Pennsylvania’s electoral scheme faltering

A couple of months ago, Pennsylvania’s Republican governor, Tom Corbett, and GOP leaders in the state legislature launched an ugly election scheme, hoping to help tilt the 2012 presidential election in their party’s favor. 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.

How’s the plan going? Not well.

A Republican-sponsored proposal to change how Pennsylvania’s electoral votes are counted in next year’s presidential election appears to be running out of steam.

Gov. Corbett, a key supporter of the idea, suggested Monday that it was going nowhere for the time being.

“I see no movement on it. I’m not going to push for movement, but I still support it,” Corbett, a Republican, told a Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon.

The benefit of the plan, at least from the GOP’s perspective, is that the Republican nominee could conceivably win most of Pennsylvania’s electoral votes, even if most of Pennsylvania’s voters backed the president. Either way, the GOP nominee would get many electoral votes from the state, rigging the system to make Obama’s re-election chances that much weaker.

Despite Corbett’s backing, however, the bill hasn’t gone anywhere in the state Senate, and it has not yet even been introduced in the state House.

This will come as a relief to Pennsylvania’s Republican congressional delegation, who saw the plan hurting both their own chances, and most of the state’s voters, who opposed the idea almost immediately.

The idea isn’t completely dead, but in order to affect the 2012 race, state GOP officials would have to act very quickly, and overcome questions from their own party as well as unified Democratic opposition.

It’s an obnoxious, abusive scheme. The fact that it’s struggling is an encouraging sign.

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Steve Benen

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.