Politics

What If Every State Had Used The District Method In 2008 ?

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As I’ve said in the past, I am generally in favor of reforming the Electoral College system so that states allocate their voters based on what’s come to be called the District Method.

Under this method, candidates get one Electoral Vote for each Congressional District that they win in a particular state and the candidate who receives the most votes state-wide gets two more Electoral Votes. That’s the system that has been in use in Maine and Nebraska for many years now and it received some attention last year when Barack Obama managed to win one of Nebraska’s Electoral Votes by winning in one Congressional District.

Now, Congressional Quarterly is out with a study that shows what would have happened if every state allocated their Electoral Votes in this manner:

What if the 2008 presidential election had been re-run using a district-based system of awarding electoral votes — used only in two states — instead of the winner-take-all method that every other state uses?

The answer is that Barack Obama still would have beaten John McCain , though the Electoral College tally would have been closer than the actual 365-173 margin of victory.

According to a CQ Politics analysis, Obama would have beaten McCain 301-237 using a district-based system, under which a candidate receives two electoral votes for winning a state and one electoral vote for every congressional district he or she wins. Only Maine and Nebraska allocate electoral votes in this fashion.

The analysis found that Obama won 242 districts and McCain won 193 districts. Obama also posted another 59 electoral votes by carrying 28 states and the District of Columbia, which is entitled to three electoral votes under the 23rd Amendment. McCain would have received another 44 electoral votes as a result of winning 22 states.

Not a major change in the outcome, of course, thanks to Obama’s lead in the popular vote, but it’s one that more accurately reflects how the election turned out nationwide.

And what if we’d done it in 2000 ?

Well here’s how I think it would’ve turned out:

  1. Bush won 228 Congressional District, while Al Gore won 207 (Source here), so we start out at Bush 228 Gore 207.
  2. Bush also won 30 states (if you include Florida) to Gore’s 20 + D.C., (Source here)which would give Bush an additional 60 Electoral Votes to Gore’s additional 43.

Thus, that would have given Bush a total of 288 Electoral Votes to Gore’s 250. And, if you did give Florida to Gore, assuming no shift in the district allocation, the total would have been Bush 286 Gore 252. There would have been no hanging chads, no Constitutional crisis, no Bush v. Gore.

Sounds like another reason we should consider adopting this nationwide.