If Obama or his challenger gets the most votes in the state of Pennsylvania, the winner gets all 23 of the state’s electoral votes. You only need 218, so it’s a whopping ten percent of your potential winnings.
However, the state is thinking of making each of the 23 districts separate, meaning that if there are ten districts that vote Republican, the GOP nominee will get those ten electoral votes. If Obama gets 15 of those districts, then he gets only those 15 electoral votes.
Why do we care about this? New York is almost never considered in-play, as the overall state almost always goes to the Democrats. But what if each district made a decision for president, and was counted separately? It would mean that people running for president would have to listen to people in Queens and Long Island, because those electoral votes are no longer taken for granted.
Both parties would have to work for these votes, with no more red states and blue states. States would only be kind of red and sort of blue. When was the last time a Democratic candidate spent a great deal of time in Kansas? When have Republican candidates really tried to get votes in Vermont or Connecticut? The downside of the current system is that there are regional issues that never really get exposed to people running for president, because the entire game is focused on about ten pivotal states.
Consider how the reputation for New York is to lean toward the Democrats. But in a one for one system, where each district counts, Suffolk County, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, and parts of upstate would all be in play. Now New York becomes a concern for both parties. Being a concern is good if you are a regular citizen, it is not so good if you are one of two people running for president.
Why have we not done this before? The problem is that incumbent members of Congress do not want presidential candidates traipsing through their districts. If you are a safe Republican in an upstate district, the last thing you want to see is Barack Obama and his giant presidential motorcade rolling through your town because you know he is going to endorse your challenger while he is in town.
The same is true for Democrats. If the GOP nominee becomes popular, an incumbent Democrat does not want all of this attention ruining a good thing. But what is better for the people? As the system stands right now, a presidential election concentrates on a few states that yield the most electoral bang for the buck.
There’s Drama in Queens…Again
Queens Republican politics will have a new leader, or maybe it will not. Who knows? It’s up to the courts, as Phil Ragusa, the current chair, tries to hold on to support against former councilman Tom Ognibene. The fact that anyone even wants this job should disqualify them.
What the chair of the Queens County Republican Party needs to do is develop candidates, preferably those who are energetic. A new chairman needs to have a plan to make serious challenges in marginal assembly and state senate districts. Hopefully, these court challenges will come to an end, the Board of Elections has to be getting tired of this.
The Generic Ballot
Barack Obama is trailing the generic Republican (the “anybody but Obama” candidate) by a margin of 46 to 38 percent according to Gallup. This means the president is actually tied with the eventual GOP candidate.
Once there is an official candidate for the Republicans there will be real negatives, and that 46 percent drops at least 5 points. Some, but not all of those five points, will head to Obama, so give him about 42 percent. Add a 3 percent margin of error, and you are not in bad shape if you are the president. He has a massive fundraising apparatus, an established organization, and Air Force I makes an impression when it lands…wherever.
When we look at the economic negatives, the president is in some trouble, however. The only way this carries over 18 months from now is if the Republicans can run someone who is trusted with economic issues, and that eliminates most of them.
Romney would give the GOP its best shot right now, but remember that he could be vulnerable in the usually reliable South. If Romney gets the nomination, the president will have to spend more money and time in states like Pennsylvania and Michigan, but Romney will have to work to win the Carolinas, something that is usually a given for the Republicans.
The great question might be how open is the conservative South to a Mormon candidate? It will be Romney’s job to explain that and make the campaign about issues.