NPV targets Idaho


The Seattle Times and the Spokesman Review have both reported Idaho as one of Dr. John Koza’s next NPV targets.

The idea of a national popular vote appeals to some people. It sounds simple: the candidate with the most votes becomes president. Hawaii, New Jersey, Maryland, Illinois, and most recently Washington have signed on to this idea.

But Idaho offers an example of why NPV would not better represent the will of the people and the nation.

First, more than half of the U.S. population lives within the 40 largest urban areas. And not one of those areas is in Idaho. In fact, only the smallest urban area on that list (Jacksonville, Florida) has a population less than the entire state of Idaho.

At least under the Electoral College, Idaho stands a chance before every election of becoming a swing state. After all, swing states are just those states that happen to be the most politically moderate, evenly divided states during a given presidential election. The Electoral College gives Idaho a chance, NPV is all empty promises.

Second,  how represented would the people of Idaho have felt if their 61% majority vote for Sen. McCain had resulted in four more electoral votes for Sen. Obama? That’s what NPV would have done to Idaho in 2008.

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4 Responses to NPV targets Idaho

  1. mvymvy on 2009/11/16 at 9:52 AM

    Under the current system of electing the President, presidential candidates concentrate their attention on a handful of closely divided "battleground" states. 98% of the 2008 campaign events involving a presidential or vice-presidential candidate occurred in just 15 closely divided "battleground" states. Over half (57%) of the events were in just four states (Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Virginia). Similarly, 98% of ad spending took place in these 15 "battleground" states. Similarly, in 2004, candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their money and campaign visits in five states and over 99% of their money in 16 states.
    Two-thirds of the states and people have been merely spectators to the presidential elections. Candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or worry about the voter concerns in states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind. The reason for this is the winner-take-all rule enacted by 48 states, under which all of a state's electoral votes are awarded to the candidate who gets the most votes in each separate state.

    Another shortcoming of the current system is that a candidate can win the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide. This has occurred in one of every 14 presidential elections.

    In the past six decades, there have been six presidential elections in which a shift of a relatively small number of votes in one or two states would have elected (and, of course, in 2000, did elect) a presidential candidate who lost the popular vote nationwide.

  2. mvymvy on 2009/11/16 at 5:54 PM

    The small states are the most disadvantaged of all under the current system of electing the President. Political clout comes from being a closely divided battleground state, not the two-vote bonus.

    Small states are almost invariably non-competitive, and ignored, in presidential elections. Only 1 of the 13 smallest states are battleground states (and only 5 of the 25 smallest states are battlegrounds).

    Of the 13 smallest states, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Alaska regularly vote Republican, and Rhode Island, Delaware, Hawaii, Vermont, Maine, and DC regularly vote Democratic. These 12 states together contain 11 million people. Because of the two electoral-vote bonus that each state receives, the 12 non-competitive small states have 40 electoral votes. However, the two-vote bonus is an entirely illusory advantage to the small states. Ohio has 11 million people and has "only" 20 electoral votes. As we all know, the 11 million people in Ohio are the center of attention in presidential campaigns, while the 11 million people in the 12 non-competitive small states are utterly irrelevant. Nationwide election of the President would make each of the voters in the 12 smallest states as important as an Ohio voter.

    The concept of a national popular vote for President is far from being politically "radioactive" in small states, because the small states recognize they are the most disadvantaged group of states under the current system.

    In small states, the National Popular Vote bill already has been approved by eight state legislative chambers, including one house in Delaware and Maine and both houses in Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Vermont. It has been enacted by Hawaii.

  3. mvymvy on 2009/11/16 at 5:55 PM

    Evidence of the way a nationwide presidential campaign would be run comes from the way that national advertisers conduct nationwide sales campaigns. National advertisers seek out customers in small, medium, and large towns of every small, medium, and large state. National advertisers do not advertise only in big cities. Instead, they go after every single possible customer, regardless of where the customer is located. National advertisers do not write off Indiana or Illinois merely because their competitor has an 8% lead in sales in those states. And, a national advertiser with an 8%-edge over its competitor does not stop trying to make additional sales in Indiana or Illinois merely because they are in the lead.

    Keep in mind that the main media at the moment, namely TV, costs much more per impression in big cities than in smaller towns and rural area. So, if you just looked at TV, candidates get more bang for the buck in smaller towns and rural areas.

    For example, in California state-wide elections, candidates for governor or U.S. Senate don't campaign just in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and those places don't control the outcome (otherwise California wouldn't have recently had Republican governors Reagan, Dukemejian, Wilson, and Schwarzenegger). A vote in rural Alpine county is just an important as a vote in Los Angeles.

    If the National Popular Vote bill were to become law, it would not change the need for candidates to build a winning coalition across demographics. Any candidate who yielded, for example, the 21% of Americans who live in rural areas in favor of a "big city" approach would not likely win the national popular vote. Candidates would still have to appeal to a broad range of demographics, and perhaps even more so, because the election wouldn't be capable of coming down to just one demographic, such as voters in Ohio.

  4. Trent on 2009/11/16 at 8:39 PM

    mvymvy: I deleted two of your posts which simply republished blocks of polling from your NPV website. Insightful comments, criticisms and arguments are welcomed (though we'd respect you more if you were brave enough to use your real name). Cut-and-paste comments, especially public opinion polls (which are not arguments–didn't your mother ever tell you not to jump off that bridge even if…), will be removed.

    If people want to view the polling data, please do visit the NPV site. If you want insightful analysis and thoughtful discussion, is your site. Along the same lines as the NPV polling, you can also find online videos of people signing petitions to stop the suffraging of women ( and to ban dihydrogen monoxide (

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