This is a major reason electoral college needs to be abolished if you truly want a democracy in this country!
The problem for Obama, and the opportunity for Republicans, is the electoral college. Every political junkie knows that the presidential election isn't a truly national contest; it's a state-by-state fight, and each state is worth a number of electoral votes equal to the size of the state's congressional delegation. (The District of Columbia also gets three votes.) There are 538 electoral votes up for grabs; win 270, and you're the president.
|These brothers want to destroy our govt!|
Under the Republican plan, if the GOP presidential nominee carries the GOP-leaning districts but Obama carries the state, the GOP nominee would get 12 electoral votes out of Pennsylvania, but Obama would only get eight—six for winning the blue districts, and two (representing the state's two senators) for winning the state. Since Obama would lose 12 electoral votes relative to the winner-take-all baseline, this would have an effect equivalent to flipping a medium-sized winner-take-all state—say, Washington, which has 12 electoral votes—from blue to red.* And Republicans wouldn't even have to do any extra campaigning or spend any extra advertising dollars to do it..
Nebraska and Maine already have the system the Pennsylvania GOP is pushing. But the two states' small electoral vote values mean it's actually mathematically impossible for a candidate to win the popular vote there but lose the electoral vote, says Akhil Reed Amar, a constitutional law professor at Yale University. Pennsylvania, however, is a different story: "It might be very likely to happen in [Pennsylvania], and that's what makes this something completely new under the sun," Amar says. "It's something that no previous legislature in America since the Civil War has ever had the audacity to impose."
If Obama has another landslide win, the GOP rule-tinkering might not change the outcome. But given the state of the economy and Obama's low approval ratings, the election is likely to be close. If the president wins the states John Kerry won in 2004 plus Ohio—otherwise enough to give him a narrow win—changing the electoral vote rules in Pennsylvania alone would swing the election to the Republican nominee.
"This would effectively extend the effect of gerrymandering beyond Congress and to the Electoral College."It doesn't necessarily end there. After their epic sweep of state legislative and gubernatorial races in 2010, Republicans also have total political control of Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin, three other big states that traditionally go Democratic and went for Obama in 2012. Implementing a Pennsylvania-style system in those three places—in Ohio, for example, Democrats anticipate controlling just 4 or 5 of the state's 16 congressional districts—could offset Obama wins in states where he has expanded the electoral map, like Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado, or New Mexico. "If all these rust belt folks get together and make this happen that could be really dramatic," says Carolyn Fiddler, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, which coordinates state political races for the Dems.
Democrats would not be able to retaliate. The only states that John McCain won where Dems control both houses of the state legislature are Arkansas, Mississippi, and West Virginia. West Virginia is too small for splitting the electoral votes to have much effect, and Mississippi has a Republican governor. That leaves Arkansas, another small state—and one where McCain won every district handily in 2008.
Nor is there anything obviously illegal or unconstitutional about the GOP plan. "The Constitution is pretty silent on how the electors are chosen in each state," says Karl Manheim, a law professor at Loyola University in Los Angeles. The GOP plan "would certainly increase the political advantage of politically gerrymandering your districts," he adds.
Says Fiddler, the DLCC spokeswoman: "This would effectively extend the effect of gerrymandering beyond Congress and to the Electoral College. State legislatures could gerrymander the Electoral College."
So far, Democrats have been fighting back with the argument that switching to allocating electoral votes by congressional district would reduce Pennsylvania's importance in the presidential race. "Presidential elections are decided by 'basically Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio and Florida,' because each is a swing state with a large block of electoral votes up for grabs," former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. That, Rendell said, gives Pennsylvania more pull with presidents of both parties. But that argument "doesn't hold much sway with state legislators," says Fiddler. And if rule changes in Pennsylvania or other Rust Belt states put a Republican in the White House, the president might be more indebted to party leadership there, not less.
For now, the Democrats'—and Obama's—only real way of fighting back is political. "The political solution if there is one is going to have to come from getting people outraged about this," Amar says. "This is not American fair play, it's a partisan steamroller changing the fundamental rules of the small-d democratic game for purely party advantage. Trying to structure the world so that even the person who wins the state loses the state's electoral vote: that is new under the sun." He adds, "This is big