Politics

How Obama Could Lose Pennsylvania in 2012, Even if He Wins

| by Michael Allen

President Barack Obama won Pennsylvania in 2008 and all 20 of its electoral votes, but a new Republican legislative tactic could cost him a 2012 victory, even if he wins the popular vote again.

For 2012, Republicans in Pennsylvania are considering a plan to re-district the state based on a 2010 Census Report and allocate one vote to each of its 18 congressional districts: win one district, win one electoral vote. The remaining two votes (of 20) would go to the statewide winner of the popular vote.

Theoretically, 12 electoral votes in GOP districts would go for the Republican candidate and six votes in Democrat districts would be awarded to Obama, plus two more if he wins the popular vote.  That would give the Republican 12 electoral votes and Obama only 8, instead of the 20 that he won in 2008.

Pennsylvania Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (D) told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the Republican plan was "a disturbing effort to put their self interests and party interests ahead of the people."

Carolyn Fiddler, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, told Mother Jones: "This would effectively extend the effect of gerrymandering beyond Congress and to the Electoral College. State legislatures could gerrymander the Electoral College."

Akhil Reed Amar, a Yale University constitutional law professor, told Mother Jones that the electoral game could change completely: "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. This is big."