Skip to comments.Colorado Proposal Could Throw Election To Kerry
Posted on 08/25/2004 6:25:07 AM PDT by Cacique
Colorado Proposal Could Throw Election To Kerry
by Gary D. Halbert
August 24, 2004
IN THIS ISSUE:
1. The Colorado Electoral College Reform Initiative
The presidential election remains a statistical dead-heat. Since I last handicapped the state-by-state polls on July 6, John Kerry has improved his standing, and most of the so-called blue states are now comfortably in his corner. President Bush, meanwhile, has most of the so-called red states solidly in his camp. Most politicos now believe the election will once again come down to just one or two states probably Florida and/or Ohio.
However, the state of COLORADO is considering changing its Electoral College rules from a winner-take-all system to a split-vote which would allocate its nine Electoral College votes to both candidates based on the popular vote in the state. Is this important? You bet. If CO had such a system in place in 2000, Al Gore would be President today!
The citizens of CO will vote on this new Electoral College initiative on November 2, and if it passes, it will be retroactive to the 2004 presidential election. As you might expect, the Democrats are behind this initiative. Ill explain how it works below, and how it could actually backfire on Kerry.
Well also preview the Republican National Convention and ponder whether President Bush will get a meaningful convention bounce in the polls. We also look into the Swift Boat controversy which is dominating the presidential campaign as this is written. Clearly, someone is not telling the truth, but the question is, which side?
Colorado Electoral College Reform Initiative
On July 30, a citizens group submitted 130,000 signatures to COs Secretary of State demanding that the initiative to change the way the states Electoral College votes are awarded be placed on the November ballot. Unless most of the signatures are bogus (only 67,000 are required), the initiative will be on the CO ballot, and CO voters will decide whether to change the system to a split-vote or leave it winner-take-all as it is now. All other states except Maine and Nebraska have the winner-take-all system for the Electoral College.
This new (and suspicious) CO initiative has national implications. As noted above, if it had been in effect four years ago, Al Gore would be president. And if it goes into effect beginning on November 2, it could decide this years race as well. In 2000, because George W. Bush won 51% of COs vote, he therefore earned all eight of the states Electoral votes. Under the system proposed in the new initiative, Bush would have received only five electoral votes in 2000, and Gore would have gotten three. That would have changed the national Electoral College vote 271-266 in favor of Bush to 269-268 in favor of Gore. This year, CO has nine Electoral votes.
It shouldn't come as a surprise, then, that the CO election effort has Democratic fingerprints all over it. The campaign spokesman for the citizens group promoting the effort is Rick Ridder, who was also campaign manager for Howard Deans presidential run. He calls the electoral reform a multi-partisan effort, claiming that 20% of the campaigns signatures are from Republicans. On the other hand, GOP state chairman Ted Halaby says the initiative just doesn't pass the smell test. Governor Bill Owens said, If that passes, Colorado will cease to be a factor in any presidential campaign in the future. He makes a good point as I will explain below.
President Bush has been ahead in the CO polls for most of this year. So, the Democrats who collected the signatures necessary to get the initiative on the ballot in November obviously had in mind claiming some of COs nine Electoral votes for John Kerry. If the initiative passes, the popular vote winner would get five votes, while the loser would get four (assuming the race is fairly close). In a national race this close, a swing of 4-5 Electoral votes could easily decide the ultimate outcome.
How The CO Initiative Could Backfire On The Democrats
Lets start by assuming that Kerry wins the same 20 states that Gore carried four years ago. That leaves him with 260 votes in the Electoral College, to Bushs 278 (assuming Bush wins his same states this time around). Now, lets assume that Kerry adds New Hampshire to his column, which is another four electoral votes, and the count would then be 274-264 in favor of Bush. If we assume Kerry wins CO and its nine Electoral votes, he would win the presidency, 273-265. But not if the reform initiative passes.
If the reform initiative passes, instead of the winner-take-all nine votes, Kerry would receive only five electoral votes to Bushs four (assuming Ralph Nader doesnt pick up one electoral vote in CO). That could evenly divide the Electoral College at 269-269, leaving the House of Representatives to break the tie. As the House is likely to remain in GOP hands, Bush likely gets a second term and Democrats would claim that Bush stole the election for another four years.
Dont think the Democrats havent thought about this possibility. In fact, while they are pushing hard to get the initiative on the ballot, they are also preparing to challenge it legally IF it doesnt work out in their favor (ie- Kerry wins). Heres how. The initiative specifically asserts that it applies retroactively to the 2004 election. Opponents have claimed that the initiative violates provisions in the state constitution that prohibit retroactive legislation. The Democrats, on the other hand, say they have found case law that supports some retroactive legislation.
If the initiative passes, and Kerry wins the presidency as a result of it, the supporters will make their case for the initiatives retroactivity to the 2004 election. If it backfires, and costs Kerry the election, expect them to join the opponents in trying to get the initiative overturned, or at least postponed until the 2008 election. What else is new? In fairness, I would expect the Republicans to attack the initiative as well, if it costs Bush the election.
CO Initiative Has National Implications
There are several possible scenarios whereby the CO initiative, assuming it passes, could decide the election. There are several possible outcomes, depending on which states go for Bush and which for Kerry, where a 4-5 vote swing in the Electoral vote could decide the election (assuming the initiative isnt overturned or postponed to 2008 by the loser).
However, if the initiative passes in CO, it could have broader and more long-term issues for presidential politics. Specifically, what if several (or more) other states decide to adopt such a split-vote in the Electoral College? For example, lets look at what would happen if the five largest Electoral states were to adopt the CO split-vote system (using the vote percentages for Gore in 2000 for Kerry this year and the 2000 percentages for Bush):
*Source: The Weekly Standard
This is NOT a pretty picture for the Democrats! In this scenario, Bush gains 45 Electoral votes, and Kerry loses 45. Assuming that California, New York, Florida and Illinois (or Pennsylvania, also 21 votes) continue to vote for Democrats, this split-vote arrangement would be a disaster for the Democrats.
I assume the Democrat leadership has thought about this, but you never know. There are many that would stop at nothing to see Bush defeated this November.
Why The Split-Vote Idea Is A Bad One
The split-vote initiative in CO is a BAD idea. The Electoral College is not some 18th century anachronism. If the proposed CO system had been used nationally in 1992, Bill Clinton would have had just 236 Electoral votes, and the House of Representatives would have had to decide who became the president. The same would have been true in 1968 and 1948.
While there have been three times in our history when the winner of the popular vote did not win the Electoral College, it has served our nation very well for many, many years. Political scientist Judith Best notes that the Electoral vote system, combined with the winner-take-all allocation, creates a distribution condition. What does this mean? Candidates cannot simply pile up votes in the largest states and ignore the others. Because of the Electoral College, they must win in many states, and this insures that they travel and campaign all across the country.
The Electoral College has also served to prevent potentially dangerous factions and special interest groups racial, religious, labor, economic, the rich, the poor, etc., etc. from uniting their votes across state lines. In the winner-take-all system, they must concentrate their efforts in their home state only, for the most part.
Yet even with the Electoral College, this may be changing in light of the enormously flawed campaign reform legislation. McCain-Feingold, as you may recall, was supposed to be the end-all to unlimited campaign financing. No more soft money, we were told. But it wasnt, just as I told my clients and subscribers when it was passed into law.
In fact, McCain-Feingold paved the way for todays huge 527 non-profit organizations that are funneling hundreds of millions of dollars into the Kerry campaign (and a fraction of that into the Bush campaign). I will have another weekly E-Letter soon on the huge imbalance of 527 money flowing to Kerry versus Bush. Prepare to be surprised.
My Advice To Colorado Voters Just Say No
Finally, heres my advice to Colorado voters: Just say NO to the split-vote referendum. Heres why. Currently, CO is one of the so-called battleground states, at least this year. Both Bush and Kerry have made multiple campaign visits to CO in this election season, hoping to lock up your nine Electoral votes.
Currently, the polls show that Bush and Kerry are in a dead-heat in your state. So, it is safe to assume that they will be back in CO campaigning between now and November 2. But consider what will happen if you pass the split-vote initiative in November.
If you pass it, your state will become a ONE Electoral vote state, instead of a NINE Electoral vote state. Win or lose, one candidate automatically will get FIVE votes, and the other will get FOUR votes, in most elections. So, you become a ONE-VOTE state in most elections. Who will come see you then? Probably no one.
The leading Democrats in CO may be willing to pass the split-vote initiative this year, just because they will do anything to defeat Bush. But if they do, they will sadly ignore the longer-term implications.
There are those who believe this trend could spread to other states, if CO passes it this November. Maybe so. As I illustrated above, this could backfire on the Democrats this year, should Kerry win CO, and it could be very positive for Republicans in 2008 and beyond. But in the long-run, it is bad news for the American political process. Lets hope the good people of Colorado reject this latest political ploy to get rid of George W. Bush at any cost.
The Republican Convention
The Republican National Convention will begin next Monday (August 30) in New York at Madison Square Garden. This is an outstanding choice of locations, in my opinion, as opposed to the Dems convention in Boston. Yet it remains to be seen if the Republicans convention will be as much of a non-event as the Democrats convention last month.
The Democrats had Ron Reagan as their surprise speaker as a slap at the Republicans. The Republicans, not to be outdone, will have conservative Democratic Senator Zell Miller from Georgia. He will deliver the Republican conventions keynote address on Wednesday September 1 - a role he played before in New York as a keynote speaker at the 1992 Democratic convention that nominated Bill Clinton.
Other featured speakers at the Republican Convention will be: Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York; Rudi Giuliani, former mayor of New York; Senator John McCain; First Lady Laura Bush; CA governor Arnold Schwarzenegger; New York governor George Pataki; and of course, Vice President Cheney and President Bush.
It remains to be seen if Bush can get a solid convention bounce next week. The major media networks have planned the same 3-4 hours of prime-time coverage for the Republican convention as they did for the Democrats. It remains to be seen if the Republicans draw more viewers than the dreadful ratings during the Dems convention.
Maybe President Bush gets a bounce of 2-5 points after the RNC convention, much like Kerry got, if all goes well next week. Maybe Bush pulls a couple of points ahead in the national polls in the week or two after the convention. And then, most likely, its back to a neck-and-neck race. I do hear that the Bush campaign is set to launch a new round of potentially very damaging ads about Kerrys record in the Senate. Unlike the Swift Boat controversy, Kerrys votes (and lack of votes/no-shows) in the Senate are indisputable; they are public record.
The Swift Boat Controversy
By now, youve no doubt heard about the Swift Boat controversy. The accounts of what happened over 30 years ago in Vietnam are so different that one side or the other has to be lying. The Swift Boat Vets claim that Kerry fled the scene when the boats came under fire, and returned only after the firefight ended to rescue Jim Rassmann from the Bay Hap River. The Vets claim Kerry was not under fire at the time of the rescue. Kerry maintains that they were under fire.
Kerry has claimed frequently over the years that he spent Christmas Eve of 1968 inside the border of Cambodia under hostile fire. The Swift Boat Vets also challenge this story, and the Kerry campaign has backed off this claim, suggesting that Kerry was at least near Cambodia at the time.
I dont pretend to know who is telling the truth. Yet with over 290 Vietnam veterans signing onto the Swift Boat Vets challenge of the events, this controversy has mushroomed out of control at this point. And needlessly so, in my opinion. Kerry and his advisors chose to make his Vietnam record the centerpiece of their campaign. They have avoided running on Kerrys 19-year record as a Senator. You would think they would have known that some of these Vietnam vets were going to surface and challenge Kerrys service record and his accounts of events.
The Kerry campaigns reactions to the Swift Boat Vets have been loud, vitriolic and very defensive. They have tried to get the publisher of John ONeills book Unfit To Command to recall the books from bookstores. Now they are filing a formal complaint with the Federal Election Commission, demanding that the Swift Boat ads be banned. For many Americans, all of this sounds like so much whining.
Feeding the controversy even further, the Kerry campaign claims that President Bush and Karl Rove are in cahoots with the Swift Boat Vets. As a result of their dramatic reactions, this controversy continues to be front-page news.
Kerry should have dismissed the Swift Boat Vets once, reminded Americans that President Bush has praised his service in Vietnam, and then ignored them.
But for whatever reason, the Kerry campaign chose to fight this thing tooth and nail, and so it continues to rage on. It is hurting Kerry in the polls. You have to wonder who is giving him advice on this one.
Very best regards,
Gary D. Halbert
Why the Colorado initiative is important.
Why we need the Electoral College.
Long, but good, analysis of the Kerry/VietNam controversy.
Bob Dole challenges Kerrys Purple Hearts.
Copyright 2004 Gary D. Halbert.
The RATS are trying to circumvent the way the constitution is supposed to work. So what's new?
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How can they place this proposal on the upcoming November 2nd ballot, to have it take effect at the same time?
So the Democrats are for this iniative but planning to challenge against it? Makes perfect sense to me. I live in Florida and I've seen it before.
Very interesting. CO remains largely conservative with a popular conservative Governor in Owens, so I'd guess this measure will fail.
See Article II, Sec. 1 of the Constitution: "Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors..."
This measure will fail and fail badly. Everybody sees through this thinly veiled attempted power grab.
I hope the voters know this. :/
Be aware of this. I haven't heard about it until now.
I bet they wouldn't be for this in Cal EE fornia.
Well, the Rats ignored this clause in the Constitution during their self-created Florida debacle...why would anyone expect them to adhere to this clause in Colorado or anywhere else?
I do hope the CO GOP is going to fight this now and not just wait and hope that the referendum loses --
kind of like the way the national GOP approached McCain-Feingold -- they just sat back and hoped the SCOTUS would strike it down.
I guess I shouldn't worry, there are people at the DNC working around-the-clock on this pressing issue.