To: Scott Jenkins,
Subject: How the Electoral College favors Democrats and why Republicans must change it
Date: Tue Jun 17 16:41:36 MDT 2014
I wanted to share with you two recent articles highlighting how the Electoral College system favors the Democrat Party, namely "How the Electoral College favors Democrats and why Republicans must change it" and "Democrats' stranglehold on the electoral college."
I have spent the last four years in the Oklahoma Legislature advocating for the National Popular Vote bill, which the Oklahoma Senate passed during the 2014 legislative session. I believe these articles provide an excellent analysis of why our party is at a disadvantage under the current Electoral College system.An overwhelming majority of Republican Legislators I have visited with across the country agree that a change needs to be made to our current Electoral College system. I believe the answer is the National Popular Vote Bill which would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. If this plan was enacted, it would immediately even the playing field and give Republicans the best shot at winning the Presidency.
I have attached the articles below for you to view. Thank you for your time, and if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me.
Assistant Majority Floor Leader
Oklahoma State Senate
How the Electoral College favors Democrats and why Republicans must change it
In a recent op-ed, political Svengali Karl Rove correctly noted that history is against the same party winning the presidency three terms in a row.
In fact, George H.W. Bush's win in 1988 is the only example in the last 60 years. Rove used this factoid to make the case against Hillary Clinton winning in 2016.
This electoral history, however, is misleading for one very important reason: The Electoral College advantage Democrats now have due to the big blue states.
In the six elections since 1988, Republicans have only won twice. Those two victories by George W. Bush barely hit the 270 electoral vote threshold: 271 in 2000 and 286 in 2004.
Don't forget that Al Gore won the popular vote in 2000, losing Florida by a mere 537 votes. In contrast, the four Democratic wins in 1992, 1996, 2008, and 2012 hit 370, 379, 365, and 332 electoral votes. Why such lopsided wins?
Rove's historical guide is significantly weakened by the low margin-of-error strategy to which the Republican candidate must adhere.
Specifically, the Republican candidate must nearly run the table on the battleground states in order to squeak into the White House, whereas the Democratic candidate has multiple pathways to victory.
Let me break it down by state and electoral votes.
The Democrat will almost always win the following states: California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.
Republicans haven't won New York, Oregon, Washington, or Wisconsin since Ronald Reagan's 1984 landslide win.
They haven't won California, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania since 1988. Those states are worth 183 electoral votes. Thus, the Democrat likely enters the 2016 election with a base of 242 electoral votes.
The Republican will almost always win Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Those states give the Republican a base of 170 electoral votes.
This electoral vote allocation leaves the Democrat just 28 electoral votes from The White House, while the Republican needs an addition 100 electoral votes to win. There are only 126 electoral votes left among the 11 battleground states.
This assumes Colorado and Virginia really remain toss-up states, which is doubtful. Thus, the Republican must win 79% of the remaining electoral votes.
To put a starker gloss on the Republican's tough predicament, a loss in just Florida ends the race. Period.
So, while the Democrats are trying to turn reliable red Texas blue, based on long-term demographic trends they see as favorable, Republicans should be doubling-down efforts in Florida, Indiana, Missouri, North Carolina, and Ohio and seeking breakthroughs in California, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Why those five blue states?
Because liberal-progressive policies decimated those states fiscally, thereby giving Republicans a strong opportunity to present voters with clear contrasts.
Additionally, left-wing federal and state mandates are crushing farmers, energy producers, and job creators in those states.
On a more practical level, if Republicans can make headway in those states, Democrats will have to spend precious resources shoring them up.
Every dollar spent in expensive media markets in blue states is a dollar not spent in battleground states or Texas.
We will see this November if Illinois voters drop inept Democrat governor Pat Quinn for a more fiscally responsible Republican alternative.
Voters in Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania already made that decision, but more needs to be done to turn those states truly purple.
History is a reliable guide upon which to make predictions about the future. It depends, however, on the timeframes you use to make those predictions.
Democrats may not in fact win a third straight term in 2016, but the electoral history since 1988 gives them a much smoother path than Republicans.
It is time to invest even more in permanent outreach efforts in key states. Unless it wants to continue winning just two of six elections, the Right must expand the electoral map. The sooner, the better.
Matt A. Mayer is chief operating officer of the Liberty Foundation and author of "Taxpayers Don't Stand a Chance" and "The Founding Debate."
Democrats' stranglehold on the electoral college
One of the first questions people ask upon learning I'm a political reporter is who would be favored in a 2016 general election matchup between Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush. (Yes, to get to that point requires any number of assumptions but it's still BY FAR the most common question I get asked.)
My answer is always the same: Hillary Clinton would start out as a favorite -- albeit not a heavy one -- over Jeb Bush or any other Republican due, in large part, to the built-in advantage Democrats currently enjoy in the electoral college. (That edge is built on demographic shifts in the country that have largely favored Democrats.) The GIF below -- built by @metricmaps -- shows how the electoral map has changed over the past three decades, transitioning from Republican dominance in the 1980s to Democratic superiority in 2008 and 2012.
The simple fact is that, in 2016, the Democratic candidate -- I assume that will be Hillary but it could be someone else and not make a huge difference -- starts at a significantly higher point in terms of electoral votes than whomever Republicans nominate.
Let's use President Obama's 2012 victory as the example. In that race President Obama won 332 electoral votes to 206 electoral votes for Mitt Romney. Here's what the map looked like:
Now, let's look at the 10 closest states -- by percentage -- in the race and subtract them from each man's electoral vote total. Those states -- Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and Wisconsin -- comprise 130 electoral votes. Obama won all of them except for North Carolina and its 15 electoral votes. So, take 115 votes from Obama's column and 15 votes from Romney's column. That brings Obama to 217 electoral votes and Romney to 191 -- a built-in 26 vote electoral vote edge. That edge is actually deceivingly low because it excludes Pennsylvania and its 20 electoral votes from the Democratic side. And, while Pennsylvania was one of the 10 closest states in 2012 -- Obama won it by just over 5 percentage points -- the state hasn't voted for a Republican at the presidential level since 1988. Add Pennsylvania to Obama's total and he starts at a baseline of 237 electoral votes -- only 33 short of the 270 you need to get elected president.
And, those electoral college advantages are not unique to Obama's 2012 map. Remember that in 2012 he didn't carry Indiana (as he did in 2008) or North Carolina, and the 237 total above doesn't include swing states like Ohio, Virginia Florida, Colorado and Iowa -- all of which Obama won in 2012. In fact, there's an argument to be made that the electoral map in 2016 -- regardless of the two candidates -- will be even more challenging for Republicans than the 2012 map. The growth of the Hispanic community in places like Arizona and Georgia means those states could teeter on being potentially competitive in 2016, and, if Republicans remain unable to win any significant swath of the Hispanic vote, will be prime battlegrounds in 2020 and beyond. Texas -- and its treasure trove of 38 electoral votes -- could follow suit in 2020 or 2024.
While demographic changes are moving a number of traditionally Republican states closer to Democrats, there's little evidence that many states are heading in the opposite direction. You could make the case that Wisconsin is moving closer to Republicans' grasp (it was the 10th closest state in 2012), and Minnesota -- the 11th closest state -- might be shifting ever-so-slightly in Republicans' direction as well. The problem is that big states like New York, California, Michigan and Pennsylvania show no signs of becoming more friendly toward Republicans; in the case of New York and California, they are becoming far less friendly to the GOP. With those major electoral vote targets off the table -- or close to it -- the math becomes increasingly difficult for Republicans.
Here's the lone comfort at the moment for Republicans: The electoral college tends to move like a pendulum. In 1980, Ronald Reagan won 489 electoral votes and followed that up four years later with 525 electoral votes. In 1988, George H.W. Bush took 426 electoral votes. The Republican lock on the electoral college seemed permanent. But then it wasn't anymore. It's not clear -- at least to me -- how Republicans will pick the Democratic lock on the electoral college but history suggests they will, eventually, find a way.
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