoming 2 for you, 0 for your opponent, for a net of +2.

              • Citation

                The whole reason the founders made the EC was so the populous states would not dominate the process.

                You got a citation for this? It’s true that some delegates from small states felt this way, but it’s not clear that “the founders” in the sense of 100% or even a majority felt that this was a legitimate concern.

                Madison wanted a popular vote, but felt politically it couldn’t happen because of slavery in the South. The 1787 Constitutional Plan began with the Virginia Plan, which would have had the legislature choose the president, but Gouverneur Morris amongst others objected for fear of “intrigue” and an interest in a POTUS independent from the Congress. Ultimately, the Electoral Vote system was a compromise related to a number of things which aren’t real concerns today, including the civil rights of African Americans and the reality that, as compared to the late 18th century, the lives of people across America today are far more similar than 230 years ago. Add to that the reality that media is nationalized and cheap/free, and that we have the technological ability and infrastructure to accurately* count all votes across the country in a single day and report the results very quickly, and the reasons to have an electoral college go out the window.

                Personally, I’m opposed to the NPV movement for a reason similar to the reason that delegates from the north opposed the popular vote in 1787. I don’t trust the good politicians and bureaucrats of places like Texas and Virginia and Florida to count well. Those states have a long [and recent!] history of suppressing minority voters**. As it stands now, the EV limits the impact to “swing” states like Virginia and Florida, but from a POTUS perspective, it doesn’t matter if Texas or South Carolina or Alabama or Oklahoma etc suppress minority voters — the state wouldn’t swing Democratic anyway. The Electoral College effectively limits the impact of the repressive voter laws in most of those states to Congress and sub-national politicians.

                * relative to 1787, absolutely. Plenty of room for improvement, of course.

                ** in addition to examples like Florida’s Katherine Harris purging the voter rolls in 2000, look at the laws: times the polls open, voter registration requirements, early voting laws, voting rights for felons, etc. vary widely. If we’re going to use the popular vote, then the ability to vote shouldn’t depend on the state in which one resides. Right now it does. It seems to me that states which have entered the NPV compact should work to harmonize their voting laws at a minimum, but even that isn’t enough because the non-compact states can still wreck havoc on the popular vote.

          • I see no virtue to the House district plan

            As I said in the earlier comment, it opens the door for all kinds of mischief. I just don’t want to make presidential elections contingent on having proper districting. Why should an ever-changing House district be a unit for electing a President?

            In the South, including blue-tending states like Florida and Virginia, the Voting Rights Act all but requires African-American voters to be given very safe districts. GOP state legislatures routinely pack as many such voters as possible into one district, leaving all the other districts friendly for the GOP. In such cases the Democrat may get 90% in the safe Dem district (entirely plausible), then 40% in the safe GOP districts. From those three districts combined, the Dem gets 57% of the vote, but 1 of 3 EV. No thanks. Nor is the issue confined to the South; it could apply anywhere the Democratic population is concentrated geographically. In other words, cities.

            I thought the major problem of the EC today was that we run the risk of a candidate winning the White House but losing the popular vote. In October it looked like this might happen. In 2000 it did happen, though I won’t ever believe Bush won Florida either. NPV would address that problem , as constructed, would not take effect until enough states adopt it to guarantee the winner of the popular vote would win the election.

            To me voting by house district makes that big problem of the EC — that it is an election within our several states opposed to across the United States — worse. History, both political (i.e. the Civil War) and economic (the growth of a truly national and even global economy) has pushed us more toward being one nation than we were in 1787. Technology, pushing a common national culture via TV, etc., has done the same. Electing a President in this balkanized fashion makes little sense in that context.

            NPV might reduce the relevance of some states, but that is the point. It creates an election by the American people, not the states. It may be that candidates still would focus on where more swing voters live, rather than here. So be it. In New York State Democrats like Hillary and the Cuomos raise money in the city, but do their major voter outreach upstate. They can sort of take the city for granted but that’s how it works. Menino too focuses more on some neighborhood than others.

            It certainly does not “disenfranchise” those who voted for the national popular vote loser. They had their chance to vote, and every vote, by virtue of being added to the candidate’s national total, has the same impact as every other vote. It just shifts the EVs from the popular vote winner within the state to the popular vote winner nationally. Were Mitt Romney’s voters in Massachusetts “disenfranchised” in 2012 when we cast 11 EV for Barack Obama?

            I am not so worried about your “end run” theory. The system needs fixing and, as stomv says, it’s damn hard to fix it. This fix would apply only when adopted by states with an EC majority. That represents more than half the country, since EC is skewed to smaller states. It may result in odd EV vote counts, but who cares? EV won’t matter anymore except as a formality. The popular vote winner will win, period. In any event, I suspect the Constitution would be amended to conform once it’s a fait accompli.

    • Massachusetts is "politically relevant", the MA GOP is not

      I get why Mr. Winslow wants MA to be a “swing state” — the claim that MA is “politically irrelevant” is just more GOP denialism. If this claim were true, there would be little national interest — or money — in Massachusetts campaigns.

      Massachusetts provided the Democratic nominee for President in two of the last five presidential elections. The next Secretary of State will almost certainly be from Massachusetts. The ties between our sitting governor and Barack Obama are many and deep.

      The most politically irrelevant Massachusetts entity I can think of is the Massachusetts GOP — and garbage like we’re discussing will only make it more so.

    • Fix the electoral college by

      instituting it at the state level and involving it with the flawed redistricting system!

      The electoral college isn’t broken. It just sucks. It was meant to limit the power of one person, one vote and it does just that. So naturally, the Republican answer to this representational problem is to take the worst part of the the electoral college system and spread it to the states where it can be abused by the flawed redistricting process.

      RedMap is kind of like stepping in dog crap and then rubbing all over your clothes so your shoes don’t seem so bad.

      I’m not disappointed in you, Dan. I just feel sorry for the schmucks who confuse your intelligence and accessibility with a lack of partisanship. But hey, that’s politics. Partisanship is democracy.

    • Dan desperately wants to be


  7. Just another GOP hack

    I see no reason to characterize Mr. Winslow as anything but just another GOP hack.

    This disgusting garbage is just more steal-the-vote rubbish, completely consistent with the racist VoterID voter disenfranchisement effort, the many flagrant voter roll manipulations (exemplified by Florida), and the all-too-successful gerrymandering already accomplished by the GOP so far.

    I get that Mr. Winslow is a favorite in some local media circles (like the Globe). He is not a favorite of mine.

    • Sadly,

      this congressional district effort does seem to me of a piece with voter ID: a multi-pronged effort by the GOP to change the rules of the game, simply because the GOP doesn’t like the most recent results.

      • I have an even better proposal

        Require that if any party that puts forth an idea investing more power in Congressional districts, the other party be allowed to draw all the districts nationwide before it takes effect.

      • Agree

        Its really sad to see them try and pick their voters rather than broaden their appeal so more voters pick them.

      • Sour grapes

        What the GOP is doing is exactly what Dems do when in control of redistricting. Gerrymandering IS one the rules of the game.

        BTW, does not the Voting Rights Act validate and exacerbate the effect of Gerrymandering? The requirement of safe minority districts has the effect of corralling minority votes. In swing states the black vote, typically Dem, is quarantined and diluted. If distributed more evenly, it might make a difference in close congressional districts, no?

        • "Gerrymandering IS one the rules of the game."

          That’s true. And that’s precisely why Winslow’s idea is a terrible one: because it would dramatically increase the rewards for gerrymandering – under this plan, you’d not only get a gerrymandered congressional delegation, you’d also skew the results of the presidential election. Why would anyone want to increase the incentive to gerrymander?

  8. Winslow is trying to make minority voters irrelevant

    In cities like Boston and Philadelphia, there is a very large concentration of minority voters which Winslow’s approach will make irrelevant. For example, consider the impact on Capuano’s CD, which includes Boston and Somerville. With Winslow’s approach, there would be no reason for the national Democratic party to work to register new voters in Boston, or to engage in GOTV activities in Boston, because those activities would not change the electoral outcome.

    Winslow is making a proposal that attacks urban voters and minorities.

    • To clarify

      This proposal decoupled from sensible reforms like increasing the size of the House, non partisan redistricting, and more stringent minority requirements would definitely do that. Lets be clear though that having an EV by Congressional districts could solve many of the problems with the electoral college if those reforms occurred first.

      Similarly I would be very reluctant to switch to NPV which retains the electoral college and would cause complications and lead to death of democracy at the state level in Presidential elections. If we switched to a true popular vote without any Electoral College left over I would be reluctant if it was not coupled with campaign finance reform and IRV. Without those two reforms we will see even more Wall Street money pumped into the system-along with media backed ‘centrist’ Wall Street candidates like Bloomberg splitting the progressive vote. We will also stll have the prospect, without IRV, of a President getting elected with a majority of voters choosing someone else.

      I say no to NPV at all, I’d be willing to consider a popular vote tied to those other reforms, though I’d prefer a district method tied to those reforms and broader Congressionl apportionment reforms.

      • NPV is the way to go

        It makes no sense that both parties focus all of their attention on ten swing states. In particular, it makes no sense that presidential candidates, during the general election, spend more time in New Hampshire than Massachusetts.

        The current system is broken.

        A national popular vote would mean that all of our votes are equally important.

  9. One-person, one-vote is the pre-eminent principle...

    …which is why I favor straight popular election for the President regardless of how that will effect campaign strategy, though with races as close as they’ve been it seems campaigns might go anywhere for just a few more votes. The other way to award electors is proportionally within the state. For example, MA’s electoral votes could be awarded 7 to Obama and 4 for Romney, which takes into account statewide totals without worrying about how the districts are drawn.

    • Execpt the Constitution is not written that way

      One of the original reasons for rejecting the election of the president by popular vote was protection for smaller states. In drafting the EC, the Founders intentionally conceded this power shift to smaller, less populous states, as a compromise. These are the rules. The Senate was designed this way as well for similar reasons.

      I’ll look it up later, but I do not think winner-take-all is a constitutional requirement. If it were, what about Maine and Nebraska? If MA wants to apportion their slate, we are free to do so.

      • All correct.

        Winner-take-all is not constitutionally required; states can apportion their electoral votes however they want.

        And you’re also right that the electoral college was originally set up both to shift some power to small states and also to insulate the presidency from the people – in 1789, the notion of a “faithless elector” wouldn’t have made much sense. My point is that we think about some of these things much differently now than we did then (after all, we allow non-whites, women, and people who don’t own property to vote), and our electoral system should reflect that.

        • A few points

          We would still see swing states they would the same ones they are now with the more populous states added on. I’d argue we’d see little change in MA, possibly less campaigning and ads since NH is now rendered irrelevant. I like apportionment better than going by districts-it’s be quite close to the 2008 Democratic primary which was nearly a 50 state campaign where every vote counted. A true direct popular vote, while preferable to a compact, would still, w/o IRV be disproportionate and undemocratic and we’d see far less campaigning by candidates directly or grassroots campaigns but a lot more expensive ads. I’d be hesitant to adopt it without also adopting IRV and public financing, and I think leaving even a remnant EC with the compact is a dumb idea and maybe even worse than the status quo.

    • Great idea

      My gold standard for an election where every state mattered and saw candidates campaign there was the 2008 Democratic primary. The apportionment of delegates is similar to the apportionment you propose for the EC and eliminates a lot of the issues with the EC while keeping states relevant, grassroots campaigns relevant, and creating an incentive for every state to count. I’d also argue we’d see less instances where the popular vote and EC are not aligned. Do you prefer apportionment to a direct popular vote?

  10. I'm not seeing how it makes things more competitive.

    It gifts the presidency to whatever party controls Congress. Am I misunderstanding?

  11. Jconway,

    My preference is constitutional amendment to eliminate the EC entirely, but apportionment is fairer and doesn’t fall victim to gerrymandering. I don’t like the constitutional end run which is NPV because that would have forced MA to give its votes to Bush in 2004 over Kerry who was one of our own and of course won MA.

    • "that would have forced MA to give its votes to Bush in 2004 over Kerry"

      Actually, had NPV been in effect in 2000, Al Gore would have been elected president without controversy, so the 2004 “MA’s EVs go to Bush instead of Kerry” scenario would likely never have happened. :)

    • Agreed

      I’d prefer a percentage apportionment over districts and over a direct popular vote, but I’ll concede a direct popular vote is what most Americans want and probably easier to get than apportionment via the amendment process. Its also a simpler and less confusing process to most voters. NPV is not the way to achieve it though.

  12. Meanwhile, Virginia's Tea Party Senate passes

    the “Winslow Plan.” Obama won that state by four points, but only 4 of 11 House districts. Democrats are packed into a small number of safe urban districts. In the Department of Not Knowing When to Quit, the Tea Party state senate also wants to award the two additional EVs (corresponding to Senators) not to the candidate winning the statewide vote (as Maine and Nebraska) do, but the candidate winning the most house districts.

    Obama won this state by four points, but Romney would have taken 9 of the 13 EV. No thanks.

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