Ten Miles Square


January 28, 2013 12:30 PM Rigging the Electoral College — Get It Right

By Jonathan Bernstein

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.

[Cross-posted at A plain blog about politics]

Jonathan Bernstein is a political scientist who writes about American politics, especially the presidency, Congress, parties, and elections.


  • Peter Fugiel, PhD on January 29, 2013 3:19 AM:

    We are going to see a lot of state by state policy shifts. This is a federal system and the states, truly, are coming into their own.
    What progressives have to realize is that the vast majority of the American people are metro residents who have selected smaller communities to be the focus of their public life. State governments, of whatever political stripe, are not all that interested in fostering the trend toward self-rule. Witness the terrible policy of carving up electoral districts. The party that realizes the importance of local influence in the policy process will prevail in the state policy arena. That is future of American decentralist federalism.