Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sandy and the Popular Vote

Here's a hurricane election angle I haven't seen:

Other than swingy Virginia and New Hampshire, the areas hardest hit by Sandy are deep blue. From Maryland to Massachusetts, all states are safe at the presidential level, most congressional districts are expertly gerrymandered, and the only Senate race of note is in Massachusetts.

Suppose a couple hundred thousand, maybe half a million, voters in metro New York stay home. Won't flip any electoral votes or downballot races... but what about the national popular vote?

There's already buzz that the more likely split scenario is an Obama electoral college victory, fueled by narrow wins in big swing states, but a Romney popular vote win, driven by wide margins in deep red states. Today's odds from Super Genius Nate Silver:
  • Obama wins popular vote but loses electoral college 1.9%
  • Romney wins popular vote but loses electoral college 5.7%

Lower the vote total in some large blue disaster area states, and that scenario gets just a bit more likely.

In 2000, Democrats focused their complaints on the Florida process rather than on Gore's popular vote win. Would the 2012 version of the GOP be as accepting of an electoral college split result?

That's why your vote matters, even in a safe state. National popular vote could be very important to bragging rights and the legitimacy of the next president.

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