Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Popular Vote Bill

It's always the unexpected fights that pique my interest, well, except when they are with my wife. Are you following this fight over the "Popular Vote Bill"? It scraps the electoral college method of picking a president (of course, it's dependant on other states approving this, too). Instead we would choose our next leader based simply on which candidate gets the most votes. Remember 2000-Gore vs. Bush? Supporters say it's a way to make sure every vote really matters and gets counted. Critics say it's the end of smaller states like Iowa getting any attention since the candidates will just fly over us and focus on the states with bigger populations.

Today, the Iowa Republican Party started this three-way fight. State Chairman Matt Strawn sent a letter to State Democratic Chairman Michael Kiernan asking him to oppose the bill. Then Democratic Secretary of State Michael Mauro sent out a statement siding with the Republicans. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal then went against Mauro. Here's the blow by blow (or word by word) account:

Strawn: Keep Iowa Relevant in Presidential Elections
Republicans call on Dem Leadership, IDP to denounce national popular vote scheme

“Keeping Iowa relevant in presidential elections should not be a partisan issue. Iowans of all party affiliations and ideologies suffer under this scheme to ditch the Electoral College and elect future presidents by national popular vote,” Strawn said.

Underscoring the non-partisan nature of keeping Iowa relevant, Strawn also called on new Iowa Democrat Party Chairman Michael Kiernan to join forces with the Republican Party of Iowa to defeat this legislation and ensure Iowa will continue to have a prominent – and relevant – position in choosing America’s presidents.

Noting that Iowa has only 1/100 of the nation’s population and contains little in the way of urban centers, Strawn said there would be little possible motivation for future presidential candidates to come to our state and develop concern for Iowa’s particular issues. “This legislation places all the power in the hands of the highly populated states and urban centers that have little in common with Iowa or our state’s needs,” Strawn commented.

STATEMENT FROM SECRETARY OF STATE MAURO ON POPULAR VOTE BILL
DES MOINES – Secretary of State Michael A. Mauro issued the following statement regarding recent discussion of the popular vote bill:


“I caution lawmakers in leading a charge to adopt a resolution that could be detrimental to Iowa and our important role in choosing the President of the United States. Our nation’s current Electoral College system was created to protect less populated states like Iowa to ensure we were included in the process. “As we know, Iowa plays a very important role not only in the nomination process but also during the General Election. In the past twenty years Iowa has been a battleground state in determining our president. There’s a reason each party’s nominee visited our state days before Election Day – because our state still mattered.
“I believe if this were to play out, it would have a dramatic effect. Under this proposal, it is hard to foresee Iowa maintaining its dominant role and expect candidates to spend their final hours campaigning in our state when they will be focused on capturing the popular vote in much larger states." “As I see it, toying with our nation’s current system could only have a negative effect on Iowa’s historically important role."
A Statement from Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal Regarding reforms designed to ensure that every Iowa vote is counted

“I support the popular vote reforms because they will ensure that every Iowan’s vote is counted in presidential elections. It is mystifying to me why anyone would cling to an antiquated, winner-take-all Electoral College system that allows a person to be elected to the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide. The popular vote reforms will fix this problem and make sure that every Iowan’s vote is counted in every election. “In addition, as a member of the Democratic National Committee, I am confident that Iowa will retain its first-in-the-nation caucus status if we adopt the National Popular Vote Act.”

9 comments:

mvymvy said...

75% OF IOWA VOTERS FAVOR A NATIONAL POPULAR VOTE FOR PRESIDENT

A survey of 800 Iowa voters showed 75% overall support for a national popular vote for President. The question was "How do you think we should elect the President when we vote in the November general election: should it be the candidate who gets the most votes in all 50 states, or the current electoral college system?

By political affiliation, support for a national popular vote for President was 82% among Democrats, 63% among Republicans, and 77% among others.

By age, support was 76% among 18-29 year olds, 65% among 30-45 year olds, 76% among 46-65 year olds, and 80% for those older than 65.

By gender, support was 82% among women and 67% among men.

By race, support was 75% among whites (representing 93% of respondents), 65% among African Americans (representing 2% of respondents), 86% among Hispanics (representing 1% of respondents), and 58% among others (representing 4% of respondents).

The survey was conducted on February 17-18, 2009, by Public Policy Polling.

See wwww.NationalPopularVote.com

mvymvy said...

The major shortcoming of the current system of electing the President is that presidential candidates concentrate their attention on a handful of closely divided "battleground" states. 98% of the 2008 campaign events involving a presidential or vice-presidential candidate occurred in just 15 closely divided “battleground” states. Over half (57%) of the events were in just four states (Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Virginia). Similarly, 98% of ad spending took place in these 15 “battleground” states. Similarly, in 2004, candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their money and campaign visits in five states and over 99% of their money in 16 states.
Two-thirds of the states and people have been merely spectators to the presidential elections. Candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or worry about the voter concerns in states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind. The reason for this is the winner-take-all rule enacted by 48 states, under which all of a state's electoral votes are awarded to the candidate who gets the most votes in each separate state.

Another shortcoming of the current system is that a candidate can win the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide. This has occurred in one of every 14 presidential elections.

In the past six decades, there have been six presidential elections in which a shift of a relatively small number of votes in one or two states would have elected (and, of course, in 2000, did elect) a presidential candidate who lost the popular vote nationwide.

mvymvy said...

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

Every vote would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections.

The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes—that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

The Constitution gives every state the power to allocate its electoral votes for president, as well as to change state law on how those votes are awarded.

The bill is currently endorsed by 1,246 state legislators — 460 sponsors (in 48 states) and an additional 786 legislators who have cast recorded votes in favor of the bill.

The National Popular Vote bill has been endorsed by the New York Times, Chicago Sun-Times, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Hartford Courant, Miami Herald, Sarasota Herald Tribune, Sacramento Bee, The Tennessean, Fayetteville Observer, Anderson Herald Bulletin, Wichita Falls Times, The Columbian, and other newspapers. The bill has been endorsed by Common Cause, Fair Vote, and numerous other organizations.

In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). The recent Washington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University poll shows 72% support for direct nationwide election of the President. This national result is similar to recent polls in closely divided battleground states: Colorado — 68%, Iowa — 75%, Michigan — 73%, Missouri — 70%, New Hampshire — 69%, Nevada — 72%, New Mexico — 76%, North Carolina — 74%, Ohio — 70%, Pennsylvania — 78%, Virginia — 74%, and Wisconsin — 71%; in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): Delaware — 75%, Maine — 71%, Nebraska — 74%, New Hampshire — 69%, Nevada — 72%, New Mexico — 76%, Rhode Island — 74%, and Vermont — 75%; in Southern and border states: Arkansas —80%, Kentucky — 80%, Mississippi —77%, Missouri — 70%, North Carolina — 74%, and Virginia — 74%; and in other states polled: California — 70%, Connecticut — 73% , Massachusetts — 73%, New York — 79%, and Washington — 77%.

The National Popular Vote bill has passed 23 state legislative chambers, including one house in Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Washington, and both houses in California, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The bill has been enacted by Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, and Maryland. These four states possess 50 electoral votes — 19% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.

See http://www.NationalPopularVote.com

mvymvy said...

The small states are the most disadvantaged of all under the current system of electing the President. Political clout comes from being a closely divided battleground state, not the two-vote bonus.

Small states are almost invariably non-competitive in presidential election. Only 1 of the 13 smallest states are battleground states (and only 5 of the 25 smallest states are battlegrounds).

Of the 13 smallest states, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Alaska regularly vote Republican, and Rhode Island, Delaware, Hawaii, Vermont, Maine, and DC regularly vote Democratic. These 12 states together contain 11 million people. Because of the two electoral-vote bonus that each state receives, the 12 non-competitive small states have 40 electoral votes. However, the two-vote bonus is an entirely illusory advantage to the small states. Ohio has 11 million people and has "only" 20 electoral votes. As we all know, the 11 million people in Ohio are the center of attention in presidential campaigns, while the 11 million people in the 12 non-competitive small states are utterly irrelevant. Nationwide election of the President would make each of the voters in the 12 smallest states as important as an Ohio voter.

The fact that the bonus of two electoral votes is an illusory benefit to the small states has been widely recognized by the small states for some time. In 1966, Delaware led a group of 12 predominantly low-population states (North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Kentucky, Florida, Pennsylvania) in suing New York in the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that New York's use of winner-take-all effectively disenfranchised voters in their states. The Court declined to hear the case (presumably because of the well-established constitutional provision that the manner of awarding electoral votes is exclusively a state decision). Ironically, defendant New York is no longer a battleground state (as it was in the 1960s) and today suffers the very same disenfranchisement as the 12 non-competitive low-population states. A vote in New York is, today, equal to a vote in Wyoming--both are equally worthless and irrelevant in presidential elections.

The concept of a national popular vote for President is far from being politically “radioactive” in small states, because the small states recognize they are the most disadvantaged group of states under the current system.

In small states, the National Popular Vote bill already has been approved by a total of seven state legislative chambers, including one house in Maine and both houses in Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Vermont. It has been enacted by Hawaii.

mvymvy said...

Most of the medium-small states (with five or six electoral votes) are similarly non-competitive in presidential elections (and therefore similarly disadvantaged). In fact, of the 22 medium-smallest states (those with three, four, five, or six electoral votes), only New Hampshire (with four electoral votes), New Mexico (five electoral votes), and Nevada (five electoral votes) have been battleground states in recent elections.

Because so few of the 22 small and medium-small states are closely divided battleground states in presidential elections, the current system actually shifts power from voters in the small and medium-small states to voters in a handful of big states. The New York Times reported early in 2008 (May 11, 2008) that both major political parties were already in agreement that there would be at most 14 battleground states in 2008 (involving only 166 of the 538 electoral votes). In other words, three-quarters of the states were ignored under the current system in the 2008 election. Michigan (17 electoral votes), Ohio (20), Pennsylvania (21), and Florida (27) contain over half of the electoral votes that mattered in 2008 (85 of the 166 electoral votes). There were only three battleground states among the 22 small and medium-small states (i.e., New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Nevada). These three states contain only 14 of the 166 electoral votes. Anyone concerned about the relative power of big states and small states should realize that the current system shifts power from voters in the small and medium-small states to voters in a handful of big states.

mvymvy said...

The 11 most populous states contain 56% of the population of the United States and that a candidate would win the Presidency if 100% of the voters in these 11 states voted for one candidate. However, if anyone is concerned about the this theoretical possibility, it should be pointed out that, under the current system, a candidate could win the Presidency by winning a mere 51% of the vote in these same 11 states — that is, a mere 26% of the nation’s votes.

Of course, the political reality is that the 11 largest states rarely act in concert on any political question. In terms of recent presidential elections, the 11 largest states include five “red” states (Texas, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and Georgia) and six “blue” states (California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New Jersey). The fact is that the big states are just about as closely divided as the rest of the country. For example, among the four largest states, the two largest Republican states (Texas and Florida) generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Bush, while the two largest Democratic states generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Kerry.

Moreover, the notion that any candidate could win 100% of the vote in one group of states and 0% in another group of states is far-fetched. Indeed, among the 11 most populous states, the highest levels of popular support were found in the following seven non-battleground states:
* Texas (62% Republican),
* New York (59% Democratic),
* Georgia (58% Republican),
* North Carolina (56% Republican),
* Illinois (55% Democratic),
* California (55% Democratic), and
* New Jersey (53% Democratic).

In addition, the margins generated by the nation’s largest states are hardly overwhelming in relation to the 122,000,000 votes cast nationally. Among the 11 most populous states, the highest margins were the following seven non-battleground states:
* Texas — 1,691,267 Republican
* New York — 1,192,436 Democratic
* Georgia — 544,634 Republican
* North Carolina — 426,778 Republican
* Illinois — 513,342 Democratic
* California — 1,023,560 Democratic
* New Jersey — 211,826 Democratic

To put these numbers in perspective, Oklahoma (7 electoral votes) alone generated a margin of 455,000 votes for Bush in 2004 — larger than the margin generated by the 9th and 10th largest states, namely New Jersey and North Carolina (each with 15 electoral votes). Utah (5 electoral votes) alone generated a margin of 385,000 votes for Bush in 2004.

mvymvy said...

Evidence of the way a nationwide presidential campaign would be run comes from the way that national advertisers conduct nationwide sales campaigns. National advertisers seek out customers in small, medium, and large towns of every small, medium, and large state. National advertisers do not advertise only in big cities. Instead, they go after every single possible customer, regardless of where the customer is located. National advertisers do not write off Indiana or Illinois merely because their competitor has an 8% lead in sales in those states. And, a national advertiser with an 8%-edge over its competitor does not stop trying to make additional sales in Indiana or Illinois merely because they are in the lead.

mvymvy said...

When presidential candidates campaign to win the electoral votes of closely divided battleground states, such as in Ohio and Florida, 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.

Under a national popular vote, every vote is equally important politically. There is nothing special about a vote cast in a big city. When every vote is equal, candidates of both parties know that they must seek out voters in small, medium, and large towns throughout the state in order to win the state. A vote cast in a big city is no more valuable than a vote cast in a small town or rural area.

Anonymous said...

mvymvy -- alright already! we get it. stop your blogosphere-wide spamming campaign. You're annoying and redundant.