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Opinion: Defeat national popular vote to protect Colorado’s economy

Colorado voters this November face a consequential decision: whether to join the interstate National Popular Vote compact.  I strongly encourage a “No” vote, and here’s why.  

A “yes” vote on Proposition 113 would require Colorado to award its nine (soon to become 10) electoral votes to the candidate who wins the most votes nationally, even if that candidate does not get the most votes in Colorado. 

Earl Wright

A “No” vote, defeating Proposition 113, keeps the current system in place: Colorado’s electoral votes go to the candidate who wins the most votes in Colorado.  

While much of the debate over Proposition 113 centers around potential constitutional issues and impacts on Colorado’s weight in presidential elections, voters should consider another important effect: the potential economic impacts on our state.  

A 2015 study of federal spending from 1984 through 2008, conducted by Boston University’s Douglas L. Kriner and Washington University’s Andrew Reeves, found that presidents pay particular attention to critical electoral states. 

In election years, the median county in a swing state received $27.8 million – 6.5% – more federal grant dollars than a similar county in a non-swing state.

READ: Proposition 113 explained: Colorado voters could push the U.S. closer to a national popular vote system

As a swing state whose nine electoral votes have been highly coveted and contested in recent election cycles, Colorado has been the beneficiary of presidential attention. 

As a result, candidates weigh Colorado’s interests in land use management, interstate water policy (think about our water wars with vote-rich California), and funding for roads, health care and our military installations. In short, Colorado’s electoral votes give our state clout.

Want proof? In 2016, Colorado was visited by the two major party presidential nominees 19 times, more than all but a handful of other states.  As a result of this attention, presidential candidates hear, listen to and respond to Colorado’s unique concerns.  

READ: Colorado Sun opinion columnists.

Federal funding is not, nor should it ever be, the engine of Colorado’s economy.  But it is an ingredient. From our military installations, to health care and transportation funding, to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, federal funding adds value to Colorado’s economy. 

Furthermore, national concern for Colorado’s unique interests in various regulatory, land-use and other policies have a real impact on our economy.

Here is the bottom line: Colorado does best when presidential candidates must compete for our votes.  

Consider the alternative. Under the National Popular Vote compact, instead of nine highly contested electoral votes, Colorado has just 1.8% of the nation’s population. Our clout is minimal. Our needs and interests are easily overlooked.

Proponents of National Popular Vote counter that Colorado’s status as a swing state, and any resulting clout, is on the wane. Perhaps. 

But at least our fate is in our hands. Any candidate who recklessly ignores Colorado’s interests can be punished by the voters of Colorado. With nine or 10 electoral votes, Colorado has leverage to hold presidential candidates accountable. 

And the same can be said for any state. The National Popular Vote, on the other hand, guarantees that Colorado loses its clout, and any resulting economic benefit. Any leverage to hold presidential candidates accountable for our interests is lost.

The National Popular Vote scheme guarantees a massive migration of presidential election power and influence to large population centers in California, New York and other highly-populated states. 

From issues of national consequence to matters of parochial interest, Colorado’s voice would be greatly diminished. The impacts on Colorado’s economy should not be overlooked.

Coloradans should vote No on Proposition 113, the National Popular Vote compact.   


Earl Wright is a Colorado businessman and co-chair of Protect Colorado’s Vote.


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