Victims of the Electoral College

Perhaps in part due to conservative freak-outs like the one exhibited by Dick Morris, progressives are developing a new interest in the National Popular Vote Initiative, an interstate compact aimed at effectively abolishing the Electoral College via pledges to cast EVs for the popular vote winner.

Over at The Week, my former colleague Ryan Cooper takes a look at where additional support for a way around the Electoral College might be found, in states whose “clout” is most diminished.

He didn’t find exactly what he expected: Pennsylvania ranked as the “most screwed” state, and California wasn’t in the Top Ten. That’s mainly because the Golden State (like Florida and Texas) has a lot of residents who aren’t eligible to vote. So Pennsylvania has the highest ratio of eligible voters to electoral votes, and Ohio is second.

The trouble with the “most screwed” analysis, of course, is that some states with a marginal underrepresentation in the Electoral College win big from the current system because they are closely contested states that get disproportionate attention thanks to the winner-take-all aspect of EV voting. There’s no way Ohioans are going to feel discriminated against just because voters in Wyoming have, theoretically, triple the EV clout. Pennsylvania is also (in 2012, at least) a battleground state, as are North Carolina and Florida, third and fourth on Ryan’s list of states shorted by the Electoral College. So it’s the underrepresented states that are safely red or blue, like New York, California, Illinois and Texas, that have the most powerful grievance against the status quo.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.