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Senate Dem 58   GOP 41   Ties 1
House Dem 257   GOP 178  

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News from the Votemaster

Obama Would Have Won with a District System

Nebraska and Maine are the only two states that split their electoral votes by congressional district. In fact, for the first time ever, Nebraska's electoral votes were split in 2008, with McCain getting four and Obama getting one. Many people have asked what would have happened if every state had followed the Nebraska rules, with the winner of each congressional district getting one electoral vote and the winner of the state getting two additional ones. Now CQ Politics has collected the data and done the computation. The result is that Obama would have beaten John McCain 301 to 237 rather than gotten the 365-173 margin he achieved in November.

The reason for this discrepancy is that Obama won his (largely urban) districts by bigger margins than McCain won his. For example, while Obama carried Florida last year, McCain won 15 of the 25 congressional districts by small amounts while Obama rolled up huge majorities (often more than 60%) in Miami, Orlando, and other urban districts.

To understand the math, consider a fictitious state with 5.4 million voters, 18 congressional districts and 20 electoral votes, with about 300,000 voters per congressional district. To a first approximation, this is Ohio (where 5.7 million people chose 20 electors in November). Imagine that McCain won the 14 most rural districts by a margin of 52% to 48% (ignoring third parties here) for a total of 2.184 million votes to Obama's 2.016 million votes. Now imagine that in the four most urban districts, centered around Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Toledo, Obama took 2/3 of the total vote, for a lead of 800,000 to 400,000 there. Statewide, Obama would win the election with 2.816 million votes to McCain's 2.584 million votes. In a district system, McCain would have gotten 14 electoral votes to Obama's 4 + 2 = 6 electoral votes. In reality, Obama got 2.933 million votes to McCain's 2.674 million but all 20 electoral votes. In a district-based system, McCain would have gained in states with a large number of rural districts and a small number of urban districts that went very heavily for Obama. The biggies that would have flipped include Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. As a final note, state legislators in Nebraska didn't like the idea of Obama winning one of their electoral votes and plan to switch to a winner-take-all system for 2012.

DCCC amd NRCC Report February Take

The DCCC and NRCC have reported their income and expenditures for January and February 2009. Here are the numbers.

Committee Receipts 2009 Expenses Cash-on-Hand Debts
DSCC $7 million $4.6 million $2.9 million $15.1 million
NRCC $3.7 million $2.7 million $1.9 million $6.4 million

For the first time in a long time, the NRCC is in better shape, primarily because the DCCC took on big loans during the 2008 election to strike while the iron was hot. It worked to the extent that the Democrats picked up about two dozen House seats, but now they have to pay down the debt.

Still No Decision in Minnesota

The long-running battle for the Senate seat in Minnesota is still going on. The judges have not yet rendered a decision, but there are more voices being raised now saying that the loser should give up. In particular, Norm Coleman has been flirting with the idea of running for governor, and a long drawn-out appeal would probably saddle him the image of a sore loser and hurt any future gubernatorial plans. Hopefully, the judges will decide the case this week or at worst next week.

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-- The Votemaster