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Electoral college changes?

Feb 28, 2017

BY: CCNH-LFDA Highlights

Rep. William Pearson (D-Keene) is the prime sponsor of HB 447, also known as the "National Popular Vote Bill". The bill would see New Hampshire join in an interstate agreement to elect the President of the United States by national popular vote. If passed, HB 447 would allocate New Hampshire's electoral college electors to the winner of the national popular vote.  The bill would only take effect if enough states joined the agreement to constitute an electoral majority.

The bill had a divided ruling in its initial House committee, with the majority committee report voting against the bill, and the minority committee report recommending that it pass. A full House vote has yet to be scheduled.

While winning the presidential election without winning the popular vote has only occurred five times in our nation's history, it has happened twice in the past 16 years.

Supporters of the bill argue the electoral college system is unfair and not representative of the desires of the American people. The current system also creates specific "battleground" states where candidates focus much of their campaigning.

On the other hand, opponents argue that the electoral college is a foundational part of America's government and allows for checks and balances. In addition, without it rural states with fewer voters would not be fairly represented.

Do you think NH's electoral college votes should be allocated to the winner of the national popular vote? Join the discussion on Facebook or comment below. Comments will be included in a summary of this discussion and presented to legislators considering this bill. Only comments from NH residents will be counted, so please indicate if you are from NH in your response.

 

Comments

Susan Anthony
- Nashua

Fri, 03/03/2017 - 6:05pm

A survey of New Hampshire voters in 2008 showed 69% overall support for a national popular vote for President.

Support was 80% among Democrats, 57% among Republicans, and 69% among independents.

In Gallup polls since they started asking in 1944 until this election, 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 (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states) (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided).

Support for a national popular vote for President has been strong among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group in every state surveyed. In the 41 red, blue, and purple states surveyed, overall support has been in the 67-81% range - in rural states, in small states, in Southern and border states, in big states, and in other states polled.

Most Americans don't ultimately care whether their presidential candidate wins or loses in their state or district . . . they care whether he/she wins the White House. Voters want to know, that no matter where they live, even if they were on the losing side, their vote actually was equally counted and mattered to their candidate. Most Americans think it is wrong that the candidate with the most popular votes can lose. We don't allow this in any other election in our representative republic.

NationalPopularVote

Susan Anthony
- Nashua

Fri, 03/03/2017 - 6:02pm

The National Popular Vote bill is 61% of the way to guaranteeing the majority of Electoral College votes and the presidency in 2020 to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the country, by changing state winner-take-all laws (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states), without changing anything in the Constitution, using the built-in method that the Constitution provides for states to make changes.

All voters would be valued equally in presidential elections, no matter where they live.
Candidates, as in other elections, would allocate their time, money, polling, organizing, and ad buys roughly in proportion to the population

Every vote, everywhere, for every candidate, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election.
No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps of predictable outcomes.

The bill would take effect when enacted by states with a majority of the electoral votes—270 of 538.
All of the presidential electors from the enacting states will be supporters of the presidential candidate receiving the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC)—thereby guaranteeing that candidate with an Electoral College majority.

In 2017, the bill has passed the New Mexico Senate.
The bill was approved in 2016 by a unanimous bipartisan House committee vote in both Georgia (16 electoral votes) and Missouri (10).
The bill has passed 35 state legislative chambers in 23 rural, small, medium, large, red, blue, and purple states with 261 electoral votes.
The bill has been enacted by 11 small, medium, and large jurisdictions with 165 electoral votes – 61% of the way to guaranteeing the presidency to the candidate with the most popular votes in the country

NationalPopularVote

Susan Anthony
- Nashua

Fri, 03/03/2017 - 6:00pm

Support for a national popular vote has been strong in rural states

None of the 10 most rural states (VT, ME, WV, MS, SD, AR, MT, ND, AL, and KY) is a battleground state.
The current state-by-state winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes does not enhance the influence of rural states, because the most rural states are not battleground states, and they are ignored. Their states’ votes were conceded months before by the minority parties in the states, taken for granted by the dominant party in the states, and ignored by all parties in presidential campaigns. When and where voters are ignored, then so are the issues they care about most.

Susan Anthony
- Nashua

Fri, 03/03/2017 - 5:59pm

Because of state-by-state winner-take-all laws, not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution. . .

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in 2015 was correct when he said
"The nation as a whole is not going to elect the next president,"
“The presidential election will not be decided by all states, but rather just 12 of them.

Candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or care about the voter concerns in the dozens of states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind.

With the end of the primaries, without the National Popular Vote bill in effect, the political relevance of 70% of all Americans was finished for the presidential election.

In the 2016 general election campaign

Over half (57%) of the campaign events were held in just 4 states (Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Ohio).

Virtually all (94%) of the campaign events were in just 12 states (containing only 30% of the country's population).

In the 2012 general election campaign

38 states (including 24 of the 27 smallest states) had no campaign events, and minuscule or no spending for TV ads.

More than 99% of presidential campaign attention (ad spending and visits) was invested on voters in just the only ten competitive states..

Two-thirds (176 of 253) of the general-election campaign events, and a similar fraction of campaign expenditures, were in just four states (Ohio, Florida, Virginia, and Iowa).

Over 87% of both Romney and Obama campaign offices were in just the then 12 swing states. The few campaign offices in the 38 remaining states were for fund-raising, volunteer phone calls, and arranging travel to battleground states.

Susan Anthony
- Nashua

Fri, 03/03/2017 - 5:58pm

Winning the presidential election without winning the popular vote has occurred 5 times of 45 presidents.

Because of the state-by-state winner-take-all electoral votes laws (i.e., awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in each state) and (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states),in 48 states, a candidate can win the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide. It has occurred in 5 of the nation's 58 (9%) presidential elections.
The precariousness of the current state-by-state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes is highlighted by the fact that a difference of a few thousand voters in one, two, or three states would have elected the second-place candidate in 5 of the 16 presidential elections since World War II. Near misses are now frequently common. There have been 8 consecutive non-landslide presidential elections since 1988.
537 popular votes won Florida and the White House for Bush in 2000 despite Gore's lead of 537,179 (1,000 times more) popular votes nationwide.
A difference of 60,000 voters in Ohio in 2004 would have defeated President Bush despite his nationwide lead of over 3 million votes.
In 2012, a shift of 214,733 popular votes in four states would have elected Mitt Romney, despite President Obama’s nationwide lead of 4,966,945 votes.
Less than 80,000 votes in 3 states determined the 2016 election, where there was a lead of over 2,8oo,ooo popular votes nationwide.

After the 2012 election, Nate Silver calculated that "Mitt Romney may have had to win the national popular vote by three percentage points on Tuesday to be assured of winning the Electoral College."

Maureen Berkowitz
- Bedford

Fri, 03/03/2017 - 6:11pm

I feel the electoral college should remain as it is; as the values and needs of citizens vary in different states, which would be reflected in how they vote. If the popular vote were to be utilized, states like California and NY would have such an influence over the election based on their populations, and candidates would focus primarily on the states with the biggest population, ignoring the rest of the states.

Susan Anthony
- Nashua

Sat, 03/04/2017 - 1:08pm

A successful nationwide presidential campaign of polling, organizing, ad spending, and visits, with every voter equal, would be run the way presidential candidates campaign to win the electoral votes of closely divided battleground states, such as Ohio and Florida, under the state-by-state winner-take-all methods. In the 4 states that accounted for over two-thirds of all general-election activity in the 2012 presidential election, rural areas, suburbs, exurbs, and cities all received attention—roughly in proportion to their population.

The itineraries of presidential candidates in battleground states (and their allocation of other campaign resources in battleground states, including polling, organizing, and ad spending) reflect the political reality that every gubernatorial or senatorial candidate knows. When and where every voter is equal, a campaign must be run everywhere.

With National Popular Vote, when every voter is equal, everywhere, it makes sense for presidential candidates to try and elevate their votes where they are and aren't so well liked. But, under the state-by-state winner-take-all laws, it makes no sense for a Democrat to try and do that in Vermont or Wyoming, or for a Republican to try it in Wyoming or Vermont.

The main media at the moment, TV, costs much more per impression in big cities than in smaller towns and rural area. Candidates get more bang for the buck in smaller towns and rural areas.

Susan Anthony
- Nashua

Sat, 03/04/2017 - 1:05pm

In 2016, New York state and California Democrats together cast 9.7% of the total national popular vote.

In total New York state and California cast 16% of the total national popular vote

In total, Florida, Texas, and Pennsylvania cast 18% of the total national popular vote.
Trump won those states.

The vote margin in California and New York wouldn't have put Clinton over the top in the popular vote total without the additional 60 million votes she received in other states.

In 2004, 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.

New York state and California together cast 15.7% of the national popular vote in 2012.
About 62% Democratic in CA, and 64% in NY.

New York and California have 15.6% of Electoral College votes.

James Grant
- Gorham

Fri, 03/03/2017 - 4:24pm

I am firmly against the plan to 'allocate New Hampshire's electoral college electors to the winner of the national popular vote'. This is just a plan to neuter the electoral college, and hand control over to the most populous states. As a NH resident, if you vote for this plan, it will be the last time your vote matters.

Susan Anthony
- Nashua

Sat, 03/04/2017 - 1:10pm

Now, a presidential candidate could lose despite winning 78%+ of the popular vote and 39 states.

With the current state-by-state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states), it could only take winning a bare plurality of popular votes in only the 11 most populous states, containing 56% of the population of the United States, for a candidate to win the Presidency with less than 22% of the nation's votes!

But the political reality is that the 11 largest states, with a majority of the U.S. population and electoral votes, rarely agree on any political question. In terms of recent presidential elections, the 11 largest states have included 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.

In 2004, among the 11 most populous states, in the seven non-battleground states, % of winning party, and margin of “wasted” popular votes, from among the total 122 Million votes cast nationally:
* Texas (62% Republican), 1,691,267
* New York (59% Democratic), 1,192,436
* Georgia (58% Republican), 544,634
* North Carolina (56% Republican), 426,778
* California (55% Democratic), 1,023,560
* Illinois (55% Democratic), 513,342
* New Jersey (53% Democratic), 211,826

To put these numbers in perspective,
Oklahoma (7 electoral votes) generated a margin of 455,000 "wasted" 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) generated a margin of 385,000 "wasted" votes for Bush in 2004.
8 small western states, with less than a third of California’s population, provided Bush with a bigger margin (1,283,076) than California provided Kerry (1,235,659).

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