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Entrepreneur Tom Golisano Endorses National Popular Vote

Short Explanation
The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee a majority of the Electoral College to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The bill would reform the Electoral College so that the electoral vote in the Electoral College reflects the choice of the nation's voters for President of the United States.   more
11 Enactments
The National Popular Vote bill has been enacted into law in states possessing 165 electoral votes — 61% of the 270 electoral votes needed to activate the legislation.

  • Maryland - 10 votes
  • Massachusetts - 11
  • Washington - 12 votes
  • Vermont - 3 votes
  • Rhode Island - 4 votes
  • DC - 3 votes
  • Hawaii - 4 votes
  • New Jersey - 14 votes
  • Illinois - 20 votes
  • New York - 29 votes
  • California - 55 votes

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    12. Myths about Campaign Spending and length

    1.12.1  MYTH: Campaign spending would skyrocket if candidates had to campaign in all 50 states.

    QUICK ANSWER:

  • The total amount of money that is spent on presidential campaigns is controlled by available money—not by the (virtually unlimited) number of opportunities to spend money. The National Popular Vote compact does not increase the amount of money available from political donors.
  • Under both the current state-by-state winner-take-all system and nationwide voting for President, candidates allocate the pool of money available to them from donors in the manner that they believe will maximize their chance of winning. Under the current system, virtually all of the money (and campaign events) are concentrated in a handful of closely divided battleground states, while four out of five states and four out of five voters get virtually no attention. Under a national popular vote, every voter in every state would be politically relevant, and money would therefore be spent differently.
  • MORE DETAILED ANSWER:

    The total amount of money that a presidential campaign can spend is determined by the amount of money that it can raise—not by the virtually unlimited opportunities for spending money.

    There are two major steps in campaign budgeting.

    First, presidential campaigns and their supporters try to raise as much money as possible from all sources available to them. All serious presidential campaigns raise money nationally, even though they concentrate their campaigning to closely divided battleground states. Table 9.2 shows the contributions to the 2008 presidential campaign from residents of each state.

    Second, after an organization ascertains how much money it can raise, it engages in a resource-allocation process in order to decide how to spend the money in the most advantageous way. The controlling factor in allocating resources is the state-by-state winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes.

    Under the current state winner-take-all statutes, campaigns concentrate their spending on a handful of closely divided battleground states. They do this because they have nothing to lose, and nothing to gain, by trying to win votes in states where they are comfortably ahead or hopelessly behind.

    Under the current system, 99% of the money raised in the 2004 presidential campaign was spent in just 16 states. In 2008, candidates concentrated 98% of their campaign events and ad money in just 15 states. [341] In 2012, four out of five states were ignored by the presidential campaigns (section 9.2.1).

    Under the current system, a rational resource-allocation process for presidential campaigns involves ignoring all but the closely divided battleground states.

    The National Popular Vote compact would not increase the total number of dollars available from donors. Candidates and their supporters would continue to raise as much money as they possibly can on a national basis. The mere existence of several dozen additional states that could not be ignored would not, in itself, generate any additional money.

    The resource-allocation process would be different under the National Popular Vote plan than under the current system. The reason is that every voter in every state and the District of Columbia would be politically relevant under a national popular vote. Therefore, it would be suicidal for a presidential campaign to ignore 40 of the 50 states. The available amount of money would be reallocated because every voter in every state would be politically relevant.

    Under a national popular vote, it would be impossible to operate a campaign in all 50 states at the same per-capita level of intensity as recent campaigns in a battleground state such as Ohio.

    Consider Ohio and Illinois. Both states had 20 electoral votes in the 2008 election. Under the current state-by-state winner-take-all system, Illinois was ignored, while Ohio received an enormous amount of attention in the general-election campaign. In 2008, Ohio received 62 of the 300 post-convention campaign events (table 9.1) and about $17,000,000 in advertising (table 9.2), whereas Illinois received no post-convention campaign events and only $53,896 in advertising.

    Although one cannot predict exactly how a future presidential campaign might unfold under the National Popular Vote plan, it would be suicidal, for example, for a presidential campaign to ignore Illinois. Some of the available pool of money would necessarily be reallocated to Illinois because a vote in Illinois would be just as valuable as a vote in Ohio under the National Popular Vote plan. In all likelihood, Ohio and Illinois would receive approximately equal attention (in both campaign events and spending) because they are approximately equal in population.

    The role of unpaid volunteers would change under a national popular vote. Under the current system, there is considerable grassroots campaigning for President in the closely divided battleground states because people in those states are aware that their votes and the votes of their neighbors matter. However, in the spectator states, there is no significant grassroots campaigning for President under the current system (except for raising money, making phone calls into battleground states, and traveling to battleground states to campaign). Under a national popular vote, campaigning would become worthwhile in every state. Increased volunteer activity would partially counter-balance the effect of large donations in political campaigns.

    12.2  MYTH: The length of presidential campaigns would increase if candidates had to travel to all 50 states.

    QUICK ANSWER:

  • Critics of a national popular vote for President argue that presidential campaigns would lengthen if presidential candidates had to “travel to 50 states to court voters.”
  • The National Popular Vote compact does not change the amount of time between a candidate’s nomination and Election Day.
  • There was time to conduct 300 post-convention campaign events in 2008. Under the current state-by-state winner-take-all rule, candidates allocated two-thirds of their time to just six states.
  • There was time to conduct 253 post-convention campaign events in 2012. Under the current state-by-state winner-take-all rule, two thirds of the presidential and vice-presidential post-convention campaign events were conducted in just four states (Ohio, Florida, Virginia, and Iowa).
  • The effect of the National Popular Vote compact would be that candidates would have to allocate the time available very differently than they do now. Every voter in every state would be politically relevant in every presidential election.
  • We view the fact that the National Popular Vote compact would force presidential candidates to “travel to 50 states to court voters” as a highly desirable benefit—not a disadvantage.
  • MORE DETAILED ANSWER:

    In an article entitled “The Electoral College is Brilliant, and We Would Be Insane to Abolish It,” Walter Hickey writes:

    “Nobody wants to make the presidential election season any longer ….

    “If you make it so a President has to travel to 50 states to court voters, that's going to take time.…

    “Dragging it out more months, jet setting from California to New York on weekends, that would make an already annoying election period into a downright intolerable one.

    “The best candidate would be the one with either the most frequent flier miles or the strongest immune system.” [342] [Emphasis added]

    As Hickey correctly points out, the National Popular Vote compact would force presidential candidates to “travel to 50 states to court voters.” We view that as a highly desirable benefit of a national popular vote for President.

    There was time to conduct 300 post-convention campaign events in 2008. Candidates necessarily must allocate the available amount of time to various activities.

    Today, the state-by-state winner-take-all rule determines how presidential candidates allocate their time (and other resources).

    Under the current state-by-state winner-take-all rule, candidates allocated two-thirds of their time to just six states.

    There was time to conduct 253 post-convention campaign events in 2012. Under the current state-by-state winner-take-all rule, two thirds of the presidential and vice-presidential post-convention campaign events were conducted in just four states in 2012 (Ohio, Florida, Virginia, and Iowa).

    The National Popular Vote compact cannot, and does not, change the amount of time between a candidate’s nomination and Election Day.

    The effect of a national popular vote for President would be that candidates would allocate the time available very differently than they do now. Under a national popular vote, every voter in every state would be politically relevant in every presidential election.

    Under the current state-by-state winner-take-all system, New Hampshire received 13 of the 253 campaign events in 2012, while the 12 other smallest states each received none. Under the National Popular Vote plan, it would be inconceivable that presidential candidates would campaign in only one small state, while ignoring the 12 other small states. Most likely, each of the 13 smallest states would receive one campaign event under a nationwide vote for President.

    Although one cannot predict exactly how a future presidential campaign might unfold under the National Popular Vote plan, a good prediction would be that presidential candidates would probably distribute their limited number of campaign events among the states roughly in proportion to population.


    341 Hickey, Walter. 2012. The Electoral College is brilliant, and we would be insane to abolish it. Business Insider. October 3, 2012. http://www.businessinsider.com/the-electoral-college-is-brilliant-2012-10.

    342 U.S. Constitution. Article II, section 1, clause 4.

    Reform the Electoral College so that the electoral vote reflects the nationwide popular vote for President