Here's something you might not know: A lot of people live in California. Yeah, I know! Who would have thought??
You could be forgiven for not knowing that, though, if all you paid attention to were presidential races. Despite California's massive size -- and its accompanying 53 electoral votes, 21 more than in Texas, the next most populous state -- it becomes somewhat invisible during presidential campaigns. Both parties tend to write the state off as a win for Democrats. Al Gore spent no money in California in 2000, and he still won 53%-42%
But that situation could be changing. The California legislature has sent a bill to Gov. Schwarzenegger that would essentially pull the state out of the electoral college. Instead, California's votes would go to the candidate that won the most votes nationwide. From the LA Times:
"Frankly, the current system doesn't work," said Assemblyman Rick Keene (R-Chico), the only Republican to vote for the bill. "Presidential candidates don't bother to visit the largest state in the nation.... California is left out."
Other states -- New York, Illinois, Missouri, Colorado and Louisiana -- have similar bills pending.
But here's my real question: In an era where presidential elections are more and more focused just on a scant few battleground states -- and in an era in which technology and communications have made tallying vote totals easier than ever -- what are the arguments for the electoral college? In what context does it seem like a good idea?