GOP May Try Gerrymandering the Presidency

And it may start in Pennsylvania.


There are precious few people in America who love the Electoral College, with the probable exception of George W. Bush. Because most states are winner-take-all, a Democratic voter in a conservative state like Kansas (say) can go a lifetime without ever having cast a meaningful vote for president.

The GOP wants to solve this problem. Partially. Actually, only as far as it takes to guarantee the presidency to Republicans. The solution? Distribute electoral votes proportionately by state — so that a “swing” state would end up delivering half its votes to the Republicans and half to the Democrats.

That doesn’t sound so unfair, perhaps, except the Republicans want to change the voting rules only in a few states — and leave them as they are in the remainder. The result? A gerrymandered Republican presidency. And it could start in Pennsylvania.

MSNBC reports:

The result would be to make it much more likely that Republicans could win the White House while losing the popular vote nationally.

An article Friday by Jim Geraghty of National Review, a leading opinion shaper for conservatives, floated moving forward with the plan in six states – Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Florida, Iowa and Nevada – where Republicans will have total control next year. Doing so would make it “nearly impossible for the Democratic nominee to win,” Geraghty wrote. A map in the article shows much of the midwest, including Democratic strongholds like Michigan and Illinois, colored red. A caption below the map calls the idea “pretty tempting.”

Rob Richie of Fairvote said Pennsylvania could be the most likely to act. That’s because its Republican governor, Tom Corbett, was just voted out of office, so he might see little political downside to moving forward with the scheme in the lame-duck session. Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi is a key backer of the idea. He proposed allocating EVs by congressional district in 2011. After that plan fizzled, Pileggi introduced legislation last year that would have divided EVs by popular vote share.

“This would be the time to do it,” said Richie. “The temptation’s there.”

A spokesman for Pileggi didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from msnbc.

The proportional voting idea isn’t the worst if every state does it: Changing the ground rules from state to state so that one party gets an overall advantage does seem unfair and undemocratic. Pennsylvanians might want to keep a close eye on the lame-duck session this year.