Andy’s Blog: Ditch the Electoral College and the Red/Blue Divide!

A well-traveled email came through my computer today pretending to tout the secession of “blue” states from “red” given the propensity of those regions to elect one sort of presidential candidate over another. If the numbers this tidbit cites about which values reside in which states, it would be truly interesting. This stab at nose-thumbing the opposition (red) has been adapted to this last election, substituting a few recent victories, but, it’s the same general pattern as circulated at least four years ago. A little humor, perhaps. The figures are interesting.

Tolerant it’s not, but a real examination of all the states, like 2000, 2004, 2008 and the other night, shows once again that only our Electoral College could yield such a black-white, red-blue divide. In fact, all states are purple to one degree or another, and the margin of victory by either candidate so narrow as to make the Electoral College a joke in terms of how truly reflective it is of political suasion in a winner-take-all system. For one thing, a college should enlighten. This one merely confuses.

Check out some of the “red” states. The margin of popular victory in West Virginia alone was Romney 50.4, Obama 49.5. The state goes red. Never mind the nuance. This happens over and over, despite some states having much wider margins but where counties still went for the other guy. The states themselves are divided by counties with narrow margins.

The Electoral College is an archaic practice with no real relevance anymore, if it ever had any, in an era of technological and demographic reality. It provides none of the balance it was designed to because it disproportionately skews far too much power per capita to low-population states to be fair to the nation’s more populous regions – where needs are amplified by their numbers. Political influence should be proportionate to the need. It redistributes presidential campaigning to places that may need some attention, but certainly not the overwhelming resources poured into them at the expense of so many others who rarely, if ever, get a chance to view and hear the candidates.

Worst of all is the graphic divide imposed by the media-designed red-blue designation a decade or two past now dictating our descriptions of every state’s leanings – not the raw reality. The red/blue blocs are an utterly inaccurate rendering of each state’s own uneven mix of party preferences when the vote is broken down into sub-regions – usually counties. But, it’s all too convenient for us in the media to describe each state as either red or blue. Until we rid ourselves of this unity-destructive device for electing presidents and designating party preferences, we will do little more than reinforce those divisions we claim to abhor.

The Electoral College must go – and quickly, starting now. It does no good to wait another four years to lodge these same complaints over the results of a recent presidential election. The bill should go forward as soon as the next Congress assembles.