Another state presidential primary season has come and gone and once again voters in New York State find themselves on the sidelines of the most important political contest in the world. All because the Republican nomination was sewn up by Mitt Romney before New Yorkers got a chance to vote. So the third largest state in the union miss out on the parade of presidential candidates that much smaller states like Iowa and New Hampshire count on every four years. In the process we also miss out on candidates for the highest office in the land listening to our concerns. Moreover, we forego the economic benefit of candidates, their entourages and the national media staying in our hotel rooms and eating in our restaurants. The biggest losers may be our local TV and radio stations and newspapers who lose out on hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising revenue.
It wouldn’t be so bad if we mattered in the November general election. But we don’t. The last time New York went for the Republican presidential candidate was 28 years ago. If Republicans are competitive in New York, they don’t need us because they will have almost every other state locked up. As a result, neither candidate will bother to campaign or spend any money here. They will, however, stop by to raise money. Then they will spend our money in Ohio, Florida and the other so-called battleground states. So we are irrelevant for another four years. It’s not right and something needs to be done.
One possibility is for the state legislature and the governor to change the way our electoral votes are allocated. Like 47 other states, we currently give all of our electoral votes to the candidate who wins the popular vote. This winner-take-all scheme all but guarantees the Democratic candidate 29 electoral votes and results in New York being taken for granted. Maine and Nebraska do things differently. They have a series of mini-elections in each of their congressional districts. The winner of the popular vote in a congressional district is awarded one electoral vote. Two bonus electors are then awarded for the winner of the overall state popular vote. If we adopted this method the Democratic candidate would probably still win the lion’s share of the electoral votes. But a number of districts would be competitive and candidates of both parties would probably spend time and money trying to win them. It is a change that should be given serious thought, as the status quo is unacceptable.
If you have thoughts you would like to share, I would love to hear from you. I can be contacted by phone at 858-8672 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.