Republican Virginia State Senator Ralph Smith may have just saved the 2016 presidential election for Democrats. Smith came out against a bill by Virginia Republicans that would change Virginia from a winner-take-all state in Presidential elections to a state that hands out electoral votes by congressional district. Right now, only Maine and Nebraska split up their electoral votes this way, which doesn’t matter much, because those are small states (population-wise) without much electoral sway or swing. Virginia, however, has become one of the most important swing states in presidential elections-indeed it was crucial to Obama’s victory in 2012.
Under the Republican plan this past election would have seen Romney get 9 of Virginia’s 13 electoral votes (or possibly 7, depending on the details). So Romney would have “won” Virginia, despite the fact that Obama won Virginia’s vote by 3 percentage points (over 100,000 votes). Let me know if you want the details of how that is possible and I will explain in the comments.
Virginia State Senator Ralph Smith seems to have put a stop to this plan, at least for now, and at least in Virginia: “What if all states got to skewering it to their advantage?" Smith told the Roanoke Times. Smith’s opposition would likely be enough to kill the bill in the evenly divided Virginia State Senate, but he also sits on the Privileges and Elections Committee, which is currently considering the bill, so his opposition means that the vote-rigging bill probably won’t even reach the Senate floor.
Make no mistake: the electoral college is highly problematic, but Virginia’s plan was not a solution, it was a scheme to tilt national elections toward Republicans.