Could The GOP Get Some California Love In 2008?

These poll results have to be a little scary for Democrats,

California voters are inclined to support a proposed ballot initiative that would change how the Golden State allocates its electoral votes in presidential campaigns, but they’re not yet sold on the idea, a Field Poll released today showed.

Currently, California employs a winner-take-all system that awards the state’s entire 55 electoral votes to the winner of the state’s popular vote.

Under the proposed measure, which could be on the June 2008 ballot, the presidential election would become, in essence, a congressional district-by-congressional district contest. The winner of the statewide popular vote would receive two electoral votes, but the remaining votes would go to the winner in each of the 53 congressional districts.

The proponents of the California ballot measure, largely Republicans, say such a change would make presidential elections more fair by more accurately reflecting the results of the popular vote. However, Democrats have railed against the proposal by charging that the measure is a Republican-driven effort to keep Democrats from capturing the White House.

If the proposal is adopted, analysts suggest that a Republican presidential candidate would get a boost because Democrats can no longer count on all 55 electoral votes from California, which has voted for Democratic candidates since 1988.

All but two states, Nebraska and Maine, give their electoral votes on a winner-take-all basis to the presidential candidate who wins the statewide popular vote.

The Field Poll found that 47 percent of registered voters back a change to California’s system for electoral votes, with 35 percent opposed. Republicans generally support the change more than Democrats.

When pollsters explained the political implication that Democratic presidential candidates might lose some electoral votes under a proportional system, the numbers changed: 49 percent supported the change and 42 percent opposed it. Opposition from Democrats and independent voters rose when the issue was put this way.

So, not only do Californians support this change 47% to 35%, even Democrats support it 49% to 42% after it’s explained to them that it makes it less likely that a Democratic President will be elected.

Quite frankly, that’s about as good of a starting spot as the people pushing this initiative could possibly hope to have — but still, you have to figure that the odds are against them. It’s a liberal state and you can be sure that the Left will pull out all the stops to try to make sure this ballot initiative fails.

Personally, although I would vote for this initiative if I lived in California and certainly think it’s constitutional, I’m not sure that I like the idea of playing these reindeer games with the electoral system, especially since they’re not going to occur across the board. If, let’s say, California, Texas, New York, Florida, etc., all split their votes up the same way, no problem, but I can’t say that I like the idea of having one political party or the other get a political advantage based on how many states they can convince to change the rules of the game in a way that favors them.

On the other hand, I don’t think there are a lot of liberals who’d have any sort of qualms about doing this sort of thing to the GOP in, let’s say, Texas, so it’s hard to get upset about the prospect of the GOP pulling in electoral votes at the expense of the Democrats — and, yes, it would at least get both parties campaigning in California during the 2008 election, so Californians would benefit from it.

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