PA power grab

Oddly enough, this isn’t one of the pieces of legislation pushed by our friendly corporate interests at ALEC – in fact, they’re on the record opposing elections by popular vote. But it’s not outside the realm of possibility that they dreamed up this twisted variation on what they oppose, since they do get control of redistricting:

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Gov. Tom Corbett and state Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi are proposing that the state divide up its Electoral College votes according to which candidates carried each Congressional district, plus two votes for the statewide winner. The system is used by Maine — which, despite the system, has never actually split its four electoral votes — and by Nebraska, which gave one of its five votes to Barack Obama in 2008.

Pennsylvania, however, will have 20 electoral votes in the 2012 election. What’s more, the measure would give even greater meaning to the state’s redistricting for the House of Representatives, giving it a powerful effect over the presidency in addition to the House.

Pennsylvania has voted Democratic in every presidential election since 1992, and voted for Barack Obama by 55%-44% in 2008. Indeed, over the past 50 years it has only voted Republican in presidential landslides for the GOP: 1972, 1980, 1984, and finally 1988. While the results have sometimes been narrow for the Dems, it is a state that can be expected to vote Democratic for president in the context of a close national campaign, such as its votes for Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004.

Had this proposed system been in place in 2008, when Obama won the state by a ten-point margin, he in fact would have only taken 11 out of the state’s 21 electoral votes at the time — due to a combination of past Republican-led redistricting efforts to maximize their district strength, and Obama’s votes being especially concentrated within urban areas.

As can be expected, the Post-Gazette reports that Democrats are attacking the proposal as a partisan power-grab, while Republicans are standing by it as a reform that would focus attention on districts throughout the state:

Blasting the idea as “a disturbing effort to put their self interests and party interests ahead of the people,” Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills, said the plan would dangerously link the presidential vote to redistricting. In a written statement, Mr. Costa asked: “Will we now be looking at state gerrymandering that serves a larger, national agenda?”

Mr. Pileggi and others disagreed, saying congressional districts that are more competitive would receive more attention and would not be overshadowed when the state leans one way or another politically.

One thought on “PA power grab

  1. I don’t see what the problem is.I think winner-take-all is a terrible system that disenfranchises voters on the minority side and allows politicians to manipulate elections and ignore large areas of the country by concentrating on high electoral vote states. Even f I wanted to vote for Obama, there is no point in doing so because he will lose my state (again) and get no electoral votes. And I SURE AS HELL do not want my electoral vote to be hijacked to conform to a national popular vote.

    Democrats will lose some and win some with this plan, but at least it will give a more representative result. It is the feeling that the government is an alien entity in which I have no participation that breeds anger and discontent and the movements toward secession.

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