Electoral College compromise?

Reader Peter Porcupine responded to my post about the Electoral College and the possibility of repeating the 2000 election by suggesting an alternative:

There is an intermediate step between the existing system and a popular vote, and several states use it now. It is to apportion electoral college votes according to popular votes within a state. Maine uses this, for instance. It is a viable compromise. It preserves the original purpose of the electoral college – having the interests of rural states preserved against an overwhelming popular vote in urban areas – while apportioning those vote more fairly.

Peter doesn’t indicate a preference here on whether to retain the two votes given to each state regardless of population size (that is, reflecting their representation in the Senate), a provision that gives a little extra heft to smaller states. If each state didn’t get those extra two votes, Al Gore would have won the 2000 election even with a winner-take-all system. Since Bush won 30 states to Gore’s 20, he won 60 bonus votes to Gore’s 40; without them, his 271-266 victory in the Electoral College would have vanished.

In 2004, Bush won 31 states to John Kerry’s 19 states, giving him a 24-vote margin among the bonus electoral votes. If the bonus votes vanished, he would have still won 224-213 in the Electoral College, a too-close-for-comfort margin given his 3 million vote edge in the popular vote.

All of this is mere speculation, of course, for the major parties would adjust their strategies in response to any change in the system of deciding a winner — or, as reader Chris Van Haight puts it, "the presidential election industry would have to retool."