The Pennsylvania legislature is considering a change to the state’s current process of allocating electoral college votes that, if approved, could single-handedly swing the 2012 election against President Obama.According to the Pittsburgh Pos-Gazette, the proposed change would give presidential candidates receive one electoral vote for each of the state’s 18 congressional districts in which they win the popular vote. An additional two electoral votes, representing the state’s Senators, would go to the candidate who wins the statewide popular vote.
Democratic presidential candidates have carried Pennsylvania in every election since 1992, taking with them all of the state’s electoral votes. Should Republican lawmakers get their way, that edge could disappear in the 2012 election.
As Nick Baumann of Mother Jones wrote this morning, legislatures get to draw new district maps following each census and. Since Republicans control both chambers of Pennsylvania’s state legislature as well as the governor’s office, they can carve out safe districts for Republican candidates. With more districts leaning red, a GOP presidential nominee would have a better shot at picking up the bulk of the state’s electoral votes.
With the 2012 election looking like it could be a close one, that kind of shift could very well decide the final result. As Baumann notes, sneak peeks at Pennsylvania’s proposed new district maps show 12 safe GOP seats to 6 safe seats for Democrats. If Obama carries the state in 2012, as he did in 2008, he could conceivably earn 8 electoral votes — six for each Democratic district and two for winning the state — to the GOP nominee’s 12.
Currently, only Maine and Nebraska split their electors by district. However, due to their smaller size those states have far less clout in the electoral college than Pennsylvania.
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