Coal in our stocking: prospects dim for a sixth congressional district

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

Each December, the Census Bureau releases an estimate of population change from the previous year (July to July). The 2009 estimate is the final estimate before the actual hard count in April 2010 that will determine congressional reapportionment.

About a year ago, I told you the odds of Oregon getting a sixth congressional seat were perhaps 50/50. With the latest estimate, prospects have substantially dimmed.

If reapportionment were done today, based on the 2009 estimate, Oregon would not get a sixth congressional district. Oregon's prospective sixth seat would rank #438 - falling just outside of the 435 seats that will be filled.

For the third straight year, Oregon's population growth rate has dropped - from 1.70% in 2005-06 to 0.94% in 2008-09. That doesn't sound like much of a drop, but if we'd stayed at 1.7% for those three years, we'd have some 67,000 more residents - and a sixth seat would be a sure thing (#431).

Based on the 2009 estimate, Texas would gain three seats, while Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina would each gain one seat. Losing one seat each are Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

Of course, there's another year of growth to go. If the 2009-2010 growth pattern matches this last year, we'll drop even further - down to #442. Mostly that's due to small shifts among states on the bubble. In addition to the above, South Carolina and Washington would pick up seats - while California, Illinois lose a seat and Ohio loses two.

Of course the July 2008 to July 2009 period featured the financial meltdown and housing market crash. What happens if growth patterns return to the 2007-2008 pattern? Things aren't much better for Oregon - we're at #440. Compared to the '09 estimate, South Carolina and Washington, would pick up seats, while Arizona would pick up 2 and Texas would pick up 4. Louisiana would not lose a seat. California, Illinois, Minnesota, and Missouri would lose a seat, while Ohio would lose two.

Of course, it's critical to remember that these are all estimates. The Polidata reapportionment analysis notes that a comparison of the 2000 census hard count and the final 1999 estimate were "close" but that the "surprise" was that some states jumped up and gained a seat. So, stay tuned.

Finally, remember this: Congressional seats are also electoral votes. Under all of these scenarios, electoral votes are shifting from Obama states to McCain states - from a net -4 to -14 for the Democrats. A similar shift happened after the 2000 census, making the road to the White House a little tougher for Democrats (and our efforts to reach out in the South and West all that much more critical.)

Comments

  • galen (unverified)
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    Thanks for the update.

  • Anita Berber (unverified)
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    Dems refuse to discuss population control. This is one reason why. Unsustainable breeding = more power.

    Live by the sword, die by the sword. This is why no pol has any credibility on climate change.

  • George Anonymuncule Seldes (unverified)
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    Finally, remember this: Congressional seats are also electoral votes. Under all of these scenarios, electoral votes are shifting from Obama states to McCain states - from a net -4 to -14 for the Democrats. A similar shift happened after the 2000 census, making the road to the White House a little tougher for Democrats (and our efforts to reach out in the South and West all that much more critical.)

    Yet another reason to support the National Popular Vote campaign, where states pass laws allocating their electoral votes to the winner of the most votes nationally, with the law to take effect as soon as states representing a majority of electoral votes have passed reciprocal laws.

  • Unrepentant Liberal (unverified)
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    Anita: If you look at the state that are gaining population-they are Red, southern states. States losing out-northern Blue states plus California.

    I think the states with 'breeding problems' seem to be those practicing abstinence in the Bible Belt.

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    @Kari, as always, thanks for the update on this. Nice to have clear, well-informed analysis on this issue.

    @George Seldes: right on!

  • John (unverified)
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    +1 @ George Seldes

    We need to get Oregon to join the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Popular_Vote_Interstate_Compact Washington joined this year, but it looks like it failed in the Oregon Senate.

  • Larry McD (unverified)
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    This is also about what happens when we set the number of Congressional seats by how many desks we can squeeze into the House Chamber.

    When the current number was set, after the census of a century ago, each Congressmember represented 212,000. Now it's around 650,000... except, of course, for Vermont, Wyoming North Dakota, and Alaska.

  • Les Habitat (unverified)
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    Turn about is fair play. Or was that health care bill a "diamond in the raw"?

    It's a toss up which process takes longer to get decent results.

  • D Rumsfeld (unverified)
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    Posted by: Larry McD | Dec 26, 2009 12:15:50 PM This is also about what happens when we set the number of Congressional seats by how many desks we can squeeze into the House Chamber.

    Have them stand!

  • Paul Cox (unverified)
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    Posted by: Unrepentant Liberal | Dec 26, 2009 11:31:17 AM

    Anita: If you look at the state that are gaining population-they are Red, southern states. States losing out-northern Blue states plus California.

    I think the states with 'breeding problems' seem to be those practicing abstinence in the Bible Belt.

    Abstinence? You think we're some kind of Anglicans? Many evangelicals and Mormons are establishing the kingdom here on earth by having as many children as they possibly can. If you have less than five, you're not doing your part. 12, 13...more? You will be the hero of your community and be given major perks, tangible and intangible. I can't reference all the links here because typepad wouldn't accept the post, there are so many.

    This is why carbon targets are stupid. If the US was VERY aggerssive (and hurt A LOT of people), they could reduce emissions 50% by 2025. Current population trends lead to enough new souls by then to render that 50% cut, less than current levels...plus growth! Add to that those patriots taht are not going to let this happen without a fight and I think you can see who will inherit the earth.

    Kudos to the Catholic Church for not letting people shake hands or embrace during the H1N1 scare. Every life is precious. You can never be too careful.

    I have a standing bet with anyone that wants it. We'll get world pop to 10 billion, before there are any internationally binding climate deals. We win again.

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    OK, folks, that's enough. This is not a thread about global population growth, climate change, or religion. Stay on topic, please.

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    Regarding Kari's last point in regards to the electoral college #s and the ensuing comments regarding national popular vote:

    The popular vote issue, certainly advocated by many Democrats since Gore won the popular vote in 2000 is not as clear cut as it would seem on it's face. Here's the description from

    http://www.nationalpopularvote.com/pages/states.php?s=OR

    " The National Popular Vote bill would reform the Electoral College by guaranteeing the Presidency to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and the District of Columbia). The bill would enact the proposed interstate compact entitled the "Agreement Among the States to Elect the President by National Popular Vote." The compact would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the membership of the Electoral College (that is 270 of 538 electoral votes). Under the compact, all of the members of the Electoral College from all states belonging to the compact would be from the same political party as the winner of nationwide popular vote. Thus, the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and the District of Columbia) will be guaranteed a majority of the Electoral College, and hence the Presidency. Because the compact guarantees a majority of the Electoral College to the winner of most popular votes nationwide, the compact has the additional benefit of eliminating the possibility that a presidential election might be thrown into the U.S. House of Representatives (with each state casting one vote).

    Essentially, this is not truly a popular vote, but a way to get around the sticky problem of the Constitutional mandate of the Electoral College.

    I'm not ready to completely throw in the towel on this, but the "pact" could pose real issues, state by pact state, in extremely close presidential elections.

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    Which are red states and which are blue is changing rapidly. Much of the population growth in Texas and the southwest is Hispanic and votes Democratic. Texas could become blue by the time this census becomes effective. Obama 2012.

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    KC, you're right that it's basically a statutory way to get around the Electoral College. But as I read it, the Constitution gives tremendous leeway to the states to determine how they appoint their electors.

    Article II, Section 1. Each state shall appoint, in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a number of electors...

    I'm curious what "real problems" you foresee in close elections that aren't solved by the legislation itself.

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    @KC,

    If the net effect of the initiative is to elect the candidate who wins a true majority, I for one am okay with calling it a "true popular vote." It's true that it's a technical sidestep of the prescribed method for amending the Constitution. I find it fascinating, but after a fair amount of study, I find nothing to be alarmed about. (If this initiative is successful, I suspect a genuine constitutional amendment would be a rather uncontroversial next step.)

    Also: you state that support for abolishing the Electoral College has risen among Democrats since Gore's 2000 loss. While that may be true, I am not exactly comfortable with the implied causation that goes along with that.

    A lot of things happened around the turn of the millennium, and the Bush/Gore election was only one of them. I am a registered Democrat and have almost never voted for a Republican (Bill Weld in 92 was an exception, and I think an appropriate one). But party loyalty has nothing to do with my opposition to the Electoral College system.

    With the revolution we've experienced in communication technology – and also, with the accompanying increased awareness of global election methods – the Electoral College feels, increasingly, like an anachronism.

    I see three principal reasons:

    (1) For a country that, supposedly, prides itself on being the leading global proponent of "democracy," it's a little odd to suggest that the voting public might make a "mistake" that the elite electors of the E.C. would be able to correct. Especially in an age where information is readily available to the voting public.

    (2) The Electoral College (is designed, in part, to) give disproportionate influence to residents of rural states. (Because states have two Senators, regardless of their size.) This is a pretty radical departure from the concept of "one person, one vote."

    (3) The style of campaigning that has resulted from the E.C. is pretty distasteful. Candidates routinely regard certain states (like Democratic California or Republican Oklahoma) as entirely irrelevant to the Presidential general election. That's kind of embarrassing, too.

    I'd like to have a system for electing our President and Commander in Chief in which I can take pride. I suspect many of my peers feel the same, and also agree with me that this is an issue that truly should rise above partisan politics. (That's not to say partisan politics don't have their place; but this is not one of them.)

  • John Silvertooth (unverified)
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    The "National Popular Vote" campaign is nothing but a Conservative GOP ploy to difuse the bang Democratic candidates get from California and New York.

    If they were interested in the national popular vote they would be doing something to try and rectify the composition of the US Senate where California and Wyoming have the same number of Senators.

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    What's wrong with the electoral vote, exactly? A popular vote would strip smaller states of their power; presidential candidates would simply ignore them and spend all their time in 5-10 states. An electoral process guarantees that there is some level of equality between the states as entities. We are not all just people; we are people in states, and those states are fundamental subunits of the US. With a popular vote we lose that, IMO.

  • George Anonymuncule Seldes (unverified)
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    Silvertooth, you've got your weird talking points confused. Allocation of electoral votes within states by proportional representation (like Nebraska) is what the GOPsters dream of. They HATE the idea of a national popular vote because the people of the nation are trending strongly against them. They foresee an increasingly urbanized country where mass of people vote Democratic but, thanks to their lock on the low-people/high-acreage states, they start each presidential contest 70-100 electoral votes ahead, with each voter in Wyoming, Utah, etc. counting for 30 times a voter in California.

    TJ, What's wrong with the electoral college? Are you serious? A system that creates a tight contest out of a 3 million+ vote Gore victory and allows the Supremes to turn it into a Bush win? What's right with it?

    BTW, you may want to look at the history of the US presidential campaigns since '68. They already spend all their time in a handful of states -- the swing states. If a state isn't in play, it gets no advertising, no visits, no pull. With national public vote, a voter's a voter, and there's no reason to ignore your supporters in Texas (or, California) just because the other side has more of them -- which is what happens now.

    And WTF does "we are people in states" have to do with electing the one national officeholder we have?

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    John, I don't think NPV is a conservative plot to dilute CA and NY. You're probably getting NPV confused with the ballot measure that was attempted in CA a few years back where CA would allocate its electoral votes by proportional representation. By doing that, they'd move 20 or so votes from the D to the R column.

    The purpose of NPV is to dilute the disproportionate effect that small states have on the process.

    Which, oddly enough, is TJ's complaint -- all hail the small states! Yeah, but that only matters if you think that states matter more than people in our modern democracy. The idea of states as discrete and semi-sovereign units made sense back in the 1790s - we were "these united States", etc. Today, we are one nation and one people and we call ourselves "The United States". We should ensure that every citizen (at least, every citizen that chooses to vote) has an equal say.

    There is no logical, philosophical, or mathematical reason that Wyoming is 0.2% of the population, but gets 0.6% of the electoral votes. Why should a Wyoming resident get three times as much influence on the outcome as a California resident?

    TJ, forget the big-state/small-state argument. If you're worried about excluding people from the process - the real worry is that we're excluding people who are in landslide states (either way) and including people who are in narrow-margin states. Why should the people of Pennsylvania and Nevada determine the outcome, while the people of California and Utah get ignored? If you're a Democrat in Utah or a Republican in California, you might as well tune out the election, because your involvement is irrelevant.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    Posted by: torridjoe | Dec 26, 2009 9:35:05 PM

    What's wrong with the electoral vote, exactly? A popular vote would strip smaller states of their power

    The lines drawn on the map corresponded to reason in the 18th century. Barely. It was 200 years old then. Preserving them at the expense of the will of the republic as a whole, is fetishism of the most ominous sort.

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    Z and TJ -- I highly recommend reading "How the States Got their Shapes". It's a 50-chapter work that describes precisely how each little wiggle in each state's boundary got created.

    Some boundaries are where they are because King Charles of England gave some baron a grant in the 1600s. Others are there because a surveyor got lost. Still others are because the local sheriffs disagreed over who had to deal with the ne'er-do-wells up in the hills. Some are there to buy off a belligerent in an intrastate dispute that became violent (see Michigan's upper peninsula and the Toledo War.) And yet others made perfect sense at some point, but look bizarre now (like that perfect semi-circle at the top of Delaware.)

    Truly, fetishism at its most silliest. But glorious reading for map and data nerds.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    Truly, fetishism at its most silliest. But glorious reading for map and data nerds.

    Guilty. Thanks for the ref!

  • Joe Hill (unverified)
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    I wonder if we can expect any demographic trends to ameliorate the profound injustice written into the Constitution by the creation of the Senate. Consider the differences between the House Health Reform bill (no gem there) and the misanthropic Senate bill as an object lesson.

    We need to do some kind of analogue to what Britain did with the House of Lords and pull the teeth of the Senate. I realize that's a half-assed idea . . . I guess what I really mean is that we need to begin a coordinated campaign to educate the American public, beginning with public schools, about the profoundly anti-democratic character of the U.S. Constitution and begin a national dialogue about how to undo the damage. When the usual suspects begin to reverentially bring up factions, mobs, and Federalist #10, we need to overwhelm them with a prepared shock and awe campaign (Daniel Shays was right; Madison was a slaveholder; re-read Beard's Economic Interpretation of the Constitution; etc. etc. etc.).

    A very small side benefit of this education would be that we wouldn't get as much nonsense traffic from idiots who try to claim that capitalism = freedom, liberty is the absence of interference from government, and other juvenile claptrap.

  • that woman you just doesn't git (unverified)
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    Re: little states and power. You can see the administrations position on this by looking at the Veep. There are other lines and measuring standards today. Delaware is huge, virtually, owing to the fact that 75% of major American corporations are incorporated there (owing to their laxed reporting requirements and corporate friendly laws). In reality, it's DuPont that is a state. The geography is rather unimportant. One is reminded of Henry Jackson, "the Senator from Boeing". Much business is as usual because our executive representation has only moved slightly from "the CEO President" to a walking Delaware corporation.

    Posted by: Kari Chisholm | Dec 26, 2009 1:14:45 PM

    OK, folks, that's enough. This is not a thread about global population growth, climate change, or religion. Stay on topic, please.

    But the felon ripping off the unemployed on t.a.'s thread isn't an issue. Rat monger. Hey, if you're going to let contributors "post and run", then let's have them say that up front? Kristin put the motivation perfectly, "since the responses don't really affect the point". That's fine if you want to make a speech. Call it a speech. Don't suck people in with "discussion", if you intend to take three questions and then walk out...while people are still having a discussion!

    It's funny when we talk about old media and new media, that old media are groveling after readers, while new media are contemptuous of them. Guess that goes with being the future.

    (From t.a.'s thread) Posted by: Charles brooks | Dec 27, 2009 2:24:26 AM

    I want to work online .. There are some thin if the legitimate work as a line there. Most are sites and marketing study for the site owner rich, not you. The only thing is true legitimacy Ebay, selling things you already own

    part time work (link)

  • mvymvy (unverified)
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    Federalism concerns the allocation of power between state governments and the national government. The National Popular Vote bill concerns how votes are tallied, not how much power state governments possess relative to the national government. The powers of state governments are neither increased nor decreased based on whether presidential electors are selected along the state boundary lines, along district lines (as is currently the case in Maine and Nebraska), or national lines.

  • mvymvy (unverified)
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    The small states are the most disadvantaged of all under the current system of electing the President. Political clout comes from being a closely divided battleground state, not the two-vote bonus.

    Small states are almost invariably non-competitive, and ignored, in presidential elections. Only 1 of the 13 smallest states are battleground states (and only 5 of the 25 smallest states are battlegrounds).

    Of the 13 smallest states, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Alaska regularly vote Republican, and Rhode Island, Delaware, Hawaii, Vermont, Maine, and DC regularly vote Democratic. These 12 states together contain 11 million people. Because of the two electoral-vote bonus that each state receives, the 12 non-competitive small states have 40 electoral votes. However, the two-vote bonus is an entirely illusory advantage to the small states. Ohio has 11 million people and has "only" 20 electoral votes. As we all know, the 11 million people in Ohio are the center of attention in presidential campaigns, while the 11 million people in the 12 non-competitive small states are utterly irrelevant. Nationwide election of the President would make each of the voters in the 12 smallest states as important as an Ohio voter.

  • mvymvy (unverified)
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    Most of the medium-small states (with five or six electoral votes) are similarly non-competitive in presidential elections (and therefore similarly disadvantaged). In fact, of the 22 medium-smallest states (those with three, four, five, or six electoral votes), only New Hampshire (with four electoral votes), New Mexico (five electoral votes), and Nevada (five electoral votes) have been battleground states in recent elections.

    Because so few of the 22 small and medium-small states are closely divided battleground states in presidential elections, the current system actually shifts power from voters in the small and medium-small states to voters in a handful of big states. The New York Times reported early in 2008 (May 11, 2008) that both major political parties were already in agreement that there would be at most 14 battleground states in 2008 (involving only 166 of the 538 electoral votes). In other words, three-quarters of the states were ignored under the current system in the 2008 election. Michigan (17 electoral votes), Ohio (20), Pennsylvania (21), and Florida (27) contain over half of the electoral votes that mattered in 2008 (85 of the 166 electoral votes). There were only three battleground states among the 22 small and medium-small states (i.e., New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Nevada). These three states contain only 14 of the 166 electoral votes. Anyone concerned about the relative power of big states and small states should realize that the current system shifts power from voters in the small and medium-small states to voters in a handful of big states.

  • mvymvy (unverified)
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    The 11 most populous states contain 56% of the population of the United States and a candidate would win the Presidency if 100% of the voters in these 11 states voted for one candidate. However, if anyone is concerned about the this theoretical possibility, it should be pointed out that, under the current system, a candidate could win the Presidency by winning a mere 51% of the vote in these same 11 states -- that is, a mere 26% of the nation's votes.

    Of course, the political reality is that the 11 largest states rarely act in concert on any political question. In terms of recent presidential elections, the 11 largest states include five "red states (Texas, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and Georgia) and six "blue" states (California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New Jersey). The fact is that the big states are just about as closely divided as the rest of the country. For example, among the four largest states, the two largest Republican states (Texas and Florida) generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Bush, while the two largest Democratic states generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Kerry.

    Moreover, the notion that any candidate could win 100% of the vote in one group of states and 0% in another group of states is far-fetched. Indeed, among the 11 most populous states, the highest levels of popular support were found in the following seven non-battleground states: Texas (62% Republican), New York (59% Democratic), Georgia (58% Republican), North Carolina (56% Republican), Illinois (55% Democratic), California (55% Democratic), and * New Jersey (53% Democratic).

    In addition, the margins generated by the nation's largest states are hardly overwhelming in relation to the 122,000,000 votes cast nationally. Among the 11 most populous states, the highest margins were the following seven non-battleground states: Texas -- 1,691,267 Republican New York -- 1,192,436 Democratic Georgia -- 544,634 Republican North Carolina -- 426,778 Republican Illinois -- 513,342 Democratic California -- 1,023,560 Democratic * New Jersey -- 211,826 Democratic

    To put these numbers in perspective, Oklahoma (7 electoral votes) alone generated a margin of 455,000 votes for Bush in 2004 -- larger than the margin generated by the 9th and 10th largest states, namely New Jersey and North Carolina (each with 15 electoral votes). Utah (5 electoral votes) alone generated a margin of 385,000 votes for Bush in 2004.

  • mvymvy (unverified)
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    A survey of 800 Oregon voters conducted on December 16-17, 2008 showed 76% overall support for a national popular vote for President.

    Support was 82% among Democrats, 70% among Republicans, and 72% among independents.

    By age, support was 67% among 18-29 year olds, 68% among 30-45 year olds, 82% among 46-65 year olds, and 76% for those older than 65.

    By gender, support was 81% among women and 71% among men.

    By race, support was 87% among whites (representing 89% of respondents), 59% among African-Americans (representing 3% of respondents), and 80% among Hispanics (representing 2% of respondents), and 69% among Others (representing 6% of respondents).

    see www.NationalPopularVote.com

  • mvymvy (unverified)
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    Under the current system of electing the President, presidential candidates concentrate their attention on a handful of closely divided "battleground" states. 98% of the 2008 campaign events involving a presidential or vice-presidential candidate occurred in just 15 closely divided "battleground" states. Over half (57%) of the events were in just four states (Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Virginia). Similarly, 98% of ad spending took place in these 15 "battleground" states. Similarly, in 2004, candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their money and campaign visits in five states and over 99% of their money in 16 states.
    Two-thirds of the states and people have been merely spectators to the presidential elections. Candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or worry about the voter concerns in states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind. The reason for this is the state-by-state winner-take-all rule enacted by 48 states, under which all of a state's electoral votes are awarded to the candidate who gets the most votes in each separate state.

    Another shortcoming of the current system is that a candidate can win the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide. This has occurred in one of every 14 presidential elections.

    In the past six decades, there have been six presidential elections in which a shift of a relatively small number of votes in one or two states would have elected (and, of course, in 2000, did elect) a presidential candidate who lost the popular vote nationwide.

  • mvymvy (unverified)
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    The National Popular Vote bill is currently endorsed by over 1,659 state legislators (in 48 states) who have sponsored and/or cast recorded votes in favor of the bill.

    In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state's electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). The recent Washington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University poll shows 72% support for direct nationwide election of the President. This national result is similar to recent polls in closely divided battleground states: Colorado-- 68%, Iowa --75%, Michigan-- 73%, Missouri-- 70%, New Hampshire-- 69%, Nevada-- 72%, New Mexico-- 76%, North Carolina-- 74%, Ohio-- 70%, Pennsylvania -- 78%, Virginia -- 74%, and Wisconsin -- 71%; in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): Delaware --75%, Maine -- 77%, Nebraska -- 74%, New Hampshire --69%, Nevada -- 72%, New Mexico -- 76%, Rhode Island -- 74%, and Vermont -- 75%; in Southern and border states: Arkansas --80%, Kentucky -- 80%, Mississippi --77%, Missouri -- 70%, North Carolina -- 74%, and Virginia -- 74%; and in other states polled: California -- 70%, Connecticut -- 74% , Massachusetts -- 73%, New York -- 79%, and Washington -- 77%.

    The National Popular Vote bill has passed 29 state legislative chambers, in 19 small, medium-small, medium, and large states, including one house in Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Oregon, and both houses in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. The bill has been enacted by Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, and Washington. These five states possess 61 electoral votes -- 23% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.

    See http://www.NationalPopularVote.com

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    WOW. Great discussion, everyone. I will digest it all later - going out to canvass very soon.

    Kari, one of my concerns is about the actual logistics and chronology of certification. If NPV went into effect, at what specific point does a state determine (and who in the state has responsibility of assessing) the outcome of the popular vote, and who is the national "authority" on the outcome the popular vote.

    If the vote is close, and there are even suspicions of voting abnormalities in one or more states, the NPV totals are suspect as well, and suddenly pact states are part of the feud, and certainly the certifications get thrown into a disarray.

    I'm in agreement that the curent system is at best problematic and outdated, but I'm still not convinced that we'd be trading off the bad for the little better.

  • enos733 (unverified)
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    Re: NPV

    If we went to a national popular vote (either by abolishing the electoral college or the plan), there are several questions that we need to consider.

    1) Who votes?

    Each state has different voter registration requirements - from none (North Dakota) to 30 day requirements. Some states allow felons to vote, others do not.

    2) When/How do people vote?

    Some states close their polls as early as 6 or 7 pm (Indiana) while New York closes at 9. Oregon and Washington vote by mail, while some other states have early voting periods. Also, voter ID laws vary....

    3) Who is on the ballot?

    Each state has different requirements for who is on the ballot (and New York allows for fusion). The 2000 ballot in Florida contains many candidates that Oregonians did not have a chance to vote for.

    In my opinion, if we want a national popular vote, then we need to have elections nationalized (and standardized), rather than have the states continue to administer elections and voter registration.

  • mvymvy (unverified)
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    the U.S. Constitution does not require that the election laws of all 50 states are identical in virtually every respect. The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment only restricts a given state in the manner it treats persons "within its jurisdiction." The Equal Protection Clause imposes no obligation on a given state concerning a "person" in another state who is not "within its [the first state's] jurisdiction." State election laws are not identical now nor is there anything in the National Popular Vote compact that would force them to become identical. Indeed, the U.S. Constitution specifically permits diversity of election laws among the states because it explicitly gives the states control over the conduct of presidential elections (article II) as well as congressional elections (article I). The fact is that the Founding Fathers and the U.S. Constitution permits states to conduct elections in varied ways.

    The National Popular Vote bill does not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

    It is important to note that neither the current system nor the National Popular Vote compact permits any state to get involved in judging the election returns of other states. Existing federal law (the "safe harbor" provision in section 5 of title 3 of the United States Code) specifies that a state's "final determination" of its presidential election returns is "conclusive"(if done in a timely manner and in accordance with laws that existed prior to Election Day).

    The National Popular Vote compact is patterned directly after existing federal law and requires each state to treat as "conclusive" each other state's "final determination" of its vote for President. No state has any power to examine or judge the presidential election returns of any other state under the National Popular Vote compact.

    Current federal law (Title 3, chapter 1, section 6 of the United States Code) requires the states to report the November popular vote numbers (the "canvas") in what is called a "Certificate of Ascertainment." You can see the Certificates of Ascertainment for all 50 states and the District of Columbia containing the official count of the popular vote at the NARA web site at http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/2004/certificates_of_ascertainment.html http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/2008/certificates-of-ascertainment.html

  • mvymvy (unverified)
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    The state-by-state winner-take-all system is not a firewall, but instead causes unnecessary fires.

    Under the current system, there are 51 separate vote pools in every presidential election. Thus, our nation's 56 presidential elections have really been 2,135 separate elections. This is the reason why there have been five seriously disputed counts in the nation's 56 presidential elections. The 51 separate pools regularly create artificial crises in elections in which the vote is not at all close on a nationwide basis, but close in particular states.

    A recount is not an unimaginable horror or logistical impossibility. A recount is a recognized contingency that is occasionally required (about once in 332 elections). All states routinely make arrangements for a recount in advance of every election. The personnel and resources necessary to conduct a recount are indigenous to each state. A state's ability to conduct a recount inside its own borders is unrelated to whether or not a recount may be occurring in another state.

    If anyone is genuinely concerned about the possibility of recounts, then a single national pool of votes is the way to drastically reduce the likelihood of recounts and eliminate the artificial crises produced by the current system.

    The U.S. Constitution, existing federal statutes, and independent state statutes guarantee "finality" in presidential elections long before the inauguration day in January. These constitutional provisions, statutes, and precedents apply equally to a presidential election conducted under the National Popular Vote legislation and an election conducted under the current system.

    The U.S. Constitution (Article II, section 1, clause 4) provides: "The Congress may determine the Time of chusing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States."[Spelling as per original]

    The common nationwide date for meeting of the Electoral College has been set by federal law as the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December.

    Under both the current system and the National Popular Vote approach, all counting, recounting, and judicial proceedings must be conducted so as to reach a "final determination" prior to the common nationwide date for the meeting of the Electoral College. In particular, the U.S. Supreme Court has made it clear that the states are expected to make their "final determination" six days before the Electoral College meets (the so-called "safe harbor" date established by section 5 of title 3 of the United States Code).

    In addition, in almost all states, state statutes already impose independent (typically earlier) deadlines for finalizing the count for the presidential election. The U.S. Supreme Court has also ruled that state election officials and the state judiciary must conduct counts and recounts in presidential elections within the confines of existing state election laws.

    It may be argued that the schedule established by the U.S. Constitution may sometimes rush the count (and possibly even create injustice). However, there can be no argument that this schedule exists in the U.S. Constitution, federal statutes, and state statutes; that this schedule guarantees "finality" prior to the meeting of the Electoral College in mid-December. This existing constitutional schedule would govern the National Popular Vote compact in exactly the same way that it governs elections under the current system.

  • LT (unverified)
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    A poll sample of 800 determines how all Oregonians vote?

    And let me bring up what Sec. of State Brown brings up in speeches, which is similar to what other Sec. of State around the country have said.

    How do you do a nationwide recount?

    It was 9 years ago that a presidential election was decided by the Supreme Court, partly because of debate over recount procedures.

    Kate Brown won an election by 7 votes after a recount. Al Franken became a US Senator after a recount.

    I was once a recount observer (end result: 330 votes statewide), and remember a 707 cong. dist. recount and a 60 vote state rep. recount. As I recall, Rep. Barker's first election was decided by a recount.

    This is a nice debate about theory.

    But unless the recount procedures in National Popular Vote are spelled out, there are going to be a lot of activists and others around the country who won't seriously consider the other aspects of the debate until recount procedures are addressed.

    Apparently the legal proceedings over the Ohio 2004 election are proceeding but one of the witnesses died in a plane crash. Investigations found different voting systems used in different Florida counties produced widely different results and error margins.

    Talking about poll results and the large state/small state issue (and is every state which is currently "red", "blue" or "purple" exactly the same color it was 5 years ago, 10 years ago?) and even talking about the rise of the independent voter does not address the recount issue.

  • mvymvy (unverified)
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    I'll try again . . .

    If the President were elected from a single nationwide pool of votes, one would expect a recount once in 332 elections, or once in 1,328 years. The fact is that recounts would be far less likely to occur under a national popular vote system than under the current state-by-state winner-take-all system (i.e., awarding all of a state's electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in each separate state).

    Based on a recent study of 7,645 statewide elections in the 26-year period from 1980 through 2006 by FairVote30, the probability of a recount is 1 in 332 elections (23 recounts in 7,645 elections). The average change in the margin of victory as a result of a recount was a mere 274 votes. The original outcome remained unchanged in over 90% of the recounts.

    Under the current winner-take-all system, there are 51 separate opportunities for recounts in every presidential election. Thus, our nation's 55 presidential elections have really been 2,084 separate state-level elections. There have been five seriously disputed counts in the nation's 55 presidential elections. The current system has repeatedly created artificial crises in which the vote has been extremely close in particular states, while not close on a nationwide basis. Note that five seriously disputed counts out of 2,084 is closely in line with the historically observed probability of 1 in 332.

    A national popular vote would reduce the probability of a recount from five instances in 55 presidential elections to one instance in 332 elections (that is, once in 1,328 years). In fact, the reduction would be even greater because a close result is less likely to occur as the size of the jurisdiction increases. Indeed, only two of the 23 recounts among the 7,645 statewide elections in the 26-year period from 1980 through 2006 were in big states.

    The 2000 presidential election was an artificial crisis created because of Bush's lead of 537 popular votes in Florida. Gore's nationwide lead was 537,179 popular votes (1,000 times larger). Given the miniscule number of votes that are changed by a typical recount (averaging only 274 votes), no one would have requested a recount or disputed the results in 2000 if the national popular vote had controlled the outcome.31 Indeed, no one (except perhaps almanac writers and trivia buffs) would have cared that one of the candidates happened to have a 537-vote margin in Florida.

    There was a recount, a court case, and a reversal of the original outcome in Hawaii in 1960. Kennedy ended up with a 115-vote margin in Hawaii in an election in which his nationwide margin was 118,574.

    Samuel Tilden's 3% lead in 1876 was a solid victory in terms of the national popular vote (equal to Bush's solid percentage lead in the 2004 election). However, an artificial crisis was created because of the razor-thin margin of 889 votes in South Carolina, 922 in Florida, and 4,807 in Louisiana. No one would have cared who received more votes in these closely divided states if the President had been elected by a nationwide popular vote.

    Critics of a national popular vote have argued that there could be an extremely close nationwide count in the future (and historical data indeed indicate that there would be one such extremely close election every 1,328 years). However, even in that rare situation, there would also be, almost inevitably, one or more states with razor-thin popular vote margins. Thus, such an election would also be controversial under the current system.

    It is important to note that the question of recounts comes to mind in connection with presidential elections only because the current system so frequently creates artificial crises and unnecessary disputes. No one was sitting at the edge of their chairs nervously awaiting recounts while watching the election returns from the 420 statewide races in November 2006. Consistent with the historically observed 1-in-332 probability, there was one statewide recount in 2006 (a race for state auditor in Vermont). Similarly, there was one statewide recount in 2004 (the governor's race in Washington state) and one statewide recount in 2008 (the U.S. Senate race in Minnesota).

    More importantly, the possibility of recounts should not even be a consideration in debating the merits of a national popular vote. No one has ever suggested that the possibility of a recount constitutes a valid reason why state governors or U.S. Senators, for example, should not be elected by a popular vote.

  • mvymvy (unverified)
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    A recount is not an unimaginable horror or a logistical impossibility. All states routinely make arrangements for a recount in advance of every election. A recount is a recognized contingency that is occasionally required in the course of conducting elections, and recounts do indeed occur about once in every 332 elections. The personnel and resources necessary to conduct a recount are indigenous to each state. A state's ability to conduct a recount inside its own borders is unrelated to whether a recount is occurring in another state.

  • mvymvy (unverified)
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    Poll since 1944, with many from 2008 and 2009, posted at http://nationalpopularvote.com/pages/polls.php -- broken out by political party, gender, and age -- consistently show more than 70% Support for a Nationwide Vote for President throughout the United States.

    Arkansas 2008 poll Arkansas-Missouri-Maine-Michigan 2005 poll California 2008 California 2007 poll Colorado 2008 poll Connecticut 2008 poll Connecticut 2009 poll Delaware 2008 poll Florida 2009 poll Idaho 2009 poll Iowa 2009 poll Kentucky 2008 poll Maine 2009 poll Massachusetts 2008 poll Michigan 2008 poll Minnesota 2009 poll Mississippi 2008 poll Missouri 2005 poll Nebraska 2008 poll Nevada 2008 poll New Hampshire 2008 poll New Mexico 2008 poll New York 2008 poll North Carolina 2008 poll Ohio 2008 poll Oklahoma 2009 poll Oregon 2008 poll Pennsylvania 2008 poll Rhode Island 2008 poll South Dakota 2009 poll Utah 2009 poll Vermont 2008 poll Virgina 2008 poll Washington 2009 poll Washington 2008 poll Wisconsin 2008 poll Washington Post 2007 national poll Gallup polls in 1944, 1977, and 1980

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    "...the possibility of recounts should not even be a consideration in debating the merits of a national popular vote. No one has ever suggested that the possibility of a recount constitutes a valid reason why state governors or U.S. Senators, for example, should not be elected by a popular vote.

    The possibility of recounts, as well as audits, and other challenges to election results are certainly among the thousands of factors to be considered before making significant and drastic changes to the existing system.

    NPV assumes the integrity of every state's election (and yes, it can be argued that the electoral college does as well). The reality is that while we have focused on Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004, tens of thousands of voting irregularities have occurred throughout the country in this decade alone. In 2004, over 54,000 citizen reported irregularities occurred in the general election. Problems have been reported in every state, with every type of machine and with down ballot elections as well as the top of the ticket. In 2008, while the use of the failure prone DRE has waned, 55 million American still voted on the touchscreen machines.

    These factors neither lend themselves to a pro argument nor an oppositional argument regarding NPV. But to diminish the possible impact of recounts and election result challenges on the logistics of the NPV system as proposed is a mistake.

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    It should be stated that this NPV effort is distinct from the Republican led effort (most notably in California, see "California Counts 2007") to change the electoral college so that a (blue) state would divvy up its electoral votes proportionally.

    Funny they never mentioned Texas....

  • Ricky (unverified)
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    Blue state voters moving to Red States is probably a good thing for the overall national picture. Now, why would Democrats be moving out of Blue States for Red States? Things like Measure 66 & 67 for one. Better schools, lower taxes, more job opportunities. Rather than wish for an additional blue congressional district in Oregon, we should be moving an entire district population to Red states. We are actually, but we just don't realize it yet.

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    One significant case to note took place in the FL 13 race of 2006. Republican Vern Buchanan "edged" Dem Chiristine Jennings by 369 votes, but at issue were a massive proportion of under votes at the top of the ballot, i.e., voters who cast votes for all races except the Buchanan-Jennings race.

    "A statistically improbable number of people in the pro-Jennings county--about 18,000 or 13 percent of all voters--failed to register a choice in the race. An undervote--as such failures are dubbed--seldom occurs in those numbers. While many people decide not to vote for any candidate in a race, high rates of undervoting usually happen only in the less publicized races. Voters fail to vote in major races generally far less than 5 percent of the time, according to voting experts."

    http://www.securityfocus.com/news/11433

    In other words, as many as 18,000 votes were "lost" in a single Rep. race. This is one isolated instance among thousands, both large and small, that still occur w/ regularity in US elections.

    Again, NPV is is not a bad idea, and the concept is certainly honorable. But it is not a panacea for our election systems woes.

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    Technology deleted the opening part of my last post:

    My comment is that while a state may not "interfere" with another state's electoral process, NPV assures that a state's delegation of Electors is depend on results from all states.

    I can only imagine the legal kerfuffle that would occur in pact states when a Presidential election is not only close, but suspect.

    We zeroed in on Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004 because those were key swing states in which massive voter irregularities were occurring. While NPV would diminish the impact of Florida/Ohio debacles, the thousands of other irregularities would factor in to a greater degree.

    Our problems are common & are not over - that's why I pulled out the Jennings case; it's one among many.

  • mvymvy (unverified)
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    Again, there could be an extremely close nationwide count in the future (and historical data indeed indicate that there would be one such extremely close election every 1,328 years). However, even in that rare situation, there would also be, almost inevitably, one or more states with razor-thin popular vote margins. Thus, such an election would also be controversial under the current system.

  • j. loewen (unverified)
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    I have no problem with not getting another representative for Oregon. It just means our population isn'y growing faster then the national average

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    Again, NPV is is not a bad idea, and the concept is certainly honorable. But it is not a panacea for our election systems woes.

    Did someone claim that it was?

  • Brig. Peri Brown, Purity Troll Brigade (unverified)
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    Well, I would say, "yes". I would claim it is. Fraud is a different matter. That a system is not well executed doesn't reflect on the system, just the executors. Corrupt politicos could corrupt any system. Yippee us! Taken apart from that, no on has given one decent reason why a rational system would not be NPV based!

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