September 16, 2011

Partisanship fights democratic ideas

And this time, it's Democrats who are being partisan.

Frankly, I think it would be great if Pennsylvania joined Nebraska and Maine and gave only it's two "senatorial" electoral votes to the statewide winner and apportioned its "representative" electoral votes by winner of the territory covered by each Congressional district. Yes, the Pennsylvania state senate leader and governor are pushing this, at the same time as the GOP majority is drawing up Congressional districts, but ... if blatant gerrymandering has a racial fallout (and with Pennsylvania having multiple major cities, this can happen), then the Congressional reapportionment can be fought in court.

Here's the allegedly "partisan" angle by the GOP:
One Pennsylvania-based Republican consultant who spoke on condition of anonymity because he has clients on both sides of the controversy, noted that a Republican presidential candidate has only carried Pennsylvania once in the past 25 years, in 1988. He thinks that's likely to remain the pattern for years to come.

Since Democratic presidential candidates will usually win the state, switching to a Maine-Nebraska system would help the GOP over the long term. “From a strictly partisan point of view, we are going to benefit,” he said.
At the same time, as the story notes, when Colorado looked more on the reddish than bluish side of purple, Democrats were pushing for the same deal.

Reality? Nebraska's state government is officially nonpartisan, with a unicameral legislature. Maine has a strong degree and history of independent, even third-party, voting. Those conditions don't exist elsewhere very much. Iowa comes to mind as a state where Maine and Nebraska ideas would duplicate more easily.

That said, I like the idea in general. It potentially increases voter participation, and in a state with rural as well as metropolitan swing districts, forces candidates to get outside major TV markets.

Because of that, it also has the potential to take a small edge off money in politics.

And, in a place like Pennsylvania (or Maine, or Iowa) might open the door to third-party or independent presidential candidates, whom both halves of the bipartisan duopoly would call "spoilers."

So, for that reason alone, it's worth touting.

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