SixFifty

lessons from America

Nebraska a major headache for networks

Once again – as on so many occasions this election cycle – the blogosphere and the number-crunching experts on sites like 538, DailyKos, electoral-vote et al are way ahead of the game.  And the TV networks and even 24/7 news channels like CNN are failing to either be accurate or informative.  What is the cause of this?  It is Obama winning one of Nebraska’s 5 electoral college votes – an event which joins the long list of records broken this year.  

As electoral-vote explains:

“Nebraska is one of the two states (along with Maine) that awards one electoral vote for each congressional district carried plus two for the statewide winner. It now appears that Obama won NE-02 (Omaha) and picks up another electoral vote. This is the first time in history that either state has split its EVs.”

CNN and other major news networks just can’t cope with this fact and don’t – at least as yet – show it on their maps.  And there has been very little mainsteam discussion of even the possibility of it happening, as far as I can tell.  Where as Nate, Kos and others (including me!) have been talking about it for a while and following the vote count in Nebraska closely.

Proving the rule that incumbents when they keep winning under a system don’t want to change it and then look like sore losers when they immediately reverse their position upon losing (even just one electoral vote),

“Nebraska Republicans have reacted to this development with dismay and intend to introduce legislation in 2009 to go to a winner-take-all system like 48 other states. Although technically the (unicameral) legislature is nonpartisan, de facto, the Republicans control it and also the governor’s mansion, so they will probably succeed.”

And going back to one of my favourite subjects, reforming the electoral college, electoral-vote.com some great analysis of how Nebraska may prove a fillip to the national popular vote movement: 

“An indirect effect of Obama winning the electoral vote is to provide a solid precedent for allowing a state to allocate its electoral votes as its state legislature determines by state law. This issue could come up again if the Interstate Compact is adopted by states with 270 electoral votes. If this happens, then those states will cast all their electoral votes for the winner of the national popular vote (not the state popular vote), de facto eliminating the electoral college without a constitutional amendment. Currently four states (Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, and New Jersey) have passed it. If another dozen or so blue states were to pass it, it would come into being and there would surely be court fights about the right of a state legislature to determine how its electoral votes were cast (even though the constitution is pretty clear it is up to the states to choose their electors as they wish). Having a precedent for something other than winner-take-all would strengthen that court case.”

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November 10, 2008 Posted by | systems | , , , , | 1 Comment

Oh me, Oh my, Ohio

It’s Thursday evening so I must be in …. Ohio.  Just flown into Cincinnati airport.  For the pedants amongst you, the airport is actually just across the river, in Kentucky, so actually I haven’t yet set foot in the state of Ohio.  But I will very shortly. I am making use of the free wifi – that’s a first in a US airport, certainly that I’ve experienced.  And Meghan has just arrived, video camera in hand.  And so it starts: that added dimension to my trip of fliming, as well as a welcome and fun travelling companion and fellow political animal. 

Incidentally, I don’t know whether its my Obama buttons, my British passport, something on my immigration file (my days as a G8 summit protestor are behind me, honest guv) or the fact I booked my flight in the UK, but each of the two Northwestern flights I’ve flown have included a little excursion beforehand at the security point to have my bags and myself additionally checked.  They’ve been swabbing all my electrical equipment and testing it (for chemical residues of explosives perhaps).  They’ve also given me some lovely pat downs.  Thankfully no strip searches yet.  And I can’t really complain: it’s only a minor inconvenience.  And I’ve had friends much worse treated when flying into Israel.  

While I recover from my flight and Meghan from her long drive from Pennsylvania here, a ‘ballot measure 8’ meet up is happening on the other side of Cincinnati.  A chance I believe for students and first time voters to find out more about the electoral reform ballot initiative here in the city.  My colleague Lewis has just flown in from London and is fighting back jetlag to be there, so I should get a report of that later.  It’s all going on actually tonight, as Swing Semester Cincinnati (the same cooll outfit that I spent time with in Denver) are hosting a film night later.  They are going to be watching a special documentary on the Florida recount fiasco of 2000.  Very apposite to Ohio’s own ballot problems of 2004.  Hopefully they won’t encounter more of the same this time, but I guess it pays to be prepared.  Moreover, it is a great way to fire up activists, should they be flagging in these final days of the campaign. 

So expect more from both the ballot initiative and Swing Semester in the coming days, as I get stuck in to both.  Though tomorrow morning I have a more prosaic challenge: trying to find any kind of costume for Halloween and the ‘Trick or Vote’ fun in the evening.

October 31, 2008 Posted by | On the Campaign Trail | , , , , | Leave a comment

States that split matter

So we have McCain pulling out of actively campaigning in Michigan.  And some of his staff and resources from that state are believed to have gone not just to the well-known swing states but to Maine as well. DemConWatch notes:

“Yesterday Matt wrote about how McCain is going to focus on winning one of Maine’s Electoral votes by sinking more money into the state. The other state that awards Electoral Votes by district is Nebraska and the Obama campaign isn’t conceding. Today the Obama campaign announced that they will open a second office in Omaha. Nebraska’s 2nd congressional district, which includes Omaha and its suburbs, is considered by some to be a “battleground district“.”

Maybe we will have more states, especially the smaller ones, in future following Maine and Nebraska’s lead and dividing their electoral college votes by district; if only to get a piece of the election action. The old statewide winner takes all system maybe isn’t the best suited any more.  There’s also a decent case for looking more closely at the National Popular Vote scheme that has been proposed, and backed by a number of states.

October 4, 2008 Posted by | 50 State strategy | , , , , | 2 Comments