Re: Chafee and McKay Oppose Electoral College
The Linc Chafee quotation in Marc’s post illustrates why Chafee’s so infuriating. Not only does he stand apart from his party, but he does so for reasons that are either deceptive or, if principled, just plain foolish. (Personally, I think it’s the latter.)
By population, Rhode Island is 0.37% of the national total. By electoral college votes, Rhode Island is 0.74% of the national total. In a surface-level analysis, therefore, abolishing the college would halve Rhode Island’s electoral importance. But it’s worse than that.
Flattening the complexities of voter turnout, in an extremely close two-party race, the candidate who won a bare majority of the Rhode Island vote would claim about 0.37% of the minimum necessary to win the national popular vote. With the current system, on the other hand, that candidate gains 1.48% of the national minimum. In this scenario, Chafee’s suggestion would quarter Rhode Island’s importance.
The reason presidential candidates don’t “make an investment in Rhode Island” is their confidence that the state’s citizens will either vote for them (Democrats) or not (Republicans), by wide margins. Chafee, rather than hammering that point, is lamenting the fact that each state gets only one vote in the House in the event of an electoral college tie. In that case, Rhode Island would count for 2% of the total and about 4% of the minimum to win.
The conspiratorially minded among us might have reason to wonder whether Chafee isn’t in truth an extreme Republican partisan working beguilingly to limit the influence of New England liberals.