Gov. Scott Walker said last weekend he has not taken a position on reallocating Electoral College votes, a controversial proposal which would have given President Barack Obama less of the state’s electoral votes in last year’s election.
Walker told media outlets recently he has yet to take a stand on the proposed change to distribute most electoral votes by congressional districts rather than the current winner-take-all system.
Over the weekend, Walker told the conservative news organization Newsmax in an interview he thinks it is an “interesting idea” but is not sure whether he supports it.
“I haven’t committed one way or the other to it,” Walker told Newsmax. “For me, and I think any other state considering this, you should really look at not just the short-term, but the long-term implications. Is it better or worse for the electorate?”
Walker also told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he has a “real concern” with such a change.
Walker said Wisconsin’s current status as a swing state means candidates make a push in the state, and that might go away if such a plan is implemented.
“We get to hear from the candidates,” Walker told the Journal Sentinel. “That’s good for voters. If we change that, that would take that away, it would largely make us irrelevant.”
Although there has been talk of reallocating the state’s ten electoral votes, no formal legislation has been introduced to do so. However, a 2007 bill Assembly Majority Leader Robin Vos, R-Rochester, cosponsored would have given two statewide electoral votes to the winner of the state’s popular vote and allocated the rest by who won each congressional district.
Republicans control five congressional districts, and Democrats control three. Under such a proposal, Obama and his opponent would have gotten five electoral votes, rather than Obama getting all ten.
University of Wisconsin mass communications professor Dhavan Shah agreed with Walker the state would become less competitive.
“Wisconsin would receive less national political attention because candidates will instead pay attention to issues in other states that maintain an all-or-nothing vote,” Shah said. “This is potentially really damaging in the long run.”
Shah called this a move that would be “detrimental” to the state, but beneficial to the national GOP because it would give its future presidential candidates a better chance of winning the state.
Kenneth Mayer, a UW political science professor, said he thinks such a proposal is unlikely to go through.
In an email to The Badger Herald, he said Wisconsin would not be the first in adopting such a change. The system is already in place in Maine and is currently being considered in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Virginia.
“Right now, the only states that are considering this are states where Republicans control the state government, but Obama won in 2012,” Mayer said. “The motivations are transparently partisan, just as they would be if Democrats in Texas, Georgia, Missouri or Tennessee were pushing for this.”
Mayer pointed to Nate Silver, a New York Times political statistician, calculating a Romney victory if the previously mentioned states plus Florida had a district plan. He said that is why Democrats “would fight to the death over any changes, both here and elsewhere.”