Don’t change electoral vote process


A MONG THE REPUBLICAN REACTIONS to President Barack Obama’s re-election was a push, in some states where Republicans control the legislature, to move to the congressional district method for the Electoral College, instead of the winner-takeall approach used in every state except Maine and Nebraska.

The reasoning behind the proposal to change to the Maine-Nebraska method is that it would neutralize Democrats’ success in more populous, urban areas by enabling Republican candidates to capture Electoral College votes in rural congressional districts, which tend to vote Republican.

A Republican who wins enough rural districts might be able to muster enough Electoral College votes to defeat a Democrat, even taking a majority of a state’s - or the nation’s - Electoral College votes despite losing the popular vote.

But that movement seems to be losing its momentum. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, called changing to the congressional district method a “bad idea” and, on Jan. 29, the proposal died in committee in the Virginia Senate. Republican Govs. Rick Snyder of Michigan, John Kasich of Ohio and Scott Walker of Wisconsin also have declared their opposition to such a move.

Walker sees winner-take-all as good for Wisconsin. “One of our advantages is, as a swing state, candidates come here. We get to hear from the candidates,” Walker said on Jan. 25. “That’s good for voters. If we change that, that would take that away, it would largely make us irrelevant.”

In the absence of winner-take-all, swing states would not get nearly the attention that Wisconsin has received in recent election years. Both President George H.W. Bush and President George W. Bush came to downtown Racine, in 1992 and 2004, respectively, seeking re-election.

At a time when more forward-thinking

Republicans have acknowledged the party’s need to make inroads with blacks and Hispanics - who voted overwhelmingly for Obama in both his presidential elections - a move away from winner-take-all and toward an urban/rural divide, would make it that much easier for Democrats to paint Republicans as unwilling to engage with blacks and Hispanics on the issues of the nation.

The demographic trends of the nation - specifically, its booming Hispanic population - are not on the side of the Republican Party as it stood on Nov. 6.

Such a move also ignores the party’s own recent history. Republican presidential candidates won eight of 11 elections from 1968 through 2004, and in four of these elections the Republican won by an average of 444 electoral votes.

When Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush were trouncing their Democratic counterparts by those margins, it’s fair to say that the American electorate greatly preferred the Republican message and its presentation.

We think that if Republicans - or Democrats, for that matter - craft a superior message with a superior presentation, they will find that winner-take-all suits them just fine. — Racine Journal Times, Feb. 10

At issue:
Winner-take-all electoral vote
Bottom line:
Best option for Wisconsin

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