Friday, December 09, 2011

Let's Have Some Love For Illinois

Edward McClelland at NBC Chicago's Ward Room is essentially arguing in favor of the National Popular Vote Compact:

It’s an agreement between states to moot the Electoral College by casting electoral votes for the candidate who wins the national popular vote. The compact would take effect once it’s ratified by states comprising 270 electoral votes. So far, nine states with 132 electoral votes have joined. They’re all reliable blue states that are usually ignored by candidates.

The Illinois General Assembly ratified the compact in 2008, and it was signed by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. It’s been seen as the Democratic Party’s revenge for the election of 2000, when Al Gore won the popular but lost in the Electoral College to George W. Bush. But the compact was supported by former Republican Gov. Jim Edgar, who pointed out that presidential candidates only visit Illinois for money. (The last big campaign event here was a 2000 rally for Gore in downtown Chicago.)

“When you govern, you remember particularly where you campaigned,” Edgar told the National Press Club. “You remember who you met when you campaigned. Today, for president, most of the states, most of the people are really ignored by the candidates, because they only concentrate on a few states. My home state of Illinois, we’re pretty much ignored, unless they drop in to Lake Forest to have a fundraiser. We have over 12 million people who are disenfranchised. That happens throughout America. In fact, most of the American people are left out of this process.”
They note that California and New York feels like ATM for Presidential candidates and they rarely get visits except for fundraisers. Perhaps they don't get visits from candidates because they're reliable blue states. If your state is a competitive state for both parties like Ohio or Florida are then I'm sure Presidential candidates pay attention to you. Noted by McClellan:
The Midwest is the battleground of American politics -- except for Illinois. Barack Obama actually used this to his advantage in 2008, by dispatching hometown volunteers to the swing states of Wisconsin, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, Iowa and Michigan. He won five out of six. Had the presidency been decided by popular vote, Obama would have kept his troops in Illinois, to squeeze as many votes as possible out of his home state.

We won’t always have a favorite son on the ticket, though. When we don’t, it will be nice to know that our votes matter.
If only we knew that Illinois was already a competitive state for both parties where the President knew he had to spend some human capital. Would 2008 have been different if he had?

I think I stumbled into another reason why this compact may not be a good idea. It's not about the popular vote or the electoral college it's about where the states generally lean politically. The onus should be on the opposition parties in each state to be strong enough to give the party in power a run for their own money.

I could talk about the situation in Illinois with the Republicans, but that's going to have to be written in another posting!

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