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Tuesday, July 27, 2004

How Bush Can Win

Suppose that a few months from now, the polls show that Kerry is poised to win Ohio or Florida, either of which would probably give him the election. What could Bush do to claw back some of those votes? No, I'm not going to predict a faked terrorist attack or rigged electronic voting. Instead, Bush could simply call up his allies of those states, and have them change the way their electoral votes are allocated, from winner-take-all to some sort of proportional allocation.

This change would be perfectly legal. Currently, Nebraska and Maine allocate their electoral votes this way (one per congressional district plus two for the statewide winner). In both Ohio and Florida, Republicans control both the legislature and the governor's office, so it's quite possible that it could be passed. Especially since the Republicans seem to have abandoned any deference for tradition and fair play, or interest in bipartisan harmony, as we saw in the Texas off-year redistricting.

At the moment, these are the only Republican-controlled states with a decent shot of voting for Kerry. There are a number of states where the Democrats could pull the same trick: Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and West Virginia are Democrat-controlled states that are likely to vote for Bush. On the other hand, local Democrats in these states probably don't want to be tied too closely to the national party.

The state that seems likeliest to make the switch this year is Colorado, where a ballot initiative is being circulate to replace the winner-take-all system. A petition is being circulated in Missouri too. If they get on the ballot and pass, both initiatives would take effect immediately, for the November election. Both states seem likely to vote for Bush, so proportional allocation would probably help Kerry.


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