A Republican presidential candidate hasn’t carried Michigan since the first George Bush did it back in 1988, seven election cycles ago. And for the GOP, the future doesn’t look much brighter than the past. In the most recent election, Barack Obama carried the state and its 16 electoral votes by a comfortable margin of 9.5 percentage points.
So what’s a losing party to do? Field a better candidate? Develop a message that voters will find more compelling? Nah. Why do things the hard way when you can “fix” the system to your advantage legislatively?
As Reid Wilson explains in National Journal, Michigan Republicans are preparing to use their control of the state Legislature to change the way in which electoral votes are awarded in their state. Rather than use the traditional winner-take-all system, they propose to award electoral votes by congressional district.
What would that mean in practice? It would mean that in 2012, Obama would have won just seven of Michigan’s 16 electoral votes, even though he carried the state very easily. Mitt Romney would have won nine electoral votes even though he lost his native state convincingly.
How could that be? Because unlike state boundaries, boundaries of congressional districts can be gerrymandered to favor one party over another. In Michigan’s case, its congressional districts have been heavily gerrymandered to maximize GOP power and minimize Democratic power, and if you use those same boundaries to award electoral votes in a presidential race, you get that same distorted outcome.
Here's the scary part:
“If you did the calculation, you’d see a massive shift of electoral votes in states that are blue and fully [in] red control,” said one senior Republican taking an active role in pushing the proposal. “There’s no kind of autopsy and outreach that can grab us those electoral votes that quickly.”
The proposals, the senior GOP official said, are likely to come up in each state’s legislative session in 2013. Bills have been drafted, and legislators are talking to party bosses to craft strategy. Saul Anuzis, the former chairman of the Michigan Republican Party, has briefed Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and Chief of Staff Jeff Larson on his state’s proposal. The proposal “is not being met with the ‘We can’t do that’ answer. It’s being met with ‘I’ve already got a bill started,’ ” the official said.
LINKOverall, if the changes in question had been in place in all six states listed above, Romney probably would have won an additional 63 electoral votes. Add that to the 206 votes that he did win, and Romney has 269 votes, creating an electoral college tie with Obama.
That tie in turn would have thrown the race into the House of Representatives, where Republicans hold a narrow majority thanks in part to their success at gerrymandering.
Which means that Romney, having lost the popular vote by almost four percentage points and 4.7 million votes, would today be President-elect Romney.