Grassley opposes scrapping Electoral College

2011-10-20T20:15:00Z Grassley opposes scrapping Electoral CollegeBy JAMES Q. LYNCH, Globe Gazette Des Moines Bureau Mason City Globe Gazette

CEDAR RAPIDS — Add Sen. Chuck Grassley’s voice to the opposition of an effort to replace the Electoral College with a plan to elect presidents by a national popular vote.

The Electoral College “has served us well,” Grassley said Thursday on WMT Radio 600, and the change would allow presidential candidates to ignore small-population states like Iowa.

Under the Electoral College system, the candidate who wins a majority of votes in a particular state receives all of that state’s electoral votes, which are equal to the number of members it has in Congress. Opponents don’t like it because the system makes it possible to win the popular vote nationally, but lose the election in the Electoral College.

However, Grassley said the framers of the Constitution “wanted every state to have a voice” in electing the president. If the Electoral College would be replaced with a national popular vote, states like Iowa would receive little attention from presidential candidates, the Iowa Republican warned.

“Do we want Iowa to get the attention of the candidates?” Grassley said. “If we do a national popular vote, the 12 to 13, some say 19, largest states are going to get all of the attention” because they have enough population to determine the outcome of the election.

“We want a national president, not a regional president, a president who has to go to rural America,” Grassley said.

Grassley joins Republican Gov. Terry Branstad and the Republican Party of Iowa’s State Central Committee that voted earlier this week to oppose the national popular election effort.

A national popular vote would shift influence toward major metropolitan areas and require candidates to raise more money for television advertising, Branstad said. If adopted, 31 smaller states, including Iowa, would lose under the proposal.

“The national popular vote initiative will do nothing but shift candidates’ focus from battleground states like Iowa to mega-population centers,” the governor said. “The national popular vote will do nothing but allow candidates to look past smaller populated states and focus instead on cities with major media outlets.”

However, Patrick Rosenstiel, a spokesman for the National Popular Vote Initiative, rejected the idea that a national popular vote would hurt small states. He said under the current system, candidates focus primarily on states with a lot of Electoral College votes, such as California.

“I actually dispute the governor’s claim that this would rob small states of their influence,” Rosenstiel said. “He’s defending a system that makes smaller states irrelevant.”

His group has been running print and television ads encouraging Iowans to ask the Republican presidential hopefuls about replacing the Electoral College.

The proposal needs to be taken seriously because popular vote advocates are spending big money to promote it — including print and television ads in Iowa, Branstad said.

“They are spending all kinds of money on TV right now making a direct appeal to people on this with a lot of misleading ads,” he said.

Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn said that in conversations colleagues across the country he’s heard the initiative is “not only running TV ads and newspaper ads in places like Iowa, they are hiring lobbyists in statehouses.”

The National Popular Vote law has been approved in eight states and the District of Columbia. Those states hold 132 electoral votes — 49 percent of the 270 electoral votes needed to activate it.

The Iowa Legislature has, so far, rejected the idea of becoming part of the national popular vote plan.

Copyright 2015 Mason City Globe Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(7) Comments

  1. USA
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    USA - October 23, 2011 6:41 am
    Thanks toto.
  2. toto
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    toto - October 21, 2011 1:45 pm
    A survey of 800 Iowa voters in 2009 showed 75% overall support for a national popular vote for President.

    By political affiliation, support for a national popular vote for President was 82% among Democrats, 63% among Republicans, and 77% among others.
    By age, support was 76% among 18-29 year olds, 65% among 30-45 year olds, 76% among 46-65 year olds, and 80% for those older than 65.
    By gender, support was 82% among women and 67% among men.

  3. toto
    Report Abuse
    toto - October 21, 2011 1:42 pm
    Support for a national popular vote is strong in every smallest state surveyed in recent polls among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group: AK — 70%, DC — 76%, DE –75%, ID – 77%, ME — 77%, MT – 72%, NE — 74%, NH –69%, NV — 72%, NM — 76%, RI — 74%, SD – 71%, UT – 70%, VT — 75%, WV – 81%, and WY – 69%.

    In the lowest population states, the National Popular Vote bill has passed in nine state legislative chambers in DC, DE, ME, HI, RI, and VT.
  4. toto
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    toto - October 21, 2011 1:39 pm
    Now with state-by-state winner-take-all laws, presidential elections ignore 12 of the 13 lowest population states (3-4 electoral votes), that are almost invariably non-competitive,in presidential elections. 6 regularly vote Republican (AK, ID, MT, WY, ND and SD), and six regularly vote Democratic (RI, DE, HI, VT, ME, and DC) in presidential elections.

  5. toto
    Report Abuse
    toto - October 21, 2011 1:36 pm
    The National Popular Vote bill is state-based. It preserves the constitutionally mandated Electoral College and state control of elections. It changes the way electoral votes are awarded in the Electoral College, instead of the current 48 state-by-state winner-take-all system. It assures that every vote is counted and equal and that every voter will matter in every state in every presidential election, as in virtually every other election in the country.
  6. toto
    Report Abuse
    toto - October 21, 2011 1:34 pm
    Since World War II, a shift of only a few thousand votes in 1 or 2 states would have elected the 2nd-place candidate in 4 of the 13 presidential elections. Near misses are now frequently common. There have been 6 consecutive non-landslide presidential elections. 537 popular votes won Florida and the White House for Bush in 2000 despite Gore’s lead of 537,179 popular votes nationwide. A shift of 60,000 voters in Ohio in 2004 would have defeated Bush despite his nationwide lead of over 3 Million.
  7. toto
    Report Abuse
    toto - October 21, 2011 1:33 pm
    The current system of electing the president ensures that the candidates, after the primaries, do not reach out to over 2/3rds of the states and their voters. Candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or care about the voter concerns in the dozens of states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind. The reason for this is the state-by-state winner-take-all method (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but since enacted by 48 states).
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