Friday, January 25, 2013

Electoral Time Machine

An old saying - be careful what you wish for, you might get it.

There is serious talk of changing the way Presidential electors are selected. All states with the exception of Maine and Nebraska are winner take all with whichever candidate winning the popular vote also winning the entire number of electors.

Maine and Nebraska apportion their electors based on popular vote in individual Congressional districts.

With the Republican Party now having lost consecutive Presidential elections, critical states won by President Obama but controlled by Republican legislatures are considering switching to the Maine/Nebraska model.

In Georgia, oddly enough, this type of change would award three additional electoral votes to President Obama. Not so oddly enough, there is no talk in Georgia of switching to this type of system.

In Virginia however, where President Obama became the first Democratic President since FDR to win consecutive elections, the talks are hot and heavy. In the Old Dominion, under this type of system, Mitt Romney would have received 9 elector votes to President Obama's 4 despite losing the statewide vote handily.

National Republicans aren't shy about their intentions and this leads normally even tempered analysts like University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato to exclaim,
corrupt and cynical maneuver to frustrate popular will and put a heavy thumb — the whole hand, in fact — on the scale for future Republican candidates
Due to the last redistricting, there is little doubt that flipping a half dozen key states to this system would give the Republican Party a huge advantage in 2016. But what about beyond? We've already seen the unintended consequences of "voter id" laws which energized the Democratic base in swing states like Florida.

We only have to look thirty years in the past to ponder the what if's of the future.

In 1980, Ronald Reagan stomped Jimmy Carter; setting the stage for the Reagan Revolution. Today, we still feel the echoes of that thunderous election.

Reagan beat Carter, 489 to 49

But what happens if you apply the Republican party's new scheme basing it on party control of individual congressional districts in the 95th Congress?

Carter wins, 283 to 221*

The modern Republican nightmare of a Carter second term.

Now obviously, given how many Reagan Democrats switched sides in 1980, Reagan would have won many Democratically controlled districts. However, you cannot deny, the race would have been much closer, the mandate would not have been nearly as strong and there's a pretty good chance Carter would have won.

Given the backlash voter id created, Republicans should consider what might happen in those state houses where this new plan is enacted. It might turn Republican legislatures seen as destiny driven into battlegrounds against a re-invigorated opponent.

And after 2020, it might be Democrats controlling those district lines and ultimately those electors.

*Total does not add up to 538 due to vacancies where party could not be determined

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

There's Two Parts In Partnership

The Falcons stadium deal has created much thunder but, in my opinion, not a lot of heat.

A quick recap. Falcon's owner Arthur Blank wants a new retractable roof stadium. His proposal is the team will foot $700 million of the deal and Georgia/City of Atlanta will fund $300 million via bonds issued by the Georgia World Congress Center authority.

The rub is the GWCC only has statutory authority to issue $200 million in bonds. Obtaining the additional $100 million would require the legislature to raise the borrowing cap.

This unusual situation has led advocates on all sides to question the need for any new stadium when $300 million or even $100 million could be used by the City of Atlanta in other areas like the Belt Line or MARTA.

Those are legitimate questions that need to be posed. However, considering the funds in play are generated by the city of Atlanta but are designated to service state owned facilities, speculating on how they could be used solely by the city is where the heatless thunder arrives.

Last night, WABE reported Governor Nathan Deal and Mayor of Atlanta Kasim Reed have schemed a way around the deadlock by using city backed bonds to float the extra $100 million.

This has caused stadium opponent Charlie Harper, editor of Peach Pundit, to draw a line in the sand,
And the City will soon come to the state asking for help with issues that do affect the entire region, and those in the suburban part of the region will point to the distruction (sic) of a Dome with 20 years of functional life remaining and laugh.
The issue which Charlie refers is transportation.

To which I glibly replied.
Because as we all know, they really have needed an excuse to say no over the past 40 years.
Apparently Charlie believes there is an opportunity here to put aside differences held in the past and tackle the difficult questions. Yet, while promoting a partnership between the State and City to solve our thorniest problems, over the past weeks he has castigated the Mayor for not stepping up and showing "leadership".

But here's the problem with that thought, every partnership needs a partner. What exactly has Atlanta received in the past when it has reached its hand out?

  • Atlanta asked the state for money to assist MARTA. Not only was Atlanta, Fulton and Dekalb told to pound sand, but the state created its own oversight board and dictated to MARTA how it would spend its own money

  • Atlanta, Fulton and Dekalb asked the state to help the region's only Level One Trauma Center (Grady Hospital) and was again told to pound sand

  • The Legistlature created the 2012 TSPLOST in an "effort" to untangle some of the transportation knots but once it became politically unpopular, washed their hands of it and left Mayor Kasim Reed as practically its only defender. Guess who got bloodied when it went down to defeat?
So here's my question for Mr. Harper. If we truly need a partnership, and I agree we do, when does the legislature plan to show any inclination to add their part to the partnership?