Will Vermont make itself irrelevant with NPV?

2010/01/21
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Few states stand to lose more under National Popular Vote than Vermont. As both a low population and low population density state, Vermont is the classic “small” state. The Electoral College gives Vermont a political boost.

On the road in the Green Mountain State

The National Popular Vote plan, on the other hand, would pull the political rug out from under Vermont.

Consider this: half the nation’s population lives in the 40 largest urban areas. The smallest city on the list–Jacksonville, Florida–has 1.3 million people. Vermont has about 620,000 people–only Wyoming is smaller.

Under NPV, which would leave the Electoral College structure in place but manipulate it to create a direct popular vote for president, a candidate would win Vermont’s electoral votes by winning the most votes nationwide. Period. Vermonters’ votes would have nothing to do with Vermont’s electoral votes. In fact, a candidate wouldn’t even need to be on the ballot in Vermont in order to “win” its electoral votes under NPV.

Vermont's State House

And what about candidates’ attention? NPV bemoans the fact that in any given election, the campaigns focus on “swing states.” Of course, those states only swing because of their political moderation. But what would campaigns do under an NPV system? How would a Karl Rove or David Plouffe design their campaign plans if states didn’t matter?

NPV implies that campaigns will suddenly treat every voter exactly the same. Their slogan is “every voter equal.” It’s a classic “missing the forest for the trees” argument: NPV makes every voter mathematically equal, but in a superficial and largely meaningless way. Under NPV, campaigns will continue to slice and dice voters according to every demographic and geographic data set available. They will focus on areas where the cost of campaigning, per person, is low and where the number of undecided voters is high.

Where would that leave Vermont? As one of the country’s low population density areas, candidates would have little interest in the Green Mountain State under NPV (unless the state becomes much more urban). How many voters and hour can a person contact in Vermont versus any borough in New York City or any suburb of Los Angeles?

With the Electoral College on the other hand, Vermonters need only find themselves evenly divided in a presidential contest and they’ll get all the attention–and probably more–than any American voters could want.

Few states stand to lose more under National Popular Vote than Vermont. As both a low population and low population density state, Vermont is a classic “small” state. As the Electoral College works today, Vermont gets a political boost. With NPV, it would be relegated to irrelevancy.

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2 Responses to Will Vermont make itself irrelevant with NPV?

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by trentengland and SaveOurStates.com, SaveOurStates.com. SaveOurStates.com said: Will Vermont make itself irrelevant?: Few states stand to lose more under National Popular Vote than Vermont. As b… http://bit.ly/906zJ1 [...]

  2. uberVU - social comments on 2010/01/25 at 7:19 AM

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