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With National Popular Vote, big cities would not get all of candidates’ attention, much less control the outcome. The population of the top 5 cities (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Philadelphia) is only 6% of the population, and the population of the top 50 cities (going as far down as Arlington, TX) is only 19% of the population. Suburbs and exurbs often vote Republican.
If big cities controlled the outcome of elections, the governors and U.S. Senators would be Democratic in virtually every state with a significant city. A nationwide presidential campaign, with every vote equal, would be run the way presidential candidates campaign to win the electoral votes of closely divided battleground states, such as OH and FL, under the state-by-state winner-take-all methods. The big cities in those battleground states do not receive all the attention, much less control the outcome. Cleveland and Miami do not receive all the attention or control the outcome in OH and FL. The itineraries of presidential candidates in battleground states (and their allocation of other campaign resources in battleground states) reflect the political reality that every gubernatorial or senatorial candidate knows. When and where every vote is equal, a campaign must be run everywhere.
With National Popular Vote, when every vote is equal, everywhere, it makes sense for presidential candidates to try and elevate their votes where they are and aren't so well liked. But, under the state-by-state winner-take-all laws, it makes no sense for a Democrat to try and do that in VT or TN, or for a Republican to try it in TN or VT. Even in CA state-wide elections, candidates for governor or U.S. Senate don't campaign just in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and those places don't control the outcome (otherwise California wouldn't have recently had Republican governors Reagan, Dukemejian, Wilson, and Schwarzenegger). A vote in rural Alpine county is just an important as a vote in Los Angeles. If Los Angeles cannot control statewide elections in CA, it can hardly control a nationwide election. In fact, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland together cannot control a statewide election in CA.
Similarly, Republicans dominate TX politics without carrying big cities such as Dallas and Houston.
There are numerous other examples of Republicans who won races for governor and U.S. Senator in other states that have big cities (e.g., NY, IL, MI, PA, and MA) without ever carrying the big cities of their respective states.
The National Popular Vote bill would not change the need for candidates to build a winning coalition across demographics. Candidates would have to appeal to a broad range of demographics, and perhaps even more so, because the election wouldn’t be capable of coming down to just one demographic, such as voters in Ohio.
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