Gov. Scott Walker says he has a ”real concern” about a Republican idea to change the way the state awards its electoral votes, conceding the move could make Wisconsin irrelevant in presidential campaigns. A proposal now percolating in the GOP is to allocate most electoral votes by congressional district, instead of giving them all to the statewide winner. “One of our advantages is, as a swing state, candidates come here. We get to hear from the candidates,” said Walker in an interview Saturday at a conservative conference in Washington, D.C. “That’s good for voters. If we change that, that would take that away, it would largely make us irrelevant.” Walker says he has not yet taken a position on the issue. Republicans have suggested making the change in a handful of states such as Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, which have been voting Democratic for president but are now controlled by the GOP at the state level.
Based on recent history, allocating electoral votes in those states by congressional district would shift large numbers of electoral votes from the Democratic to Republican column. Under the most likely scenarios, it would deliver a majority of electoral votes in those states to the GOP even in elections in which Republicans lost the statewide vote. That’s because the congressional maps in those states favor the GOP.
The change also would greatly diminish the role those states play in presidential campaigns, because most congressional districts are tilted toward one party or the other and aren’t truly in play.
Without the winner-take-all rule, a swing state would command far fewer visits, far less attention and far less spending from the campaigns. (This analysis from 2011 — when the idea was previously floated — has more on the impact in Wisconsin of ending winner-take-all.)
Gov. Walker has sent mixed signals about how he views the idea in Wisconsin. He called it “interesting” and “plausible” in an interview with the Journal Sentinel last month, but said he neither supported nor opposed it. Talking to Newsmax on Saturday, Walker said we “have to be very careful in making changes like that,” but called the idea “worth looking at.”
But in a separate interview with the Journal Sentinel, Walker acknowledged major concerns. “You concede it would have a dramatic impact on the targeting of the state?” Walker was asked. “Right. Exactly right … That’s why I qualified (my earlier statements) … I just said I hadn’t ruled it out. I’m not embracing it,” said Walker.
“The most important thing to me long-term as governor on that is what makes your voters be in play,” said Walker, voicing the concern that ending “winner-take all” would make the state “irrelevant” in presidential campaigns.
“You would agree it would have that effect?” he was asked.
“Yeah. I think that’s a real concern,” he said.