By PAUL ROVEDA
The state of Pennsylvania is taking profound steps towards altering the way it chooses its electors for presidential elections.
The plan advocated by Governor Tom Corbett will have a major impact on the presidential election and on President Obama’s re-election chances.
Governor Corbett and state Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi are trying to gather support for a system that would award an electoral vote to the winner of the respective congressional districts.
The final two votes would go to the winner of state as a whole.
This system is similar to the one Maine and Nebraska currently have, except on a much larger scale.
Maine and Nebraska have 9 electoral votes combined compared to Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes.
The decision for Pennsylvania to transition to this system benefits Republicans in this state.
However, it would not be nearly as beneficial for Republicans if the system were instituted across the country.
For instance, California has 66 times as many people as Wyoming, but only 18 times as many electoral votes.
Many of those electoral votes are located in or around cities, meaning they would most likely go to the Democratic candidate.
The few electoral votes outside of metropolitan areas would go to the Republican candidate.
John Ziegler from the American Thinker, an online news source, argues that one of the reasons this debate is getting so much attention is due to the fact that Obama will likely get only 10 or fewer votes compared to the 20 he would get otherwise in Pennsylvania, solely because of his victories in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
Nate Silver of the New York Times believes that Pennsylvania’s proposed system will undermine the integrity of the Electoral College.
But since Maine and Nebraska make their selections with very little fanfare, it would be hard to see how the addition of one state would challenge the integrity of the system.
Additionally California, Texas and New York would become somewhat relevant under the new system.
One may argue that Pennsylvania isn’t a good comparison to Nebraska or Maine because it is a lot larger, but with such an uneven demographic distribution (Philadelphia/Pittsburgh and everything else) the new system is much more representative of the entire state.
In a comment left by John Murdoch on David Weigel’s article “Pennsylvania Ponders Bold Democrat-Screwing Electoral Plan” on Slate.com, he argues that Pennsylvania is just a media battle with candidates fighting for airtime mainly in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
Candidates make rare appearances elsewhere in the state and then head north to New York.
It’s easy to foresee, as Weigel did, that with the new rules candidates will now have to devote some attention to areas such as Allentown, Scranton, Erie and Johnstown.
Murdoch argues that this new plan has two benefits.
First, every voter in Pennsylvania gets the attention that voters in New Hampshire and Iowa get in the primaries.
Secondly, the flash-in-the-pan media darlings (such as Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama) can’t simply launch their campaigns from TV.
The candidate will have to actually tour the state and sit down with the people who normally wouldn’t get the attention otherwise.
In the current system, certain areas are far too privileged.
I remember standing in the room with Mike Kelly’s victory party in 2010.
Much of the room was standing anxiously, waiting for the results to come in from Philadelphia for the Corbett/Onorato race.
It’s inconceivable that one race relies heavily on a specific geographic location.
With the new proposed plan, the whole state will come into play.
The new system now makes the whole state relevant not only to the vote but also to the candidate, as he or she will have to actively campaign across the state instead of just the highly populated areas.