Priebus denies electoral vote overhaul

The Republican National Committee has quashed any notion that the GOP is thinking of switching the way we elect the president every four years in the hopes of changing the party’s recent fortune at the ballot box.

“The chairman [Reince Priebus] believes this is an interesting idea that has been discussed for some time now in states like Pennsylvania and Michigan but that it’s up to each state to decide if it’s right for them,” RNC Press Secretary Kirsten Kukowski said in an e-mail statement.

Priebus, in a Friday interview with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, was asked about of having the Badger’s State electoral votes being doled out to the winner of each congressional district, along with 2 votes to the statewide winner, instead of the winner-take-all format being used today. “It’s not my decision that can come from the RNC, that’s for sure,” he told the Badger State paper last week. Recently, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has indicated that he would be open to changing the system.

As the Journal-Sentinel piece noted, “If such a system had been in place in November, President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney would have evenly split Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes, rather than having all of them go to Obama.”

This notion is not something new. As Human Events wrote back in 2007 when California GOP was thinking about changing its election laws, “In reporting on the amendment filed by Sen. Karl Mundt (R-S.D.) and Rep. Frederick Coudert (R-NY), Human Events (February 11, 1956) pointed out that the measure “would divide up the electoral vote in each state on the same basis as Senators and House members now are elected — that is, two presidential electors would be chosen at large, the rest by congressional districts.”

As Republicans dissect what went wrong in November, the change to this type of system seems logical. It allows them to compete in districts that they have helped gerrymander into their favor. After the 2010 census, and after a strong surge in Republican victories on the gubernatorial and state level, the Republican-held state legislatures created districts in their favor. Coupled with the recent difficulties the Republican Party has had with handling the shifting demographic landscape, the movement to Mundt-Coudert isn’t that far-fetched of an idea.

But, there is history to prove that the move could be a double-edged sword.

In 2011, when Human Events covered the Pennsylvania Republican Party’s attempts to move to a Mundt-Coudert-type system, Pennsylvania’s Republican congressional delegation were wary of the “unintended consequences” of moving to this system. James Baumbach, a seasoned Keystone State political operative, told Human Events at that time, “Some of the Republican congressmen suddenly started to worry about unintended consequences.  They worried that because under the new system Democratic money would be spent in each of the districts they thought they could carry rather than in major media-market TV buys… so the Republican congressmen are telling the Republican [state] legislators to let go of this thing.”

On whether or not the system change will be on the agenda the committee’s winter meeting in Charlotte, N.C. next week, Kukowski made no indication that it would come up for discussion.

“The chairman has been clear there will not be any RNC action on this,” she said.