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Leading Off:

Electoral College: Well, the Virginia state Senate is already at it again. Just two days after their underhanded maneuvering to force through a new, mid-decade redistricting plan, Republicans in the chamber began advancing a bill that would award the state's electoral votes by congressional district. According to Daily Kos Elections' analysis, Mitt Romney won seven districts in Virginia versus four for Barack Obama, even though the president carried the state (and all 13 of its EVs) by four percent last year.

Even more dastardly, from the text of the legislation, it appears that the two "extra" electoral votes (which correspond to the state's U.S. senators) would go to whomever won the most CDs, not the overall winner of the statewide popular vote (as is currently the case in Maine and Nebraska). That means Romney would have nabbed nine EVs versus just four for Obama. Democracy! The only good news is that one Republican senator, Jill Holtzman Vogel, sided against abstained from voting for the legislation in a subcommittee vote. While the measure is still likely to head to the Senate floor for a full vote, if Holtzman continues to defect (or any other Republican joins her), the scheme is doomed, since the chamber is evenly divided between the two parties.

Still, I would never want to place any faith in the GOP doing the right thing. And ultimately, I think community member Chachy summed up this chilling development best:

Imagine the 2016 campaign unfolding with Nate Silver putting up posts about how the Democrat could only get 270 EVs if they won the national vote by, say, 4%? And even if they were favored in Virginia and Pennsylvania and Ohio and Wisconsin...? The whole campaign would be tinged by futility. It really would amount to a repeal of the popular election of presidents.

How would the public react to that? How would the media react? It would approach the level of constitutional crisis, and is the sort of thing which, I really think, would have the potential to unravel our system of government.

It's also worth considering that all but one Republican member of that committee is willing to take this risk.

Really stark—and really sobering.

Senate:

NJ-Sen: Quinnipiac is the latest pollster to show Newark Mayor Cory Booker beating Sen. Frank Lautenberg in a hypothetical primary, this time by a margin of 51-30. That's less brutal for the incumbent than the 59-22 Booker edge PPP saw in November, but roughly in line (at least in terms of the spread) with FDU's 42-40 lead for Booker earlier this month.

Meanwhile, a separate new poll from Merriman River, for the pro-Booker group PowerPAC, more or less splits the difference, putting Booker ahead 48-21. After harping on voter concerns about Lautenberg's age, they also test a multi-way affair in the event he retires. In this four-candidate scenario, Booker still dominates with 48, while Rep. Rob Andrews takes 10, Rep. Frank Pallone 8, and state Senate President Stephen Sweeney 6, with 28 percent undecided.

And speaking of Sweeney, he just confirmed that he is indeed also looking at a Senate bid; previously, he'd only publicly mooted this year's gubernatorial race, but he's always seemed very unlikely to pull the trigger.

WV-Sen: The new Republican kid on the pollster block, Harper Polling, is offering up their first-ever horserace numbers, in this case, for West Virginia. They have results for both some hypothetical primary matchups, as well as potential general election head-to-heads, all to the hundredths of a percent (extra accurate!). The writeups come complete with snarky comments and pie charts with color coding that makes as much sense as my dad's iconoclastic sock pairings.

In any event, on the GOP side, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito takes over 70 percent in separate pairings against Rep. David McKinley (who's already ruled out a run) and brand-new ultraconservative state AG Patrick Morrisey. In a three-way Dem affair, Rep. Nick Rahall leads with 38 percent while state Supreme Court Justice Robin Davis takes 17 and ex-Sen. Carte Goodwin just 8. As for the direct matchups, Capito beats Rahall 50-32, Goodwin 53-28, and Davis 51-24.

P.S. On a methodological note, does anyone else have issues with this ideology question: "On political issues, do you consider yourself to be Very Conservative, Somewhat Conservative, Moderate or Liberal"? I realize this is West Virginia, but two conservative options versus just one liberal choice? Hrm. Harper also wound up with a sample that was just 9 percent liberal; even in 2010, WV voters clocked in at 15 percent liberal (and 18 percent in 2008).

Gubernatorial:

MN-Gov: Al Franken isn't the only Minnesota Democrat who looks like he's in good shape for re-election: Gov. Mark Dayton starts off 2013 in strong form, too, according to PPP. With 53-39 approval ratings, Dayton leads a variety of potential GOP contenders by wide margins:

• 50-42 vs. ex-Gov. Tim Pawlenty

• 52-39 vs. ex-Sen. Norm Coleman

• 52-29 vs. state Rep. Kurt Zellers

• 53-30 vs. ex-state Rep. Keith Downey

• 53-29 vs. Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson

• 52-27 vs. state Sen. Julie Rosen

T-Paw's already said he won't run, so I suspect PPP included him simply to discern the GOP's high-water mark—and it ain't all that high. What's interesting is that Dayton secures a healthy 52-53 percent against all comers, whether they are well-known (and disliked) like Norm Coleman with his 35-43 favorability rating, or unknown (like everyone else).

And if Coleman wants his party's nomination, as Tom Jensen says, it's probably his for the taking. In a hypothetical GOP primary with all the names listed above, ol' Pruneface takes 57 percent, with no one else even registering over 5. While I'd guess Dayton would prefer to face a relative Some Dude who lacks Coleman's access to national donors, he has to be feeling pretty good about the fact that he begins the race in a solid position against even his strongest hypothetical opponent.

NJ-Gov: Quinnipiac also has some fresh gubernatorial numbers, but they're still just as brutal for Democrats as they and every other pollster have found since Hurricane Sandy. Click through if you need to directly experience how painful Chris Christie's 30-to-40-point leads over Stephen Sweeney, Richard Codey, and Barbara Buono actually are.

VT-Gov: Considering he retired voluntarily several years ago, I never imagined ex-Gov. Jim Douglas would be interested in running for office again. But the Vermont GOP has no bench, so his name keeps popping up, particularly since the state elects its governor every two years rather than every four. (Next-door neighbor New Hampshire is the only other state that still does it that way.) And indeed, Douglas confirms once more that he's not making a statewide bid this cycle.

House:

CA-17: It's easy to conclude that Ro Khanna made a major miscalculation last year. The former Obama official raised a million bucks for a possible run in California's 15th District almost overnight ... but then opted to bide his time, perhaps waiting for veteran Dem Pete Stark to retire. But Dublin city councilor Eric Swalwell's insurgent campaign wrecked those plans with his stunning upset of Stark—and at just 32 years of age, Swalwell (also a Democrat) definitely isn't going anywhere any time soon. So what are Khanna and his huge FEC account to do?

Well, the San Francisco Chronicle's Carla Marinucci suggests that Khanna might shift his gaze one district to the south, to CA-17—something he explicitly did not rule out when asked. The 17th, though, is occupied by six-term Dem Rep. Mike Honda, and he certainly would be no pushover. In fact, I can't imagine he'd be an easier target than Swalwell: As Marinucci points out, he's the party's senior whip in the House, and he's also a member of the powerful Appropriations Committee. Yes, Khanna has friends in very high places, like Nancy Pelosi, but would they really turn against Honda?

It's hard to picture, so Marinucci hints at one more (purely rumorsville) scenario: Honda, who is 71, could get tapped for a post in the Obama administration, which would of course free up his seat. But the last time Khanna sat around waiting for senior Democrats to play out their chess games, he got upstaged by a younger, hungrier politico. He may not be so eager to cool his heels much longer, lest something similar happen again.

IA-03: The DCCC reportedly feted three potential 2014 recruits at an Inauguration Day luncheon earlier this week; two of them we've mentioned before (Andrew Romanoff in Colorado and Erin Bilbray-Kohn in Nevada), but a third name is new to us: Iowa businessman Michael Sherzan. He's a top executive at an investment firm called Broker Dealer Financial Services Corp., so I'm guessing he probably has some personal wealth and also ought to be pretty well-connected. GOP Rep. Tom Latham performed very well last year, but Obama carried Iowa's 3rd by a 51-47 margin; with a stronger opponent this cycle, he should be a top target for Democrats.

MO-08: Local Democrats will pick their candidate this weekend for the June 4 special election to replace ex-Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, who officially resigned on Tuesday. Republicans, meanwhile, are supposed to choose a nominee within two weeks of the vacancy's creation. This dark-red seat (even Todd Akin carried it last year) is an all-but-certain GOP hold.

Other Races:

TX-St. Sen: On Wednesday, Texas state senators drew lots to determine which members would serve two-year terms and which would serve four—an unusual process necessitated by the way the state conducts decennial redistricting. Why is that? Well, ordinarily, senators are elected in staggered fashion, with half the chamber up every two years. But in order to avoid problems that plague states like California, where some citizens literally go without representation for two years each decade, all senators are up for re-election following the drawing of new maps. To return to their standard staggered system, lots are then drawn as described above; those who get stuck with two-year terms have to run again for a full four-year term in 2014.

A full list of who lucked out and who didn't is available here. The most prominent name on the short-straw list belongs to Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis, who will now be up for re-election in 2014 (and sounds like she intends to run again). That means she won't be able to run statewide, and it also means Davis, who was first elected in 2008 and re-elected in 2012, will now have to go before voters in midterm years. Both of Davis's victories in this difficult district came by narrow margins, so her prospects will likely be even tougher without presidential turnout to motivate Democratic-leaning voters. But she's a dedicated fighter and one of the most prominent Democrats in Texas. If anyone can pull it off, she can.

Grab Bag:

NYC: Well, this would be interesting. City-wide primaries in New York City have traditionally been cockamamie affairs not just because they are held so late (September) but because they also require expensive, low-turnout runoffs two weeks later if no candidate gets more than 40 percent of the vote. While the runoffs were originally well-intentioned (you can read about their genesis here), staging three elections in the space of two months is obviously an absurdity. Even the epically dysfunctional, banana republican NYC Board of Elections is finally acknowledging reality and has begged the legislature to move the primary up to June.

But the even-more-lunatic legislature has refused to accommodate this request—no surprise, seeing as they insisted on having two separate primaries last year, after a judge forced the state to conduct federal primaries in June. (In a colossal waste, legislative primaries still took place in September.) So now the city board, confronted with yet another September election, is thinking outside the box: They're considering adopting instant-runoff voting for the primary. That would be a big change, and probably cause some confusion, but it would be a major improvement over the current state of affairs. And for that reason, I'm holding out very little hope that IRV actually gets implemented.

VA Redistricting: Here's some interesting backstory to Virginia Republicans' re-redistricting plan for the state Senate, which shows you just how dastardly they behaved. All party-line votes (as this was sure to be) in the evenly-divided chamber require Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling to break ties, but Bolling, who lately has grown very alienated from his party, told GOP leaders he wasn't on board with their scheme. So Republicans deliberately waited until one Democrat was absent, giving them a momentary 20-19 edge. That happened on Monday, when civil rights hero and state Sen. Henry Marsh traveled just two hours north to Washington, DC to witness President Obama's second inauguration.

And in public comments since, Bolling has been very negative toward his colleagues. Through a spokesperson, Bolling says he has "grave concerns about the adoption of a revised redistricting plan at this point in the process, and it is not something that he supported" and adds that these kinds of legislative shenanigans "could set a dangerous precedent for future redistricting actions." Bolling has definitely gone rogue at this point, so that sounds like he'd pretty much have been a "no" to me—and that's exactly why the GOP made sure to go around him. If Republicans were looking for ways to avoid alienating Bolling further and dissuade him from an independent gubernatorial bid this year, they sure as hell screwed that one up.

Votes: I'm not seeing a lot of patterns in Wednesday's roll call to eliminate the debt ceiling for the next three months, which passed by a wide 285-144 majority but saw 33 Republicans vote "no" and 86 Democrats vote "yes." There are plenty of your usual dystopian crazies among the GOP dissenters (Justin Amash, Michele Bachmann), but also some folks in much more moderate districts (Joe Heck, Pete King). The Dem ayes seem to include a lot of freshman and/or more vulnerable members, but when you're talking about over 40 percent of the caucus, it's harder to identify clear trends. However, Xenocrypt suggests that more liberal members tended to vote against, something confirmed by VoteView.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 05:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Virginia Kos and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Another blessing is that (20+ / 0-)

    the bill, were it passed and signed, would have to undergo Justice Department review since Virginia is among the states covered by the Voting Rights Act.  I think its outcome would be in some jeopardy since the apparent attempt of the bill is to marginalize the votes of minorities.  It is possible that this bill will get the Republicans nothing but terrible press, but it's hard to see this as anything other than a dagger pressed against the heart of the Republic.

  •  Michael Brodkorp (0+ / 0-)

    He was the former aid that had an affair with former Senate majority leader Amy Koch, costing both of them their jobs. His subsequent lawsuits have cost the party millions if dollars, and was a major contributor to the current financial woes. He was driving drunk last night and got into a 1-car crash and is currently in critical condition. My thoughts are with him and his family

  •  The VA plan could actually end up hurting the GOP (11+ / 0-)

    in more ways than just a PR debacle. VA is still very swingy. It's hardly a sure thing in 2016 that it will be blue. Say the Republican candidate wins the state in 2016. If the election is close, 4 electoral votes could make a difference. Say the Democrat loses Florida, Ohio, Iowa, and Virginia (overall) in 2016 and holds all other Obama states. The Democrat would have 270 assuming Virginia's 4 blue electoral votes. Had this been the system in 2000, Al Gore would have been the president no matter what happened in Florida.

  •  A repeat from yesterday for one approach, though (9+ / 0-)

    I consider it last ditch and weaker than I'd like confronting this grab in some states. The previous comment boiled down:

    The CD scheme as well as the Virginia Senate grab in state elections on inaugural day boils down to a last ditch rural cling to power in the face of urbanizing population shifts. In Virginia it is NOVA, Hampton and some majority AA counties against the rest of small town/rural Virginia. Similar situations are in other states with these TP/GOP schemes.

    If Obama/national voters, the ones that turn out in the presidential and, in Virginia's case even the mid-terms, turn out for state elections they can dominate all statewide vote offices. That means that if we can use this and other such underhanded schemes to mobilize those voters, as voter suppression may have in some states last fall, the dream of Republican governor candidates is a pipe dream.

    We need to work that hard now. We need to implement it in every way we can if some of these schemes go into effect. The result may be some loses due to the schemes, but denial of statewide office to these jackasses until we can reverse the things.

    The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

    by pelagicray on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 05:54:19 AM PST

    •  I am hoping the Democrats (6+ / 0-)

      are formulating a strategy to target reddish blue states in the mid-terms to take back the State House and legislatures.  I think the Republicans' strategy in 2010 was well-conceived.

    •  The disaster that Dems had in 2010 can't happen (13+ / 0-)

      again. These non-presidential year elections are too important for Democratic-leaning voters to sit out.

      Dems need to be working now - not just on registration and turnout efforts - but to get IDs in the hands of voters that need them. Too many of the states with new GOP legislatures are passing voter ID requirements. Like it or not, Dems need to be helping our voters deal with that.

      Filibuster reform now. No more Gentleman's agreements.

      by bear83 on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 06:12:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The right has been organizing at the local level (9+ / 0-)

        Years ago the right realized that their path to sustainable power was the courts and local elections.  They have been working for the last couple of decades to take over school boards, city councils and legislatures while the Democrats focused on national elections and to pack the Federal courts with young, right-wing judges.  The right wing in this country is well-funded and they play the long game.  2010 was the perfect storm for them: a bad economy, off-year elections, a motivated base and a census year.  

        Obama has an grass-roots organization that if put to work can go a long way to countering all this.  He didn't use it in 2010.  He has to in 2014.  Taking back at least one house in each of the mid-west states should be priority one.  In states that pass these apportionment plans where there are voter initiatives or voter repeal options there should be an effort to use them to reverse the laws.  This is serious stuff and the response should be as well.

        The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones! - John Maynard Keynes

        by Do Something on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 07:11:37 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  This was the reason for wounding the unions, (8+ / 0-)

          breaking up their organizational structure.  Fighting their money and long game strategies requires guerilla tactics.

          Building a better America with activism, cooperation, ingenuity and snacks.

          by judyms9 on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 07:30:36 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Yes to all the comments on my comment here, but (0+ / 0-)

          you also bring up something that needs to be considered in all states with a blue majority and a red district map designed to disenfranchise the majority—usually urbanites and minority concentrations.

          Virginia has no provision, in fact makes it almost impossible for even such a majority to push through an amendment.* Those in other states where a popular process can put an amendment to a vote or at least force one through a legislature need to work to amend their constitutions prohibiting such gerrymandering and electoral vote shenanigans. Push for a non-partisan process to create geographically coherent districts while respecting urban areas and minorities, i.e., neither bundling them in one hapless district nor carving them up into insignificant voting bits. At the least, the electoral vote should be state majority winner take all with provision for the national popular vote idea awaiting trigger in some states.

          * Here is one description of Virginia's arcane process that virtually makes it impossible for a caged majority to push a constitutional amendment, my emphasis:

          First a Senator and/or Delegate must introduce a bill (in the form of a resolution) with the wording of the amendment.  The resolution goes through the standard process of other bills/referendums in the General Assembly – discussed and voted on in a committee (and sometimes a subcommittee) and on the floor.  If it is passed by one house then it goes to the other house and goes through the same process.  It is has to pass by a majority.
          After the first year
          (2005), the resolution must go through the same process (committee and floor vote by both Senate and House) the following year (2006) and be approved in EXACTLY the same form; not even a comma can be changed.  Also in the second year, a separate bill is introduced that lists word-for-word what will actually be on the ballot.  The entire wording of the proposed amendment does not have to be on the ballot for voters to see, and for this amendment the original bill only addressed part of it, but opponents of the amendment were successful in getting the exact language in its entirety on the ballot.    
          So now it goes on the November ballot where a majority of the voters must vote for the measure for it to be approved.  If this happens, the Virginia Constitution is amended.
          So, it is evident from the two year complete legislative process, passing an extreme exact copy twice in successive years and a two bill process in the second until it goes to voters that Virginia 1971 constitution writers had no intention to really let "the people" have much to say. After the card sharp shenanigans of Virginia Republicans in gerrymandering and midnight redistricting, to the distinct disadvantage of that "blue majority" seen several times, we have little chance of such an amendment in the near future.

          The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

          by pelagicray on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 04:33:54 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  I am ready to work hard here in Virginia.... (12+ / 0-)

      ....I live in the Richmond area (Mechanicville) and am fired up to register tons of new voters, knock on doors, make phone calls, etc. to turn out an unprecedented number of Democratic voters this election season.

      If Not Us, Who,..... If Not Now, When?

      by VirginiaBlue on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 07:03:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is truly frightening (9+ / 0-)

    2010 continues to be an epic disaster. God damn, we cant sit out 2014!

  •  I'm actually thinking this would be the thing that (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MRobDC, BKGyptian89, bartcopfan

    will break the electoral college system for good. Long term, that's actually a good thing. I'd love to see a Republican get elected with 47% of the popular vote but win the electoral college in a bunch of states where he lost the statewide popular vote. It would fully deligitimize the electoral college and ultimately lead to the state compact on the popular vote.

  •  not sure the ev stealing will happen (8+ / 0-)

    It makes no sense for Ohio, Va and Florida to try to deny the electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote since the republican candidate could win these states in a presidential election if they have a decent candidate.
    Obama drove high turnout among minorities the last two elections. Even Wi could go republican. The only states where stealing EV make sense is Pa and Mi but any state that pullls this stunt is going to end up with a democratic governor for sure in 2014.

    •  That is worth remembering... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LordMike

      ...since it's an even stronger reason for Republicans to have second thoughts than the currently (and rightly) invoked reason, which is that it would spur Democratic turnout.  Republicans in OH, PA, VA, and other states where they are considering this crazy scheme continue to believe they can win their states outright.  So while in the real world, and in a static analysis (rightly contested by the spurs-Dem-turnout argument), the scheme would benefit Republicans, if you live in Republican fantasy world the scheme would actually hurt them.  Yay fantasy world!

      You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

      by Rich in PA on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 06:55:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think this makes sense. (0+ / 0-)

      As much as folks want to think there is a Democratic wave, the reality is that the presidential race is basically a crapshoot, the Senate could easily end up with a Republican majority because of its unrepresentative system of 2 reps from each state, and the House gerrymandered to favor Republicans.

      They are off the rails messing around like this.

  •  Republicans don't respect the law... (6+ / 0-)

    ...but I think some of them might be worried about the Law of Unintended Consequences.  Not of the civil-war sort (Virginia Republicans love civil war, at least that old one), but of the "mobilize your adversaries" sort.  The last thing Republican incumbents want is for Dem-leaning demographics in their district to feel they had a compelling need to get out and vote.

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 06:50:08 AM PST

  •  Demographics are changing quickly. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BKGyptian89, desmoinesdem

    Unless the GOP can get more than one or two swing states to switch to CD electoral vote distribution, this will not help them all that much. The likelihood of PA, OH, WI, MI and VA all changing to this is actually pretty slim. This will not be popular with voters or the local media and all of the Republican governors in these states (except VA) already face really tough reelection campaigns next year.

    Let's not let 2014 be anything like 2010. Republicans only win when we stay home!

    by Tim D M on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 06:55:52 AM PST

  •  Re: VA, redistricting, and messing with the EVs... (6+ / 0-)

    We scream when the Russian, Chinese, Egyptian, Syrian, North Korean, and many other "elections" are messed with and votes are destroyed or stolen.

    It happens here, and a certain element waves the flag...

    Meh. GOP/TPers.

    Ugh. --UB.

    "Daddy, every time a bell rings, a Libertaria­n picks up his Pan Am tickets for the Libertaria­n Paradise of East Somalia!"

    by unclebucky on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 06:55:59 AM PST

  •  Disgusting, Beyond the Pale..... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pengiep, cybersaur, mali muso

    .....Boy! Do I get tired of using these words to describe yet another unthinkable, dastardly, underhanded scheme perpetrated by the GOP. As someone who lives in Virginia, this hits even harder!

    If Not Us, Who,..... If Not Now, When?

    by VirginiaBlue on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 06:58:54 AM PST

  •  The last time a President lost the popular vote (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pengiep, LordMike, gosoxataboy

    was 2001.  I think the GOP has forgotten how that went over:

    Thousands protest Bush’s Inauguration

    The level of people on the streets shows that people are really upset about lack of democratic process,” says Liz Butler of the Justice Action Movement, the umbrella organizing committee responsible for the protest. “They took it to the streets. We saw tens of thousands. We saw far more protesting Bush than supporting him.
    An election where one or the other party won because they had rigged the electoral college would shake the foundations of the Union.

    Think about what your reaction would be if Romney had won the electoral college and therefore the election.  Think about what the reaction of the right would be if Obama had lost the popular vote by 4% and yet won a second term.  The GOP is so power mad that they will risk our democracy on these kinds of schemes to take power.  Let's hope some of them have better sense.

    The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones! - John Maynard Keynes

    by Do Something on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 07:02:41 AM PST

  •  So where is the DOJ on this?? (7+ / 0-)

    It is my understanding that Virginia is one of the states covered under the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (for the younger Kossacks, let me inform you that in the olden days, there were actually attempts by Congress to PROTECT the rights of citizens to vote . . . yeah, I know . . . it just seems so weird given the present landscape) and before Virginia may change election laws ( this dastardly scheme being designed to mathematically disenfranchise urban dwellers, which include high percentages of the very minority voters covered under the Voting Rights Act) Virginia must seek the permission of the Department of Justice.

    So once again, where the fuck is Holder?

    I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever. ~Thomas Jefferson

    by bobdevo on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 07:02:43 AM PST

    •  Holder needs to be gone and Jennifer (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bobdevo, Dont Get MAD

      Granholm should be in.  She was AG in MI before becoming governor.  She would bulldog the GOP on all of this.

      Building a better America with activism, cooperation, ingenuity and snacks.

      by judyms9 on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 07:38:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The AG can't act (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Aquarius40

      Until there's an actual bill. There are lots of legislative proposals that are proposed that violate just about everything under the sun. But until there's something for the AG's office to take up, Justice can't preemptively block the legislature from considering the law.

      •  But what about the "permission" part. (0+ / 0-)
        Section 5 of the Act requires that the United States Department of Justice, through an administrative procedure, or a three-judge panel of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, through a declaratory judgment action "preclear" any attempt to change “any voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure with respect to voting..." in any "covered jurisdiction." The Supreme Court gave a broad interpretation to the words "any voting qualification or prerequisite to voting" in Allen v. State Board of Election, 393 U.S. 544 (1969).
        Is this not the pre-clearance period? It says any attempt to change . . . .

        I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever. ~Thomas Jefferson

        by bobdevo on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 09:18:35 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Whoops, never mind. I see the problem . . . . (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JerryNA

        they've found a loop-hole.  They're not going to change any VOTING procedure . . . . they're just going to change how the counted votes are used with respect to determining electors.  Which I'm not sure the Voting Rights Act covers.

        I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever. ~Thomas Jefferson

        by bobdevo on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 09:21:23 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  It's not about "what the people would think." (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    boatwright, JerryNA

    Not any more.

    It's about what the people who have the money to buy politicians by the boatload think.  It's about why they're rallying the "gun-totin' faithful" to their side of the argument.  It's about owning a Republic.

    And do not think for a moment that "they" don't have comprehensive lists of who has the guns....

    Proponents of gun violence own guns. Opponents of gun violence do not own guns. What part of this do you not understand?

    by Liberal Panzer on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 07:06:35 AM PST

  •  There's really nothing wrong with voting by CD (0+ / 0-)

    It's certainly closer to the popular vote than winner-take-all is.  The only problem is that redistricting for a federal election is a political act, when it always should have been judicial.  

    It won't help short term, but this is the sort of development that might finally push the act of setting Congressional district boundaries into a national non-partisan framework.

    When extra-terrestrial beings make their first appearance on our planet, and ask for representatives of our species to best exemplify humanity, I'm sending a nurse, a librarian, and a firefighter.

    by Wayward Son on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 07:07:08 AM PST

    •  Not really (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CA Pol Junkie, Aquarius40, JerryNA

      There are three problems with the idea that it would be closer to the popular vote.  First is the problem detailed above regarding how voters for one or the other party are clumped together geographically.  The other is the matter of the 2 votes each state gets, no matter what their population.  Finally, unless all states allocate their electoral votes this way, it will not reflect the popular vote.  Especially if the majority of the states that go to this method are ones that tend to vote for one of the parties over the other.  So if blue states start allocating their votes by CD and the red states do not, the blue candidate will be at a significant disadvantage and there is a significant chance that the winner of the national popular vote will lose the Electoral College.  

      The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones! - John Maynard Keynes

      by Do Something on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 07:18:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Are you saying.. (0+ / 0-)

        ..wthe current inner-take-all is closer to the popular vote than a non-partisan CD vote?  Your arguments about a partial system are irrelevant to this question.

        When extra-terrestrial beings make their first appearance on our planet, and ask for representatives of our species to best exemplify humanity, I'm sending a nurse, a librarian, and a firefighter.

        by Wayward Son on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 07:53:15 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  If you are planning on being a permanent minority (7+ / 0-)

    ... while still holding the reigns of power, then you can't have the popular vote decide elections.  Period.

    Suppress the vote in the other guy/gal's district, gerrymander your guys district, undermine the popular vote in presidential elections ... these are not tactics used by a party who is capable of winning on its ideas/ideals.

    Supreme Court, here we come.

  •  Coup d' etat (8+ / 0-)
    A coup d'état, also known as a coup, a putsch, or an overthrow, is the sudden, illegal deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment
    Virginia is only example of the slowly unfolding usurpation of our democracy by the political right and their clandestine, moneyed organizers and true leaders.

    In key states around the country: Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Florida, and who knows how many others; Republican controlled legislatures are planning dangerous moves to disenfranchise minority voters, to to implement "right-to-work" laws, to undo our two century old FEDERAL constitution, and most alarmingly to use gerrymandering and congressional district apportionment of electoral votes to seize power that they cannot win at the ballot box.

    These efforts amount to a secret, long-planned, well-financed, dogged, and deliberate coup that if it is allowed to succeed will result in the permanent establishment of a corporate state.  If these jokers get their way, we will see a return to Jim Crow in the South, and Mark Hannah style corruption in the North.

    As we found out in Lansing and Madison, the Rethugs are not interested in the voice of the people.  

    Labor was the first price paid for all things. It was not by money, but by labour, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased. - Adam Smith

    by boatwright on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 07:13:06 AM PST

  •  We Need to Destroy Gerrymandering Once and For All (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LordMike, Dont Get MAD, R30A

    I say dems, progressives and independents need to be prepared to change their residences slightly to make gerrymandering a thing of the past.  If we can occupy Wall Street, why not marginal red districts?

    Most gerrymandered districts are won by a few thousand votes.  It would not be that hard to start a national campaign, with efforts to create new housing and apartments that would make any effort to gerrymander futile.  Even the threat of this would put a halt to the desire to gerrymander.

    Its time to start looking at real estate in red rural districts.  The advantage favors the dems and progressives, since 1) there are far more of us than them, 2) property values are cheaper in rural red districts and 3) everyone could use a little home away from home once in a while.  In a few years time, you could always move back, particularly after the CD's are redrawn more favorably.

    I say its time to get together and get started.  The GOP is extremely vulnerable to such an effort and it would be the way to get rid of their politics once and for all.

  •  We are screwed. they will do this in every state (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LordMike

    that is it possible to do this

    I don't see a way to change this

    •  Not in every state-just the blue ones they control (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      desmoinesdem, Aquarius40, JerryNA

      It works better for them if the red states continue to be winner take all.  We are in this trouble because states like Ohio, Michigan, Virginia and Pennsylvania elected GOP dominated legislatures in 2010 and that was a census year.  Otherwise this would not be an issue.

      The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones! - John Maynard Keynes

      by Do Something on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 07:21:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Big mistake.... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        R30A

        ....all of you who stayed home in 2010 because your feelings were hurt.

        The only thing that will fix this is for the MAJORITY CENTER LEFT AND LEFT to put aside all of our differences, no matter how important we think our favorite issues are, act as a solid and united political force, and beat these bastards back once and for all.

        United we stand.

        Labor was the first price paid for all things. It was not by money, but by labour, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased. - Adam Smith

        by boatwright on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 07:47:05 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  States adopted winner-take-all for a reason (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bartcopfan, LordMike, lone1c

    The EC is, of course, one of the many very bad ideas that came out of the Constitutional Convention's compromises with the slave states, one that since it rises up to bite us in the ass only every so often, has not been replaced.

    That said, states realized long ago that unless they assigned their electoral votes in a winner-take-all fashion, the state would become much less influential in every case other than a near 50-50 situation. Since states tend not to be 50-50, virtually every state went to winner-take-all.

    As has been pointed out elsewhere, even with viciously partisan gerrymandering, this is a very risky move for the state of Virginia's GOP.

    On the other hand, the best response would be to work even harder to eliminate or to bypass the EC itself, which would make the whole issue moot.

  •  Here's the thing (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    desmoinesdem, LordMike

    They would need to do this in basically every state Obama won, but Republicans control all three branches (OH, PA, VA, MI, WI, FL) If they didn't get it done in Florida, or in any two others, they would still have lost. (They would be wise to do it in NC just to be safe).

    If they did that - by my count, the results would have been Romney  281, Obama 257

    But thats assuming that campaigns didn't change their strategy, which they would. Instead of putting money into getting out the vote in heavily Democratic areas of OH, the Obama campaign would have poured its money into CDs that were nearly evenly split.

    And damn - if you are a Republican in an fairly evenly split district do you really want the Democratic turnout machine in your neck of the woods instead of Cleveland?

  •  Actually (0+ / 0-)

    They would have needed all of FL, PA, and OH - if any of those three didn't pass this  they would still have lost. If two of MI, VA, or WI didn't pass it, they would also have lost.

  •  Abolishing the Electoral College (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bartcopfan, JerryNA

    is the one and only way to stop Republicans from rigging the EC in their favor.  We cannot duplicate their efforts in a single state because there is not one red state with D-leaning districts where Dems control the trifecta.

    Republican gerrymandering for the past couple decades and the 2010 election have given them far more power than is warranted by their performance in recent elections. They have locked in their control in places like Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Florida.  They only way to unlock that control is by switching to independent redistricting commissions in these states or getting lucky with a Dem wave year right before redistricting, just like the GOP did in 2010.

    We need to counter these efforts by supporting switching to a popular vote model and pushing ballot measures to establish independent redistricting in all red or swing states (but not in blue states).

  •  IA-03 (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    abgin, KingofSpades

    That's a strange trial balloon from my perspective. I posted my first take on the DCCC's prospect at Bleeding Heartland.

    Join the Iowa progressive community at Bleeding Heartland.

    by desmoinesdem on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 08:28:17 AM PST

  •  Eliminate the Electoral College? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LordMike
    How would the public react to that? How would the media react? It would approach the level of constitutional crisis, and is the sort of thing which, I really think, would have the potential to unravel our system of government.
    This is indeed a scary proposition I frankly hadn't conceived of--gerrymandering the presidency itself.  The only bright spot I can see is that perhaps this will be enough overreach to spur the American public to finish the job only semi-attempted after the 2000 election debacle:  amend the Constitution to eliminate the Electoral College altogether and elect the president by popular vote.

    "Push the button, Max!" Jack Lemmon as Professor Fate, The Great Race

    by bartcopfan on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 08:38:34 AM PST

  •  Do not forget Florida 2000 legislatures actions! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bourbaki

    Remember that no matter what system is in place on election day the state legislature always holds the power to decide how the states electoral votes will be decided and to whom they will be given.

    In fact, in those states with total Republican control they could have voted their electoral votes for Romney regardless of the election.  I mean they could do it legally not without consequences.  So PA, VA and whatever all R states Obama won could have voted all their electoral votes for Romney even after the election.

    Florida's legislature did this exact thing in 2000.

    •  Maybe not so easy (0+ / 0-)

      While it's true, that according to the constitution the state may allocate it's electoral votes any way they chose, there are existing state laws, and state constitutions that mandate the way that it is now.  Of course the legislature + governor could try to overturn the law (unless it was in the constitutution), but that would look really iffy.  How would such politicians fare in a future election, or recall, if they tried to nullify a popular vote?

      There are no solved problems; there are only problems that are more or less solved. Henri Poincare

      by Bourbaki on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 12:55:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Consider the Potential For Ugly Consequences (0+ / 0-)

    It's interesting that so many of the right wing wackos spread fear of gun control by saying that Obama, or any other person or group they don't like is going to take away their rights as part of the new word order.  They need their guns to protect liberty and freedom.  At least that's their story.  We know it's all baloney.

    But, ponder this.  When the votes are counted in a Presidential election and a Republican wins the majority of electoral college votes say in PA., VA, MI or any other "swing state" despite having lost the popular votes in those states, is it possible that the crooked legislators  who implemented this scam we be confronted with, as a GOP candidate put it a few years back, "second amendment" remedies?

    You just never know when the law of unintended consequences might kick-in.  Not something I would support.  But then, are those of us who are willing to win or lose fairly supposed to just fold are tent and let the right wing bigots steal election after election?

  •  Gaming This Out (0+ / 0-)

    If the Republicans do this in PA, MI, and WI, they might carry 29 of the 40 CDs. Leave aside the extra 2 votes for each state for the moment.

    If they can do it in Ohio, they'd be foolish not to. They gerrymandered the Democrats down to 4 seats, and why bet your life on getting 18 when you can get 12 for sure? Add in 10 from Virginia, and Romney's 206 has grown to 257. In that case, they can leave Florida as winner take-all if they figure they can carry it--if not, they currently hold 17 Florida seats, so if they could hold everything that would put them at 274. Any margin they would have above that would come from winning some of the statewide electoral votes in these states.

    In the case of the Republican Party, desperate times call for desperate measures. This would clearly give them a better chance at winning than they would have without it. If Texas is going to flip in 2024, their only real hope at electing a President in the near future will be limited to 2016 and 2020. If they lose, the Supreme Court will probably flip and undo Citizens United, and that would be the death blow for the party. It may already be too late, if Kennedy or Scalia don't have four years of service left in them.

    This is what death throes look like.

    We wondered what they would change after the 2012 election, and the answer turns out to be "the rules". They're a cornered, feral animal, and must be treated as such.

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