Virginia watch: Looks like the season of the putsch!

FRIDAY, JANUARY 25, 2013

How will the Post react: In this morning’s Washington Post, Nia-Malika Henderson reports on the wave of electoral scams being planned by the GOP in certain states.

How absurd are these proposals? This absurd:

Last year, Obama won the state of Virginia with 51 percent of the vote. Romney got 47 percent. As a result, Obama won Virginia’s 13 electoral votes.

Under the new rules being proposed for Virginia, Obama would have received only four of the state’s electoral votes. Despite losing the state’s popular vote by a solid margin, Romney would have gotten nine!

What is proposed is a ludicrous scam. At one point, Henderson reports the official “thinking” behind it:
HENDERSON (1/25/13): The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Charles W. Carrico Sr. (R-Grayson County), said he wants to give smaller communities a bigger voice. “The last election, constituents were concerned that it didn’t matter what they did, that more densely populated areas were going to outvote them,” he said.

“This is coming to me from not just my Republican constituents,” added Carrico, whose district voted overwhelmingly for Republican Mitt Romney in last year’s presidential election. “I want to be a voice for a region that feels they have no reason to come to the polls.”
Were you able to follow that? Carrico is concerned that small communities in his district will be outvoted by larger communities elsewhere. As a general matter, that’s how elections work!

Unless you institute a system where the losing candidate wins.

This scheme may be voted on next week. On a journalistic basis, we’re curious to see how the Washington Post will react.

The Post is a major Virginia newspaper. When a preliminary bit of GOP flim-flam was executed in Virginia this Monday, the Post reacted with a blistering editorial calling the action a “putsch.” See THE DAILY HOWLER, 1/23/13.

The proposed insult to our electoral college system would be a much more serious matter. We’ll be interested to see what the Post has to say this weekend.

Regarding Henderson, let us say this about that:

In her news report, she gives a very tame account of this remarkable proposal. Will readers fully understand the strangeness of what is being proposed? Will readers understand how this proposed system would have worked last year—with Obama getting only 4 of 13 electoral votes despite having won the state?

Henderson presents a very tame, understated account of this matter. Her description slips by so quickly that readers may not understand.

Beyond that, Henderson says that Maine and Nebraska currently operate with the same system. In fact, one aspect of the Virginia proposal is different from the system in use in those states.

This difference adds to the absurdity of the Virginia proposal. Despite writing a full-length news report, Henderson doesn't explain.

Nia-Malika Henderson: Fiery liberal when reciting on Hardball, unfaithful servant in print?

15 comments:

  1. "Will readers fully understand the strangeness of what is being proposed? Will readers understand how this proposed system would have worked last year—with Obama getting only 4 of 13 electoral votes despite having won the state?"

    What a question!!

    No, OF COURSE, voters won't understand that the winning candidate in VA would earn fewer electoral votes than the loser.

    The report isn't designed to make that clear.

    And it isn't designed that way for a reason.

    Yes, some are looking to rejigger our electoral systems so that "the losing candidate wins" in carefully selected regions.

    And that rejiggering may have some tacit support from some wealthy media owners.

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  3. Just on the math, 4 for Obama and 9 for Romney would be closer to the popular vote than 13-0. So, within the context of Virginia, the proposed changes would make the outcome closer to "fair," if fair is the popular vote. (Though, obviously, not as fair as 7 for Obama and 6 for Romney)

    Before Obama, Virginia had voted for Republican candidates at least 8 election in a row, so it's not easy to tell what the impact would be going forward.

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    1. That doesn't really make sense unless you believe that electoral politics isn't a zero sum game. The person who gets the most votes should win in a democratic election. That's kind of the point. It's not more "fair" for the winner to receive a portion of the electoral votes. That they exist at all is a travesty, but since the Electoral College does exist, it should accurately reflect the state's preference.

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    2. It would be more "fair" for the loser to get the most electors than for the winner to simply "win" the state?

      You guys are amazing!

      "Just on the math" I mean, of course!

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  4. Will readers fully understand the strangeness of what is being proposed?

    They won't understand it if all they read is Bob's post. What being discussed is awarding electoral college votes by congressional district. There's nothing strange about this approach. It's already used in Maine and Nebraska. It’s perfectly constitutional because states get to decide how to award electoral votes.

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    1. There's "nothing strange" about a system under which the guy who gets the most votes in the state would get the fewest electors?

      Thanks again David in CA for the comic relief.

      Anyone who thinks you can't get stupider just hasn't read enough of your posts yet!

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    2. Actually the system used in Maine and Nebraska is not quite as bad as this blatantly racist system being pushed in VA, PA and several other states. At least in Maine and Nebraska the popular vote winner gets 2 electoral votes with the rest going to the winner of the districts. In the plan for VA, winning the statewide popular vote means squadoodle. Why don't they just make this simpler and assign 3/5 of a vote to persons living in urban areas, eh, David.

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  5. What being discussed is awarding electoral college votes by congressional district. There's nothing strange about this approach. It's already used in Maine and Nebraska. It’s perfectly constitutional because states get to decide how to award electoral votes.

    It's laughably racist and wholly designed to disenfranchise "urban" voters, the idiotic system of Maine and Nebraska notwithstanding. And, yes, that all of 1/25th of the states use this system does make it strange. Not that you care. You want to win, however awful it is because "legal". It's a travesty of democracy that's even worse than the travesty of the Electoral College itself.

    Your disingenuous reaction to it speaks volumes to the contempt that Republicans have for democracy and how they would prefer to game the system, rather than try and persuade more voters about their policies.

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  6. This stretching to find racism and disenfranchisement is silly.

    Let's suppose Virginia goes Republican in the next election. Under the current system, all the blacks who voted Democratic would get no electors at all. So, the current system could disenfranchise Virginia blacks even worse than this alternative. That is, if one wants to stretch to find hidden signs of racism under every mattress.

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    1. The explicit rationale for this putsch is to give "rural" voters greater representation than "urban" voters. It's a scheme literally lifted from the Jim Crow era, using a similar "3/5"th approach as the constitution in terms of vote weight. That you are too obtuse to know any of this or care isn't really important. It just, again, shows just how undemocratic the GOP and its terrified followers have become.

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  7. Sure, let's go for it. Let every state follow VA, in fact.

    Then: Bastille, anyone? That's what people who support the VA approach are asking for, down the road. (Of course, they expect to have lots of GUNS on their side.)

    This is really very dangerous stuff.

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  8. Why don't we just state the obvious? The Electoral College is an anachronism, and all the energy spent on trying to make it fairer would be better spent on making it go away.

    Ray DeLagarto

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