If you can’t beat them, change the system so you can!
Here’s the story. The electoral college is mandated by the Constitution as the way to determine the winner of presidential elections, but it’s up to each state to decide how to apportion their electoral votes. Traditionally, states have chosen a winner-take-all system, because that maximizes the state’s clout. Indeed, that’s why large and close states such as Pennsylvania, Florida, and Ohio are so important in presidential elections.
But now, as Nick Baumann reports, Republicans who control Pennsylvania government after the 2010 elections are pushing a scheme to apportion electoral votes by Congressional district (as Maine and Nebraska currently do). The effect would be to basically make Pennsylvania a marginal player in the 2012 election. After all, most House districts (including those in the Keystone State) have lopsided partisan majorities, so they wouldn’t be in play, and parties would be unlikely to devote serious resources to try to pick off a couple of electoral votes in the swing districts — and even less unlikely to devote the massive resources it would take to capture the two remaining at-large votes, given that it would be far more efficient to use the money in much smaller states with more (winner-take-all) electoral votes up for grabs.