The most important political news of the day has nothing to do with the Democratic national convention. It is that Constitution Party nominee for President Virgil Goode Jr. has made the ballot in Virginia. Last month Goode turned in over 20,000 signatures to make the ballot, and today a sufficient number were certified as valid.
While it is unlikely Goode will get more than one percent of the national popular vote, he has a very specific regional appeal in the critical swing state of Virginia. For over a decade Goode represented Virginia’s 5th congressional district before leaving the Republican party. Given his long history and name recognition in the state it is likely he could significantly over perform in Virginia compared to elsewhere.
It is possible in Virginia that Goode could take a few percent away from Romney among right leaning voters who are disappointed with Obama but also dislike Romney as a person. Given how incredibly close the race is in Virginia right now that small amount could easily be the difference between Obama winning or losing the State’s 13 electoral votes. Those 13 electoral votes in turn could be what barely puts Obama over 270 to get re-election. Based on the map it is very difficult for Romney to get to 270 electoral votes without Virginia.
If we used a sane election system to choose our president this would be only a very minor piece of news. If we had a national popular vote instead of the idiotic electoral college, it wouldn’t matter that a minor candidate had a special appeal in only one small part of the country. Further, if instead of a first-past-the-post voting model we used a run off or an instant run off system for when no candidate gets over 50%, there wouldn’t be the potential issue of a spoiler.
Yet the multiple terrible design flaws in how we choose our President combined with the unique circumstance surrounding Goode this election could result in him playing a radically more significant role than his overall level of support among all American voters would justify. While it is an unlikely scenario, it is very possible on November 7th we will look back at this event as the thing that allowed Obama to narrowly win a majority in the electoral college thanks to Virginia.
The fact that such a thing is even possible under our current election set up, would, I hope, encourage more people to embrace the need for some reforms.