You know how I love maps, so the recent hubbub over a map project by artist Neil Freeman caught my eye. Rather than try to figure out how to reform the bizarre, arguably archaic Electoral College method of electing the President of the United States, why don’t we just re-align our state borders to reflect even populations among all states? Freeman’s resulting work:
You understand, of course, how excited I would be to live in a state called “Mesabi” that united my alma mater UW-Superior with my home state, right? That would awesome, and my first order as warlord when the time comes.
Now, even Freeman acknowledges this can’t and won’t happen for a variety of reasons, but it’s good for a think. Still, to harsh that buzz, the New Republic took it a step further and deduced that Mitt Romney would have narrowly won the electoral college in a map like Freeman’s even though he lost the popular vote by a statistically significant 4 percent margin.
They conclude that map gimmicks won’t solve the problem of the electoral college. The real problem is how you prefer to balance the interests of rural voters spread over a wide area with urban voters tied to densely populated areas.
To me, it suggests that the electoral college might best be abolished. Because it can so easily be gamed one way or the other, let popular vote elect the president and let Congress be elected from a properly apportioned map. Yes, congressional redistricting can also be gamed, but a popularly-elected president can serve as a check on that.
Meantime, I’ll add “State of Mesabi” to my wishlist, as an alternate to my “State of Superior” concept.