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Opinion: Popular vote would give GOP a better chance

Matthew Joyner

I came of age politically in Michigan when it was solidly entrenched within the Democratic Blue Wall grouping of Rust Belt states. I then moved to deeply blue Oregon, where Republicans never compete in presidential elections.

Yet my vote on the GOP ballot line may finally matter, thanks to the Oregon’s recent enactment of the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. The Republican-controlled Michigan Legislature ought to consider adopting this compact.

(FILE -GENERIC) -- A voter heads to the polls in an April 2017 file image. In Maine, for the first time in U.S. history, a controversial voting system known as "ranked choice" is being used to decide a federal election.

It has been adopted by 16 jurisdictions with 196 of the 270 Electoral College votes needed to become president. It exercises the constitutional authority of state legislatures to determine the method of allocating their votes in the Electoral College by pledging the electors of compacting states to the winner of the national popular vote.

This ensures that every voter in every state is relevant. By contrast, the current winner-take-all method used by most states makes voters in 34 states completely irrelevant.

Do not confuse this with what Democrat presidential candidates have proposed. The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact does not abolish the Electoral College. Rather, it fully preserves the inherent role of states as written into the U.S. Constitution by the Founding Fathers.

Yes, Donald Trump cracked the Blue Wall with his 2016 win. While he could win again, it is unknown if Republicans post-Trump can replicate his success for three reasons.

First, there is hardly another Trump on the party’s front bench. It’s quite possible the party will revert to its old ways, which could push working-class voters — let’s call them Trump Democrats — back to Democrats in the same way as Reagan Democrats abandoned George H.W. Bush in 1992. Right now, the best chance Republicans have is the Democratic Party’s embrace of socialism. If Democrats lose they will undoubtedly seek a return to Clintonian centrism and Third Way politics.

Second, even if Trump Democrats remain in the Republican column after 2020 there won’t be enough of them to swing an election because of changing demographics. Not only is America becoming less white with every passing election cycle, but these voters are dying off. Millennials and Generation Xers now cast more votes than baby boomers and even-older seniors, according to the Pew Research Center.

Third, a Republican winning the Electoral College with no change to the method of allocating electors is almost impossible because any honest observer will admit that Arizona and Georgia are following the same voting pattern that saw once deeply Republican red Virginia shift to swing-state purple and then Democratic blue. Then there is Texas, which Democrats have eyed for a couple of election cycles as the inflow of new residents from California and New York have weakened the GOP’s footing.

The compact would put the Republican Party on offense as suddenly there would be a real campaign for every voter in every state.

A voter marks a ballot for the New Hampshire primary inside a voting booth at a polling place Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016, in Manchester, N.H.

And no Hillary Clinton wouldn’t be president. As Trump said, the 2016 campaign would have been vastly different if he had to campaign outside the battleground states. It also doesn’t mean that California and New York would dominate a popular vote either. To claim otherwise is to deny basic math.

For all these reasons the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact should be adopted by the Republican-controlled Michigan Legislature.

Matthew Joyner, a graduate of Michigan State University, is a freelance writer and financial professional.