Pa. May Change Electoral College Allocation Rules

Sep 16, 2011
Originally published on September 20, 2011 1:15 pm
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MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

NPR's Jeff Brady has our story from Philadelphia.

JEFF BRADY: So in 2008, President Obama won 55 percent of the popular vote here but received 100 percent of the electoral votes. Pennsylvania's Republican Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi believes that's a problem. He's proposed legislation to allocate the state's votes proportionately.

BLOCK: It's a very straight-forward goal, a very simple goal to understand. I think that the Electoral College vote should more closely approximate the popular vote, which reflects the will of the people of Pennsylvania.

BRADY: Democratic State Senator Daylin Leach calls this an obscene power grab.

BLOCK: This is the sort of thing that, you know, someone like Robert Mugabe does in Zimbabwe - they fix elections. In America, we don't fix elections, okay?

BRADY: Aside from vigorous Democratic opposition, there is a sense the proposal could backfire on Republicans in the Keystone State. Chris Borick directs the Institute of Public Opinion at Muhlenberg College in Allentown and he says the change could make Pennsylvania less relevant in next year's election. If the sate splits its electoral votes, then candidates might focus their efforts on other, more competitive states.

CHRIS BORICK: There's really a sense in Pennsylvania that some of our national power rests with our role in presidential elections, being one of the key swing states.

BRADY: At Franklin and Marshall College, political science professor Terry Madonna says if the statewide popular vote doesn't matter as much anymore, then Democratic strategists likely will focus more of their energy on vulnerable Republicans.

TERRY MADONNA: And the Republican members of Congress from those swing districts are pushing back, saying, maybe this isn't the best idea we ever came up with.

BRADY: Again, Chris Borick from Muhlenberg College.

BORICK: In Pennsylvania, the Electoral College hasn't had this much interest probably since, you know, 1787 and the founding of the Constitution in Philadelphia.

BRADY: Jeff Brady, NPR News, Philadelphia. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.