The Grand Ol’ Party has come up with a new way to skew electoral votes, by introducing bills in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania that would award electoral votes proportionally by district, instead of giving an entire state’s votes to the candidate that wins the popular vote there.
This type of system is already used in Maine and Nebraska, and in these states, the candidate that wins the most districts wins these states’ at-large votes, but the state’s total votes may be split between the two candidates. Enlarging this system to encompass more states creates an easy path to the White House for the Republicans. In nearly all of the battleground states, Obama won the electoral college, but Romney won a majority of districts. Republicans want to pursue these measures in Ohio, Florida and Virginia as well.
On its surface, this might seem like a good idea; it appears to give fairer representation to more rural communities. According to the Daily Mail, Romney won 222 congressional districts to Obama’s 206. When looked at this way, Romney obviously should have won.
Except for one thing. Population density. The districts that Romney won in most states were primarily rural areas with small populations, whereas the areas where Obama won were primarily urban centers. More than 75% of Americans live in or near cities, which tend to be more progressive than smaller towns and rural areas.
Awarding electoral votes by congressional district skews how the general population of the U.S. is represented by giving heavier favor to non-urban areas than is warranted, given how many Americans live in urban and suburban areas. It also creates a bigger incentive to gerrymander district lines to ensure a larger number of Republican districts. In other words, they would be gerrymandering electoral votes so that they would have an advantage.
Republicans likely see this as really their only way into the White House now, despite the fact that they lost in 2008, and again this year, because the party is becoming too irrelevant in today’s world. A good example of this is the attitude they showed towards reaching out to people in major cities in the run-up to Election Day. In fact, their platform barely addressed any urban issues at all, and the few they do address are negative in nature, calling instead for federal government to get out of the cities’ business and allow private interests to take over things like rail transportation.
By ignoring urban centers they hurt themselves and their agenda. It should be no surprise, however, with all the efforts at voter suppression for this past election, that they would look at the threat to their party as a challenge to be overcome by more dirty tricks, instead of changing the fundamentals by which they run and attempting to appeal to more of the population.
There’s no doubt that the system is broken, and various sides aren’t accurately represented in presidential elections. The GOP’s current idea of a solution wouldn’t fix it, it would break it more because results would be tallied based on the badly gerrymandered districts and ignore the popular vote entirely. Sadly, that is all too typical of the Republican Party of late.