NPV Would Not Make RI Any More “Relevant”

At least one motivation offered by local supporters of the the National Popular Vote compact, that NPV would lead to more attention for Rhode Island in Presidential elections, makes no sense at all.
George Will explained in a column from about a decade ago how there is no improvement in the relative importance of small states under NPV…

Were it not for electoral votes allocated winner-take-all, would candidates campaign in, say, West Virginia? In 1996 Bill Clinton decisively defeated Bob Dole there 52 percent to 37 percent. But that involved a margin of just 93,866 votes (327,812 to 233,946), a trivial amount compared to what can be harvested in large cities. However, for a 5-0 electoral vote sweep, West Virginia is worth a trip or two.
I also remember Will opining, following the 2000 Presidential election, that if the Bush campaign had had a rough idea about how things were likely to turn out that year, their best strategy for improving their odds under a popular vote scenario would have been to ramp up their turnout machine in the Houston metro area.
You could imagine a similar logic applying if the 2012 election were held under NPV rules, with the Barack Obama campaign deciding in the case of a close race not to seek extra votes in a smattering of small cities across the country, but to devote additional resources to getting every vote possible out of the President’s political base in Chicago.
The Houston metro area has about 6 million people in it, and the Chicago metro area has about 9.5 million, while Rhode Island has only 1 million people. There is no serious reason to believe that NPV will suddenly make Rhode Island any less “neglected” in Presidential elections, when NPV makes large urban areas into the places that provide the most efficient possibilities for increasing electoral margins.

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david c
david c
11 years ago

I completely agree. The effect would be to nationalize the election, not to make it more local.
The whole idea of NPV makes no sense to me at all, except for lawyers for whom the entire country becomes ripe for Florida-2000 challenges in a close election.

Monique
Editor
11 years ago

“At least one motivation offered by local supporters of the the National Popular Vote compact, that NPV would lead to more attention for Rhode Island in Presidential elections, makes no sense at all.”
No, it absolutely does not. In fact, one could make the case that the Electoral College (i.e., not a popular vote) was created most especially for Rhode Island.

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