In the last two days, I've debated four National Popular Vote advocates in two cities and spoken about the issue as part of a panel presentation on federalism. Here are a few things I noted from the debates.
- NPV advocates--in this case, Tom Golisano--continue to make the claim that the election outcomes in 1876 and 1888 were "debacles" because the popular vote winner lost the Electoral College and thus the presidency. This claim falls flat and worse. In 1876, the Electoral College system allowed Congress to sort out several serious election disputes--isolated within individual states by the Electoral College system--and to resolve the election in a way that prevented racist voter suppression from effecting the outcome. On the 1888 election, read "What Grover learned at (the) Electoral College."
- Saul Anuzis, a lobbyist for NPV, stated that two donors--John Koza and Tom Golisano--have committed over $40 million to lobby for the NPV interstate compact. I guess that's money that won't be going to the Nancy Pelosi Victory Fund.
- Golisano and Anuzis both insist that NPV is not anti-Electoral College, even though John Koza originally admitted that the plan was an "end run" way to eliminate the effects of the Electoral College system. This is an interesting claim, at least a challenging one in a debate, where the last thing worth talking about is someone's subjective intent. Frankly, this is why I prefer to debate this topic with academics or anyone who's not on NPV's payroll or otherwise a part of their lobbying effort--my experience is that most of these 'outsiders' readily acknowledge that NPV is just a tactic to work toward eliminating the Electoral College in full. Regardless of what Koza believes, his plan is inherently opposed to the original design and the established function of the Electoral College system.