April 22, 2020

Now that the Connecticut Senate has passed, in bipartisan fashion, the National Popular Vote bill, I’d like to address some of the more common myths surrounding the bill that arose during the floor debate — and the likely outcomes of reforming the current state-based system. Some of these myths I have recently published as opinion here at The Hill.

First, this bill is not unconstitutional and it is not an end-run around the Constitution. The state-based, winner-take-all-laws that the National Popular Vote bill replaces were never debated at the Constitutional Convention and never mentioned in “The Federalist Papers.” In fact, a majority of states did not have state-based, winner-take-all laws until the eleventh presidential election, generations after the Founding Fathers were dead. So, if you are defending the current system as “the Founders’ system,” honesty and history demand that you stop doing so.

Second, the idea that the current system is designed to protect small states is just plain silly. It is not. In fact, the five smallest states have not received a general election campaign event in more than 20 years. Small-state interests routinely get ignored under the current system, in favor of the parochial interests of a few battleground states. It is obvious that a lack of small-state influence is a shortcoming of the system. National Popular Vote, when it takes effect, will ensure that a voter in Bismarck, North Dakota, for example, is as relevant as a voter in Boca Raton, Florida.

Those who claim that campaigns will simply focus on California in a national popular vote election are completely misguided. Remember, California will represent only 12 percent of the voting population in such a vote for president. Even in the worst years, Republicans earn four out of every 10 votes in California — without running earnest campaigns there. So the math discredits the argument that California will control presidential elections. It is a red herring, at best.

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