States splitting electoral votes

Specifically, I am wondering why, if GOP state legislatures have so favorably managed to gerrymander congressional districts to their advantage in many instances, why haven’t those in states that are almost certainly going to vote Democratic for presidential elections change the way in which they award electoral votes to how Nebraska and Maine do? I had Pennsylvania in mind due to its being mentioned in another thread, but even here in the even more presidentially blue state of Michigan the state legislature is run by the GOP and they have 9 of 14 US house members. Better to pick up 9 or so votes than take your chances at all 16.

Unless somehow the opposite situation is true in other states, I don’t really see how this could backfire. In the aggregate/long-run it makes no difference, but in the short term it’s definitely in their best interest. It might mean that people would even take out ads in the market to reach those in close House districts, whereas right now there’s little point in trying to push the polls 10 points or whatever it is.

Maybe they’re just too…hmmm…conservative? Better to stay with what’s “worked” than try something new, even if it’s definitely better.

I checked the Michigan state constitution, and it does not prescribe the method of assigning presidential electors. The only section on presidential electors only allows the state to grant people the right to vote for the electors for Michigan after they’ve moved away if they haven’t secured the right to vote in the place to which they’ve moved, or allow people with lesser residency requirements than normal to make such votes - all presumably to ensure a full franchise for voting for President regardless of which states one moves to, as President is the only nationally-elected office; the voting is done by state, and they have good reason to have longer residency requirements for voting for state offices.

It’s come up since the last presidential election. Each time it met opposition within the state GOP from people who either feared electoral backlash that could cost them their majorities or people who just didn’t want to go down that road of vote-rigging. Another (perhaps remote) possibility is that Pennsylvania could vote to split their EC and then a GOP candidate comes along who actually wins the state but cedes 40% of the EC to the Democratic opponent. Oops! Each cycle it’s a story of how this year Pennsylvania or Michigan may be competitive (and VA should be competitive) so why would you want to shoot yourself in the foot?

States like to be important. They like to be “swing” states, and “must win” states. If their electoral vote is split, it makes them quite a bit less important, and that means less campaigning there, which injures their pride and reduces their income.

(Of course, the same is also true of “guaranteed” states. Nobody really needs to campaign in California: we all know which way it’s going to go.)

This old 538 article talks about the Pennsylvania plan and why it’s not a good idea and has some points I missed. One of which being that, if a state was to split their votes this way, it would be almost ignored as a battleground since the reward would be so diminished. There might be a question of whether or not I can get a plurality of votes to win a state but, if I’m a Democrat, I’m probably assured of winning the urban districts and getting a set number of EC votes. If the state splits their EC then I wouldn’t do much better than that set amount whether I get 48% or 52% of the vote so why bother showing up?

The argument “but sometimes it might backfire” is specious. Yes, it can backfire, but on the balance of probabilities taking into account the structural advantage Republicans have even without taking gerrymandering into account, the Republicans would be favored in the long run to win more electoral votes than they would lose. Even if you ignore the clumping of Democrats and the gerrymandering, it’s still in total a wash in terms of effects in the long run, but in the short term it seems much more likely to help.

But no one’s campaigning for president in Michigan as it stands, while there are many House districts that lean Republican that might be worth fighting for. I suppose this might be focused too much on short-term goals, as Michigan might swing back to the center later, and in the long-term splitting the vote would reduce interest in the national race.

I suppose I just don’t understand, in this day and age of the Republicans doing things that are clearly at odds with running the country efficiently, why they wouldn’t be willing to do some more overtly political acts that would make them more likely to win the presidency. I come to the conclusion that they are just too conservative for their own good. Their goal seems to want to be to do absolutely nothing while “governing”, and don’t believe in changing the status quo even when it benefits them short-term. Perhaps that’s due to long-term political fall-out, but if voters haven’t gotten sick of them threatening to default on debt and not considering Supreme Court nominations, I don’t see how doing something more pro-active that can be spun as being more fair to each voter would be a bigger deal. Not to mention the ability of someone like Trump to draw as many voters as he has.

I’m also of the opinion that people should pay more attention to who their state legislators are, and if it becomes the norm that every presidential election that the state changes its electoral vote assignment to match the way that would give the national party the most votes, it would lead to people actually caring about who they send to their state’s capital if it’s merely just for the influence on the Presidential race.

On a side note: I’m of further opinion that the state legislators should just choose electors and not bother with a popular vote, even though I know that will never happen. And similarly, I’m in favor of state legislators choosing Senators as was the original plan. My deepest plan would be to abolish universal voting for any representatives of any kind beyond the city level, and for large cities, the ward level, and have all representatives at all levels vote for those who will represent the geographic area at the next largest geographic level. This won’t happen, of course, but I can dream where all politics literally becomes local, and people can have more faith that their vote is actually going to change something.

I think the big issue is that it that proportional EVs are overthought. 1 per House district (gerrymandered to guarantee it will go to a specific party) and then 2 at-large going to the state winner even if they win 48.9% to 48.8%. I say you go straight proportional using Hamilton’s method.

If you’re going to go straight proportional it seems to make a lot more sense to just use the popular vote.

EXCEPT that EVs are not precisely related to state population. Plus under the current system allows states to apportion EVs however they want. My point was that if a state wants to split its EVs there is a better way than 1 per district + winner takes 2.

Sort of like a hierarchy of soviets?

I see no reason to be introducing foreign terminology into it. At least here in Michigan, we have City councils and County Commissioners. We also have a bare-bones structure of a non-governmental organization in the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG), which as its name suggests is an organization for members of various levels of governments in the area to help with planning projects.

All these are already in place. The problem is that right now they are all voted on separately by all the voters, so voters are being asked to pick the right people for various jobs, often with absolutely no good information on the talents or qualities of those who are applying for them. If people voted only for those that represented them on the most local level, they could more get to know who they vote for and feel more empowered. The people who get the seat then, not the entire mass of voters, are on the hook for vetting out members that apply for the next level up. Obviously proportional representation would be heavily featured.

Plus they are different groups of people. I found out recently that my county council is made up of ordinary citizens to provide oversight while the county commission is made up of professional politicians/public administrators and actually run the county. Depending on who would represent the county would make a huge difference in who they elect at the next level.