In the wake of Barack Obama's reelection victory last Novembers, Republican lawmakers in several swing states -- Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconson -- introduced bills that would change the way the state's electoral votes are awarded, from a winner-take-all system to a proportional one in which presidential candidates are awarded electors based on the percentage of the vote the win.
The idea has intuitive appeal. It's a step closer to direct democracy and would ease the frustration of voters who cast their ballot for the losing candidate. It was also a fairly blatant attempt to undermine the voting power of Democrats in states that Republicans feel slipping away. Nate Silver crunched the numbers last month and determined that Obama's 126-vote electoral landslide would have been a 30-vote squeaker if the five states had had proportional systems in place in 2012.
A Texas Democrat hopes to help inoculate the party from ill effect. State Rep. Chris Turner, an Arlington Democrat, filed a bill yesterday that would award Texas' electoral votes on a proportional basis, albeit only if at least one other state (we're looking at you Virginia) does the same.
And with that, the state's 38 electoral votes would no longer be so reliably Republican. Assuming the party repeats its 2012 performance and wins about 40 percent of the popular vote, Democrats would find themselves with 15 of those.
Of course, Dems might come to regret such a measure once the unstoppable demographic tide turns Texas blue. But the measure would have to pass before it could inspire regret, something the Republican-dominated legislature does not seem keen on doing.