Pennsylvania Republicans control the state's governorship and both chambers of the state legislature. What else is there for them to do at a time like this besides helping to screw over Barack Obama's reelection chances by instituting an audacious, illogical electoral system?
Gov. Tom Corbett and Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi plan to push a proposal this fall that would change the way the state apportions its electoral votes. Like every state except for Nebraska and Maine, which are usually inconsequential in presidential contests, Pennyslvania currently awards its electoral votes by a winner-take-all system. Corbett and Pileggi's new plan would change that to award electoral votes by congressional district, with the winner of the state's popular vote receiving an additional two. Pileggi claims that this would bring the state more attention.
Which in fact is the opposite of what it would do! Although Pennsylvania has gone Democratic in every election since 1992, it's always a close race, and therefore always gets an insane amount of attention and money. No "reform" in that area is necessary, unless to make it worse. "Reform" is only necessary, in this case, to help the Republican party presidential candidate defeat Barack Obama.
Here's what the plan would actually end up doing. (Put on your third-grade-level math hats!) Pennsylvania's Republicans already control the congressional redistricting process, and they'll probably gerrymander the state into 12 safe Republican and 6 safe Democratic districts. It would be a waste of resources, then, for a presidential candidate to spend much time campaigning there. If Obama won the state overall anyway, he would likely get 6 electoral votes for the districts he'd won, the Republican candidate would get 12, and the final 2 of the state's 20 overall would be awarded to Obama. So he'd "win" the state but come out of it at a net loss of 4 electoral votes. If a Republican candidate won, then, the electoral votes would likely be apportioned 14 to 6 in his or her favor. So the Republican party could essentially guarantee itself a net win of 4 to 8 electoral votes in a crucial state that would otherwise be slightly tilted in Democrats' favor, at least based on their 20-year winning streak. The Republican candidate could then spend more of its campaign's relatively limited money in other battleground states.
And who's to say that other newly Republican-dominated, lean-blue-state legislatures in the upper Midwest won't do the same thing that Pennsylvania's now considering? It's a pretty smart idea, if you're them! It's just an interesting interpretation of "reform," is all.
[Image of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett via AP]