Pennsylvania's 'Democrat-screwing' 2012 'genius plan'

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Trader666, Sep 15, 2011.

  1. Pennsylvania's 'Democrat-screwing' 2012 'genius plan'
    The GOP-dominated Keystone State government is gunning to change the rules on how it divvies up electoral votes — and it could cost Obama the election
    Posted on September 15, 2011, at 9:43 AM

    For the first time in years, Pennsylvania has a Republican governor as well as solid GOP majorities in both houses of the state legislature. State GOP leaders are using that power trifecta to push what Slate's David Weigel calls a "bold Democrat-screwing electoral plan" that could well cost President Obama next year's election. The GOP's proposal would turn the key swing state from a winner-take-all electoral college prize to a district-by-district red-blue puzzle — and the national implications are enormous. Here's how it works:

    How exactly does the electoral college system work?

    Presidents are elected through a system under which electoral votes are allocated to states based on the number of congressmen and senators a state has — which roughly correlates to population size. There are 538 electoral college votes nationwide, so a candidate needs 270 to win. Currently, Pennsylvania — like every other state but Maine and Nebraska — awards all of its electoral college votes for president to the winner of the state's popular vote. Pennsylvania is considered a swing state of sorts — though its electoral votes have gone to the Democrat in the last five presidential elections.

    What does Pennsylvania want to change?

    Under state Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi's plan, each of Pennsylvania's 18 congressional districts would get its own electoral vote, with the remaining two electoral votes going to whichever candidate wins the entire state. Obama won Pennsylvania (55 percent to 44 percent) in 2008 — netting all 21 electoral votes. (The state will only have 20 votes in 2012, since it lost one after the 2010 census.) Under the proposed system, Obama would have won 11 electoral votes in 2008. John McCain would have won 10.

    How would that swing the 2012 election?

    The GOP-controlled legislature gets to redraw the congressional districts this year, and the gerrymandered map is expected to have 12 safe Republican seats and only 6 safe Democratic seats. So even if Obama wins Pennsylvania's popular vote next year, he would likely only get 8 electoral votes. Under the current rules, if Obama took all the states that John Kerry won in 2004 — plus Ohio — he would win re-election. But if Pennsylvania's plan passes, Obama would lose.

    Is this really so bad for the Democrats?

    In a close election, as 2012 is expected to be, the Pennsylvania GOP's "genius plan" could easily sink Obama, says Nick Baumann at Mother Jones. But it could get even worse for Democrats. Three other key Midwestern swing states that Obama won — Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio — swung to total GOP control in 2010, and if they follow Pennsylvania's lead, it would be brutal for Democrats. Yes, agrees Jim Geraghty at National Review. That one "audacious move... would establish, arguably, a GOP lock on the presidency until the country's demographics and political geography changed."

    Is there anything Democrats can do?

    Not much. Republicans have the votes to muscle the plan through, and "under the U.S. Constitution, the discretion of state legislatures in allocating electoral votes is absolute," says Matthew Yglesias at ThinkProgress. In fact, if it wanted to, Pennsylvania's legislature could pass a law tomorrow turning all the state's electoral votes over to the head of the Republican National Committee. And "Democrats would not be able to retaliate," says Mother Jones' Baumann, since there aren't any Democrat-controlled red states where a plan like Pennsylvania's would do any good.

    Is there any downside for the GOP?

    It will look to many voters, and some GOP lawmakers, like unfairly "changing the rules after the game has started," says National Review's Geraghty. And of course, the heat on the Pennsylvania statehouse "would make the Wisconsin protests look like a tersely worded letter of disapproval." Not that the GOP will care, says Kevin Drum at Mother Jones. A few decades ago, this wildly "cynical ploy" would have been "a bridge too far for most of the party's mandarins." But there's really no one left on the Right to oppose this "merely out of a decent respect for institutional integrity and fair-mindedness."

    Would this be good for Pennsylvania?

    Majority Leader Pileggi says the plan would bring more attention to swing districts while leaving Pennsylvanians' "individual votes more accurately reflected." It would certainly give more power to rural Republicans, agrees Geraghty. But most observers agree with Hot Air's Allahpundit that the net effect would be "to essentially detonate Pennsylvania’s stature as a prime swing state." Obama and his GOP challenger "will show up if 20 votes are in the balance, but if only four or five are, who cares?"
  2. It will look to many voters, and some GOP lawmakers, like unfairly "changing the rules after the game has started," says National Review's Geraghty.


    I forgot the details but the Dems did the same thing in Mass with Kerry's seat when it looked like the Rep's would win.
  3. rew


    I wish all states would do this. I live in a state where it's a given that all electoral votes will go to the Democrat. Other people live in states where it's a given that all electoral votes will go to a Republican. Why bother voting in such states?

    As for changing the rules after the game has started, who says the game has started? The general election is more than a year away.
  4. 377OHMS


    Its important to vote based on your principles rather than the perceived effect your vote may have.
  5. rew


    Why? What will that accomplish? Now, in fact I do vote based on my principles, which is why I usually vote for a third party candidate rather than a Republicrat. But I'm under no illusion that this does any good. The Republicrat wins, the national policies stay the same, the press never makes any mention of the the alternative parties, and the charade continues.

    It seems that the main reason the powers that be want people to vote is to legitimize a result that should not be seen as legitimate.
  6. 377OHMS


    Its referred to commonly as "democracy". If enough people hold the same views and values as your own a candidate can be "elected" to represent those views and values in the conduct of the government.

    I thought you indicated you were posting from the United States?

    Isn't some working knowledge of the electoral system required to gain citizenship? Or have they done away with that?
  7. bone

    bone ET Sponsor

    Let us recall how the Dems and the MSM were lambasting the electoral college system mightily during the Gore / Bush recount fiasco.

    Turnaround is fair play.
  8. rew


    I was born a citizen. In case you haven't noticed this is a country where it is common for nearly half the eligible electorate not to vote in a Presidential election, and even fewer vote in the off cycle elections. Given the way the electoral college works I am unsurprised that many people don't bother to vote in the Presidential elections, since their vote is often made irrelevant. There are only two parties that matter, and they are the only ones that the press gives serious attention to. We have just one more party than the Communists had. Yet this is the country that claims the God given right to bomb other countries into democracy.
  9. OMAHA -- The Nebraska Republican Party mounted an all-out assault Saturday on the state's divided presidential electoral vote system, vowing to fight for a return to winner-take-all for the candidate who prevails statewide.

    GOP State Chairman Mark Fahleson said the party intends to "hold our Republican state senators accountable" for their votes on a legislative bill that would wipe out the current system of awarding one electoral vote to the winner of each of the state's three congressional districts and the remaining two electoral votes to the statewide winner.
  10. rew


    Ha ha! Now I favor dividing up the electoral votes on the principle of providing a more representative vote and also giving people a reason to want to vote in the Presidential elections. But clearly the Republicans just want whatever seems to be advantageous at the time to the Republicans, and the Democrats just want whatever seems to be advantageous at the time to the Democrats. No wonder so many people have contempt for both parties.
    #10     Sep 15, 2011