Gov. Scott Walker is open to having Wisconsin allocate its Electoral College votes based on results from each congressional district – a move that would offer Republicans a chance to score at least a partial victory in a state that has gone Democratic in the last seven presidential elections. The idea is being considered in other battleground states that have tipped toward Democrats as Republicans try to develop a national plan to capture the presidency in future years. The GOP governor said he found the notion intriguing but neither embraced it nor rejected it. “To me, it’s an interesting concept, it’s a plausible concept, but it’s not one where I’m convinced either of its merits or lack thereof,” he said in a recent interview at the governor’s mansion in Maple Bluff. Democrats promised to fight such a change, saying they viewed it as a way for Republicans to try to rig elections to their advantage.
“They cannot win a fair and square election in a presidential year, so (they say) we have to change the rules of the game,” said Mike Tate, chairman of the state Democratic Party.
Walker’s fellow Republicans will control both houses of the Legislature starting next month, giving them the opportunity to reallocate how electoral votes are doled out.
Like 47 other states, Wisconsin grants all its electoral votes to whichever presidential candidate wins the statewide vote. Two states – Nebraska and Maine – give two electoral votes to the statewide winner and parcel out the rest by congressional district. As it happens, all their votes have gone to a single candidate, except in 2008, when one electoral vote in Omaha was given to Barack Obama.
If Wisconsin adopted such a system, the votes would be split routinely. If the state had such a system this year, Obama would have gotten five votes and his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, would have gotten five. That’s because Romney won the majority vote in five congressional districts, while Obama won the majority in three congressional districts and the statewide vote.
Wisconsin has gone for the Democratic candidate in every presidential election since 1988. It has continued to draw attention from both parties, nonetheless, with the results in 2000 and 2004 being extremely close.