If electoral votes were allocated by congressional districts instead of by state, it would have been President Mitt Romney delivering his inaugural address this week.
That’s why some Republicans want to change the system.
Virginia’s GOP-controlled Senate could vote as early as next week on a bill that would replace a winner-take-all system of allocating electoral votes to one based on results in individual congressional districts.
Similar efforts are being considered in Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Don’t expect North Carolina to follow suit, at least any time soon.
“I remain unconvinced that North Carolina’s winner-take-all system is not better,” state Rep. David Lewis of Harnett County, a member of the Republican National Committee, said Friday. “Any shift … would diminish North Carolina’s importance on the national stage.”
Lewis, who chairs the House Election Law committee, would have a prominent role in any election changes. Spokesmen for House Speaker Thom Tillis of Cornelius and Senate GOP leader Phil Berger of Eden said they’re unaware of any GOP lawmakers planning to push for such a change.
GOP National Chairman Reince Priebus of Wisconsin recently said the change is something that states that consistently vote Democratic but have Republican legislatures “ought to be looking at.” He was asked about it at the RNC meeting in Charlotte Friday.
“Personally I’m pretty intrigued by it,” he said.
Mapping a GOP victory
On Friday the Huffington Post published a map of what electoral results would look like had the congressional district scheme been in effect in 2012. President Obama, instead of winning 332 electoral votes, would have won 262.
Romney, instead of getting 206, would have won 273, three more than he would have needed for election.
But there’s reason for North Carolina Republicans to be cautious. If the district system had been in effect, Obama would have won three of the state’s electoral votes, not none.
A decade ago it was N.C. Democrats pushing for change.
At the time, the state had voted for a Republican in every presidential election since 1976. Democratic candidates were rarely seen. So Democrats, who controlled the legislature, authored a bill that would have awarded electoral votes based on congressional district results. It passed the Senate, but not the House.
Other efforts to change
Right now, only Maine and Nebraska apportion their electoral votes by congressional district. That there aren’t more states that follow suit isn’t for lack of trying.
Across the country, many states have seen efforts to change electoral laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In sessions following the controversial 2000 election alone, 25 states saw efforts to change to a system similar to Maine’s and Nebraska’s.
“I usually see a big uptick on legislation dealing with the electoral college the year after an election,” said Jennie Bowser, a senior fellow at the NCSL.
There is one change that has won support, she said.
Eight states – including California, Illinois and New Jersey – have joined the National Popular Vote Compact. That calls for states to award their electoral votes to the candidate who wins the national popular vote.
The change would be triggered when states totaling 270 electoral votes. So far, states that have joined have a total of 132.
A Gallup Poll this month found that 63 percent of Americans would just as soon get rid of the Electoral College.
David Lightman of the McClatchy Washington Bureau contributed.