Count Ohio’s Republican leaders out of a GOP-backed effort to end the Electoral College’s winner-take-all format in the Buckeye State and other presidential battlegrounds. Spokesmen for Gov. John Kasich, State Senate President Keith Faber and House Speaker William G. Batchelder told The Plain Dealer this week that they are not pursuing plans to award electoral votes proportionally by congressional district. Batchelder went a step further, saying through his communications director that he “is not supportive of such a move.” And Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted, the state’s chief elections administrator, emphasized that he does not favor the plan either, despite Democratic suspicions based on reported comments that he said were taken out of context. “Nobody in Ohio is advocating this,” Husted said in a telephone interview.
Ohio, like all but two other states, awards all of its electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins its popular vote. President Barack Obama, a Democrat, won here in 2008 and 2012. Obama beat Republican challenger Mitt Romney by more than 166,000 votes in Ohio last November. But had the proposal that has been floated in recent weeks been in place then, Romney easily would have won a majority of the state’s 18 electoral votes — perhaps as many as 12.
That’s because in Ohio, a dozen of the state’s 16 congressional districts were drawn to favor Republicans. The GOP handily won all 12 of those seats last year. Democrats won their four seats by even larger margins. While voters don’t always vote straight-ticket Democrat or Republican, Republicans have a clear advantage under these boundaries.
Proponents of proportional allocation focus on states such as Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. All are key electoral prizes that Obama won twice. And all are controlled by Republican governors and legislatures. If all six had awarded their electoral votes proportionally by congressional district last year, Romney would have won exactly the 270 needed to clinch the White House, according to a recent analysis by the New York Times.