Showing posts with label electoral vote allocation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label electoral vote allocation. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Legislation to Alter Electoral Vote Allocation Introduced in Nebraska

Nebraska shifted away from a winner-take-all allocation of electoral college votes for the 1992 cycle and efforts have been continually mounted ever since to return to that method. None of them have been successful, including legislation from the 2021 legislative session that died in committee. 

But that has not stopped another bill from coming forward in 2023. Senator Loren Lippincott (34th, Central City) has become the latest to attempt to tackle the issue following a cycle in which the Cornhusker state again split its electoral college allocation between Democratic and Republican slates. LB 764 strikes all language from current law that references any distinction between at-large and congressional district electors. It further compels electors -- all five of them -- to cast their electoral votes for the presidential and vice presidential candidates with the highest number of votes statewide.

In eight presidential election cycles since the institution of the congressional district allocation, Nebraska electors have split just twice with the second congressional district around Omaha going for the Democratic candidate in 2008 and again in 2020. That frequency has been enough of an issue for similar legislation to have come up now at least six times, but not enough of a problem for the state to move back to a winner-take-all allocation. 

Perhaps 2023 will be different. LB 764 awaits action in the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Early Signs: Nebraska Electoral Vote Allocation Likely to Stay the Same

Last week FHQ detailed new legislation in Nebraska that would shift the allocation of electoral college votes from a congressional district method back to the standard winner-take-all method used in 48 other states and Washington, DC.

And this latest effort to switch back to a winner-take-all format for the first time since 1988 looks to go down the same road the previous 16 over the years: nowhere. Martha Stoddard at the Omaha World-Herald reported that LB 76's hearing before the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee found more opposition than support in the comments brought before the panel. 

Only the bill's sponsor, Senator Julie Slama (R-1st, Peru) and Ryan Hamilton, the executive director of the Republican Party in the Cornhusker state, spoke in favor of the move back to a winner-take-all allocation. Slama called the current system "unfair" and that it places undue partisan pressure on lawmakers in the redistricting process. 

Both arguments received pushback from opponents of the bill, including the system's architect, former Senator DiAnna Schimek. Opposition argued that the current system at least potentially makes part of the state -- Omaha -- competitive during a presidential general elections and thus draws some attention to the state.

The bill is not dead, but the signal coming out of the initial hearing was not positive for those seeking a reversion to the winner-take-all system.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Nebraska Once Again Considers Returning to a Winner-Take-All Electoral Vote Allocation

A committee hearing scheduled for next week will once again have the Nebraska legislature considering a return to a winner-take-all allocation of electoral votes in future Electoral College meetings. 

LB 76 would revert Nebraska to the same winner-take-all system that it utilized in the Electoral College prior to the 1992 cycle and which all states other than Maine also use. 

But these attempts are nothing new in the Cornhusker state. Ever since that 1991 legislative session ushered in the era of electoral vote allocation by congressional district in Nebraska, some legislator or legislators have introduced legislation to rejoin the majority of states in how they handle the process. Each time, however, those efforts have failed. In 1993. In 1995. And in 1997. Chatter ramped up again in the aftermath of the state's first split of electoral votes in 2008, but nothing came of it. The same was true in 2015-16 before the 2016 presidential election and then again after it during the 2017 session. 

Now though, on the heels of yet another split of the five electoral votes at stake in Nebraska -- with John Biden replicating Barack Obama's 2008 win in the state's second congressional district on the way to the White House -- talk has again escalated around the idea of abandoning the more proportional system. And that talk with continue at the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs committee hearing next Wednesday. 

The allocation method Nebraska utilizes is unique compared to most other states, but given its partisan bent, any split that occurs breaks with the overwhelming partisan sentiment in the state. And those are the ends of the spectrum: maintaining a unique system or preserving electoral votes for the Republican nominee. The former has won out to this point since 1992.

Nebraska may have had difficulty in breaking with that tradition, but other states have had their own issues in trying to move to a more proportional, Nebraska-style allocation method. Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin all considered that in the time after the 2012 election. All states were Republican-controlled, but all had gone for Obama in 2012. Efforts failed in all three and 2016 quickly proved the folly such a move would have presented. Trump narrowly won all three states and would have had to have split the electoral votes had those post-2012 plans been instituted. Unintended consequences are everywhere. 

As a footnote, in recent years (during the 2010s) there have been more, although not more successful, bids to transition Nebraska into the national popular vote pact. There have been at least five (unsuccessful) bills on that front in that time.

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Monday, November 17, 2014

About That Michigan Electoral College Allocation Proposal

Reexamining electoral vote allocation is back in the news again.

The story is the same as it was two years ago when red-blue states, that is to say, Republican-controlled state governments in states that have voted reliably Democratic at the presidential level, considered altering the way in which they were allocating electoral votes. FHQ touched on this two years ago, and I thought Jonathan Bernstein nicely updated his comments from the same period at Bloomberg View.

It still strikes me as interesting that states would consider this. First of all, it creates on the state level the potential for there to be a popular loser: someone who could win fewer votes yet still win a majority of the electoral votes from a state. That argument at the national level is one of the most frequent criticisms of the electoral college system itself. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, a districted plan -- where states allocate electoral votes by congressional district -- tends to dilute the power of the states. Had a districted plan been in place in Michigan in 2012 both of those issues would have been at play. Mitt Romney would have won a 9-7 majority of the Great Lakes state's 16 electoral votes despite Barack Obama winning more votes statewide. That would have, in turn, greatly reduced the power of Michigan in the electoral college. A two electoral vote margin that is largely baked into those districts would attract the candidates to the state a lot less than the promise of a 16 electoral vote cushion/win.

To FHQ, the winner-take-all allocation of electoral votes is a lot like the filibuster: You don't want to give up on it now because you might need it/benefit from it in the future.

But the new proposal in Michigan -- HB 5974, sponsored by Representative Pete Lund (R-36th, Macomb) -- is not the districted plan as it was two years ago. It is different in that it has built-in incentives addressing the above criticisms of that plan. Regardless of whether the new legislation passes in the current lame duck session of the Michigan legislature, it is an interesting tweak to some of the plans that have been deemed electoral college "rigging". This plan has some interesting implications that are worth exploring.

...or if not worth exploring, then fun to look at.

Here are the particulars:
1) The statewide winner in the vote count received half of the electors plus one. When Michigan has an even number of electoral votes as it does now (16), that means 9 electoral votes (8+1). If Michigan has an odd number of electoral votes -- as it did during the 2000s (17) -- that half (8.5) is rounded down to the nearest whole number and then the one additional electoral vote is added. That rounding is a small bonus to the second place vote-getter. But...

2) The top finisher in the statewide count receives an additional electoral vote for each increment of 1.5% the statewide winner gets above 50%. There is a nice breakdown of this over at the Bridge. Basically, if the winning candidate receives 61.5% of the statewide vote, that candidate receives all 16 electoral votes.

The first point always avoids the popular loser complaint, unlike the districted plan. The statewide winner would receive a majority of the electoral votes, but only narrowly if the vote is close. In other words, the electoral vote allocation is more proportional than districted.

The incentives the candidates and their campaigns face in dealing with this particular plan is distinct from the districted plan as well. The redistricting process, as hinted at above, bakes in the results of the electoral vote in a way that would dissuade candidates from coming to the state to fight for electoral votes. Campaigns would only expend resources to get an electoral vote or two if a near-tie in the electoral college was a near-certainty.

The newly proposed plan in Michigan circumvents that issue to some degree. Candidates would be motivated under a plan that awards "bonus" electoral votes to either try and run up the score (statewide vote percentage) in Michigan, or barring that, try to at least maintain resource expenditure parity with the other candidate. FHQ does not want to overstate this effect though. If anything, the added electoral vote for each 1.5% increment of the statewide vote over 50% adds another strategic element to the puzzle. But even if Michigan was off the board and not as competitive heading down the stretch, then that does give incentive to the favored candidate to spend some time/money there in an effort to get as close to a winner-take-all allocation as possible (if the overall national electoral college vote distribution is somewhat close). Think about a state like North Carolina in 2008. The Obama campaign put resources into the state late and the McCain campaign was unable to match it. Those 15 electoral votes were superfluous to what Obama needed to get over the 270 electoral vote barrier.

There may be conditions under which this 1.5% bonus motivates increased activity, but it is likely to only do so when a race is close either nationally or in the state. [The candidates would already be there if the state is close.]

There is another dimension to this that has been neglected to this point, lost in all the rigging talk. It is important to look at how this plan would work historically to get a real sense as to how it would play out in reality. Let's give it a glance:

2012 (Michigan -- 16 electoral votes):
Vote percentage:
Obama: 54.04%
Romney: 44.58%

Electoral votes:
Obama: 11
Romney: 5

2008 (Michigan -- 17 electoral votes):
Vote percentage:
Obama: 57.33%
McCain: 40.89%

Electoral votes:
Obama: 13
McCain: 4

2004 (Michigan -- 17 electoral votes):
Vote percentage:
Kerry: 51.23%
Bush: 47.81%

Electoral votes:
Kerry: 9
Bush: 8

2000 (Michigan -- 18 electoral votes):
Vote percentage:
Gore: 51.28%
Bush: 46.14%

Electoral votes:
Gore: 10
Bush: 8

1996 (Michigan -- 18 electoral votes):
Vote percentage:
Clinton: 51.69%
Dole: 38.48%

Electoral votes:
Clinton: 11
Dole: 7

1992 (Michigan -- 18 electoral votes):
Vote percentage:
Clinton: 43.77%
Bush: 36.38%

Electoral votes:
Clinton: 10
Bush: 8

1988 (Michigan -- 20 electoral votes):
Vote percentage:
Bush: 53.57%
Dukakis: 45.67%

Electoral votes:
Bush: 13
Dukakis: 7

1984 (Michigan -- 20 electoral votes):
Vote percentage:
Reagan: 59.23%
Mondale: 40.24%

Electoral votes:
Reagan: 17
Mondale: 3

1980 (Michigan -- 21 electoral votes):
Vote percentage:
Reagan: 48.99%
Carter: 42.50%

Electoral votes:
Reagan: 11
Carter: 10

1976 (Michigan -- 21 electoral votes):
Vote percentage:
Ford: 51.83%
Carter: 46.44%

Electoral votes:
Ford: 12
Carter: 9

1972 (Michigan -- 21 electoral votes):
Vote percentage:
Nixon: 56.20%
McGovern: 41.81%

Electoral votes:
Nixon: 15
McGovern: 6

1968 (Michigan -- 21 electoral votes):
Vote percentage:
Humphrey: 48.18%
Nixon: 41.46%

Electoral votes:
Humphrey: 11
Nixon: 10

1) It probably goes without saying that if this newly proposed plan had been instituted in Michigan in the past, it would not have changed the overall outcome of the electoral college. The closest instances would have been in 2000 and 2004. In both cases, George W. Bush would have gained a handful of electoral votes to add to an already winning total. And to repeat, this plan eliminates the potential for popular losers within the state of Michigan. That also obviously didn't happen in any of these elections.

2) There are just three cases where the winning candidate cleared the 55% threshold and was able to take advantage of the bonuses in any meaningful way. That is a quarter of these 12 total elections. In the other 75% of the cases, Michigan's electoral vote power would have been reduced to something between Iowa (6 electoral votes now) and something less than Delaware/Wyoming. That really offers no guaranteed pull to candidates despite the claims of those sponsoring the legislation in Michigan.

3) Even semi-successful third party candidates really mess this up for the top vote-getter. That increases the likelihood that no candidate clears the 50% barrier and thus a near-even distribution of the electoral votes. [The 1.5% bonus is never triggered.] Humphrey won Michigan by 7.5%, gets within a stone's throw of 50% and splits the electoral votes 11-10 with Nixon (see also 1980). 1996 offers another interesting tale. Clinton barely clears 50%, gets one bonus electoral vote, but splits the total 11-7 with Dole, who received less than 40% of the vote.

Aside from eliminating the potential for a popular loser outcome -- relative to the districted plan -- this new electoral vote allocation proposal does not clearly do what its proponents argue it would: make Michigan relevant during the general election. That does not seem to be the case here. It would only have reduced Michigan's electoral vote power.

What it does do is provide us with a fun counterfactual exercise with some interesting outcomes. And that's about it.

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Monday, January 28, 2013

Is it really that 'tricky' to rig the electoral college in advance?

Let me open by saying that I agree with about 99.9% of what Jon Bernstein has to say in his most recent take down of the rash of discussions surrounding the various proposals in Republican-controlled blue states to reallocate electoral votes. FHQ, furthermore, agrees that most of this is likely to go nowhere. [But if I had to handicap it, there's a greater chance that something passes in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin than in Florida, Ohio or Virginia. It's all about the Spectrum.]

However, I kind of part ways with Jon in his final paragraph where he discussed state legislators attempting to game things out in advance of any given presidential election cycle:
"But the point here is that even if state Republicans were perfectly willing to ignore their own incentives and instead do whatever the national party believed was best, it still would be extremely difficult to game out the proper combination of states in advance. If they could do the entire nation, then it would be easy. But since that can't be done, what remains just isn't very promising."
There are two parts to this: 1) Gaming the order of states ahead of time and 2) gaming the resulting allocation plans accordingly.

Jon is addressing the first, but I don't see either of those as that difficult. Based on our Electoral College Spectrum alone, one can come to a reasonable conclusion on the basic ordering of states. There is variation over time, but that is accounted for in my ECS-based handicapping of the six states above. Again, these plans make more sense now in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin than they do in Florida, Ohio and Virginia. The latter group is seemingly more attainable for a Republican candidate. of now.

Regardless, I don't think we are all that far removed from a simple added level of complexity in all of this that would add some oomph to the Republican efforts underway in some state legislatures. And this speaks to the second point on gaming the current system. I can't help but think back to the Republican presidential primary season a year ago. Layered into the state party rules for delegate allocation in several states were a set of conditional rules. If a candidate won 50% of the statewide vote, for instance, winner-take-all rules would be triggered either on the total allotment of delegates (i.e.: Alabama -- but the allocation was split across at-large and congressional district delegates) or in some cases just the at-large delegates (i.e.: Ohio).

My point is that these plans are not all that far removed from better gaming future conditions while also accounting for the uncertainty associated with elections from cycle to cycle. But as I said, we have yet to see any plan proposing the conditional winner-take-all allocation of electoral votes. And as many have pointed out, there is little to stop state legislatures (or state governments) from allocating electoral votes based on just about any set of parameters.

What does exist are the conflicts I mentioned back in December between state, state legislature and state party incentives versus national party incentives to change the rules (Jon has also mentioned this several times in the intervening period.). Additionally, there seems to be something of a line of demarcation between being nakedly partisan (as the current plans seem to be) and being NAKEDLY PARTISAN (as conditional plans might be construed or say simply allocating all of the electoral votes to the Republican candidate no matter the outcome).

Take Pennsylvania. Let's assume that the Republican-controlled state government passed a plan that made the allocation of electoral votes dependent upon the winner receiving a certain percentage of the vote. If we look at the period of time in which Democrats have dominated the state in the electoral college (1992-2012), we could set that threshold at 50.37% of the vote (the average of the winning candidates' shares of the vote in Pennsylvania over that time). If the winner received anything north of that, they receive all of the electoral votes.

Of course, the two Clinton elections drove that average down because of Perot's candidacy. If we subtract those two elections from the equation, we get an average winning candidate vote percentage of 51.99%. By extension, if the winning candidate wins over 52% of the vote, then, that candidate wins all of the electoral votes. If not, then the allocation is dealt with in a fashion determined by the legislature. Let's assume the allocation is based on congressional districts in that case.

The obvious rebuttal to this is, "Well that's (52%) a pretty high bar that only seemingly helps the Democratic candidate take all of the electoral votes in some extreme cases (2008) and never seemingly affords that opportunity to the Republican candidate. How does this make the Republican Party better off?" Barring an unlikely fundamental shift in just Pennsylvania, it doesn't. However, that doesn't prevent Pennsylvania Republicans from gambling a little bit and setting that threshold for the conditional winner-take-all allocation of electoral votes a little lower. At the very least this opens the door to potentially winning all of the electoral votes in the future given a more likely national shift toward Republicans that makes Pennsylvania more attainable.

Again, I agree with Jon (I don't think much of this is going anywhere because of the complexities of interests involved.), but it is not beyond the realm of possibility that Republicans could add a rather simple conditional step to these proposals to better game the electoral college system. The only question is whether it is palatable to continually institute these types of plans in more states when permanent changes to the ordering (states going on/coming off the list) do arise.

...or when Democrats follow suit when the tables potentially begin to turn in terms of partisan control of state legislatures in red presidential states.

Neither of these two flavors of gaming the system strikes me as all that difficult to pull off. The hard part is maintaining all of this over time in a way that is permanently advantageous when changes inevitably occur. It would be like treating the electoral college like the quadrennial commissions that tweak the Democratic Party delegate selection rules. No one really has a stomach for constant changes to the electoral college system like that, but that is likely the Pandora's box any of these changes would open if passed and implemented.

Is it really that 'tricky' to rig the electoral college in advance?

In the short term, probably not. A party may not tip the balance enough to affect the outcome but it can rig things to be more advantageous to itself in the hopes of winning the electoral college.  In the long term, however, it becomes very difficult to maintain. "Is either worth it?" may be the better question. FHQ still doesn't think so, and my guess is that most state legislatures ultimately fall into that category as well.

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Monday, December 10, 2012

The Unintended Consequences of Piecemeal Electoral College Reform. Or How to Turn Pennsylvania into New Hampshire

So Pennsylvania Senate majority leader, Dominic Pileggi (R-9th, Chester/Delaware), is pushing a new bill to reformulate the way in which the Keystone state allocates its electoral college votes?

Instead of allocating the electoral votes in a winner-take-all fashion -- as is the case in 48 states and the District of Columbia -- the senator initially proposed shifting to a districted allocation similar to method utilized in Maine and Nebraska. Now, however, the newly amended approach proposes allocating the electors proportionally. The statewide winner would receive the two electors representative of the two federal senate seats and the remaining electors would be allocated based on the proportion of the vote each candidate received.

There is a lot going on here, so let's start with the basics.

For starters, the partisan intent here is to break up the electoral vote bloc from a reliably Democratic state. [Pennsylvania has voted for the Democratic candidate in every election since (and including) 1992. That is six consecutive cycles.] That is, to cut into the Pennsylvania and overall national electoral vote tally for the the Democrats. Both of the plans proposed by Leader Pileggi accomplish this, but the newer version is less beneficial to the Republican Party. Due to the way in which the Republican-controlled Pennsylvania legislature redrew the congressional district lines following the 2010 census, Mitt Romney would have won Pennsylvania, winning more districts and thus electoral votes under a districted allocation than Barack Obama. As Nick Baumann pointed out in the Mother Jones write up, that would likely have meant Romney winning the 13 (Republican) congressional districts and Obama taking the remaining five (Democratic) districts plus the two remaining electoral votes for winning statewide.

Fair or not, that would translate into Obama winning nearly 52% of the vote in Pennsylvania but taking only 35% of the electoral votes from the state.

Under the revised plan, Obama's 52% would translate into 55% of the electoral votes. The president and Mitt Romney would have evenly split the 18 non-statewide electoral votes and Obama would have won the remaining two statewide electors.1 That is likely to be marginally more palatable to Democrats, but not nearly as good as taking all of the electoral votes under the current distribution.

Of course, there is unified Republican control (across the legislative and executive branches) in Pennsylvania that would not necessarily require Democratic support. But the intent of the switch in plans seems to be to create an argument based on fairness; that this is a fair way of allocating electoral votes. Pennsylvania Republicans would be on firmer ground with that argument on behalf of the revised allocation plan than attempting to push a districted plan that produces an allocation that does not reflect the statewide vote. ...or produces a distribution that is so noticeably distinct from the statewide vote.

Let's take a national detour here and FHQ will revisit the situation within Pennsylvania momentarily.

Normally, FHQ would be ecstatic at the prospect of such a rules change. In fact, I spent the weekend mulling over the implications nationwide. But this is not something that the Republican Party would necessarily want employed nationwide in each state. Strategically, a party would want to keep states that are reliably, in this case, Republican and maintain a winner-take-all allocation of electoral votes there. That maximizes the number of electoral votes the party would receive. Ideally, the party would want to push this strategy in blue presidential states that are redder down-ballot. This means states like Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin; Obama states where Republicans have unified control on the state level.

If we were to assume a proportional allocation of electoral votes across those five states based on the two-party vote (see footnote 1) that would have netted Mitt Romney an additional 40 electoral votes.2 That would still have put the former Massachusetts governor short in the electoral vote tally (Obama 292, Romney 246). It would be closer, but still shy of the 270 electoral vote threshold.

Granted, the calculus is more complicated than this. The Republican Party (nationally) would not want to employ this strategy in states that it could win outright in a political climate slightly more favorable than the one the party faced in 2012. That is cannibalizing the party's own potential electoral vote total. This probably eliminates states like Florida and Ohio. In turn, that reduces the potential electoral vote gain from 40 to 19 under the currently apportioned electoral college (Obama 313, Romney 225).

Now sure, if race had been closer in 2012, the addition of 19 electoral votes (or 40) could have mattered. It would also potentially have increased the likelihood of an electoral college winner different from the popular vote winner. If those are the rules, a win is a win, but FHQ is not entirely sure that increasing the likelihood of a popular vote/electoral college split is a goal for which we should be aiming.

This brings us back to Pennsylvania.

Under the right conditions, Pennsylvania adopting a proportional method of electoral vote allocation could increase the likelihood of the aforementioned split. This is even more the case if toss up to lean blue but Republican-controlled states like Michigan and Wisconsin follow suit. But let's focus on a scenario where Pennsylvania walks this road alone. The plan as outlined by Leader Pileggi passes the Pennsylvania legislature and is signed into law sometime before 2016. What impact does that have?

Well, we know that the resulting electoral vote tally for the two major party candidates is likely to be close. The math in a state like Pennsylvania is such that the non-statewide allocation will be tied unless one candidate -- over the last six cycles, a Democrat -- clears just under 53% of the two-party vote. Assuming the Democrat does clear that barrier, he or she would win Pennsylvania by four electoral votes. If not, then that candidate would win the Keystone state by two electoral votes.

Why would any campaign waste much of any time or money on a state where they would... 1) under normal circumstances gain two electoral votes and 2) have to spend a lot of money in media markets like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh?

The answer is they likely wouldn't. FHQ is not suggesting that the campaigns would not spend any time or money in Pennsylvania. Some resources would be spent there to be sure. But the motivation would perhaps be to spend money in a state where the electoral vote gain is going to be larger. There is a reason the Romney campaign turned to Pennsylvania late in the 2012 race. Ohio was not budging and even though Pennsylvania represented a state that was further toward the Democrats than the Buckeye state, it was one that was both largely proximate to Ohio in electoral vote strength and one that had to that point seen comparatively little campaign activity (There were potentially persuadable voters there.). With a diluted Pennsylvania, the next best options for the Romney campaign would have been to turn the focus to a similarly sized state even further out on the Electoral College Spectrum (like Michigan) or to spread resources across several states in an effort to recoup electoral votes lost in Ohio.

This plan just seems shortsighted. FHQ gets the perceived benefit in a national zero-sum game of winning electoral votes. And when couched in terms of fairly reflecting the statewide vote in the electoral vote tally the argument is even more convincing on the surface.

  • Yet, is it fair to Pennsylvanians to reduce the clout of their state in the electoral college -- to reduce the potential electoral vote prize there with the likely result of decreasing attention to the state? 
  • Is this reasonable when an exchange of nine electoral votes is very likely not going to alter the outcome of the electoral college? [The outcome is rarely that close. It would have made Bush's electoral college win wider in 2000, but would not have gotten him any closer to winning the popular vote. The intent in Pennsylvania anyway is to overturn a Democratic win in the electoral college. Those nine electoral votes would not have made a difference in any of the Democratic wins in either the 20th or 21st centuries. Even if you pull Michigan and Wisconsin in, it doesn't change anything. In some cases during Democratic electoral college wins those states were voting Republican.] 
  • Is is fair to Pennsylvanians to transform Pennsylvania into New Hampshire in the electoral college? [Yes folks, New Hampshire receives attention, but it receives the sort of attention a competitive state with four electoral votes would receive when compared to one with 20: less.] 

Why do that? Why dilute the value of a state in the electoral college for less than clear benefits?

Beware the unintended consequences of altering electoral rules.

1 There are a couple of interrelated items that remain unclear in the updated proposal. First, there is no mention of how fractional electoral votes will be treated. Second, there is no mention of third party candidates. If this is to be anything like delegate allocation in the nomination phase of the presidential election process, then there is likely to be a threshold that third parties have to reach in order to receive electoral votes. As it stands, a third party candidate has to win 5.56% of the vote in Pennsylvania in order to win one electoral vote. Even that is a high bar and may negate the need of a threshold. However, this has implications for the first issue: How and on what is the rounding of fractional electoral votes based? If no third party candidate crosses the 5.56% threshold, then that means the allocation of electoral votes would be based most logically on the two-party vote (or the percentage of the vote for each candidate who cleared 5.56%). As that count currently stands, Obama has 52.73% of the two-party vote which equals 9.491 (out of 18) electoral votes. That is not enough to round up to the 10 non-statewide electoral votes that Leader Pileggi's memo allocates to Obama. Either something is not right about that math or the rounding mechanism has not been adequately outlined.

2 The breakdown would look like the following:
Florida -- Obama: 16 (2 statewide + 14 non-statewide), Romney: 13
Michigan -- Obama: 10 (2 statewide + 8 non-statewide), Romney: 6
Ohio -- Obama: 10 (2 statewide + 8 non-statewide), Romney: 8
Pennsylvania -- Obama: 11 (2 statewide + 9 non-statewide), Romney: 9
Wisconsin -- Obama: 6 (2 statewide + 4 non-statewide). Romney: 4

This raises a couple of interesting points:
1) It is quite difficult to receive a high enough share of the two-party vote to round up and create any kind of cushion in the non-statewide electoral vote allocation. That means that the true difference in a moderately competitive state (Remember the targets are going to be blue states with Republican control. Those are typically going to be more competitive states on the presidential level.) will be equal to the two electoral votes allocated based on the statewide vote with one exception...
2) If things are extremely close, rationally acting candidates would prefer to push resources into states with an odd number of electoral votes. Winning a state with an odd number of electoral votes would produce a one electoral vote differential between two major party candidates in the non-statewide allocation plus the two electoral votes awarded to the statewide winner. These are exactly the types of calculations the Obama campaign was using during the 2008 Democratic primaries (and caucuses!).

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