Pennsylvania state Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R) is at it again. In the last legislative session, Pileggi introduced legislation to apportion Pennsylvania’s electoral votes as opposed to continuing the winner-take-all system. Maine and Nebraska already split their small number of electoral votes, hence there is precedence for a state deciding to divide its presidential EV allotment.
In the period prior to the 2012 presidential election, Pennsylvania was viewed to be a battleground entity and the state bifurcating its votes would have undoubtedly helped the Republican nominee. The Pileggi bill would have awarded two votes to the presidential candidate winning the statewide vote and one apiece for each of the 18 Pennsylvania congressional districts.
Sen. Pileggi was unable to pass his bill because the state’s marginal district Republican congressmen were opposed to the concept. They believed the presidential campaigns targeting their specific districts for individual electoral votes would potentially make their own road to re-election more difficult. They convinced enough of their state legislative colleagues to derail the effort.
Now Pileggi has a different approach. His new bill will still award two votes for the presidential candidate winning the statewide vote, but then apportion the remaining 18 EVs based upon popular vote percentage for the candidates on the statewide ballot. Since Pennsylvania is a Democratic state, but a close one (in 2012 President Obama carried PA 52-47 percent, for example), the winning candidate (Obama) would have received the two at-large votes plus another 10 based upon winning 52 percent of the popular vote instead of 20 under winner-take-all. Republican nominee Mitt Romney would have received eight votes. The PA vote totals would more than likely split this way – the winner receiving 12, the loser eight – in virtually every election.
It remains to be seen if the senator can gather enough support among Republicans — Democrats will not support the idea because it will weaken their nominee — in both houses of the legislature in order to send the bill to Gov. Tom Corbett (R). But, one major obstacle — Republican congressional opposition — has ostensibly been eliminated under this new approach.