Election Day Gossip: Tainting The Victory, Faithless Electors And More
November 6, 2012 - 4:31pm ET
Popular This Week
Also Worth Reading
Take the conversation related at the beginning of this article with a grain of salt since it's a "my sister's best friend's brother told me" sort of thing, but I think it's a fair representation of the way the conservatives are gaming out their strategy in case it's close and Obama wins the electoral college but not the popular vote:
Romney has began airing commercials and ramped up campaigning in states not considered battlegrounds such as Pennsylvania and Oregon. Some political observers say this is being done to gather stray undecided voters in these states and increase the chance and margin of a popular-vote victory.
There is also speculation that Romney may apply a strategy reportedly considered by George W. Bush’s campaign in 2000 if he lost the electoral vote to Vice President Al Gore, but won the popular vote–the opposite of what actually happened in the election.
Romney may be preparing a set of talking points that the Electoral College is essentially unfair and back this argument with a massive Fox News and talk-radio blitz that would fuel doubt in the legitimacy of an Obama win... In fact, Bush’s campaign advisers in 2000 contemplated creating a “Democrats for Democracy” group to make this point, if necessary.
I remember all that talk in 2000. It was quite open (not that they showed even the slightest compunction about taking the opposite tack when they ended up fighting for an electoral college win while Gore clearly had won the popular vote.) They were also plotting to turn some "faithless electors":
In 158 instances, electors have cast their votes for President or Vice President in a manner different from that prescribed by the legislature of the state they represented. Of those, 71 votes were changed because the original candidate died before the elector was able to cast a vote. Two votes were not cast at all when electors chose to abstain from casting their electoral vote for any candidate. The remaining 85 were changed by the elector's personal interest, or perhaps by accident. Usually, the faithless electors act alone. An exception was the U.S. presidential election of 1836, in which 23 Virginia electors conspired to change their vote together.
I think that in close elections this talk always comes up. But with a professional propaganda apparatus at their disposal, I could see a serious attempt being made on bogus claims of vote fraud under the right circumstances.
Anyway, it's highly unlikely that it will come to that. This is, by far, the more important strategy:
No incumbent president seeking a second term has ever won the electoral college and lost the popular vote. And a win in the electoral college for Barack Obama that is not accompanied by one in the popular vote could cast a shadow over the president and his ability to govern. Republicans have already been fussing about perceived voter fraud to this end, but a popular-vote victory for Romney will further support this cause.
“This is the point she was trying to make,” said the donor who declined to give to the PAC. “I don’t think they want to steal the election by saying ‘the popular vote should be counted instead of the electoral vote,’ I think they want to cut the nuts off a second term for Obama.”
I am one of those who sees little chance that the GOP will be chastened by this loss regardless of the numbers. But recalling that 20 years ago GOP House leadership standing on the floor declaring that Clinton was not their president at least partially because he'd won with only a plurality of the vote, I can easily see them rationalizing their obstruction in this way.
The Republicans are a very, very effective opposition Party.
Update: A National Review post called "Crush Them" has been making the rounds and it really is worth reading, if only because it so perfectly exemplifies the conservative belief that liberalism is fundamentally illegitimate.
Maybe I'm wrong and all the alleged wise men of the GOP will emerge from their underground bunkers and take the party back from the crazies and we can go back to the glory days of Tipnronnie and have ourselves one Grand Bargain after another. But I doubt it.
The fight will go on. And that's ok. As long as people aren't killing each other over it, we'll get by.
Help us spread the word about these important stories...
Email to a friend
Views expressed on this page are those of the authors and not necessarily those of Campaign for America's Future or Institute for America's Future