The Independent Party of Oregon supports HB 2588, which would make Presidential elections more meaningful in Oregon and other states not typically labeled "battleground" areas. For the past decade and more, Presidential campaigns have focused heavily on just a few states (Florida, states in the upper Midwest, and just lately some Rocky Mountains states), where the major party candidates run close races. The candidates have all but completely ignored Pacific Coast, New England, Mid-Atlantic, Southern (except Florida) and Great Plains states.
Yes, voter preferences can shift over time. But that never makes the current electoral college system better. The candidates are always compelled to focus on states where the Presidential vote is expected to be close and to disregard voters in other states (except as a source of campaign money, as is the case for California and New York in particular). Perhaps in 2012 North Carolina and Virginia will be considered "battleground" states, and maybe Pennsylvania and Michigan will drop out of that category. But, in any event, the Presidential campaigns will focus on the states where the vote is expected to be closest, to the detriment of all other states. This is an inevitable result of the Electoral College, combined with the state-by-state "winner take all" system.
And let us not forget that the Electoral College is an undemocratic system, having four times elected a President who received fewer votes than his opponent. Who were the fortunate four? John Quincy Adams, Rutherford Hayes, Benjamin Harrison, and George W. Bush.
In what must be one of the strangest coincidences on record, 3 of fortunate 4 were preceded as President by their own relatives. John Quincy Adams and George W. Bush were sons of Presidents. Benjamin Harrison was the grandson of President William Henry Harrison.
The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, embodied in HB 2588, has already been adopted in Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, and New Jersey. It creates an agreement among states that guarantees the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most votes nationwide. The bill would only take effect only after it is enacted by states that collectively exercise a majority of the electoral votes (270 or more).
A survey of 800 Oregon voters conducted by Public Policy Polling on December 16-17, 2008, found 76% overall support for a national popular vote for President. Support was 82% among Democrats, 70% among Republicans, and 72% among others.
For more information, see http://www.nationalpopularvote.com/pages/polls.php#OR_2008DEC