The Rachel Maddow Show | December 12, 2012
>>> in addition, we should consider reforms to the redistricting process for state and federal offices so that districts were drawn in a way that is neutral, that promotes fair and effective representation for all, and that can't be abused to protect incumbents and undercut electoral competition.
>> attorney general eric holder last night proposing the radical outre concept that elections ought to be run in a neutral way, a way that is not designed to favor one party or the other. it's crazy, right? the man has gone crazy. joining us now is steve kornacki from salon.com, host of "the cycle." good to have you i don't here.
>> great to be here.
>> some republican-controlled states , including ohio and virginia are talking about making their state vote for president the same way they vote for congress and the legislature. which right now is set up in a way that dramatically favors republicans , no matter how people vote. is it feasible that they could do this?
>> it is feasible, sure, because they have the power. we're talking about states here where you control where the republican party controls the governorship and controls both houses of the legislature. so they have the power to do it. the significance, i literally have some back of the envelope calculations.
>> that's an actual envelope?
>> with some calculations on it. i think it's worth pointing out. you have four statious mentioned, pennsylvania , virginia , michigan , ohio . right now this year in the 2012 election, the electoral vote count from those four states was 61-0, obama . he won all four states . if you get a vote for every congressional district you win plus two if you win the popular state vote, if you did that then romney would have won 37 of the 61 electoral votes . it would have taken the national margin what we have now to 294-43.
>> basically at that point, florida which was less than a point could win it for romney in that scenario, even with him losing the national popular vote by four points. and then i asked dave wasserman, with the cook political report . i said if you did that in every state around the country, if that was the methodology, how would this year have gone? he said 276-62 romney . romley anywould have won if you did every state based on congressional district . gerrymandering is part of it. the other aspect is lot of democratic voters are packed into geographically small areas. it's cities and the districts are drawn in ways that the city is the district. so when you do that, it opens up these sort of wide swaths of suburbia that you could have four or five or six republican-friendly districts drawn there, and that's where we start to see some imbalances.
>> in a state like pennsylvania , which everybody talks about, philadelphia being the key to that vote, if you win philadelphia, that wouldn't get you anything more than winning anyother place in the state despite the huge number of people who live there.
>> pennsylvania would have been under this system 13-5, romney this year.
>> even though obama won.
>> it was 1988 the last time a republican won there.
>> there are only two states , nebraska and maine that do their system anything like this, and their history of hoy they got there doesn't really have anything to do -- doesn't match the current history for why these things are being proposed in the republican-led states right now. given that this would be sort of uncharted territory for these states to go this direction, what do you think would be the political impact? would they be at risk for some sort of backlash? how do you think people would react to it?
>> i think there are two things. take the four states and separate them into two. look at virginia and look at ohio . these are states that, look, obama won them this year and in 2008 . but these are close states that republicans can definitely be competing in. one where they might get some pause is, hey, if we can win these states outright in 2016 , why are we potentially giving away two or three electoral votes in our state . there is that. pennsylvania and michigan , these are states that have really been lost causes for the republicans in presidential elections . 198 the last time they won either one of thooez them. these are more safely blue states . sure you've got republicans in the governorship and republicans in the state legislature . but thing is an awareness on the part at some level that they are existing in blue states with democratic-friendly electorates. and if democrats, and if the media cried foul and said this is an explicitly political sort of repurposing of election law , and if democrats made this a major point of emphasis that this was this dramatic sore of overreach on republicans part, i think there is a chance for a backlash that would make republicans in those states look at it and say okay, we have the power to enact whatever we want, but there are limits on that because of this backlash potential. so what are our priorities here. you look at michigan , yeah, right to work is going to be a priority. they're going to take a lot of abuse for putting that through. i don't know if ultimately would be willing to take a lot of abuse to help the national republican party when it wouldn't really help the state republican party .
>> i felt like that calculation was something that i thought would be a barrier to entry until i saw them move on right to work.
>> and then i think, you know what? if they're willing to take the cradle of american union rights and just ram it through, no debate, we're announcing it on thursday, it's done by thursday night, screw you, state , screw you. we don't want to hear about it. we'll deal with the consequences when about we have to. to take that approach to right to work is why i'm talking about this potential proposal for michigan now, because now anything seems possible.
>> and we know too they didn't talk about right to work before they did. and they haven't really taked about this before they did it. it doesn't mean anything that they haven't made this an issue before now.
>> yes learning all sorts of new stuff about all sorts of uncharted territory we never thought we would have to map.
>>> thanks, steve. great to have you here.
>> can i keep the envelope?
>> you can have it.
>> i'll put it in a