No, No, No, Don't Split Electoral Votes By Congressional District

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 9 2012 9:34 AM

No, No, No, Don't Split Electoral Votes By Congressional District

155691600
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney walks from the podium after delivering his concession speech in Boston, Massachusetts, November 7, 2012. AFP PHOTO / Pool / Rick Wilking (Photo credit should read RICK WILKING/AFP/Getty Images)

Photo by RICK WILKING/AFP/Getty Images

The PlunderBund blog makes a great catch from Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted's post-election presser.

Husted argued that because of the high stakes involved with being an electoral vote-rich swing state, Ohio’s elections chief is always scrutinized and criticized. (Funny, we don’t remember that happening in 2008, but that’s beside the point).
Husted’s solution to this perceived problem of Democrats and the national media picking on him? He says we should make Ohio less important in the election by dividing up our electoral votes by Congressional district.
Advertisement

Didn't we stake this vampire already? Most states allow whatever party holds power at the start of each decade to map their congressional districts. In this data-heavy era, parties take the opportunity to pack their opponents into a small number of districts, and spread their own voter over a maximum number of marginally safe districts. The result: It's possible for the other party to win most of the votes for House in a state, but take away only a few districts.

See Pennsylvania, which actually debated an electoral vote split concept last year. Democrats narrowly won more votes in House races than the Republicans won. That netted them five of the state's 18 seats, because their vote was packed into gerrmanders in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and the Lehigh Valley. Barack Obama won the popular vote in, apparently, six districts. Had an electoral vote-by-district plan been in place, most Pennsylvanians would have voted for Barack Obama, but Mitt Romney would have won 12 of the state's 20 votes. Had this been in place across all states gerrymandered by parties last year, Obama would have won four votes in North Carolina despite losing it. And Romney would have won 10 votes in Ohio, despite losing it.

I can't overstate how disastrous this would be. Instead of a small chance of a popular vote/electoral vote split, you'd have, every four years, multiple chances for a majority of voters to support one candidate, but partisan gerrymanders handing the election to the loser. It would slant the election away from urban areas and give disproportionate powers to rural areas. You couldn't come up with a more tenacious assault on one-man-one-vote. Don't do it, people.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 21 2014 8:00 AM An Astronaut’s Guided Video Tour of Earth
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.