Our republic is undermined by national popular vote
This fall, voters get a chance to decide whether Colorado joins the national popular vote compact. Proponents have a simple message: the candidate that wins the most votes should become President.
Sounds fair, right? Not so fast. The Founding Fathers got this right.
The Electoral College has served our state and nation well. Not only would the national popular vote compact be bad for Colorado and other small and mid-size states, it would fundamentally change how candidates campaign for and win the presidency in a very dangerous way.
Coloradans should vote No.
The Electoral College has been good for Colorado. With a mere 1.7 percent of the nation’s population, Colorado has received disproportionate attention from presidential candidates.
In 2016, Colorado received 19 visits from the presidential nominees, more than all but eight states. Colorado’s nine Electoral College votes have been highly coveted by presidential candidates.
Here’s why presidential candidate attention to Colorado is so important. Candidates care about Colorado’s issues and needs.
Consider just one important issue: water policy. Under the Electoral College, Colorado has leverage against thirsty downstream users, such as California. Under the Electoral College system, no candidate would dare “sell out” Colorado. Our nine Electoral College votes are too important.
The Electoral College has been particularly valuable for non-urban communities in Colorado and across the nation. That national popular vote would constitute a massive migration of political power to large, vote-rich urban centers is undeniable.
Might the Denver metro earn the occasional presidential candidate visit under national popular vote? Perhaps. Would smaller communities, such as Grand Junction, Pueblo, Greeley or even Colorado Springs? Highly unlikely.
Each of those communities has earned presidential candidate visits in the recent past. That’s because the Electoral College forces candidates vying for Colorado’s electoral votes to fight for the entire state. National popular vote would be bad for Colorado, and especially bad for non-Denver metro Colorado.
Arguments against national popular vote don’t just rest in Colorado’s selfish interests. National popular vote proponent State Senator Michael Foote recently argued, “ (National popular vote) will change the way a president governs and runs for reelection.”
On this point, we agree! National popular vote would indeed fundamentally change presidential candidacies and governance, but in a very negative way.
The Electoral College forces candidates to cobble together at least 270 votes (a bare majority) from among the states, to win. Because a majority in the college is required to win, it mitigates against the possibility of victory by a regional, highly ideological or niche candidate. Candidates focus their attention on battleground state voters.
The net effect? Candidates want to avoid extremes that turn off swing voters. Candidates try and “reach” for the middle, while holding their base.
Under national popular vote, by contrast, candidates’ motivations would be turned upside down: to promote more turnout in their “base” communities. The incentive of a liberal candidate, for instance, would be to appeal to left-wing communities, such as California, in order to generate greater turnout.
Remember: national popular vote isn’t about which candidate wins a majority of the vote; it’s about who wins the most votes. So a candidate could win with, say, 35 percent of the vote in a fractured field.
National popular vote isn’t about what is fair, what is good for Colorado, or even what is good for America. It’s about what is good for California and a handful of other large states with highly urban populations.
No wonder most of the money backing national popular vote in Colorado comes from a handful of California billionaires.
This November, vote NO on national popular vote.
Heidi Ganahl, a CU Regent, co-chairs the Protect Colorado’s Vote campaign, which opposes National Popular Vote.