Pennsylvania takes lead on Republican plan to rework Electoral College


On Saturday, Michigan Republicans gathered at their state convention in Lansing overwhelmingly voted in favor of a plan allocating 14 of their state’s 16 electoral votes by congressional district (Obama carried the state by 9.5 percentage points).  Had it been in effect in 2012, the plan would have given Obama only 10 of the state’s 16 electoral votes. Despite his party’s overwhelming support, Gov. Snyder told the press that now was  “not the appropriate time” to consider changing the state’s electoral college rules.

Pennsylvania Republicans, on the other hand, are full steam ahead on their plan to tinker with the way the state votes—Pennsylvania has a govenor that has long been supportive of rigging the electoral college. Late last week, a plan that would’ve given Mitt Romney 8 of the state’s 20 votes was introduced by Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi and 12 other Republican senators—that’s already half the votes needed to pass the plan in the Senate.

Plans to change the way states award their electoral votes gained traction in the wake of an election that saw Barack Obama sweep nearly all swing states, some by margins in the high single digits.

Earlier this year, Republicans looking to tinker with the electoral college got the backing of  RNC chair Reince Priebus. In response to a plan that would allocate Wisconsin’s votes according to congressional district (under this plan, the President would have won only 6 votes, as opposed to all 10 of the state’s electoral votes), RNC Chair Reince Priebus said,”I think it’s something that a lot of states that have been consistently blue that are fully controlled red ought to be looking at.”

Sure enough, plans to ‘rig’ the electoral college popped up in states like Florida, Virginia, Ohio, and Michigan—all states that went for Obama in 2012 but are controlled by Republicans at the state level. If this plan was in use in all of the six states in which it was proposed in the 2012 election, President Obama would have carried the electoral college by only 271 votes, as opposed to the 332 he won under the current system. But nearly all the plans made very little headway  as party bigwigs like Paul Ryan and Virginia Gov Bob McDonnell came out against the proposals.