“I think this is something that will come back to haunt the Republicans,” said John Gilmour, a Republican strategist in Arkansas and advisor to Governor Asa Hutchinson. “Pandora’s box opens.”
Since the 1990s, Republican presidential candidates have won the popular vote only once – in George W. Bush’s re-election campaign in 2004 – with Trump relying on the Electoral College for his 2016 victory and no chance to run near Biden without it. Public. In the near future, it appears that the nation’s changing demographics, despite Trump’s modest successes with people of color this year, are likely to put the popular vote out of the reach of Republicans, making the Electoral College even more important to the Republican Party. Given the stakes, inadvertently delegitimizing the Electoral College may seem illogical. For some Republicans, this is insane.
Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, a Trump ally and potential presidential candidate in 2024, briefly raised alarm in Statement over the weekend Opposing the efforts of his fellow Republicans to block the vote count. The overturning of the score, he said, “would jeopardize the Electoral College, which gives small states like Arkansas a vote in the presidential election. Democrats can achieve their long-standing goal of actually eliminating the Electoral College by refusing to count the future electoral votes for an elected Republican president.”
Seven Republicans in the House were more visible. Warning in a joint letter That future Republican presidential campaigns were at stake.
“From a purely partisan perspective, the Republican presidential candidates have won the national popular vote only once in the past 32 years,” said Representatives Thomas Massey of Kentucky, Ken Buck of Colorado, Chip Roy of Texas, Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota and Mike Gallagher from Wisconsin, Tom McClintock from California and Nancy Mays from South Carolina. So they have relied on the Electoral College for nearly all the presidential victories of the last generation. If we honor the notion that Congress might ignore approved electoral votes – based solely on its own assessment that one or more countries mismanaged the presidential election – we will delegitimize the very system that led Donald Trump to victory in 2016, and that could provide the only path to victory in 2024.
In principle, Wednesday’s measures would put Republicans at bay.
“They all know it’s absurd,” said Stuart Stevens, who was the chief strategist for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign in 2012 and who worked against Trump’s re-election last year. “It’s just part of this, you know, you have people who love it [Sen. Josh] Hawley W. [Sen. Ted] Cruz who spent their whole lives building the credentials of the institution, and now find themselves in a political world where this is a negative rather than a positive, so they are desperately trying to prove that although I call myself a constitutional attorney, I am happy to tear up the constitution. ”
Although Stevens favors ditching the Electoral College, most Republicans are not. In terms of rank policy, the undermining of the Electoral College can be remembered as a profound example of the Republican Party shooting itself. A former Republican head of state said, “The Republicans cannot say they are in favor of federalism and thus undermine the Electoral College.”
In a sign that Democrats in Congress forced the debate over electoral votes in Ohio after the 2004 election, former Rep. Tom Davis, a Virginia Republican who served as chair of the Republican National Congress Committee, said Democrats “set a precedent” but “Republicans are taking it now and just turning it on.” in Earth “.
“It’s a slap to the voters,” he said, predicting that it would be a “legacy vote” for Republicans where “people in history will be judged by whether they want to overthrow the Electoral College.”
Davis said he has spoken with several Republican lawmakers who have threatened initial challenges if they disagree with Trump. But he said, “There are just some things you shouldn’t mess with.”
It is possible that Cotton and like-minded members of the House of Representatives are exaggerating the concern about the Electoral College. Post-election challenges by Trump and his allies have been riddled with any number of apparent political contradictions that Republicans are unlikely to suffer in the long term, with Republican lawmakers going so far in some cases. They demand the revocation of the ratification of the elections for their states – But only the presidential result, not their results. Trump’s presidency has been defined by breaking democratic rules, and the Electoral College is not on any list of endangered species.
A Republican National Committee member described the objections that Cruz and others plan to raise as a minor “leverage” to file complaints about voter fraud, bolstering a looming effort by Republicans in the state’s role across the country to tighten email voting and other voting restrictions. This effort, if successful, will likely aid the Republican candidates in future presidential elections. A prominent Republican political strategist described any proposal for long-term implications for the Electoral College as a “complete bull,” said Frank Binanelli, a former Democratic Utah lawmaker who is now advising politicians of both parties, “I don’t think the Electoral College will end anyway. soon “.
“Things are moving very quickly, and I think people will forget a year from now,” said Binanelli.
Trump himself in 2012 The Electoral College has been described as “a disaster for democracy.”, Before counting on to win in 2016 and Reverse the path.
But if the Electoral College is relatively strong, it is also far from sacred. From the Republican Party’s point of view, this means it needs every defender it can get. Even before the November elections, a majority of Americans – 61 percent – Gallup said They supported the abolition of the Electoral College. And for those who desperately want to see the Electoral College messed about, the legal and legislative maneuvering since the election – which culminated in measures on Wednesday – is starting to look like a big mine.
John Cosa, whose initiative for the national popular vote is starting to gain momentum in the wake of the election, said invitations and donations to his organization have risen. Since the mid-2000s, 15 states and the District of Columbia have signed the Charter promoted by his group which – if enough states eventually sign – will award their electoral votes to whoever wins the national popular vote, regardless of the outcome in their individual states.
For Americans who may not have previously paid much attention to the work of the Electoral College, Cosa said, the post-election litigation and legislative maneuvers “show the instability that has surrounded the current system for years.”
“This Wednesday thing, which is usually a total yawning, is now a big event,” said Cosa. “It focuses attention on the problem that the entire election revolves around a handful of conflicting states, and 38 states are fundamentally unrelated to the presidency.”
Representative Ted Liu (Democrat from California), who was an early supporter of the national popular vote movement when he was a state legislator in California in 2006, said the scene surrounding the ratification of this year’s election “gives more momentum to the national popular vote to replace the Electoral College.” .
“None of this would be a problem if we simply take Biden winning with over 7 million votes,” he said.
For Republicans bent on retaining the Electoral College, the risk of shattering confidence in the institution is a problem. Arkansas strategist Gilmore, like many Republicans, said Wednesday’s fighting may be “just a flash in the pan.”
However, he said: “It is not surprising that, as a prolonged Republican activist and strategist, I want to see this spark continuing.”