The One Small Investment That Could've Saved Hillary Clinton's Campaign

The One Small Investment That Could've Saved Hillary Clinton's Campaign
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Carlos Barria / Reuters

More than $1.3 billion was wasted on behalf of the Hillary Clinton campaign. If just 1/20th of that had been spent promoting a reform this country desperately needs, she would be president.

Clinton ended up winning the popular vote but lost because of the undemocratic and outdated electoral college. Yet for years there has been a concrete ―but chronically underfunded― plan for making the electoral college effectively meaningless. It is the national popular vote compact.

If states with 270 electoral college votes all sign on, the next president will be whoever wins the most votes ― as the process works in other sane democracies. At this point, 10 states (RI, VT, HI, MD, MA, WA, NJ, IL, NY, CA) and Washington, D.C., accounting for a total of 165 electoral votes, have signed on. With enough money, getting the final 105 would be pretty simple. Money could be used to lobby local lawmakers or more directly run initiative campaigns

There are enough states that allow ballot initiatives to get to 105. States with initiative processes that have yet to sign on to the compact have a combined 153 electoral votes. (AK 3, OR 7, ID 4, NV 6, UT 6, AZ 11, MT 3, WY 3, CO 9, ND 3, SD 3, NE 5, OK 7, MO 10, AR 6, MI 16, OH 18, ME 4, FL 29) Nationally, 70% of the public supports switching to a national popular vote. State polling found that even in “swing states,” which currently get all the attention, the idea still receives overwhelming support.

Since the inherent principle of one person one vote is so popular with regular people, if the issue were brought directly to the voters it would likely pass; and all it really takes to put something on all these ballots is enough money for a campaign in each state. One of the biggest costs would be gathering signatures to qualify for the ballot. To put the measure on the ballot in all these states, it would take just under 2.3 million valid signatures. Last cycle, the average cost per-required signature was $2.27. So signature gathering comes to roughly $5.2 million. Add in the cost of a modest campaign team in each state, lawyers, some ad buys... it is still easy to see how you could bring the national popular vote to this country with less than $65 million. That’s a fraction of what was spent by Clinton supporters.

Of course, Democrats thought they had an electoral college edge this cycle, so they made little push to eliminate this arcane system that just put Donald Trump in the White House. If Clinton supporters had taken a stand on principle, regardless of how it might have impacted their chances, they wouldn’t have lost the presidency. That’s something to keep in mind as Clinton fans bemoan their loss.

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