Facts support national popular vote

Facts support national popular vote
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I wanted to believe the critics.

I assumed their arguments against a national popular vote were valid. But with each new claim, even basic research undermines the opposition to the movement toward a national popular vote to elect the president of the United States.

No, the recent 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling does not affect a National Popular Vote. The ruling dealt with faithless electors, not the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact enacted by Colorado’s legislature and governor.

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No, cities would not be advantaged over rural areas. Only one-sixth of the country lives in the top 100 cities. One-fifth live in rural areas. California and New York together only have 18 percent of all voters.

According to the 2010 census, the five biggest cities in the country (New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Philadelphia) account for only about six percent of the national population.

The top 20 cities account for only about 10 percent of the population. Even the top 50 cities only account for 15 percent of the nation’s population. Big cities could never dominate under a national popular vote.

Opponents also often say a national popular vote would lead to TV campaigns where candidates only attempt to win votes in the largest cities, ignoring the rural areas. Again, the math simply doesn’t support this claim.

The Constitution does not require “winner-take-all.” The Constitution leaves it to the states to decide how their electors are chosen. Currently, 48 states and the District of Columbia use a voting method called winner-take-all.

The state-based, winner-take-all was never discussed at the constitutional convention. In fact, it wasn’t until the 11th presidential election that a majority of the states had a winner-take-all system. States can change the method they use to select their Electoral College votes without any constitutional amendment as Article II, Section I of the Constitution gives states the power to award electors however they see fit.

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Some people claim that a national popular vote advantages Democrats. But I can find no hard evidence that this is the case. Since 1988, 38 states have voted the same way in presidential elections, giving Democrats an automatic 242-102 electoral vote advantage and placing them a mere 28 electoral votes from clinching the presidency even before the first votes are cast.

Dan Balz’s recent column in The Washington Post posits that the 2020 election may have only four battleground states: Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Florida. Can a voting method that lets four states chose the next president really be defended? 

Moving from a winner-take-all method to a national popular vote is not a fantasy.

In fact, the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which has now been adopted by 15 states and the District of Columbia, totaling 196 electoral votes, is an actionable and realistic presidential election reform plan. (The compact has also passed in at least one house of state legislatures in eight additional states, accounting for 75 electoral votes.)

Only when the compact hits a total of 270 electoral votes by July 20 in a presidential election year will it take effect. This means a national popular vote will likely not happen in time for the 2020 presidential election, but it certainly may for the 2024 election.

This compact still respects the constitutional role of the states in selecting the president, but it does so through a popular mandate. It’s the best of both worlds. It would also force a Democratic nominee to campaign in red states and a Republican nominee to campaign in blue states.

Under the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, every vote would have equal value, but neither party would have an automatic advantage. America would finally elect a president of the United States and not a president of the Battleground States of America. 

Matt Mackowiak is the president of Potomac Strategy Group, a Republican consultant, a Bush administration and Bush-Cheney re-election campaign veteran and former press secretary to two U.S. senators. His national politics podcast, “Mack on Politics,” may be found on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher and on the web at MackOnPolitics.com.