Published on Jan 25, 2013
Republicans have a new strategy for 2016: Change the rules of presidential elections in order to swing the Electoral College in the GOP's favor.
On Wednesday, Virginia's Republican-controlled legislature became one of the first to advance a bill that would allocate electoral votes by congressional district. Last week, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus endorsed pushing through similar proposals in other states with Republican legislative majorities.
The strategy would have states alter the way they translate individual votes into electors -- thereby giving Republican candidates an advantage. Had the 2012 election been apportioned in every state according to these new Republican plans, Romney would have led Obama by at least 11 electoral votes. Here's how:
In the 2012 election, President Barack Obama defeated Mitt Romney by 126 electoral votes.
In the November election, Obama won the popular vote with 65.9 million votes, or 51.1 percent, to Republican Mitt Romney's 60.9 million, or 47.2 percent. Obama won the Electoral College by 332-206.
In Virginia, Obama received nearly 2 million votes, or 51.1 percent, to Romney's 1.8 million, or 47.3 percent. Obama won all 13 Virginia electoral votes, becoming the first Democrat to win back-to-back presidential elections in Virginia since Franklin D. Roosevelt. Obama benefited from a huge turnout in urban and suburban areas around Washington, D.C., and Hampton Roads while Romney dominated more conservative rural ones.
Had state Sen. Charles Carrico's bill to allocate electors by congressional districts been in place, Romney would have won nine electoral votes to Obama's four.
Democrats, a minority in both the House and Senate in Virginia, decried the bill as a Republican power play to rig elections and steal with a legislative majority what they could not win with the ballot. They contend the measure is just one piece of an overall legislative package intended to burden disadvantaged voters who support Democrats.
Under Carrico's bill, the winner of the presidential vote in each congressional district would be awarded one electoral vote, and the candidate who won a majority of the districts would get the other two electoral votes.
Republican Sens. Jill Vogel of Fauquier County, who abstained from voting in the subcommittee, and Ralph Smith of Roanoke County said Friday they would vote against the bill when it appears before the full committee.
Vogel, a former Republican National Committee election lawyer, said she saw no problem with the bill's legality, but objected to the image it creates for her party so soon after Obama's victory last fall.
"It's the timing of it," she said. "It's just an awful impression it makes."
She said she abstained in the subcommittee vote as a courtesy to Carrico.
Smith said the measure violates his sense of order and fair play.
"I think every state needs to have the same plan. Two states do it already, but that doesn't make it right," Smith said. "More important than the interests of either party is a level playing field."