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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

August 23: Joni Ernst Offers Another Dumb Argument for the Electoral College

The more Republicans argue for maintaining the Electoral College, the more they tend to undermine their own positions. I wrote about an example this week at New York:

The case for the perpetual continuation of that grand anti-democratic institution, the Electoral College, is ancient and generally (as my college Eric Levitz definitively demonstrated earlier this year) threadbare. But it’s useful to blow up defenses for it one by one as they arise, with the latest being a remonstration by Senator Joni Ernst aimed at Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s arguments for abolishing the electoral dinosaur:

To state the most obvious issue, there’s something fundamentally stupid about the claim that giving voters everywhere the exact same power to elect a president is going to “silence” anyone. Besides, is voting for president the only way citizens can “voice” their opinions? What the hell is Joni Ernst doing in the U.S. Senate? Are her efforts just a waste of time unless presidential candidates are lusting after Iowa’s six electoral votes every four years?

Now it’s true that the “losers” — relatively speaking — in a shift from Electoral College to a popular-vote system would be closely contested “battleground states” that naturally attract candidate attention more than safely Democratic or Republican states. Presumably, Ernst thinks of Iowa as a battleground state, which it has indeed often been in recent years. But these things change. In the 2016 presidential election, Iowa was ten points more Republican than the nation as a whole. It was redder than Texas. Is Joni Ernst going to urge Iowans to tilt more Democratic so that the state remains a battleground, thus keeping their voice from being silenced? I don’t think so.

Generally speaking, Iowa needs the Electoral College to make sure presidents are aware of it about as much as the current president needs more self-esteem. Joni Ernst or whoever runs her Twitter account should take down that tweet before it really embarrasses her.

One comment on “August 23: Joni Ernst Offers Another Dumb Argument for the Electoral College

  1. Victor on

    The left needs to define a unified position on how to reform both the Senate and the Electoral College.

    The idea of giving bigger states more representation seems a lot harder to achieve than just proposing the election of national senators.

    For President the requirement should be a majority of both the Electoral College and the popular vote or there would be a second round. Alternatively instant run off could be used.


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