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Thousand Oaks

Failure To Launch...
by Tom McClintock [politician] 10/4/07

A Republican effort to apportion California’s electoral votes by congressional district looks like it is faltering, and that’s a very good thing.  The proposal is a classic example of the cynicism, defeatism and short-sightedness of many who are misguiding the GOP today.

Giving up on ever regaining a Republican majority in California, some party leaders apparently decided it would be clever to change the apportionment of the state’s electoral votes from its traditional winner-take-all rule to a process that assigns 53 of California’s 55 electoral votes by congressional district.  Instead of the Democrat nominee automatically taking all 55 votes, the Republican could take 20 or so votes.  What’s not to like?

Tom McClintock

Mr. McClintock is an expert on matters of the State budget and fiscal discipline. He is a Senator in the California State Legislature and ran for Governor in the 2003 recall election. His valuable website is found at http://www.carepublic.com/blog.html[McClintock index]

Here’s what’s not to like.  Congressional and legislative districts are apportioned not by voters or citizens, but by population – weighting the vote heavily toward urban districts with high concentrations of ineligible voters.  For example, in the 2004 Presidential election, 109,000 votes were cast in Loretta Sanchez’ heavily Democratic 47th Congressional District race, while more than twice that number, 277,000, were cast in Dana Rohrbacher’s  Republican 46th Congressional District.  Just 66,000 voters put Sanchez in Congress; 171,000 voted for Rohrbacher.

A voter in Sanchez’ district has more than twice the weight as a voter in Rohrbacher’s – in a congressional race.  In a statewide race, however, every vote has exactly the same weight.  That’s why Republicans have had far more success over the last 30 years in electing Republican governors than Republican legislatures.

So why in the world would Republicans want to replicate this heavy Democratic skew in presidential races?

True, if ONLY California did this it would mean a few more electoral votes for the Republican candidate WHEN the state went Democratic.  But if every state followed suit, the election of a Republican president would become much more difficult.

And there’s one other thing to consider: the Democrats only have carried California since GOP presidential candidates stopped contesting the state in 1992.  True, in 2004, George W. Bush would have received 20 of California’s 55 electoral votes (assuming the presidential vote mirrored the congressional vote).  But in Republican years it works more dramatically against Republicans: even though George H. W. Bush carried California in 1988, Dukakis would have snatched 27 of California’s (then) 47 electoral votes – a substantial majority – had this rule been in effect then.

Fortunately for the Republican rocket scientists who dreamed this one up, the Democrats’ knee-jerk opposition may have saved them from themselves.  Now, hopefully, they will turn their attention to actually contesting California again in an open battle of ideas, rather than relying on too-clever-by-half political schemes.   CRO






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