There are different ways for parties to win elections. The most obvious way is to support more popular policies than your opponents. Unfortunately for Republicans, their fever swamp wing, from Newt Gingrich through the tea party, has made that increasingly difficult.
But there’s a second option: make sure that, one way or another, votes for the other party don’t count as much as votes for your party. Gerrymandering is the most obvious method, and Republicans have played this game more and more aggressively over the past decade. There are also policies that make it less likely that Democratic constituencies will be allowed to cast votes. That’s the idea behind photo ID laws, which reduce participation by the poor, the young, and ethnic minorities. But if that’s still not enough, what’s next? Well, how about gerrymandering the electoral college? National Journal reports:
Republicans alarmed at the apparent challenges they face in winning the White House are preparing an all-out assault on the Electoral College system in critical states, an initiative that would significantly ease the party’s path to the Oval Office.
Senior Republicans say they will try to leverage their party’s majorities in Democratic-leaning states in an effort to end the winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes. Instead, bills that will be introduced in several Democratic states would award electoral votes on a proportional basis.
If, say, Michigan switched to a proportional system, then Mitt Romney wouldn’t have won zero of its 16 electoral votes this year. He would have won eight or nine. Voila! More votes for Mitt.
Do this in other states that are either solidly Democratic or trending Democratic, and you could snag 40 or 50 extra electoral votes for the Republican nominee. Needless to say, there are no plans to do something similar in states that tend to vote for the Republican candidate. Texas and Georgia have no intention of going proportional and allowing the Democratic nominee to get a share of their electoral votes.
There’s a brazenness here that almost makes me optimistic. These are rearguard efforts to rig the system, and in a way, they’re an admission that Republicans understand just how doomed they are if they remain the party of corporations, the rich, and hating gays. In the end, though, they’re unlikely to work. The GOP will continue losing votes, and as they do, even their attempts to game the system will get repealed, making their situation even more desperate.
In the meantime, though, they’ll keep trying. They’ll try anything aside from actually facing up to what their party has become. The only question is, for how long?