Since the Virginia GOP moved forward with its bill to allocate the state’s electoral votes by congressional district, there have been several great analyses of what effect this arrangement would have on a national level. At the Crystal Ball, for instance, Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz finds that if every state distributed electoral votes by congressional district, Mitt Romney would have won the presidency with 276 electoral votes, despite losing the popular vote by 4 points. If you adopted the exact provisions of the Virginia bill—which gives the state’s remaining electoral votes to the winner of the most districts, and not the winner of the popular vote—you’d have an even larger reversal. This map, from the Huffington Post, gives you a good sense of what the election would have looked like under these new rules:
If the rules had been in effect in the six largest battleground states—Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Florida, and Michigan—Obama would have won, but by the narrowest of margins. And these are the states where this plan is most likely to happen, on account of the fact they’re states controlled by Republicans where Democrats are clustered into just a few districts. Here’s the Center for American Progress with a nifty chart:
For as much as it sounds fair to allocate electoral votes by congressional district, the fact is it reduces representation by making land more important than votes. It takes all the problems of the Electoral College—which itself is malapportioned—and turns them up to 11.
The only way you could make this work without disenfranchising huge numbers of people is to create congressional districts that contain an even number of Democrats and Republicans. But of course, the point of this isn’t to create a new, workable way of distributing electoral votes; it’s to turn the electoral college into the House of Representatives writ large, which—thanks to gerrymandering—is rigged to deliver a Republican majority regardless of the total popular vote (Democrats won more congressional votes in 2012).
It’s worth reiterating a few points. First, a political party that seeks to rig the game is one that has given up on winning in the first place. The GOP shows no interest in reforming its policies or reaching out beyond a shrinking, right-wing base.
Second, another way to describe this plan is as a deliberate effort to reduce the voting strength of African Americans. Blacks vote out of proportion to their numbers in the population, providing Democrats a significant advantage in presidential elections. This scheme would weight rural voters over urban ones, which is another way of saying it would sharply reduce the value of nonwhite votes.
Finally, there is a lot of irony in the fact that—after two years of crowing over “voter fraud”—Republicans are now pushing a plan to rig elections through the mass disenfranchisement of voters who don’t vote for Republicans and don’t live in “real America.” Indeed, if there’s one surefire way of skewing elections, it’s to make some voters count more than others.