End the duopoly

National popular vote would not diminish politics in presidential decisions


Critics of the Electoral College claim it distorts federal spending and other policy decisions. These critics include lobbyists for the National Popular Vote (NPV) campaign, which supports an interstate compact that would manipulate the Electoral College to produce a direct election for president.

There are two claims here to consider. First, that the Electoral College causes political distortions in federal policymaking. Second, that a popular vote system would eliminate these distortions, a basic understanding of American politics exposes these claims as hopelessly naïve.

Consider a charge made for years by NPV lobbyists: that the Medicare Part D prescription drug program exists only because the Bush White House was desperate to win Florida in its 2004 re-election campaign.

Medicare Part D may have raised Bush’s favorability among older voters, thus helping him win Florida’s 27 electoral votes. It’s even possible — although there’s no evidence for it — that a desire to win Florida motivated the Bush administration to support a Medicare prescription drug plan.

Even if that were the case, there is no reason to believe the same thing would not have happened with a popular vote. Surely a Bush administration crafty enough to develop Medicare Part D to win votes among Florida’s […]

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