The Return of the Pennsylvania Electoral College-Skewing Plan

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Feb. 4 2013 4:12 PM

The Return of the Pennsylvania Electoral College-Skewing Plan

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Pennsylvania's state Capitol building

Photo by BRIGITTE DUSSEAU/AFP/GettyImages

My colleague Emma Roller said to watch out for it, and lo, she was right. Pennsylvania Republicans are moving ahead with an Electoral College split plan that I wrote about in December: A proportional vote allocation, one that would electors in keeping with the percentage of the vote won by each party. In 2012, it would have given 11 electors to Barack Obama and nine to Mitt Romney. Had Obama won the same percentage of the vote last year, as he won in 2008, he would have scored 12 electors to Romney's eight. The effect: Making Pennsylvania the least attractive electoral vote mine in the country. (You get at least three electors in every other state.)

Ian Millhiser talks to a Democratic legislator to determine what brand of diaper worried liberals should hoard.

They could have it out of the House in three days and it could go over to the Senate and they could have it out of there in three days and it could go to the governor’s office and he could sign it... The Senate can suspend the rules and have it passed in less than 24 hours. [The House] has to have a 2/3s majority to suspend the rules so usually we can at least make them do the three days.

Whipped-up public sentiment has halted this stuff in every state thus far—Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida. Democrats need to sway three Republican senators to kill this bill. That, I presume, is why the battle-hardened state GOP leadership designed a proposal that spots Republicans votes without assuring that Republicans would win a majority of electors.

Related: David Frum reminds us that Democrats initially backed a 2004 Colorado ballot measure that would have split the state's electors. It was a horrible idea, as was a short-lived, Republican-backed ballot initiative that would have done the same in California in 2008. A voter plebiscite doesn't quite have the odor of a sneak attack by legislators.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at daveweigel@gmail.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.