Shredding the Constitution piece by piece

I heard on Caplis & Silverman yesterday that Colorado’s legislature had voted to change the allocation of our electoral votes for president. It is not law yet, but all it takes is for Gov. Bill Ritter to sign it, and then for enough states to “trigger” it into effect. I’ll explain.

The law that was voted and passed by our legislature says that when enough states have passed the same law to create a majority of states that are abiding by the same rules (270 electoral votes), our state will commence to allocate its electoral votes in the next presidential election solely according to the national popular vote. In other words, if a majority of Coloradans vote for one presidential candidate, but the majority of people in the U.S. vote another way, Colorado will throw its support behind the national popular vote winner. Colorado will select the electors of the candidate who has won the national popular vote so they can cast their votes for him or her in the electoral college, in fact ignoring the majority vote of its own residents. The only way this action would agree with the sentiments of Coloradans was if we voted for the same candidates in the same proportion as the nation as a whole.

Five years ago there was a referendum on the ballot that would have allocated Colorado’s electors according to the popular vote in Colorado, divvying it up by congressional district, and having two at large votes. I liked the idea in principle, but the flaw in my opinion was a provision in the referendum that would have made it apply to the 2004 presidential election, right when the referendum was being voted on. I felt that violated the principle of passing no ex post facto laws, because it effectively changed “the rules of the game” after the fact. If I had to pick today between that referendum and this…shall I say…piece of crap, I’d pick the referendum any day of the week, because while I think it was badly crafted it at least had the principle of allocating our votes in a representative fashion for Colorado. The current proposal does nothing of the kind.

This is the first step in getting rid of the electoral college system established by the Founding Fathers of the U.S., which was intended to give electoral powers in presidential elections to individual states so that presidential candidates would be forced to pay attention to individual state interests. It is an element of federalism. It gives small states more power than they would have in a purely majority rule democratic system, and as we saw in 2000, on rare occasion it gives the minority an advantage, a principle that the Founders felt was valuable.

The Founders also felt uncomfortable with the idea of “mob rule”. When the Constitution was ratified the only national offices that were voted on by popular vote in the states were seats in the House of Representatives. Senators were chosen by the state governments. The House was supposed to represent the interests of the citizenry–the vox populi. The Senate was supposed to represent the interests of the states. I realize there have been various rationales put forward for getting rid of the electoral college in the past, but the Founders did not feel comfortable with the popular vote directly electing a president. They wanted an intermediary, electors, who would act on the voters’ behalf, and in their best interests. If for example electors came to know something about a presidential candidate that the public did not, which would impair their abilities in office, they might choose to vote for someone else, even though the voters in their state voted for the candidate. Even though this scenario has never happened to my knowledge, the Founders thought about it. They thought of the presidency as a powerful position in the country, and did not want “the passions of the day” to have an overbearing influence on it.

Beyond the legalistic and historical aspects of this, if this effort succeeds it will further solidify the power of the big cities, the urban areas on the national stage. It will trump the influence of states as their own entities in the presidential election. To name the top 10 population areas: New York City, NY.; Los Angeles, CA.; Chicago, IL.; Houston, TX.; Phoenix, AZ.; Philadelphia, PA.; San Antonio, TX.; San Diego, CA.; and San Jose, CA. What’s long been predicted is that if we do away with the electoral college (which this scheme will effectively do, even if not in fact), the country will dance to the tune of these big cities in future presidential elections, to the exclusion of everyone else. Of the biggest cities in the country, Denver, CO. is #26. In our existing system, Denver tends to dominate Colorado’s electoral vote, because it has a large concentration of the state’s population. In the proposed system Denver will lose that power, because cities like New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago will relegate Denver’s influence to that of a pipsqueak in the national discussion because its influence will have to be considered among all the other cities in the country, not just in Colorado.

The proponent of the bill, Colorado State House Rep. Andy Kerr, says that he believes in the principle of one man, one vote; and this bill, if it passes in enough states, accomplishes that. What he ignores is the influence of demographics, and that the electoral college system kind of limits demographic influence. A city’s influence is limited by its state boundaries. A collection of big cities doesn’t necessarily dominate the national discussion, because the state system limits their power. They can dominate their respective states, and even in the current system they tend to dominate in presidential elections, because they are the main population centers for their states, and the states they exist in carry a lot of influence. But there’s always the possibility that a collection of smaller, less influential states can act together to blunt their influence, because the electoral college system is not fully representative of a state’s size. Every state, no matter how small, gets at least 3 electoral votes. The proposal on the table does away with all of that.

One thing that interested me as I listened to Caplis & Silverman’s interview with Rep. Kerr on Tuesday was the use of the word “pact”, because the bill has a “trigger”: It only goes into effect when enough states pass the same bill to constitute 270 electoral votes. It is a tacit agreement among the states. From what I heard on the show, four other states have already passed the same bill. It reminded me of something in the Constitution, and I wondered if perhaps a legal case could be made against this proposal:

Section 10, clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution states:

No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.

Could this “trigger” provision in the proposal be considered unconstitutional? Any legal scholars want to take this up? I’d be interested in hearing about it. Besides this possibility, there’s nothing technically unconstitutional about what the state is doing. It’s been well established that the states can allocate their electoral votes however they’d like, though it is strange that Colorado would actually choose to throw away what little power it has. It does however violate the spirit of the Constitution. The Constitution is about “We The People”, but it is also about the states and their rights. I just wonder if they’re allowed to do this on a collective basis–“I’ll do it if you do it.”

I just think that the presidential votes of Coloradans should be represented by Colorado’s electoral vote in some fashion. Right now it’s winner-take-all, which is not as representative as I’d like, but it’s at least somewhat representative. I really don’t like the idea of Colorado throwing away its vote.

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11 Responses to Shredding the Constitution piece by piece

  1. susan says:

    The major shortcoming of the current system of electing the President is that 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 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.

  2. susan says:

    The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    Every vote would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections.

    The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes–that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    The Constitution gives every state the power to allocate its electoral votes for president, as well as to change state law on how those votes are awarded.

    The bill is currently endorsed by 1,246 state legislators — 460 sponsors (in 48 states) and an additional 786 legislators who have 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 — 71%, 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 — 73% , Massachusetts — 73%, New York — 79%, and Washington — 77%.

    The National Popular Vote bill has passed 25 state legislative chambers, including one house in Arkansas, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, and Washington, and both houses in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The bill has been enacted by Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, and Maryland. These four states possess 50 electoral votes — 19% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.

    See http://www.NationalPopularVote.com

  3. susan says:

    What the Founding Fathers said in the U.S. Constitution is “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors . . .” The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly characterized the authority of the state legislatures over the manner of awarding their electoral votes as “plenary” and “exclusive.”

    Neither of the two most important features of the current system of electing the President (namely, that the voters may vote and the winner-take-all rule) are in the U.S. Constitution. Neither was the choice of the Founders when they went back to their states to organize the nation’s first presidential election.

    There is no valid argument that the winner-take-all rule is entitled to any special deference based on history or the historical meaning of the words in the U.S. Constitution. The winner-take-all rule (i.e., awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in a particular state) is not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, the debates of the Constitutional Convention, or the Federalist Papers. The actions taken by the Founding Fathers in organizing the nation’s first presidential election in 1789 (in particular, the fact that only three states used the winner-take-all rule) make it clear that the Founding Fathers never gave their imprimatur to the winner-take-all rule.

    In 1789, in the nation’s first election, the people had no vote for President in most states, it was necessary to own a substantial amount of property in order to vote, and only 3 states used the winner-take-all rule. Since then, as a result of changes in state laws, the people have the right to vote for presidential electors in 100% of the states, there are no property requirements for voting in any state, and the winner-take-all rule is used by 48 of the 50 states.

    The normal process of effecting change in the method of electing the President is specified the U.S. Constitution, namely action by the state legislatures. This is how the current system was created, and this is the built-in method that the Constitution provides for making changes.

  4. susan says:

    The National Popular Vote plan is an interstate compact — a type of state law that is explicitly authorized by the U.S. Constitution that enables otherwise sovereign states to enter into legally enforceable contractual obligations with one another.

    Each state belongs to thousands of interstate compacts, including some compacts that have been enacted in the form of statute law by the state legislature and numerous additional compacts that have been entered into by various boards, commissions, authorities, and the executive branch under the authority of the state’s constitution or statutes. Examples of interstate compacts include the Colorado River Compact (allocating water among seven western states), the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (a two-state compact involving New York and New Jersey), the Multi-State Tax Compact, and the Multi-State Lottery Compact (which operates the Power Ball lotto game in 20-some states). There are numerous compacts that include all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Interstate compacts existed under the Articles of Confederation, and the U.S. Constitution explicitly continued compacts that were in existence under the Articles when the Constitution came into force.

    Interstate compacts are legally enforceable on the states because the U.S. Constitution requires a state to honor all commitments that it makes in an interstate compact. The Impairments Clause of the U.S. Constitution (Article I, section 10, clause 1) provides:
    “No State shall … pass any … Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts.”

    The Council of State Governments summarizes the nature of interstate compacts as follows:
    “Compacts are agreements between two or more states that bind them to the compacts’ provisions, just as a contract binds two or more parties in a business deal. As such, compacts are subject to the substantive principles of contract law and are protected by the constitutional prohibition against laws that impair the obligations of contracts (U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 10).

    “That means that compacting states are bound to observe the terms of their agreements, even if those terms are inconsistent with other state laws. In short, compacts between states are somewhat like treaties between nations. Compacts have the force and effect of statutory law (whether enacted by statute or not) and they take precedence over conflicting state laws, regardless of when those laws are enacted.

    “However, unlike treaties, compacts are not dependent solely upon the good will of the parties. Once enacted, compacts may not be unilaterally renounced by a member state, except as provided by the compacts themselves. Moreover, Congress and the courts can compel compliance with the terms of interstate compacts.”

  5. susan says:

    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.

  6. susan says:

    The people vote for President now in all 50 states and have done so in most states for 200 years.

    So, the issue raised by the National Popular Vote legislation is not about whether there will be “mob rule” in presidential elections, but whether the “mob” in a handful of closely divided battleground states, such as Florida, get disproportionate attention from presidential candidates, while the “mobs” of the vast majority of states are ignored. In 2004, candidates spent over two thirds of their visits and two-thirds of their money in just 6 states and 99% of their money in just 16 states, while ignoring the rest of the country.

    The current system does NOT provide some kind of check on the “mobs.” There have been 22,000 electoral votes cast since presidential elections became competitive (in 1796), and only 10 have been cast for someone other than the candidate nominated by the elector’s own political party. The electors are dedicated party activists who meet briefly in mid-December to cast their totally predictable votes in accordance with their pre-announced pledges.

  7. susan says:

    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 in presidential election. 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.

    The fact that the bonus of two electoral votes is an illusory benefit to the small states has been widely recognized by the small states for some time. In 1966, Delaware led a group of 12 predominantly low-population states (North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Kentucky, Florida, Pennsylvania) in suing New York in the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that New York’s use of winner-take-all effectively disenfranchised voters in their states. The Court declined to hear the case (presumably because of the well-established constitutional provision that the manner of awarding electoral votes is exclusively a state decision). Ironically, defendant New York is no longer a battleground state (as it was in the 1960s) and today suffers the very same disenfranchisement as the 12 non-competitive low-population states. A vote in New York is, today, equal to a vote in Wyoming–both are equally worthless and irrelevant in presidential elections.

    The concept of a national popular vote for President is far from being politically “radioactive”in small states, because the small states recognize they are the most disadvantaged group of states under the current system.

    In small states, the National Popular Vote bill already has been approved by a total of seven state legislative chambers, including one house in Maine and both houses in Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Vermont. It has been enacted by Hawaii.

  8. susan says:

    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.

  9. susan says:

    The 11 most populous states contain 56% of the population of the United States and that 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.

  10. susan says:

    When presidential candidates campaign to win the electoral votes of closely divided battleground states, such as in Ohio and Florida, the big cities in those battleground states do not receive all the attention, much less control the outcome. Cleveland and Miami certainly did not receive all the attention or control the outcome in Ohio and Florida in 2000 and 2004.

    Likewise, under a national popular vote, every vote everywhere will be equally important politically. There will be nothing special about a vote cast in a big city or big state. When every vote is equal, candidates of both parties will seek out voters in small, medium, and large towns throughout the states in order to win. A vote cast in a big city or state will be equal to a vote cast in a small state, town, or rural area.

    Another way to look at this is that there are approximately 300 million Americans. The population of the top five cities (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Philadelphia) is only 6% of the population of the United States and the population of the top 50 cities is only 19% of the population of the United States. Even if one makes the far-fetched assumption that a candidate could win 100% of the votes in the nation’s top five cities, he would only have won 6% of the national vote.

    Further evidence of the way a nationwide presidential campaign would be run comes from the way that national advertisers conduct nationwide sales campaigns. National advertisers seek out customers in small, medium, and large towns of every small, medium, and large state. National advertisers do not advertise only in big cities. Instead, they go after every single possible customer, regardless of where the customer is located. National advertisers do not write off Indiana or Illinois merely because their competitor has an 8% lead in sales in those states. And, a national advertiser with an 8%-edge over its competitor does not stop trying to make additional sales in Indiana or Illinois merely because they are in the lead.

  11. PIBoulder says:

    I’ve been away on a trip with little time or internet access, so this is the first opportunity I’ve had to respond to Susan’s comments.

    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.

    I wasn’t talking about whether the power of states is increased or decreased by changing the dynamic of presidential elections. I was talking about state interests, as in political interests. How would the interests of ranchers, farmers, or Indian tribes fare in the National Popular Vote system? Would they matter at all? Granted they probably don’t matter much now, but I think they’d matter much less in the system you propose.

    I don’t care if small states rarely get attention in presidential elections. They are after all small. In our current system the majority usually rules in presidential elections. On a few rare occasions it doesn’t. I think that’s fine.

    You have consistently argued that the majority should always rule in presidential elections. The Founders did not believe in this principle in general, nor did they believe in it specifically for electing a president. They believed it was healthy for the minority to win sometimes. A good example of this is the innumerable times in which a minority has thwarted the will of the majority by asserting their rights enumerated in the Constitution. The Founders wanted the people to express their will, because they thought it was important that the public be heard, but they did not want the public will to win out in every situation.

    The current system does NOT provide some kind of check on the “mobs.” There have been 22,000 electoral votes cast since presidential elections became competitive (in 1796), and only 10 have been cast for someone other than the candidate nominated by the elector’s own political party. The electors are dedicated party activists who meet briefly in mid-December to cast their totally predictable votes in accordance with their pre-announced pledges.

    How would you describe the election in 2000? This doesn’t relate to electors changing their votes, but indeed “the mob” (on a national scale, as I was referring to it) was checked in that election.

    Just because electors hardly ever change their votes doesn’t mean that it can never happen, as you acknowledge. A little known story is that in the election of 1992 several of Ross Perot’s chosen electors said after the election was over that given what they had seen of Perot’s behavior, if by chance he had managed to win 270 electoral votes, they would’ve voted against him, despite the penalties that would have been imposed on them for doing so. This may very well have thwarted the public will as expressed in the current system. This scenario did not occur, but it shows that what the Founders wanted to allow for was considered. Had Perot not withdrawn from the race it was widely acknowledged within the elite political class that Perot had a reasonable chance of getting enough electoral votes to win the presidency, making the scenario of electors changing their votes a reasonable possibility to ponder.

    When presidential candidates campaign to win the electoral votes of closely divided battleground states, such as in Ohio and Florida, the big cities in those battleground states do not receive all the attention, much less control the outcome. … The population of the top five cities (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Philadelphia) is only 6% of the population of the United States and the population of the top 50 cities is only 19% of the population of the United States. Even if one makes the far-fetched assumption that a candidate could win 100% of the votes in the nation’s top five cities, he would only have won 6% of the national vote.

    I’ll concede your point about the importance of the big cities (the top 10 big cities constitute about 8%). I disagree with you that presidential candidates are more likely to visit small cities in your proposed system. I think they will be less likely to do so than they are now. To win a state’s electoral votes, a presidential candidate needs to consider the population of that state as a whole, separate from the population of the whole country. This makes them a little more likely to consider visiting even small cities if the vote is close in a state, because it could make the difference between winning and losing that state. In a National Vote system I doubt this would happen unless the projected popular vote spread was within a few hundred-thousand points. How many times has that happened? Not often.

    In past elections I’ve seen presidential candidates visit small cities in Colorado, such as Boulder, Ft. Collins, and Grand Junction, either during the primary season or in the general election. The last two cities have had a population of under 100,000. Boulder used to have 100,000, but has since dropped below that. I doubt these cities would hold any value for a presidential candidate under a National Vote system, because they are so small compared to the larger whole. I imagine under your system they’d pay attention to Denver and its surrounding suburbs (Aurora, Arvada, Littleton, Englewood, Lakewood, etc.), and Colorado Springs, but that would be it. Why visit the smaller cities in the rest of the state if there’s a 1-10 million point spread in the national vote? It wouldn’t matter if the vote within Colorado itself was close. There would likely be “bigger fish in the sea” that would yield more votes for the candidates.

    I imagine that “nationalizing” the vote for president would make demographic analysis easier for pollsters because they could look at demographic groups as whole groups, spread over the whole country, rather than divided by state boundaries. From a marketing perspective presidential candidates will be even more likely to cater their campaigns to broad, large demographic categories like “soccer moms”. I realize they already do this, but I’m saying we would see a lot more of it. They will be able to appeal to more demographic categories, because some have been ignored in the current system, because their population is subdivided by state boundaries, and other smaller interests within those states have to be considered (this is my point).

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