Pennsylvania’s Republican governor, Tom Corbett, and GOP leaders in the state legislature have cooked up an ugly election scheme, hoping to help rig the 2012 presidential election. As Keystone State Republicans see it, if they change how Pennsylvania doles out electoral votes — awarding by district, rather than winner-take-all — they can conceivably deny President Obama at least 10 electoral votes next year.

Yesterday, however, as the Pennsylvania plan became more controversial, an unexpected group of opponents emerged: other in-state Republicans.

[T]o several Republicans in marginal [congressional] districts, the plan has a catch: they’re worried that Democrats will move dollars and ground troops from solid blue districts to battlegrounds in pursuit of electoral votes — and in the process, knock off the Republicans currently in the seats.

Suburban Philadelphia Reps. Jim Gerlach, Pat Meehan and Mike Fitzpatrick have the most at stake, since all represent districts Democrats won in the last two presidential elections. They and the rest of the Republicans in the delegation are joining with National Republican Congressional Committee officials to respond and mobilize against the change. […]

State GOP chairman Rob Gleason is also opposed to the plan.

“We would no longer be a battleground state with all the benefits that come with that,” he said. “It would affect us all the way down ticket. We’re gonna win the presidency here anyway, so why we would do this now when we’re at the top of the heap is beyond me.”

At this point, Pennsylvania Republicans, including the governor, don’t seem to care whether congressional Republicans like the idea or not. We’ll see soon enough whether that changes.

In the meantime, with voters giving Republicans the state House, the state Senate, and the governor’s office in Pennsylvania, there’s not much Democrats can do.

As Dave Weigel explained, “Democrats who want to stop this must place their hopes in other Republicans … who oppose this for picayune local political reasons, or are willing to bet it all on Republicans winning the state for the first time since they crushed Dukakis. If Democrats find six Republican to oppose it in the Senate, or 11 in the House, they can stop it. Otherwise, it’s splitsville.”

If the 2012 presidential race is close, as it’s very likely to be, the outcome of this fight may very well have a huge impact on who takes the oath office on Inauguration Day 2013.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.