Then I read the report by Reporter Matt Murphy, here. This line got my attention and caused me to put something down on my own blog:
Supporters, however, point out that Massachusetts voters would gain clout because their votes would be just as important as those of people in Ohio, Florida or Pennsylvania.How do they figure that? Look at the breakout of Electoral College votes.
We in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have 12 electoral votes♥ On the other hand, Ohio has 27 electoral votes, Florida 20, and Pennsylvania 21. Four states, California (55), Texas (34), New York (31) and Florida (27) provide 27% of the votes needed to win. So, we here in the Commonwealth are going to be even with number four Florida? It will only get worse in a popular election.
One could argue that by eliminating the Electoral College, or making it no longer relevant, the vote of one person in the Commonwealth is the same as one vote in Florida, but that was pretty much the same as before. The question is, are there enough votes up here to attract the attention of the candidates. Under the current system, and with the current political divides in the nation, the Electoral College encourages candidates to go a little further afield in the hunt for voters. Given today's situation, Florida is going to draw more attention than Massachusetts. Florida can be in play and has 27 votes and Massachusetts is likely not in play and has only 12 votes.
The current system means that smaller states have some modicum of clout. Every state gets at least three (3) electoral votes. If we go for a national popular vote the number of smaller states perpetually frozen out will increase, as their popular vote total will be proportionately smaller than their electoral vote. Today the New England states are 12.6% of the vote needed to win. The same as Texas. Frankly, I think we need to keep the Electoral College, which gives smaller states a little more clout, because that 12.6% will get smaller if we go with strictly the population and the popular vote.
The current system has its flaws, but we know how it works. We have no idea of about the long term impact of a different system. There are enough moving parts as it is. I don't wish to see more at this time. And for those who bring up the 2000 election, remember that if we had had a popular vote election it would have changed how the candidates campaigned, and thus might have changed the outcome, and might well have changed who the candidates were, thus potentially changing the outcome.
If people want to really clean up the election messiness they should work to eliminate what are essentially open primaries in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. I would be happy to go as far as having the state and the cities step out of the primary election business, leaving it to the parties to find a way to nominate candidates (and letting independents get on the ballot by collecting enough signatures).
Regards — Cliff
♥ Likely to go to 11 after the current US Census is done.