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Opinion

How the Electoral College favors Democrats and why Republicans must change it

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Opinion,Op-Eds,Republican Party,Democratic Party,Electoral College

In a recent op-ed, political Svengali Karl Rove correctly noted that history is against the same party winning the presidency three terms in a row.

In fact, George H.W. Bush's win in 1988 is the only example in the last 60 years. Rove used this factoid to make the case against Hillary Clinton winning in 2016.

This electoral history, however, is misleading for one very important reason: The Electoral College advantage Democrats now have due to the big blue states.

In the six elections since 1988, Republicans have only won twice. Those two victories by George W. Bush barely hit the 270 electoral vote threshold: 271 in 2000 and 286 in 2004.

Don't forget that Al Gore won the popular vote in 2000, losing Florida by a mere 537 votes. In contrast, the four Democratic wins in 1992, 1996, 2008, and 2012 hit 370, 379, 365, and 332 electoral votes. Why such lopsided wins?

Rove’s historical guide is significantly weakened by the low margin-of-error strategy to which the Republican candidate must adhere.

Specifically, the Republican candidate must nearly run the table on the battleground states in order to squeak into the White House, whereas the Democratic candidate has multiple pathways to victory.

Let me break it down by state and electoral votes.

The Democrat will almost always win the following states: California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Republicans haven't won New York, Oregon, Washington, or Wisconsin since Ronald Reagan's 1984 landslide win.

They haven’t won California, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania since 1988. Those states are worth 183 electoral votes. Thus, the Democrat likely enters the 2016 election with a base of 242 electoral votes.

The Republican will almost always win Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Those states give the Republican a base of 170 electoral votes.

This electoral vote allocation leaves the Democrat just 28 electoral votes from The White House, while the Republican needs an additional 100 electoral votes to win. There are only 126 electoral votes left among the 11 battleground states.

This assumes Colorado and Virginia really remain toss-up states, which is doubtful. Thus, the Republican must win 79 percent of the remaining electoral votes.

To put a starker gloss on the Republican’s tough predicament, a loss in just Florida ends the race. Period.

So, while the Democrats are trying to turn reliable red Texas blue, based on long-term demographic trends they see as favorable, Republicans should be doubling-down efforts in Florida, Indiana, Missouri, North Carolina, and Ohio and seeking breakthroughs in California, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Why those five blue states?

Because liberal-progressive policies decimated those states fiscally, thereby giving Republicans a strong opportunity to present voters with clear contrasts.

Additionally, left-wing federal and state mandates are crushing farmers, energy producers, and job creators in those states.

On a more practical level, if Republicans can make headway in those states, Democrats will have to spend precious resources shoring them up.

Every dollar spent in expensive media markets in blue states is a dollar not spent in battleground states or Texas.

We will see this November if Illinois voters drop inept Democrat governor Pat Quinn for a more fiscally responsible Republican alternative.

Voters in Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania already made that decision, but more needs to be done to turn those states truly purple.

History is a reliable guide upon which to make predictions about the future. It depends, however, on the timeframes you use to make those predictions.

Democrats may not in fact win a third straight term in 2016, but the electoral history since 1988 gives them a much smoother path than Republicans.

It is time to invest even more in permanent outreach efforts in key states. Unless it wants to continue winning just two of six elections, the Right must expand the electoral map. The sooner, the better.

Matt A. Mayer is chief operating officer of the Liberty Foundation and author of "Taxpayers Don't Stand a Chance" and "The Founding Debate."

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